December 30, 2011

The Best of Weekend Project from 2011

Weekends are for relaxing, spending time with friends… and tackling those tech projects that you never have time to get to during the week. The weekend project is one of the most popular features here on, and we had a bumper crop of excellent projects in 2011. Here’s 10 of the best from 2011, which include everything from better ways to upgrade your system, to getting a leg up on Web projects.

Ensure a Hassle-Free Linux Upgrade

Reproducing your current environment on when you upgrade isn’t always easy. Nathan Willis undertakes a from-scratch reinstall, and provides valuable lessons that you can use when you tackle your next migration.

Control Your Configuration with Etckeeper

Debian developer Joey Hess starting writing etckeeper after unsatisfying experiments with other people’s attempts to shoehorn /etc/ into a Git repository. A few people had done so successfully, but ran into two major problems: what to do when a package installation made changes to the directory or a file (i.e., and the user could not enter the usual log entry), and what to do about metadata changes like file permissions. This weekend project shows how you can control your configuration with etckeeper.

Bootstrap Your Site with Bootstrap

Ever had a Web project in mind, but got stalled at the prospect of having to worry about the site design? If code, and not design, is your strong point you’ll want to take a look at Twitter’s Bootstrap.

Use HoneyD on Linux to Fool Attackers

For the security conscious, there is always room for another weapon against attackers. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, packet sniffers – all are important pieces of the puzzle. So too is Honeyd, the “honeypot daemon.” Honeyd simulates the existence of an array of server and client machines on your network, including typical traffic between them. In this weekend project, you’ll learn how to use HoneyD on Linux to fool attackers.

Get to Know GNU Sed

If you’ve ever needed to edit one or more files to make quick changes, you’ve no doubt found that doing it using a text editor can be a slow slogging process. Linux, thankfully, has a number of tools that make it easy to do this non-interactively. One of the best is sed, a “stream editor” that can help you make quick work of filtering and transforming text. Use this weekend project from 2011 to get to know GNU sed.

Intro to Using sed Regular Expressions

One of the keys to using GNU sed successfully is knowing how to use its regular expressions. If you look over sed scripts without knowing regular expressions, the effect can be pretty disconcerting. Don’t worry — it’s not as confusing as it looks. If you’ve read the “get to know GNU sed” piece, step up your sed game with an intro to using sed regular expressions.

Get Grammar Checking for Your Open Source Office Suite

Just about every program has spell checking, but what if you’re grammatically challenged? Most apps don’t have a grammar checker built-in, even though they should. Want to get a leg up on your writing? Learn how to get grammar checking for your open source office suite. Note that After the Deadline not only works with LibreOffice, it also works with tons of other apps – including my favorite, Vim.

Rescue Failing Drives With SystemRescue

The Gentoo-based SystemRescue CD/USB is one of the very best rescue distros, packing amazing functionality into a 350MB image. It can rescue Linux, Unix, Mac, and Windows systems, and recover data from almost any media. With this weekend project, you’ll learn how to create a SystemRescue live USB stick, and recover data from failing drives.

Add Conversations and Calendaring to Thunderbird

Ubuntu switched to Thunderbird a while back, and Linux Mint has defaulted to the Moz mailer for quite some time. If you want to make the most of Thunderbird, though, you should check out this weekend project from July on adding conversations and calendaring to Thunderbird.

Write and Publish eBooks on Linux with Sigil

Have a book you want to publish? Ready to self-publish that Great American Novel that you’ve been tinkering with since high school? These days, the barriers to publishing a book are lower than ever. All you need is a manuscript and an open source application like Sigil to tame the text and massage it into EPUB format. If writing and publishing is on your resolution list for 2012, learn how to write and publish eBooks on Linux with Sigil.

Taking Suggestions for 2012

Have some ideas what you’d like to see on the weekend project for 2012? Give us a shout in the comments. Happy New Year!

Click Here!