December 20, 2004

Site Review: Loads of Linux Links

Author: Tina Gasperson

Imagine a Web site that has over 4,000 links to sites of interest to Linux enthusiasts. Forget about dead links, because this site would be vigilantly maintained by a small group of people totally committed to the work of providing useful content. Instead, expect fresh links several times a week with handy accessories like quick links to related pages.That site already exists. Loads of Linux Links (LOLL) lives at as a GPLed software project. Andrew Willard and Barbara Irwin of the Victoria Linux Users Group in Canada maintain LOLL. They originally provided the site as a service to the VLUG only, but "in the true spirit of Linux," they decided to share it with the entire community.

LOLL is a huge bookmark file that Irwin and Willard add to by evaluating visitor-submitted sites and by scouring the Web themselves. The team uses a cool little program called bk2site, which takes a Netscape bookmark file and transforms it into a "Yahoo-like" Web site, including a news blog.

Basically, all Irwin and Willard have to do is grab bookmarks, annotate them, and run bk2site. The links are classified via topics like advocacy, audio/video, commercial sites, news, and programming. The front page displays the last ten links added to the bookmark file along with a link to the last 100 links added.

As you drill down in the individual topics, you'll see that the pages really do look a bit like Yahoo, with sub-topics listed at the top and the number of each in parentheses. Newly-linked-to sites have an icon denoting them as such, and each link has a magnifying glass icon that links to Google's "related pages."

If the page maintainers think a particular link is especially noteworthy, they add a thumbs-up icon, and the ubercool places get sunglasses. One thing I'd like to see on the site is a page that lists only these top sites. It'd be a great way to cherry-pick if I wasn't looking for something specific.

Irwin and Willard have placed the bookmark file and the scripts they use to generate the LOLL page in a CVS repository so anyone can take a look or just take it. If you don't want to get that complicated, you can just pick up the RSS feed for your site.

I poked around trying to find dead links, but didn't encounter any -- the site looks pretty clean. Of course, if the server had been faster the day I was checking LOLL, I'd have looked harder. Your mileage may vary.

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