Linux Format Newsletter -- #66, September 2010

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #66, September 2010

Postby M-Saunders » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:32 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 137 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

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend about domain names, and how
much of a bad reputation the newer ones have. Take .biz for
instance: would you ever buy anything online from a company that
uses a .biz domain? (No offence to anyone who has registered one --
but the only time I've ever seen .biz is in spam emails!) Also, .pro
is a strange one too. And then there's .museum, .aero... (which just
makes me think of chocolate).

Anyway, enough of my musings: read on for a look at the sparkling
new issue of LXF, roundups of hot news stories and forum threads,
plus a special feature on the efforts to unify the Linux desktop
experience. Enjoy reading!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 137 on sale

Multimedia is an old term, but most of us are more used to consuming
media rather than creating it. As Linux marches boldly forward
towards widespread desktop adoption, its toolset for creating,
editing and managing multimedia is growing ever stronger, so in this
month's cover feature we show you how to use the best software to
its maximum potential. Burn discs, manage photos, edit videos and
sort your music with ease.

Meanwhile, we find out what makes Google Chrome the hottest web
browser of the moment, examine how to avoid burnout when you're
working on a lot of projects, and gather together the 24 things we'd
improve in Linux. Then there are tutorials on Mozilla Lightning,
QDVDAuthor, Webmin and scripting, along with reviews of Linux Mint 9
(KDE edition), Jolicloud 1.0 and more.

On the free 4GB DVD you'll find a wealth of great software, headed
up by PCLinuxOS 2010.07. This friendly desktop distro is one of the
most popular around, and a great way to get the latest Linux tech on
your machine. Also on the disc you'll find KDE 4.5, a preview (alpha
3) of Ubuntu 10.10, MonoDevelop 2.4, games, podcasts and much more
to explore.

Here's a taster of LXF137 from the HotPicks section:

# Makagiga 3.8.6 -

Makagiga is a somewhat strange combination of things, as its
cake-like name suggests. It's ostensibly a notebook and task
manager application, but there are a variety of plugins and
widgets to perform tasks as diverse as viewing images or reading
RSS feeds, searching Google or setting alarms.

The theory is that Makagiga can become your workplace,
entertainment portal and home for everything else you want to do
on the desktop. OK, so that's stretching it a bit, but there are
plenty of things to play with. Tabbed views keep the different
components separated, so you can quickly switch between editing
text, reading the latest feeds or ticking things off on your to-do
lists. The integrated web search, bookmarks and tags also make it
easy to manage your various media. However, we think it would be
good to have a few options for syncing, or at least importing
bookmarks from other sources.

With pretty minimal resource requirements and quite a catalogue of
plugins, the aspirations of this software may be best realised on
a portable device or a tablet, where having many feature-rich but
separate applications could be a disadvantage. The component parts
all work fine, but they don't look anything like native Linux apps
and some of the user interface is quirky. For example, various
menu items insisted on opening needly large, unshrinkable modal
dialogs, which is a bit annoying but not unusable (bar on an N800
or similar).

Makagiga is Java-based, so it's able to work cross-platform and
pses no particular problems for installation. Just run it directly
from the JAR file, or with the help of the script. Alternatively,
RPM packages are available from the main download site if that
makes life easier for you.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 137.

3. Special subscription offer

Subscribing to Linux Format not only has the benefit of fantastic
savings. Subscribers will also get exclusive, unlimited access to the
Linux Format subscriber-only area, featuring magazine PDFs, complete
issues and coverdisc downloads! That's access to over 60 issues of Linux
learning, free to subscribers to download! See our latest offers at: ... nuxformat/

4. In the news

The biggest developments from around the net...

# Mark Shuttleworth muses on Canonical's contributions

It's a hard job, running the world's most popular distro. While the
majority of users are happy to see Ubuntu leading the charge for
Linux on the desktop, some express very vocal concerns about the
distro and its developers. Mark Shuttleworth has written a lengthy
blog post with his reflections on the contributions of Ubuntu to the
free software world, along with his own work.

# Firefox 4 preview shows off new JavaScript engine ... germonkey/

Chrome, Safari and Opera are making great strides in JavaScript
performance, and the Firefox team doesn't want to be left behind. So
they've released a new developer preview of the upcoming Firefox 4
release, sporting a whizzy new JavaScript engine called
JaegerMonkey. Give it a try, especially if you love the 'fox but
have been put off by its JS slowness in recent months.

