Linux Format Newsletter -- #57, January 2010

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #57, January 2010

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:31 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 128 on sale

3. Special subscription offer

4. In the news...

5. This month on the forum

6. Special Newsletter feature

7. Coming up next issue

8. Receiving this Newsletter

9. Contact details

1. Welcome

Welcome to 2010! Its amazing how much progress has been made in the
Linux world over the last decade. This time in 2001, Linux Format
magazine hadn't even been launched, and the OS was largely confined
to the realms of back-end servers and geekdom. Today, we have mobile
phones, netbooks and an increasing number of desktops running Linux.
Dell sells Linux boxes. Linux is huge in the web server market.
Here's hoping for another 10 good years!

If you've ever fancied trying your hand at programming, we've just
launched a new Special Edition of Linux Format magazine: Paul
Hudson's Coding Academy. Paul, the LXF editor, is one of the most
prolific coders I know and loves hacking on anything he can find.
The tutorials don't get bogged down with tiresome theory and
algorithms: no, you actually code cool stuff. Grab a copy today at

Enjoy the Newsletter - don't miss our Special Feature in which we
analyse whether tablet PCs are a never-ending fad, or if 2010 is
going to change the computing world forever...

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 128 on sale

In some ways, we're all Linux newbies. Even if you've been using the
operating system for years, there are always new distros,
technologies and techniques to explore. So in Linux Format issue 128
we've gone back to basics: get started with Linux the easy way. We
show you how to install Fedora 12, navigate the desktop, install
extra software and be productive with the included programs.

Meanwhile, we see how Google's new Chrome OS stacks up against the
more established Ubuntu Netbook Remix, explain how to recover
partition data with TestDisk, and design your own ringtones with
SuperCollider. We have nine quick projects: file encryption, setting
up a wiki, convert your music to free formats and more - and they
all just take 10 minutes each.

On the 4GB DVD you'll find the full version of Fedora 12 complete
with 2,300 packages - state-of-the-art Linux for the new decade.
Plus there's Opera 10.10, KOffice 2.1, games, podcasts and much more
to explore. Here's a taster of the issue from our HotPicks section:

# Minitube 0.8 --

During the early days of the web, you had to wait several minutes
just to view an image. Even then it was usually some grainy GIF
file that might well have featured as an example in Pointilism for
Dummies. Today there are not only great images, but streaming
video too. Technology and infrastructure have advanced to the
point where you can effectively get your own custom high-def TV
stream shoved straight to your monitor. All so you can watch a cat
playing the piano.

Anyway, like most good things on the net, YouTube was bought by
Google, though it's persisted with the Flash-based interface for
the site. This is a matter of discomfort for Linux users, because,
great though Gnash is, it doesn't always work as well as the Evil
Proprietary Official Flash Player Plugin. But now, if you don't
want to sully your browser with another Adobe plugin, or don't see
why you should watch TV in a browser, you can use Minitube.

When it starts up, type in a search string and the software
automatically builds a playlist of the top matches and starts
streaming them to the screen. The viewer supports a full-screen
mode and, since it provides its own player, no Flash is required.
In practise, it works very well, although it does seem to have
occasional problems playing back files. All in all, it's very

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 128.

3. Special subscription offer

By subscribing to Linux Format magazine, not only do you save heaps
of money compared to buying it at the newsstand, but you also get
access to over 50 back issues (in PDF format) online: that's over a
thousand articles! See:

If you're in the USA, go to and
enter code 'e004' to save 45% and pay just $30.62 every 3 months or
$122.47 for the year.

For those in the UK, EU and rest of the world, visit:

UK readers save 35% off the newsstand price (based on 13 issues),
paying 13.75 UKP quarterly by direct debit. In the EU, you get 13
issues for 93.70 UKP (that's a whopping saving of 50%), while in the
rest of the world you can save 10% - it's 97.50 UKP.

So, save time and money, and get access to a huge wealth of previous
Linux Format content - subscribe today!

4. In the news

The biggest developments from around the net...

# Mark Shuttleworth steps down as Canonical CEO

The Ubuntu founder wants to take a more hands-on role within the
project, focusing on building "better and more insightful products"
rather than jostling with spreadsheets every day. Long-time
Canonical employee Jane Silber will take his place.

