Linux Format Newsletter -- #71, February 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #71, February 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:25 am





1. Welcome

2. LXF 142 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

Hello! Regular LXF readers and TuxRadar podcast listeners will know
that I'm not a big fan of forks. (In software, that is. For eating
they're grand.) Far too many projects fork for tiny, trivial
reasons, leading to duplication of effort and arguments between
teams. However, sometimes I think it's essential, when no proper
progress can be made in the current form. That happened with XFree86
( and (LibreOffice). XFree86 looks effectively
dead now, and has seen much more rapid development. I'm sure
OOo will stumble on for a while, but hopefully LibreOffice will make
it much quicker to get new features rolled in!

If you want to try LibreOffice but you're unsure about the
installation process, check out our special newsletter feature
below. Plus there's also our usual roundups of hot news stories and
forum threads, along with a look at the shiny new book-bonused Linux
Format, issue 142!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 142 on sale

Some things make us cry: kittens with sad faces, chopping onions,
and the cost of rail tickets in the United Kingdom. But nothing
makes us cry as much as losing a file, especially when it's a prized
photo or piece of writing that can't be reconstructed without vast
effort. So in this month's cover feature, we show you how to never
lose a single file again. Our tips, tools and strategies for making
backups will ensure that your data never goes walkabouts and you
always have a spare copy, just in case.

Meanwhile, we show you how to master KDE's Plasma Desktop, explain
how Ubuntu is going to transition to Unity, and list the 20 things
we'd change about Our reviews section puts
VirtualBox 4.0, Mathematica 8 and Opera 11 under the spotlight,
while in tutorials you'll find guides for Ntop, CakePHP, Cherokee
and LPI certification.

And! The free 4GB DVD is a triple-booter with the latest releases of
PCLinuxOS, Lubuntu and CrunchBang, along with Puppy Linux and
SystemRescueCD. Whether you're looking for a newbie-friendly Linux
flavour, a distro for power users or something to revive an old
machine, you'll find the perfect answer here. Plus the disc contains
heaps of applications, games, podcasts and documentation.

And there's another and! As a special bonus, LXF 142 comes with a
64-page book packed with advanced tutorials - SSH tunnelling, fixing
NTFS partitions, bandwidth shaping, RAID and more. It's ideal for
keeping on your bookshelf when you have a difficult job to do.

Here's a taster of LXF142 from the HotPicks section:

# MP3 Diags 1.0.07 --

MP3 files changed the face of music. The lossy but oh-so compact
format throws away (mostly) the bits you can't hear anyway, and
made it possible to store your whole music collection on a
fraction of a hard drive. Yet the format is not without its
issues. Whether you recorded your files yourself, downloaded them
from some music service or decoded them from a CD, they are very
rarely perfect. The ID3 tag system was invented to add metadata to
music files, but it's used inconsistently, which means you
sometimes buy files with no useful data, no album artwork or with
dodgy audio stream formats.

For all these situations and more, MP3 Diags is ready to ride to
the rescue. We originally saw this back in LXF129, but since then
some of the more pernicious problems have been ironed out, so it's
worth another try if you didn't get on with it back then.

Sometimes, it isn't the most intuitive software to use, with its
strange mixture of left or right mouse clicks depending on whether
you want to perform operations on a single file or the whole
collection. It is getting better, though, and and really is an
invaluable tool for sorting out your music collection.

You can easily download and build the source, but the homepage
also features binary package downloads - along with a credible
amount of documentation - for a host of distros and formats, so it
may be worth checking there first.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 142.

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...

# KDE 4.6.0 released

Yes, the Plasma Workspaces, Applications and Development Platform
bundles of the popular desktop have seen a new release, with better
suitability for mobile devices, a "faceted browsing" mode for files
and an "activity manager" that groups together your applications.
Hit the link above for details and screenshots galore.

# Distros collaborate on app store ... r-them-all

Imagine if all the distros had a standard package manager, with
standard package names, across all distros. Imagine how much easier
it would be to write documentation that applied across Linux
distros, and how much easier it would be for users. Well, that's the
goal of a team of developers from Red Hat, Fedora, Debian, SUSE and
other distros that met up last week. Good luck to them, we say.

# Qt to be included by default in Ubuntu?

Looks like it. Mark Shuttleworth says that Gtk shouldn't be an
absolute requirement for standard Ubuntu apps, and "it’s the values
which are important, and the toolkit is only a means to that end".
The blog post makes for interesting reading, although we're a bit
concerned about which apps need to be removed to fit Qt into the
(already tightly packed) CD image...

5. This month on the forum

Ubuntu's big forthcoming changes (Unity as the default desktop,
Wayland replacing X) has many long-term users understandably
concerned. Heiowge asked Ubuntu users what they're going to do for
the next release - upgrade, revert back if it's bad, stay with an
older release or switch distros entirely. PCNetSpec was bothered
about some of Mark Shuttleworth's "weird decisions", and the speed
of implementation. [1]

Optical media is fairly robust when it's in cases, but it's also
horribly prone to scratches as we've all experienced. bobthebob1234
asked the forum how he could make backups of his DVD movies, looking
for something that would retain features of the films (chapters,
subtitles etc.) Some good suggestions came up! [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


There's a new office suite in town, although it's extremely familiar
to the one you're probably already using. Due to disputes within the
developer community, was forked off into LibreOffice
a few months ago. The new suite continues the work done in OOo and
also rolls in the Go-OO project improvements too. Many distros are
moving towards LibreOffice. But, in the meantime, you can try it for
yourself today! Just follow the steps below.

1) Remove all traces of

For simplicity's sake, it's a good idea to get rid of your existing installation first. Exactly how you do this will
depend on your distro, but you should open up your package manager,
do a search for 'openoffice' and remove all packages with the name.
Have a search for 'ooo' as well. Note that this won't remove your
personal settings, however, which will be in the ''
directory that's in your home directory.

2) Grab the installation files

Go to and select the
appropriate file for your distro. If you're running Ubuntu, Debian
or any other Debian-based distro, select the 'deb' option. Download
the .tar.gz file to your home directory, open a terminal window and
enter 'tar xfvz filename', replacing filename with the one you
downloaded (hit tab after the first few letters to auto-fill and
save time). Switch into the resulting directory, and DEBS inside
that, and enter

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

If you're running Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE or another RPM-based
distro, download the 'rpm' option to your home directory. Extract
the file with 'tar xfvz filename', 'cd' into the resulting directory
and then RPMS, switch to root with 'su' and then enter:

rpm -ivh *.rpm

3) Launch the suite

With it all installed, you can now launch it from the command line
like this:


That'll start up the welcome screen for creating a new document in
the various components (word processor, spreadsheet etc). You can
launch directly into these components using:

/opt/libreoffice/program/soffice -writer
/opt/libreoffice/program/soffice -calc
/opt/libreoffice/program/soffice -impress

You may also want to create launchers for your desktop environment
or window manager, to fire up the suite with a single click. Enjoy!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 143, on sale Thursday 3 March...

# The sysadmin bluffer's guide -- Still feel like you're stuck
at beginner level? We upgrade your Linux skills!

# Free wallchart -- A pretty picture, and something useful too...

# File managers group test -- Manage your pics, music, documents
and more with our selection of the best tools

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:

(C) 2011 Future Publishing Limited
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