External Links To Cool Stuff

These resource links are provided because the author has found them useful, and it is hoped that you also will find them interesting and informative; however, your mileage may vary.
The author is in no way compensated by any of the organizations mentioned, and in fact, most of these organizations are staffed solely by volunteers.

Fedora Project

The Fedora Project maintains and distributes Fedora Linux. The project is sponsored (in part) by Redhat, Inc. and is staffed by an active and dedicated development community. In our opinion, this is the most stable and sophisticated of the Linux platforms. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in reliability, and for those of us who need to get actual work done, that is what matters. And if you desperately desire a replacement for that global virus of a system out of Redmond, Washington (sorry, Bill), this should be your first stop.

Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Linux is derived from the venerable Debian Linux project, but has far surpassed its roots. Ubuntu is a tweaker's paradise--nearly every facet of the operating system is user configurable. Ubuntu may suffer from a lack of focus on regression testing, and in our opinion the Unity interface was a huge mistake, but nowhere in the entire Federation of Planets will you find a more enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of developers and support staff. Highly recommended for advanced users.

GNU Project

The GNU Project is an affiliate of the Free Software Foundation. The project maintains the free (as in freedom) GNU operating system which is generally built and distributed with the Linux kernel (GNU/Linux). The GNU operating system is a replacement for (and an improvement upon) UNIX. GNU also maintains a wide variety of free (as in freedom) application software including the ever-so-beautiful GNU compiler collection.

Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation began as a group of people writing free (as in freedom) software, but the FSF has evolved into the champion of freedom from corporate patents and copyright, which are often intended to prevent customers from exercising their right to use their software, video, audio etc. products as they choose. (The distopian "digital rights management" initiative is a prime example.) The importance of the FSF in maintaining our digital rights and in promoting free accessibility and product innovation can hardly be overstated. If you are not a member yet, become a member today.

KDE Project

The KDE Community maintains the KDE graphical desktop (user interface) which is available for most, if not all Linux distributions. The KDE Project also maintains a wide variety of free and open-source applications and utilities including a massive number of high-quality games. KDE has development partnerships with several groups such as openSUSE and especially Google. The KDE interface is everywhere, from your desktop, to your netbook, to your mobile phone. You may be using KDE right now and not even know it. Get acquainted!

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The W3C is a member-supported, international open standards organization dedicated to protecting technological innovation. The World Wide Web reprents the modern global social contract, and W3C's primary focus is to protect us, the web-browsing public from the global corporation (black hats) which threatens the very existence of the web as a public forum for the exchange of information and ideas. Some of their ongoing major projects are HTML and CSS (website development), SVG (graphics), Web audio, cryptography and much more.

Unicode Consortium

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization which develops and maintains standards for internationalization of software and data, specifically, the Unicode Standard (ISO/IEC 10646 'http://www.iso.org/iso/'). If you don't know Unicode and especially UTF-8 encoding, you don't know jack.

The HTML5 Standard

HTML5 is the so-called "living standard" of the Hypertext Markup Language for website design. The web suffers from a horrendous lack of standardization in website design and syntax. This has led to many ad-hoc solutions and pseudo-standards, which have resulted in inconsistent browser support and a general sloppiness in the rendering of web pages. Although IE(tm) is by far the worst offender, no browser is immune to the Wild-West way in which web pages are created and rendered. You may be offended by the marketing hype surrounding HTML5, but the fact is that we need real standards, and this is our best hope.

HTML Reference and Tutorial (Mozilla)

While the HTML5 Standards site above is primarily intended to aid in browser development, it is frustratingly unhelpful for actual web design. In contrast, Mozilla's HTML Reference is well-organized and grounded in a web developer's need to get real work done.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS3)

As a companion standard to HTML5, CSS version 3 revolutionizes the ways in which we can "style" our website content. CSS3 is another project of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). CSS provides nearly effortless style where Javascript and other even less friendly tools were formerly necessary. In our opinion, CSS is even more important than HTML itself in bringing light to the murky world of website development.

CSS3 Reference and Tutorial (Mozilla)

While the W3C site, above, is oriented toward development of the CSS3 standards, the Mozilla site is constructed to benefit working web developers and students. Many web development sites use painfully-complex examples to produce "advanced pretty-ness," (and ego gratification). In contrast, the Mozilla reference is comprehensive, and the tutorials and examples are designed for straightforward knowledge transfer. This is a great move on the part of the Mozilla group because it promotes the use of CSS3 in a way that the Firefox browser (and the rest of the browser world) can understand.

Texinfo Linux Documentation Engine

TexInfo is the official documentation engine for Linux. It replaces the ancient 'man pages' of UNIX with a consistently formatted, hyperlinked documentation engine which supports a number of output formats generated from a single source document. Texinfo is not without its quirks and shortcommings, but it provides a consistent and well-documented method of telling the world how to use your new and world-changing product. In addition, Patrice, Gavin, Karl and the gang are simultaneously serious and enthusiastic about presenting a quality product. If you are writing software, contributing to an existing project, documenting hardware widgets, or just describing how to assemble a barbecue grill, Texinfo is the way to go.

C++ Reference

The community-supported cppreference site is an excellent and up-to-date reference for the C and C++ programming languages. Simple, clear code examples are provided for almost everything, so you needn't pull your hair out trying to decipher the proper syntax or how a class definition is used.

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a highly portable, small, fast and configurable Linux distribution. The core Puppy is only about 130Mb, so it can be installed on a small USB flash drive and when loaded, can live entirely in RAM, while traditional Linux variants spend nearly all of their time reading from and writing to disc. Applications are added through the Puppy Package Manager. The OS consists of only two primary files and need not be installed on the target system, thus making it ideal for recovery of data from broken systems. Custom builds of Puppy, or 'puplets' are quite common and very easy to create, allowing you to include exactly what you need in your OS, and no more. Despite the unbearably-cute names for everything, it's worth a look.

Linux Command Reference

There are many reference guides for Linux commands and shell commands, but 'The Ultimate Linux Reference Guide for Newbies' is conveniently organized by functional category and provides command-selection hints for common operations.

Dr. Bob's Lowfat Linux

Dr. Bob has saved this programmer more times than we care to admit. Bob Rankin provides this site as a free tutorial/help site as well as a series of structured lessons designed to bring students up-to-speed in navigating the often arcane and frustrating, but endlessly fascinating world of Linux.

ncurses C-language Library

'ncurses' (new curses) is the C-language function library which allows programmers to format, colorize and otherwise beautify text output to the Linux console (terminal) screen. 'ncurses' and 'ncursesw' (wide text version) are distributed as part of every major Linux distribution and are an integral part of the X-windows/GNOME-term/Konsole interface. The 'ncurses' library replicates (and significantly improves upon) the old System V (UNIX) curses. The talented (and overworked) Thomas E. Dickey maintains 'ncurses', and the package is available on nearly any Linux mirror site. There are a number of third-party APIs that encapsulate subsets of the 'ncurses' primitives for use by developers of console-based applications. In fact, much of the software and documentation on SoftwareSam.us is directly related to the use of the 'ncurses' (actually, ncursesw) interface library.


We have removed “About.com” from our list of recommended sites. It has been taken over by a profit-centered megacorporation and has been split into a group of second-rate ‘vertical market’ sites. RIP About.com.

Tux the Penguin
- Tux the Penguin created by Larry Ewing, and Tux with logos created by Andreas Dilger.
- HTM5 and CSS3 logos by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
- Javascript(tm) released by Oracle Corporation
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