Linux Format Newsletter -- #61, April 2010

Past issues of the LXF Online Newsletter

Moderators: ChriThor, LXF moderators

Linux Format Newsletter -- #61, April 2010

Postby M-Saunders » Fri May 28, 2010 4:04 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 132 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

It's distro season again! A few days ago we had a new release of
PCLinuxOS, yesterday brought us Ubuntu 10.04 (aka Lucid Lynx), and
we're not far away from Fedora 13 (providing the developers don't
get all superstitious and change the version number). I've always
wondered if it's a good idea to have major distro releases so close
together - would it be better if they were more evenly spread over
the year, giving the Linux community something to shout about and be
proud of the year round? Or does having a distro 'season' provide
more impact in the computing world? Let me know what you think!

Read on for a preview of the shiny new Linux Format, issue 132,
along with summaries of the hottest news stories and forum posts.
Also, don't miss our look at the recent controversy in the Ubuntu
camp and the best way for a free software project to be managed.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 132 on sale

We love distros. You love distros. The whole Linux world loves
distros. There's one problem though: how do you try them all without
having to create a hard drive partitioning system so complex that
only string theory scientists can understand it? The solution is
virtualisation. In this month's cover feature we explain in-depth
how to unlock the powerful virtualisation facilities built into
Linux, letting you try any flavour of Linux with minimum hassle. You
can explore as many distros as you want from the comfort of your

Meanwhile, Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon looks at meritocracy
and democracy in the Ubuntu world, while our log files expert
explains how to discover a treasure chest of information on your
system. Then there's our sneak-peek at Ubuntu 10.04, a guide to the
awesomely powerful Zsh, plus tutorials on Inkscape, Firefox, Python, Base and more.

LXF 132's DVD is not just dual-booting, or triple-booting. No siree.
It's a QUAD-booting beast with four great distros to try out:
Dreamlinux, Absolute, Slitaz and Unity. Pop in the disc and choose
the one you want from the boot menu - it's that simple. Plus we have
Open Clip Art 2.0, FlightGear 2.0, development tools, podcasts...

Here's a taster of the magazine from the HotPicks section:

# FBReader 0.12.7 --

Amazon's Kindle may have opened everybody's eyes and aspirations
to the idea of reading e-books on the go, but many people would
prefer a reader that didn't sneakily delete books in the middle of
the night while they were asleep. And maybe something that
supported a few more formats. And was free.

Well, you will have to supply the hardware yourself, but FBReader
does a more than adequate job of helping you read e-books in a
variety of formats. It runs on Linux, and many Linux-based mobile
devices too, such as Nokia's Maemo-running N800/N810.

The .fb2, .epub and Plucker e-book file formats are all supported,
which covers most of the commercially available and free sources
of electronic literature. As of yet, FBReader does not support
viewing of PDF files, which is a slight drawback as this is also a
popular format for viewing e-books. There are plans to support
this format in the future, thought initially it is likely that
just text-only PDFs will be supported at first, rather than any
documents that also have images (which makes sense to use from the
low-resource and easy-to-use standpoint). We should point out
though that normal e-book formats will display with embedded
images if they have them.

You may still prefer Evince as an all-in-one document reader for
the desktop, but the speed and small resource footprint of
FBReader make it ideal for mobile devices running Linux. For
Android phones, there is a port of this project to Java (called,
enterprisingly enough FBReaderJ), which has more or less the same
feature set and is available from the same website or on the
Android store.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 132.

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...

# Ubuntu 10.04 is here ... lucid-lynx

Ubuntu 10.04, aka the Lucid Lynx, has been released to the masses.
This is an LTS (Long Term Support) version, and has received a lot
of attention, not just for the new placement of titlebar buttons.
Hit the URL above for a look at the new features.

# PCLinuxOS 2010 released

Meanwhile, everyone's favourite Mandriva-forked distro has a brand
new release, after a period of relative quietness. Sporting KDE 4.4.2,
Firefox 3.6.3 and improvements to the Control Center, PCLinuxOS 2010
is looking like a solid, if not revolutionary, release.