# Google releases Nexus One

While Google's Android OS has been doing the rounds on various
third-party phones for a while now, this is the first time that the
search giant has produced its own handset. Hit the link above for
Engadget's take on the device.

# Freescale unveils reference tablet

We're only a few days into 2010, but it looks like this could be the
year of the tablet. The hype around Apple's purported iSlate just
keeps increasing, but it'll probably be a bit costly, whereas
Freescale has come up with an intriguing Linux-powered tablet that
they hope to get on the market for under $200.

5. This month on the forum

If you've got a 64-bit CPU, do you really benefit from using a
64-bit distro? Rhakios was getting tired of hearing people say
there's no real difference, pointing at some tests on the Phoronix
website showing that the performance gaps add up. Various posters
noted that the compatibility issues with 32-bit plugins aren't as
prominent thesedays as they once were. [1]

Here's a thought... What sort of music would you expect the LXF
forum regulars to like? Well, Bazza kicked off a thread and some of
the responses inside might surprise you. And yes, John Cage's
(in)famous work 4'33" makes an appearance... [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


The concept behind tablet PCs is as old as the hills. Way back in
2001, Bill Gates said: "within five years I predict that [tablets]
will be the most popular form of PC sold in America". An
embarrassingly bad prediction, but whatever you think of the man,
Bill Gates isn't stupid. For some reason he really did believe that
laptops-without-keyboards were the future.

But back then, tablets were awful. They were thick, heavy, had poor
battery life and came with a ridiculous assortment of ports and
breakable bits that nobody wanted to use. And above all, they ran
Windows, an OS designed to be used with a precise pointing device.
Then tack on all the other problems with Windows and you have a
pretty awkward, gimmicky device.

Tablets went pretty much nowhere after that, save for the occasional
appearance in the press and a hyperactive journalist claiming that
now, yes, definitely this time tablets were ready for everyone.
Things started to change, however, with the launch of Apple's iPod
Touch. This was too small to fit into the regular tablet category,
but limited screen space aside, it had all the desirable aspects of
a good tablet: it was thin, light, extremely easy to use and you
could quickly get hold of add-on software. The iPod Touch, as with
the iPhone, is truly a pocket computer now - Apple's strict control
of the App Store aside.

As pundits began to see the potential of the iPod Touch, rumours
started circulating about an Apple tablet device. Imagine a bigger
Touch that you could use to browse the web, watch movies, read
online newspapers, play games and so forth - covering the majority
of jobs that most of us do in a typical day. Ditch ethernet ports
and vents and other cruft, and have a slim, light device that does
what most people want it to do.


Now, it looks like Apple will be launching a tablet very soon. But
what about for us in the Linux world? It turns out that Linux is a
brilliant operating system for tablets. You've got a set, specific
hardware platform so you don't need to worry about kernel versions
and drivers. You've got a touch-based interface so you can avoid the
whole Gnome vs KDE vs Xfce debate and instead have, say, a
Moblin-esque Clutter interface. Linux can be made very system
resource friendly, and of course it's free so hardware manufacturers
can keep prices down.

If Apple's device is announced later in January, no doubt we will
see an explosion in the interest in tablets. But we'd wager that
Apple's machine won't be on the cheap side, and will be rather
locked down. A great competitor would be a cheap, open tablet
powered by Linux - much like the Freescale device covered in the
News section above.

Ultimately, we all know someone - often many people - who don't need
all the trimmings of a complex desktop computer/laptop. Many people
just want to browse the web, send emails, listen to a bit of music
and so forth. A new wave of light, cheap and frill-free tablets
could take the world by storm - so here's hoping that Linux is in
the centre of it all.

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 129, on sale Thursday 4 February...

# The future is today! Gnome 3.0, KDE 4.4, Chrome and more
unite to make 2010 an incredible year for Linux

# New Android mini-series -- hack your open source mobile
phone to do exactly what you want

# HTTP is dead! -- Long live SPDY, Google's ultra-fast
new web technology

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

8. 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 writing
Hello World in BASIC:

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 cry) 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...'

9. 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) 2010 Future Publishing Limited
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