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A year in FOSS

The time has flown by but it seems I’ve been in the hot FOSS seat for twelve months; more commonly known as one of your Earth years. It’s rare to talk directly about the magazine, but the good news is we’re still here and doing better than ever. We’re continuing to bring onboard new writers to expand our areas of expertise and we’re planning, what we hope you will find, fascinating new features and tutorials for the year ahead.

I might have started on Linux Format as something of an open source neophyte – though to qualify that I’ve used Linux since 2000 for projects and even looked at the kernel source mid-90s on my Amiga – but even then it was obvious how vibrant, constantly changing and vitally important GNU/Linux is to the world. Over the last year here in the UK open source has seeped into our government infrastructure and is now part of the school curriculum, championed a good deal by the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

To help celebrate this fortunate turn of events we’re exploring how you can hack Linux on the Pi to ever greater levels with fun projects, advanced Linux services and essential skills. All the fun starts inside issue 191 so we hope you’ve brought your Pi with you.

Not that we want to obsess on the Pi too much, even if it’s a great device that’s changing the world, a big part of that success is its Linux smarts. We’re finishing our Nginx series (which also happens to all work with the Raspberry Pi) but we’re also going deep into Cython to accelerate everyday Python, exploring how to use Git for your own projects and look at how you can get started developing PHP.

We’re also trying to stay musical with a roundup of excellent players and even pro-level production. Plus even more advanced tutorials, reviews and a packed DVD. I hope you enjoy the issue and many more over the next 12 months!

Issue 193, January - on sale now

Build a Linux media server

Let’s play a game: imagine a world with no open source software. Imagine Steve Ballmer invented a time machine, went back to 1953 and prevented the birth of Richard Stallman, the father of the Free Software Foundation. Overnight, everything open source vanishes from the face of the planet – but what changes? Of course, GNU/Linux disappears. Something like 75% of the world’s web servers grind to a halt or have to switch to Windows. You can kiss goodbye to every Android phone and tablet too. You’re OK as you’re an Apple owner? Nope, the Darwin kernel is based in part on the open source BSD kernel, while Safari uses the open source WebKit, to take just two examples of the open source elements that power both its mobile iOS and desktop OS X operating systems. We’d be left in a world of Windows, but without iOS and Android to compete against, Microsoft would have been happy to continue flogging us all its Windows Mobile OS and Windows XP on the desktop. And with so many web technologies based on open source and open platforms, the internet as we know it would cease to exist: we’ve already kissed goodbye to Safari, but bang goes Chrome, Firefox, WordPress, Docker, OpenStack and OpenSSL – the list goes on and on. This was just a silly academic exercise, but the point is to show how widely open source is used. It increases choice: Android can be adopted and adapted by any company. It speeds adoption of technologies: source code has to be made publicly available, so everyone can use it and contribute to it. It reduces costs: there’s no need to develop technologies from scratch or buy them in at great cost, and tried and tested code can be reused. It fuels standards: Docker is a cloud phenomena that even Microsoft has to embrace. So as you read this issue, taking in open source media centres, streaming standards, open server systems, Minecraft alternatives, filesystems, drawing packages, OpenLDAP, alternative kernels, programming and so much more, just thank Stallman* open source exists at all.
*We realise someone else would have championed the philosophy, but as well as katana-wielding Stallman? Never!


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