About this Blog

This is the third in a series of blog posts about major Joomla websites and the developers who built them.

  • First up was Jack Bremer and the U.K. arts website theArtsDesk.com.
  • Second was Fotis Evangelou and the Greek sports website Gazzetta.gr.

This week we're talking with Dan Lopez about Linux.com.

Hi Dan. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dan LopezI serve as the Web Architect to the Linux Foundation, and help enable the Linux Foundation with websites and web technology that can help accomplish our strategic goals as an organization. I have been involved with full lifecycle development for large Consumer websites, to Enterprise Architecture for Federal and DoD. I am also an Entrepreneur, Strategist, Web Application Architect, Open Source Software evangelist, and a seasoned start-up veteran. I have been involved and continue to have interest in Web applications using Open Source technologies, and otherwise Open Source geekery. 

What or who is behind Linux.com?

The Linux Foundation is the non-profit that runs Linux.com, which is the organization that promotes, protects and standardizes Linux. I am the Web architect that is responsible for the management and build out of engineering efforts that enable us to execute our business strategy with the right web and technology enablers.

How did you sell the use of Joomla to your decision-makers?

I was tasked to implement a content management system that would let us expand and adapt to our business needs. Joomla has a modular architecture, an active community, production-ready 3rd party components that have pretty good support. I like to adhere to my Open Source software selection mantra: time to market, scalability, flexibility, stability, and choice. Joomla provided all of those where other competing CMS systems could not provide all of those. For Linux.com, time to market was the most critical factor, and flexibility was key for our other sites that utilize Joomla. To me, it was a pretty straight forward decision, and maintaining Joomla sites tend to be more pragmatic from a Configuration Management stand point in my view.

What extensions did you use in building the site?

We currently use JomSocial, MyBlog, JomComment, JComments, EventList, Mosets Tree, and a lot of custom code, namely our spam controls and our news aggregation platform.

What major advantages did you find with using Joomla as a platform?

  • Design - we were able to work with a commercial template as a base and have designers give us the "bling" and "pop" we were looking for to convey our brand message
  • Time to Market - Joomla was by far the best choice in terms of time to market, since a combination of out of the box functionality, custom code, and 3rd party components allowed us to build a site in weeks not months
  • Support for LDAP - We make extensive use of LDAP and needed that functionality. 
  • Modular - The great thing about Joomla is that if one module or component breaks it can be isolated and fixed, where procedural code based cms systems are horrible to debug.
  • Configuration Management - We have a powerful and pragmatic build approach since the code base is pretty clean, and we need to build lots of servers for our code updates.

What major obstacles did you come across during the build?

We ran into a couple of issues with the way LDAP in Joomla works and the sign up process. We had to integrate Jomsocial and LDAP with our particular setup. We also encountered a couple of issues with the way Joomla out of the box database setup is for scalability. We implemented mysql_proxy and a few other tricks to setup up database replication and scaling.

Did you work with anyone in the Joomla community to get the project done?

We worked with Sam Moffatt (http://pasamio.com) who is the maintainer of JAuthTools and helped us develop our enhancements and logic hooks for LDAP. We hope that our changes and enhancements will make it to the community. We plan on working with Sam to do so.

We also worked with Mike Carson who runs JoomlaShowroom.com and built a product called RegistrationPro. We use this for our events registration, and has really allowed us to explore new opportunities with our events and event marketing. Mike and his team helped us build a shopping cart flow, which they incorporated back into their core product. We plan on continuing to work with Mike to explore learning management capabilities, and expand out Webinars model.

Linux.com Screenshot

You've multiple Joomla installs on Linux.com?

We run a load balanced, clustered environment for Linux.com, and we maintain a consistent code base across all the web servers by implementing a build process engine and SVN version control system

How do you handle such heavy traffic on a Joomla site (+1.5 million uniques per month)?

We run a clustered environment for both our webservers and our databases, with database replication, mysql_proxy, caching on as many modules as possible

How do you handle security on such a major Joomla site?

We approach security very seriously with our Joomla sites. On Linux.com we employ several methods:

  • We keep up to date as best as possible with Joomla core security announcements, and patches
  • We also stay on top of security patches and announcements with the components we have running
  • We have created an anti-spam engine for user profiles, blog posts,  forum posts and our directory, with sophisticated algorithms that monitor and ban suspected spammers and spam content, and is in part crowd sourced to the community, with our internal moderation. Most people I know don't like to be Rick-Rolled!

You've been pushing Joomla forward when it comes to CRM integration?

We have extended our reach to our members and potential members by implementing a seamless integration from our web forms in Joomla to SugarCRM, and have enhanced our ecommerce technology to incorporated closed-loop tracking. We also created a web services engine that can routinely integrate sales information from our CMS sites to SugarCRM.

You've been using Joomla for landing pages?

To help us gain a higher impact for our marketing initiatives, we employ a farm of several Joomla sites that serve only landing pages for our lead capture and lead generation, newsletter signups, ad buys, and other web forms. We find it a value-add when our relationship with our members is more targeted to what they need instead of static email blasts.  It also helps us in our organic search for relevant linux content, page quality scores and a whole lot more. We also plan to start doing multi-variate testing, and geolocation delivery of content to landing pages, and a tighter integration with our OpenX Ad servers.

How have you found Joomla for Search Engine Optimization?

Joomla's SEO capabilities are mostly great out of the box. SEF URLs are a great out of the gates SEO tool. But, Joomla does has some issues. Adding SEOSimple, a Sitemap component, plugin for header modifications, and CSS + template tweaks gave us a huge bump, with almost immediate gains in page rank. We also had to modify the core Article manager backend to allows us to be able to distinguish original content from aggregated content and create custom feeds that search engines pick up better.

You've learned some tips and tricks that you're planning to share with the Joomla community?

We plan to work with Sam Moffatt to bring our LDAP modifications back to the community, first and foremost, as this feature helps lend itself to enterprise features that Joomla core should champion. I will be illustrating how to do Landing Pages with template setup and a quick PHP script with out of the box Joomla to get you running with Landing page technology.

Do you have anything else special planned for Linux.com?

We have lots in store for linux.com! Just to whet the appetite for geeks out there, Webservices API so you can write your own Linux.com widget (or Python desktop app using Quickly!), tighter Linux Foundation site data integration to profiles and components, recommendations for events, groups and more based on geolocation, and a visualization platform for discovering Linux and FOSS skills, gurus, and consultants. 

Are you using Joomla for other sites or marketing?

We use Joomla as a core platform for our Events, Training, and Landing page systems. We depend heavily on Joomla to deliver our events such as LinuxCon, Collaboration Summit, training events and webinars, and a whole lot more. Some of our core business strategies now depend on Joomla.

Would you consider your choice of Joomla to have been a success?

Absolutely, and will continue to push Joomla's capabilities as we adapt and innovate at the Linux Foundation. If you want to find out more, I will be on FLOSSweekly March 24th (http://twit.tv/FLOSS) to talk about Linux.com and the Linux Foundation.

About This Interview

Steve is a member of Open Source Matters board which helps the Joomla team keep the project running smoothly. He runs Open Source Training.

Do you know of a major or particularly interesting site that we should feature here? Email your suggestions to . Be sure to include:

  • The website URL
  • Why the site is interesting
  • An email address for the developer