Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Teaching an Old Dog Old Tricks

My early web experiences were all UNIX-based. Back in the 1980’s, I started using the text-based Internet using UNIX boxes. When I got to college, I used it even more extensively. After I graduated, the World Wide Web came on the scene and I surfed the web from Windows computers, but I created web sites on UNIX machines.

When I became CEO of back in 1997, we were set up entirely on UNIX. I honed my skills pretty well at that point since I had to oversee web operations for my job, not just as a hobby.

Eventually, however, we migrated off of UNIX and onto Windows machines. It was my idea because at the time it was a cheaper approach. Or at least it seemed to be.

Today, the situation is reversed and Linux (the modern UNIX) is the cheaper platform (at least by perception). It can also be incredibly flexible.

So … I have decided to start relearning the UNIX world. I spun up a Rackspace Cloud Server this weekend and started configuring it. Some of the details are different from 12 years ago. Back then, we were using Netscape servers. Today, Apache is the standard. But so far it has gone pretty smoothly.

Part of that is my prior knowledge (and comfort with command line interfaces, dating myself back to running TRS-80 BASIC off of cassette tapes, moving on through the world of C-64, MS-DOS, VT100, and all sorts of other fun acronyms).

But a chunk of it is also the idiot-proof instructions provided by the Rackspace Cloud Server support wiki. It’s a great resource and saved me a lot of time in getting the basics done. (Kudos to Rackspace. As a customer for nearly a decade, I remain pleased with their offerings and service.)

I still have a long way to go and I expect some snags (like getting ColdFusion installed so I can continue playing with that as I get more proficient in PHP).

Of course, at the end of the day I’ll still be more of a dabbler. I’m fortunate to have talented people around me who do more of the day-to-day technology work, but I like to develop some of my product ideas through prototyping since that helps me think things through more effeciently. Now I’m just going to try doing it while speaking Linux. 

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  1. if you’re experimenting with linux and apache, there is a great openSource version of Coldfusion called Railo. I know a lot of companies that actually use that instead of a true Adobe licensed version, and it offers near seamless support for the typical and even many atypical tags. Something to consider while you dabble in the *nix world.

  2. Hi Chip,
    Have you used FreeBSD as an alternative to Linux? I tried it after learning about it from a colleague in the web hosting business years ago.
    After that, I was hooked because of the server performance, ease of installing OSS apps ( and the consistent filesystem layout.
    If you need any information about FreeBSD, let me know. I liked it so much, I eventually became a port maintainer and project committer.

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