Linux Format Newsletter -- #50, June 2009

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #50, June 2009

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:50 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 121 on sale

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. Special Newsletter feature

6. Coming up next issue

7. Receiving this Newsletter

8. Contact details

1. Welcome

Welcome to the 50th issue of the Linux Format newsletter! As a
retrospective, in the first issue (June 2005) we talked about the
release of KDE 3.5 and Fedora Core 4, and Gentoo founder Daniel
Robbins's move to Microsoft. Oh, and Mandriva had just snapped up
the assets from Lycoris, only a few months after buying Conectiva.

On the website front, regular visitors will know that we've been
working on a new site in our spare moments. It's taken a while, but
we want to do it properly, and we're happy to announce that it'll go
live on Monday 29 June! The regular features - forums, archives,
blog and wiki - will still be here, but the new site will be
cleaner, faster and easier to navigate.

Meanwhile, read on for a look at the new LXF issue, the hottest
forum topics and news posts, and an explanation of the outrageously
cool Tiny Core Linux nano-distro.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 121 on sale

Netbooks - they're cheap, small, light and often Linux-powered. But
if you're in the market for a new mini-laptop, which one should you
go for? The ever-growing range of machines on the shelves can be
bewildering at first, and even though most of them share similar
internal specs, there are design and usability issues that can make
or break a machine. In LXF 121's cover feature we put eight of the
most popular netbooks under the spotlight, benchmarking, testing and
stressing them to find the ideal machine for you - whatever your

Then we look under the hood of Mac OS X to explore its similarities
with Linux, showing you how to make your Unix skills transferable
to other OSes. If you're a coder, don't miss our guide to
benchmarking and profiling your work, and on the 4GB DVD you'll find
three top OSes: Linux Mint 7, Ulteo and OpenSolaris 3.1. In the
HotPicks section we go over the internet with a fine-toothed comb to
catch the best new open source releases - here's one sample...

# Cactus Jukebox 0.4.1 --

Our personal music libraries are constantly growing, which means
it's becoming important that we have decent software to manage
them. Cactus Jukebox is another contender for that title, although
its interface seems confusingly cluttered initially.

That said, you do start with a blank library - Cactus doesn't
force you to have all your music files in the Music directory
found in most Gnome-based distros these days. A quick look under
the File menu produces the Add Directory entry, enabling you to
browse to the top-level folder that holds your music and
recursively scanning each folder underneath it to retrieve a
listing of all compatible music files - Ogg compatibility is

On the left-hand side is a list of all the registered artists with
related albums nested underneath. You can use the directory tree
to browse this, while the tracks themselves appear in the panel
above the controls. Cactus also includes a quick and handy search
function that uses fuzzy logic, helping you to find tracks based
on track, artists or album name,

On the far-left side, you'll see three different tabs: the first
is for your music library, the second for network-related activity
such as streaming internet radio, and the third enables you to
manage music on a media player by dragging and dropping tracks
onto it.

If you're planning on using Cactus to rip your CDs then you'll
need the cdda2wav package to assist with the ripping; on top of
this you should also ensure that you've got an MP3 encoder
installed, along with MPlayer.

Cactus is a useful project on a different path to the one trodden
by Rhythmbox and Banshee, particularly because it relies upon a
sole developer. We think it merits further interest from the wider
Linux community, and would encourage you to take a look and lend a
hand; we're sure it would benefit from the additional assistance.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 121.

3. In the news

The biggest developments around the net...

# Fedora 11 - aka "Leonidas" - is here

It's a wee bit later than originally planned, but finally we have a
shiny new version of Fedora to play with. Codenamed Leonidas, Fedora
11 brings together a bunch of tweaks and enhancements, described in
boring business-like language in the official announcement and with
a fantastic, surreal slant in the Fedora mailing list post.

# Firefox 3.5 RC2 released

After a short break in the sun, we're happy to return to the land of
Linux and see that Firefox 3.5 has now gone into its second release
candidate. Codenamed Shiretoko, it now has many more new features
compared to the 3.0.x releases, including: support for HTML 5,
adding <audio> and <video> tags so you can now watch embedded Ogg
Vorbis and Theora content, and a new, faster JavaScript engine
called Tracemonkey, featuring faster code execution.

