NetSide Social Network Forums

Free community tools at your fingertips - an experiment in social networking
by Mitch Halmu, Netside Corporation
June 2013

NetSide Corporation started as an ISP in 1995, offering dial-up accounts to the public. I started the service because after I graduated in 1994, I lost my university student account and there were few options for Internet access in South Florida. Throughout the years, I saw many Internet start-ups flourish and perish. This much became clear: Open Source and free services pave the way to having a future on the net. On our 18th anniversary, NetSide is starting a new venture: offering a collection of Open Source Social Network forums to the public.

Most Open Source packages selected for this project are running on the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). The O/S is Debian jesse/sid (latest experimental Linux kernel) on Sun sparc servers. Since I had no idea what may become popular, we experimented with quite a few packages.

In the end, a phpBB3 board for Free Classifieds Advertising, business listings and website promotion became a viable enterprise. The rest of the stuff was shelved, as this project is quite large, technically challenging and resources intensive. A lot of custom modifications were necessary to enhace and adapt the basic forum package's functionality for an innovative application with social networking features.

Since the deployed Debian Linux packages are bleeding edge and are updated weekly from the jesse/sid/experimental repositories, some incompatibilities with older software using deprecated syntax are possible, especially when updating to the latest php version:

# php --version
PHP 5.5.1-2 (cli) (built: Aug  5 2013 22:09:47) 
Copyright (c) 1997-2013 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.5.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2013 Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v7.0.2-dev, Copyright (c) 1999-2013, by Zend Technologies

There are no guarantees about this free service. It is experimental and still under development, so if you produce and post original and unique material on the web (i.e., as articles in your free classifieds user blog, or store pictures in your personal albums), always keep a backup copy of your own. Also, please don't ask me to develop content for you. Like Leonard McCoy from Star Trek, I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.


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This phpBB3 forum project became an active site with its own domain: Free Classifieds Advertising


Mitch Halmu
NetSide Corporation