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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 03 Feb 2011

A Debian blog created with FlatPress

After writing my entry on CMS and blog software that doesn’t require a database, one of the commenters recommended FlatPress.

It’s not just the name (a play on WordPress, on the off-off-off chance that you missed that particular bit of wordplay). OK, a lot of it is the name. By way of explanation, it’s called FlatPress because it stores its data in “flat” files and not in a database, such as the MySQL that powers the back end of WordPress and innumerable other content-management platforms.

But it turns out that FlatPress is a very easy-to-install blogging platform that uses PHP, stores the entries in the aforementioned flat files, runs extremely fast, takes up very little disk space (1.9 MB after the files are uncompressed, 508 KB before you unpack it) and is refreshingly simple.

Part of that simplicity at the level this particular blog is at includes entering a lot of HTML (or BBCode) tags, and it’s not as easy to bring images into the system as it is with something like WordPress. But there is an uploader in the FlatPress software, and once you know where the files go, it’s easy enough to call them into the blog with the proper tags.

Right now I’m playing around with FlatPress. Aside from its primary blogging capability, just like WordPress it can be used to create a website that isn’t necessarily a blog. For a basic website, a simple system like FlatPress allows you to install the software, drop in your content and have things up and running quickly. It’s a great way to demonstrate (and tap) the power of PHP, the server-side web scripting language that has been around for a long time but which still can do a hell of a lot.

Another thing: While a WordPress.org blog can be moved from one site to another (between URLs on one hosting provider, or to an entirely different web server), moving a FlatPress blog is even easier. You just grab the directory, then move it (via FTP, or the console if you have access) where you want it. Update the URL of your web site in the FlatPress admin area and you’re good to go.

Right now this is as simple as a blog gets. No ads, nothing to monitor the traffic. It’s just text and, at this point, a single image, pushed from the web server to you.

It occurs to me that I haven’t written about Debian yet. Debian Squeeze — still the Testing distribution — is due to become the project’s Stable release in three days. Follow the countdown here or at my Click technology blog.

Since Debian Testing, despite its name, is quite stable, I’ve been running it since late November due to the refreshing lack of video issues with my ATI Mobility Radeon 4200 HD chip. That makes two solid months for me in Debian Squeeze.

And even though Debian is famous for shipping old software and sticking with it (though that’s part of what makes a stable Debian release really stable), I’m using an up-to-date 2.6.37 kernel from Liquorix that works perfectly with Squeeze. I still have the stock 2.6.32 kernel if/when I need it.

What 2.6.37 brings me is relief from a persistent audio bug in my Lenovo G555 laptop’s awful Conexant 5069 audio chip. In most Linux distributions and all BSD systems, plugging in a headphone jack doesn’t mute the laptop’s own speakers. There are a few hacks/workarounds out there for Linux (nothing for BSD, but I bet a savvy user could figure it out, since it has to do with detecting when the jack is plugged in and having the system act accordingly), but with 2.6.37 headphone-jack muting works out of the box.

That’s progress, all right.