Linux Format Newsletter -- #68, November 2010

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #68, November 2010

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:30 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 139 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

There's a real buzz in the Linux world right now. A sense that major
changes are coming to the desktop. Ubuntu's announcements about
Unity and Wayland have generated a lot of heated discussion, and the
proposal from KDE e.V president to unify the KDE and Qt libraries
has raised all sorts of other questions. How will the Linux desktop
look in five years time? Is now the time to make some really
sweeping changes, to get us prepared for the next decade?

Exciting times. Read on for a look at the shiny new issue of Linux
Format, roundups of the hottest news stories and forum posts, plus a
special feature on the state of alternative OSes.

Oh! And if you're thinking of Christmas gifts for the geek in your life,
we have some great Yuletide subscription offers available now at: ... nuxformat/

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 139 on sale

Linux is secure - there's no argument about that. However, security
is a moving target, with hackers/crackers always developing new
methods to attach machines. Consequently, even with Linux you need
to keep up to date with the latest patches and box-hardening
techniques. In this month's cover feature we show you how to set up
a firewall, encrypt files to keep them from prying eyes, and browse
the web anonymously.

Meanwhile, we look at the progress Linux is making in schools, and
examine the progress of desktop environments over the years. In our
reviews section we put Ubuntu 10.10, Qt 4.7 and Dark Descent under
the spotlight, while we have tutorials on Draw, Xfce,
routers, CakePHP and (shudder!) regular expressions.

This issue's DVD is a huge Ubuntu 10.10 fest: three versions of the
world's most popular distro, directly bootable from one disc.
There's the exclusive LXF-enhanced Ubuntu with heaps of extra
software, the KDE-based Kubuntu and Xfce-oriented Xubuntu. Plus we
have a 64-bit version, Tiny Core Linux, IPCop, podcasts and much
more to explore.

Here's a taster of LXF139 from the HotPicks section:

# Minerva 2.5.1 RC 1 --

One day in the future, robots will was the dishes, fold the
clothes and chase the cold-calling salesmen away with a pointy
stick so you don't have to. Unfortunately, that's the future we've
been sold for the last 40 years, and all we have to show for those
grand dreams is the Roomba. Still, there are some useful things
that can be automated. Home automation systems that enable you to
control appliances remotely using the simple X10 mains protocol
have been around for years. What Minerva tries to do is to tie all
of the existing technologies together in one framework, so that
systems such as X10, your webcam and your Bluetooth phone can work
together in a world of digital harmony. Or something like that.

The Minerva system is split into three main components - the
inputs, the processes and the outputs. Some of these elements may
reference the same hardware, of course. All of it can be
configured and controlled through a web interface, although behind
the scenes it's mainly custom scripts and command line programs
that are doing the work. As well as a browser, you can also use a
LIRC-compatible remote control and, as previously mentioned, you
can even send text messages to the server (with the appropriate

Minerva installs as a sort of distro within a distro. It creates a
self-contained environment with database storage for your
settings, permissions, security and such. All you need to do is
run the supplied install script, but you'll probably want to
install it on a dedicated system (or maybe a virtual machine).
Configuration of the system may take a while, but it's worth
persevering with the online documentation, which will also help
you to add your own specific functionality. It may not quite be
the future yet, but it's definitely getting there.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 139.

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...

# Fedora 14 released ... ora14.html

The Red Hat-sponsored community-supported distro marches on, with a
bag of new features: a tech preview of Gnome Shell, various bits 'n
bobs from the MeeGo project, improved debugging, and framework
software for Spice, an infrastructure for desktop virtualisation.
Hit the link above for all the details.

# Ubuntu plans to dump X, and switch to Wayland ... &px=ODc1Ng

As if the move to Unity wasn't drastic enough, Mark Shuttleworth has
announced that future versions of Ubuntu will be based on the
Wayland display system, rather than the X Window System as with all
previous releases. The goal is to make slick, fast graphical effects
much easier to achieve than with all the complications of X.

# London Stock Exchange doubles speed with Linux

Given how unstable the world economy is right now, it's vital to
have a well-performing OS backing up stock exchange computers. Now
the London Stock Exchange has said that its new Linux-based system
is delivering record-breaking speeds, much faster than the previous
implementation which was based upon Microsoft technology.

5. This month on the forum

How fast does your machine boot? Jase kicked off a topic asking
specifically for Ubuntu statistics, but our forum regulars use a
wide variety of distros and so they chipped in with their own
stopwatch results. Poor old bobthebob1234 seemed to be having a
right old problem with his BIOS - 30 seconds before GRUB even
managed to appear! [1]

DippyGirl was looking to learn a new programming language, and
wasn't sure whether to tackle Perl or Python. She'd had some
experience in assembler, COBOL and FORTRAN, and Bazza recommended
giving Python a go. Gwilymk suggested a third option: Ruby. Join in
the thread and let us know what you use! [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


We know that many of you love to explore other operating systems
beyond Linux, and enjoy discovering new projects. If you haven't
played around with anything different for a while, here are some
pointers to set you on your way...

# FreeBSD --

FreeBSD, an open source Unix-like OS, is widely regarded as the
closest OS to Linux. It runs pretty much every program that you can
get on Linux, and is very familiar to use, but it has a vastly
different development methodology. Whereas Linux is coded by
scattered groups around the net, with distributors piecing
everything together, in FreeBSD the entire OS (except for X11 and
GCC) is developed in a single source free. It's relatively
conservative compared to Linux, with snazzy new features sometimes
taking a while to appear, but very robust as a result.

# NetBSD --

NetBSD is all about portability. It's not as featureful as FreeBSD,
but it runs on pretty much anything that has a CPU, from old-school
VAX boxes to the Dreamcast. The source code is noted for being
extremely clean and well-designed, making it easy to port the OS to
another platform. It also has thousands of apps from the free
software world.

# OpenBSD --

Security is the number 1 priority for the OpenBSD team. Extensive
code audits mean that buffer overflows and other flaws don't stay in
the source for very long, and the OS is popular on routers and small
servers. You can use it as a desktop OS too, but hardware support
can be lacking compared to Linux and FreeBSD.

# ReactOS --

This project aims to effectively re-implement Windows in open source
software. Ultimately, it should be binary compatible with Windows
software and drivers - but this is not like WINE on a Linux
installation. It has its own kernel, libraries and other features,
although many files are taken from WINE. ReactOS is already capable
of running many older Windows programs - but it still needs a huge
amount of work.

# Haiku OS --

Back in the late 1990s, BeOS was seen as a potential challenger to
Windows, offering a lightning-fast and modern desktop OS experience.
BeOS never made it into the big leagues, but its design won it so
many fans, that for many years there has been a project underway to
clone it. Originally called OpenBeOS, Haiku is making good progress
and the developer team has very clear goals. One to watch.

# Syllable --

Once a highly promising desktop OS project, Syllable's development
has largely stagnated in recent months, with few developers still
contributing code. Syllable was originally a fork of AtheOS, a
unique OS influenced by BeOS and AmigaOS. Perhaps it'll have a
future some day, but for now it looks to be kicked into the long

Also worth noting are FreeVMS ( and OSFree
( These projects are in the early stages
of development but may hold promise some day.

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 140, on sale Thursday 9 December...

# Which distro for 2011? A new year is approaching, so we
showcase the hottest Linux flavours coming up.

# Linux netbooks roundup - Looking to spend a few hundred
pounds on a new laptop? Get one with Linux pre-installed!

# All-new Arduino hardware - Top-notch hardware hacking

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) 2010 Future Publishing Limited
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