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Features - Printing, Web Serving, Filtering

Printing with ClarkConnect is handled by the Common UNIX Printing System, or CUPS, and with good reason. The CUPS system includes its own web-based interface (Figure 6), which while not quite as slick as the ClarkConnect system, works well.

Print Server

Figure 6: Print Server
(click on image for larger view)

I say that CUPS works well, and it does, provided you have a printer that's supported. Sadly, because of poor cooperation from manufacturers, printer support is not an area where Linux currently shines. If your printer is supported though, then setting it up with the CUPS system is pretty simple.

Tip TIP: Finding a comprehensive list of CUPS-supported printers isn't easy. But the site has some helpful info, including a list of suggested printers for open source software users.

ClarkConnect automatically adds a share for configured printers, so after restarting Samba (assuming you're running it), your ClarkConnect printer should show up in the Network Neighborhood of your local Windows computers. Once there, of course, printing to it from Windows is simple.

Web serving is definitely an area where Linux excels. This is also another area where ClarkConnect takes a complex piece of software, in this case the Apache web server, and puts a simple, friendly face on it (Figure 7). Again, as with Samba, you only have access to a limited number of Apache's functions through the web interface, but for a lot of users, that's all they'll need.

Web Server

Figure 7: Web Server
(click on image for larger view)

ClarkConnect Home also includes other goodies, like a photo gallery, (based on Gallery) FTP server (ProFTPD), and mail server packages (postfix for SMTP, University of Washington IMAP toolkit for POP and IMAP). One useful feature of the mail server system is the "spam" filtering service (SpamAssassin). Spam, or junk e-mail filtering, is configured through another easy to use interface shown in Figure 8.

Spam Filter

Figure 8: Spam Filter
(click on image for larger view)

Something that may be of special interest to web surfers these days is the "Proxy and Filtering" set of applications. These are separated into three items: web proxy (squid), banner/pop-up blocker(privoxy), and content filter (DansGuardian). Basically, a web proxy is a way of caching web objects locally for faster access - that's a good thing. The pop-up blocker and the content filter both work with the web caching system to try and filter out some of the garbage the Internet throws at you. Again, these are all rather complex pieces of software with tons of configuration options, but ClarkConnect makes using them point-and-click easy for the average user. Figure 9 shows the Content Filter interface.

Content Filter

Figure 9: Content Filter
(click on image for larger view)

You'll need a ClarkConnect subscription to update the content filter definitions via the web interface, but of course, it can be done manually through the command line if you want to bad enough.

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