# OpenSolaris lives! Kind-of...

Yes, although Oracle brought a swift end to the OpenSolaris project,
deciding to keep the big-iron UNIX OS wrapped up in closed
development, a bunch of coders are continuing the free software
approach with the OpenIndiana project. It aims to maintain binary
compatibility with Solaris 11 and build on the available source
code, much like CentOS does with RHEL.

5. This month on the forum

There are many lightweight Linux distros doing the rounds, and
sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the best one for a particular
machine. Heiowge was looking for a Linux flavour for his mum's
EeePC 900, and having tried the latest Ubuntu releases he wasn't
too chuffed with the performance. Various suggestions came up
in the thread, and ultimately Linux Mint 9 LXDE version came
out the best. [1]

Looking to get Linux certified? There are various Linux training
courses and certifications out there, and choosing the right one
can be somewhat complex. linuxlearner asked the forum regulars for
advice, coming from an AIX (IBM) background, and crickster came
up with some useful pointers. [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


You know, we don't mince our words in the Linux Format camp. We're
known to tell it as it is on the TuxRadar Podcast, even if it means
having a dig at some of the less-than-perfect things in the Linux
world. Of course, this generates a lot of heated discussion, but we
want Linux and free software to succeed, and want to generate ideas
for fixing problems rather than merrily saying that everything is

One reader made a good point: we should also highlight the efforts
being made to unify the desktop Linux experience. So here we're
going to point out some of the projects hoping to sort out the
inconsistencies between distros...

1) The Linux Standard Base

Supported by the Linux Foundation, the LSB aims to bridge the gaps
between distributions by demanding a certain filesystem layout, set
of default libraries and other design decisions. Ultimately, the
goal is to make it easier for application developers to release
their work, and have it run on as many distros as possible. Many
commercial developers don't have the time nor resources to package
up their software for 10 or more distros, but if those distros are
LSB compliant, the developer only needs to release one package

And therein lies a problem. The LSB defines RPM as the standard
package format, much to the chagrin of Debian and Ubuntu users.
Some would argue that .deb is - in technical terms - a better system
than RPM, and it doesn't look like this situation is going to be
resolved easily any time soon.

2) The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard

One of the key differences between Linux distros is the filesystem
layouts. Sure, you can always guarantee that there'll be /etc, /bin
and the other usual suspects, but there's little agreement on what
should be in /opt, where Apache should store its files (DocumentRoot)
and so forth. The FHS tries to unite distros behind a single, consistent
filesystem layout, so that users (and administrators) can move easily
between distros without having to learn their peculiarities.

3) Autopackage

You've just written CoolApp 1.0. You want to get it into the hands
of as many Linux users as possible. What do you do? Well, you could
mess around installing the 10 biggest distros, set up development
environments on each and try to build packages - but that would take
a huge amount of time. You could just release the source code, but
that's too complex for many users. You could wait for distros to
adopt the package and include it in their repositories, but that
could take months. It's not easy.

Autopackage was created to solve this problem. By using Autopackage's
scripts, you can turn your program into an executable .package file
which (in theory) should install on any distribution. The .package
format defines certain specifications and library linking decisions
to make software run across multiple distros. It enjoyed reasonable
popularity a few years ago, although in the last 12 months the project
has been somewhat quiet.


GNOME, KDE and Xfce all have their own ways of doing things, which
sometimes leads to duplication of effort. The
project tries to organise key components and filesystem locations so
that desktop environments can work together peacefully. Ideally, if
you install FooApp 1.0, it should appear in the menus for all
desktops - that's just one of the goals of the project.

So, those are four attempts to bring cohesion to the Linux desktop
experience, and while they haven't all had 100% success, they've
helped to make Linux more focused and streamlined. We wish them the
best of luck!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 138, on sale Thursday 16 October...

# Next-generation Linux distros -- Looking at Fedora 14 or
Ubuntu 10.10 and wish you had them now? Try our guide to
the newest, hottest features!

# New tutorial: CakePHP -- Make cool websites with ease

# Backup group test -- Backup software may not be sexy, but
we all need to keep our data safe and secure

Contents are subject to change - the mysteries of life, eh!

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:

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