# FreeBSD boosted by Clang and Chromium ... &px=ODE3NQ

Lastly, a bit of news from the wider Unix world. The FreeBSD team has
reported progress with building the base system using Clang/LLVM, an
alternative compiler to GCC. On the web browser front, Chromium is
becoming more usable on FreeBSD, while sysadmins will be chuffed to
see that work is continuing to port the ZFS filesystem over from

5. This month on the forum

Much of the tech world may be wrapped up in the hype of the iPad,
but we Linux users have some interesting devices to look forward to
as well. Rhakios kicked off a thread with links to a couple of
pad/tablet-like devices powered by the penguin, and other regulars
chipped in with gadgets that they had found too. It's early days but
an intriguing assortment of tablets are starting to appear - let us
know if you come across any other gizmos of note. [1]

Don't you just hate dealing with salespeople in shops? Or perhaps
you work in a shop and hate certain people who come in. Well, the
living legend that is Bazza kicked off a thread with an entertaining
tale of fury in Jessops, while AndyBaxman reminded us of the trick
to mention "Trading Standards" in an increasingly loud voice. Good
anecdotes - join in if you have any to share.



6. Special Newsletter feature


One of the most-discussed features of the new Ubuntu release, yet
arguably one of the most trivial, is the placement of the title bar
buttons. Mid-way through development, it was decided that the
control buttons (maximise, minimise, close) should be moved to the
left of the bar, in a fashion similar to Mac OS X but with a
different order. This caused uproar amongst many in the Ubuntu camp:
how dare such decisions be made about critical matters without
consulting the community!

But Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu project, noted that
his distro isn't a pure democracy but rather a meritocracy [1].
"Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on
design decisions", he wrote.

This is quite a polarising statement to make. Let's look at the

On the one hand, you could have a distro where everyone has a say in
every matter. Each decision is placed into a democratic pipeline
with votes taking place along the way. This prevents any single
individual from taking the distro in an unwelcome direction, and
makes every member of the community felt worthwhile. Debian is
perhaps the closest to this ideal, among the major distributions.

But it introduces some problems as well. Who gets to vote? Only
developers? What about someone who has contributed a vast range of
helpful bug reports, but has never written a line of code? Is he or
she less useful than anyone else? And what happens if you get lots
of tied results in votes - do you hold back changes, pending more
democratic processes, while other distros drive ahead with new

Now let's turn to the other side: a one-man driven system. Apple's
secrecy is legendary, but ex-employees have talked of Steve Jobs's
obsession to detail, and his desire to fine-tune products to match
his exact desires. Mac OS X is not an operating system made by a
committee or system of voting - it's the operating system that Steve
Jobs wants.

On the one hand, this results in a very cohesive and polished
system. On the other hand, who knows what features have never been
considered because of the development process? Maybe there are some
OS X developers who are extremely frustrated that they can't make
certain changes because the managers have too much sway. Again, we
don't know what goes on in the inner caverns of Apple.

There is third way, however, and it's demonstrated extremely well by
the lead Linux kernel developer, Linus Torvalds. The kernel
development process is not a democracy - there are no votes or
boards or anything like that - but equally, it is not an ego trip
for Torvalds. He famously mocks himself, describes himself as a
"****" and knows that he's human. And he's a very good

In the kernel development community, this has generally resulted in
a very efficient system: coders know that they can put forth
suggestions, directly to Torvalds, without having to go through
layers of bureaucracy. Torvalds may reject a suggestion or patch
outright, yet he will usually provide a sound technical reason for
the rejection. It's not always perfect, but by and large the kernel
hackers have a lot of respect for Torvalds and don't find the need
to have relentless votes on everything.

Perhaps this is the balance that Linux needs on the desktop. A
strong leader, someone firmly in control who can make decisions
quickly and keep the desktop experience tight and uniform, but who
also has a great deal of technical nous and can be approached
directly. This would seem to be the perfect middle path between
endless voting over every little issue, and top-down management that
leaves programmers feeling left out. ... ratic.html

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 133, on sale Thursday 27 May...

# Dual boot made easy -- Linux and Windows can live together
in peace. Here's how to make it work better than ever!

# Content filters -- Discover the best apps to help you make
the web safe for your family and your office.

# Back up your life -- Want to store every change to every
file you have? Follow our tutorial and make it so!

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
LXF regular
Posts: 2893
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:14 pm

Return to Newsletter Archives

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests