January 10, 2005

Site review: aplawrence.com

Author: Tina Gasperson

aplawrence.com is mostly a big wiki full of original content about Linux and Unix-like operating systems and related information. Who knew it was there? Evidently quite a few people, judging by the regular activity. Tony Lawrence, the guy who owns aplawrence.com, says the site gets more than 100,000 visitors a month.Lawrence is a consultant and trainer who started out focusing mostly on SCO Unix, but he says that aplawrence.com is now officially more a Linux site. "I don't intend for it to be either," he writes in the site's FAQ. "We definitely have a Unixy slant, but I'm a fan of BSD, Solaris, Linux, and even AIX and other things. I even don't hate Windows XP quite as much as I hate everything else Windows."

Speaking of the FAQ, it's as good a place as any to start in your perusal of the site. It's had a cumulative 332,131 page views and it is packed with just about any Unix information about which you'd think to ask. It's got a comp.unix.sco technical FAQ, a separate list of questions and answers "common to Unix, Xenix, and ODT," which has more than 100 entries. (ODT, or Open Desktop, is another SCO OS.) Then there is "Questions and Answers Specific to OpenServe Release 5," "Question and Answers Specific to Unix/ODT," "Questions and Answers about TCP/IP and NFS," "Questions and Answers about Serial Communications and UUCP," and "Questions and Answers about Printers and Printing."

Lawrence has also written and published some free skills tests to prepare visitors for certification exams in Unix/Linux and Mac OS X. The tests are available for purchase by those who want to keep copies of the tests on their own systems. There's also a good list of links to other resources for practice certification exams and other test-prep resources.

Most all of the articles here are original wiki posts from members of the site. What is amazing is how many there are. Not all of them are full-length articles, and some are merely a paragraph long, but the collection as a whole is an astounding resource, especially considering there are about five different ways to search the content to find what you're looking for.

Some of the 50 most popular articles on the site include "Configuring a News Server," "LDAP Basics," ""Adding a Hard Drive to Linux," and "General Troubleshooting."

Lawrence says he is now paying for content based on an advertising revenue-sharing scheme. The more hits an article gets, the greater the likelihood the author will accrue a share of the income from ads. Authors who contribute more than one article are more likely to garner enough hits to make a little money.

Lawrence just started a site forum at Yahoo! Groups. He says he believes there is value in forums, and even maintained one before directly at the aplawrence.com site, but at that time the fact that users were looking for a bit too much free consulting led him to take that service down. He is hopeful that this latest venture into a discussion forum will work out better.

The site also has a medium-sized database of Linux/Unix consultants from around the world, listing 318 businesses in the United States, 38 from Canada, and about 100 from the rest of the world, including Moldova, Serbia, Belarus, and Myanmar. It's easy to get listed: just fill out a form with as little or as much information as you'd like to include about your consulting business, and Lawrence says he'll review it and post it. If you don't have a Web site (seems unlikely given the nature of the business) he'll set you up with one, hosted on aplawrence.com, for $24 per year. Lawrence says that even if you do already have a page, his site gets so many hits that it would make good business sense to have a presence on his domain. Lawrence maintains the consultant database because his customers tell him they don't know of anyone else who can help them with Linux and Unix, and they threaten sometimes to go back to Windows because of that. "The more people we can point at," writes Lawrence, "the less likely our customers will feel that way."

Category:

  • Linux
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