# Mandriva 2010 starts development with Alpha 1

Anne Nicolas has announced the availability of the first alpha
release of Mandriva Linux 2010: "Mandriva Linux 2010 Alpha 1 is now
available on public mirrors. Among many items you will find: improve
boot time; clean and complete GRUB and install menu; use of Plymouth
and fallback to Splashy for unsupported chipsets; switch to Tomoyo
security framework, provide GUI for common setup, integrated also in
msec; guest account created on the fly when needed; packaging of
Moblin, use it as default environment if stable enough when light
hardware configuration is detected; auto-detection of local urpmi

4. This month on the forum

Is Fedora 11 a disappointment? bobzr gave it a go and found problems
with the installer, and after a brief off-topic interlude, RedWillow
tried to make sense of the various download offerings. sentient_one
loved Fedora 10 but wasn't getting on well with 11, while towards
the end of the thread bobzr had tried the release on another
machine, with more success this time. Have you tried F11? Join in
the thread if so! [1]

linuxgirlie returned to the forums after a break with tales of a
fire at her school. Dutch Master chipped in with an excellently
obscure train joke before the discussion swung in the direction of
everyone's favourite dancing IT bigwig, Steve Ballmer. Nothing like
three pages of off-topic Ballmer-mocking japery, eh! [2]

[1] ... ic&t=10276

[2] ... ic&t=10314

5. Special Newsletter feature


If someone says the words "light Linux distro", you probably think
of something like Zenwalk or Damn Small Linux. But there's an
incredibly cool, unbelievably small distro that's starting to gain
popularity: Tiny Core Linux. Weighing in at a mere 10MB, Tiny Core
boots up to a very bare desktop, and lets you add only the apps you
want from the internet. It's as minimal as you can get, and
therefore ideal for setting up fixed-purpose kiosks and similar
machines. Oh - and it's just plain cool to toy around with too.
Here's how to get started:

1) Get the distro

Go to and download the distro, eg from
here: ... x/release/

The file you want is 'tinycore_2.0.iso'. You can burn this to a CD-R
and boot it, but to avoid CD-R wastage you can run it inside an
virtual machine/emulator such as VirtualBox (

2) Boot it up

As you'd expect, Tiny Core boots up screamingly fast. After a spot
of hardware detection you'll land immediately at a desktop built
using the JWM window manager and Fltk toolkit. At the top of the
screen you'll see a taskbar and virtual desktop switcher, while at
the bottom sits a program launcher dock with fluid zooming
animations. Already very impressive for 10MB!

3) Use the desktop

By default the dock contains three icons: the first launches a
terminal with the Busybox shell, providing basic versions of common
Linux commands and utilities. The second icon launches a useful - if
rather austere looking - control panel letting you tweak the
desktop, reconfigure your network settings and so forth. The third
icon launches the App Browser, which appears to be empty at first...
but we'll soon fix that!

4) Add more programs

In the App Browser, click the Connect Menu and then the TCE option.
This provides a list of software you can grab from the internet. For
instance, scroll down the list on the left and click firefox.tce.
You'll then see various information on the right-hand panel: version
number, download size and so forth. Click Install Selected in the
bottom-left of the App Browser and Firefox will be downloaded along
with its dependencies (even Gtk - remember, Tiny Core comes with
hardly anything!).

5) Use the software

Lastly, you'll get a confirmation message that Firefox has been
installed, and you'll see the familiar orange-and-blue launcher in
the dock. If you install a (graphical) piece of software and it
doesn't appear in the dock, however, you can access it by
right-clicking on the desktop and looking under Apps.

When you're finished with Tiny Core, right-click on the desktop to
shut down. We'll be following this fascinating project very closely
- it's the most awesomely streamlined platform we've seen since
first being impressed by Workbench in 512K on the Amiga!

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 122, on sale Thursday 23 July...

# Windows 7 vs Linux: beat your friends to new features
with free software, without compromising on low system

# Online anonymity explained: Incognito means no one can
watch your movements online, no matter how hard they try!

# KOffice 2.0: after years of work, the latest KDE office
suite is here - is it good enough to compete with OOo?

Contents are subject to change, and may settle in transit.

7. Receiving this Newsletter

If you've been forwarded this Newsletter from someone else, and want
to sign up for future issues, just follow the steps below. Each
month you'll receive a sparkling new LXF Newsletter straight in your
Inbox, and the 30-second sign-up process is even easier than
ordering a Big Mac meal:

1. Go to the website forums and log in (or sign up first):
2. At the top of the main forum page, click on 'Usergroups'
3. Join the 'Newsletter' group, and you're done!

If for some reason you no longer wish to receive this newsletter
(which'll make the internet sad) you can opt-out like this:

1. Log into the LXF site and go to the forums
2. Click Usergroups at the top of the page
3. Select Newsletter and then View information
4. Click Unsubscribe next to 'You are a member...'

8. Contact details

If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to the
Newsletter Editor at the address below:

Newsletter Editor: Mike Saunders --

Letters for the magazine:

LXF website:

Subscriptions: 0870 837 4722 (overseas +44 1858 438794)
Website subscription page:

(C) 2009 Future Publishing Limited
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