Linux Format Newsletter -- #73, April 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #73, April 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Thu May 26, 2011 1:40 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 144 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

Being a big player in the Linux community is hard work. We've seen
Canonical come under fire from all sorts of angles recently, perhaps
deservedly in some cases, but there's never a shortage of flamewars
on the internet. We're a passionate bunch, we've made a conscious
decision to move away from controlling, proprietary OSes, so we're
naturally sensitive to commercial involvement.

On the other hand, Canonical has arguably brought millions of users
into the Linux fold, and its ShipIt free CD programme is to be
applauded. I think it's good to stay vigilant when it comes to
protecting our community, but I think we can also value the great
contributions that companies can make too.

Meanwhile, read on for a look at the shiny new issue of Linux
Format, roundups of the hottest news stories and forum threads, and
a special feature on the radical new design of Gnome 3...

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 144 on sale

MythTV usually conjures up two thoughts amongst Linux users: it's a
brilliant digital TV platform, but it's also notoriously difficult
to set up correctly. Fortunately, then, this month's cover feature
teams up with the mighty Mythbuntu (on the DVD) and helps you
configure a powerful, attractive and feature-laden personal video
recorder. You can watch TV over the web, cut out annoying adverts
and never miss your favourite shows again.

Meanwhile, the Ubuntu Community Manager explains the tricks of
project management, while we look at how to convert weary Windows
users to the happy world of free software. In our reviews section we
look at OpenSUSE 11.4, SpaceChem and OpenShot, while our tutorials
bit covers KDE, LPI certification, Bash scripting, accessing iOS
devices on Linux and more.

Then there's the software-packed 4GB DVD, featuring a trifecta of
OpenSUSE 11.4 versions: KDE, Gnome and 64-bit. Then there's the
aforementioned Mythbuntu 10.10, a demo of the top-scoring SpaceChem
puzzler, Puppy Linux 5.2, development tools, games, podcasts and
heaps more to explore.

Here's a taster of LXF144 from the HotPicks section:

# Bangarang 2.0 --

What does the world need now? It's not love, sweet love
apparently, but a new media player for the new age. Yes, we have
plenty of media players and they all play media, so why would
someone create another one? Maybe they were bored. Or maybe they
realised that playing media isn't what people want from a media

If you want to play your favourite TV show through the Linux
desktop, there are dozens of ways you can do it, but if that's all
you're after, you want the player itself to get out of the way and
let you get on with it. What the team behind Bangarang have
realised is that the attention-deficit user of today doesn't
really want to watch their favourite show; they want to be
distracted from it by the promise of finding out more information
about said programme.

They want to be sucked into a time-consuming journey through all
the other shows written by the same screenwriters, or starring the
same stars. They want their music to come with pictures and
ratings and all sorts of other stuff until they can't remember
what the first thing they looked at was.

That's a little unfair - Bangarang does deliver this through a
side panel of information about currently playing media, but it
does a stylish and commendable job of serving up the thing you
first thought of too. Crucially, it latches into the KDE
infrastructure, so that it can be more hooked up to your whole
desktop experience.

Bangarang supports the Media Player Remote Interfacing
Specification (MPRIS) API, so it's easy to control and integrate
with other software. It does a good job of playing your media,
too, whether it's local files, external streams of DVDs (including
menus, subtitles and so on). Building from source is possible, but
it's not for the faint-hearted, so you may wish to wait for the
update to reach your favourite repositories.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 144.

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 70
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...

# Ubuntu 11.10 has a name

Are you ready? It's... the "Oneiric Ocelot". In normal words, this
is a dreamy, medium-sized wild cat that has a tawny yellow coat.
Mark Shuttleworth says: "We'll need to keep up the pace of
innovation on all fronts post-Natty. Our desktop has come together
beautifully, and in the next release we'll complete the cycle of
making it available to all users, with a 2D experience to complement
the OpenGL based Unity."

# Debian Derivatives Project launched

There are hundreds of Debian-based distros out there, but not all of
the innovations that they produce are rolled back into Debian
itself. That's a shame, so the DEX project aims to make it easier to
integrate these improvements by providing a central resource for
communication and information. Good luck to them.

# Gtk 3.2 apps to work in browsers? ... nd-update/

Here's a curious tidbit. A feature has been merged into the
development branch of the Gtk toolkit, enabling applications to run
on one machine and display in the web browser of another, without
any weird Flash or Java hacks involved. There's a video at the above
link showing a developer running Gnome's calculator at the command
line, and then accessing its GUI elements in Firefox. It's a bit
limited right now, but perhaps holds a glimpse of the future.

5. This month on the forum

Ubuntu Unity: a great step forward for desktop Linux, or a silly
side-step into the unknown which will be soon forgotten? The debates
rage on, and after Khakilang started a discussion about moving to
Debian from Ubuntu, the topic soon turned to perceptions of Unity.
On the one hand, Wyliecoyoteuk was having a grand time with the new
interface, whereas LeeNukes found it "horrible and very buggy".
RedWillow noted that Unity has improved a lot between Ubuntu 10.10
and 11.04 - if you've got any good or bad experiences with it, join
the thread and let everyone know. [1]

Imagine you're in the position of making a web browser plugin that
has gigantic market penetration, is used by hundreds of major
websites and has a huge market behind it. You'd want to make it fast
and reliable, right? Well, Adobe doesn't seem bothered about that,
given the widespread detest for its Flash plugin around the net.
Bobthebob1234 flipped out and couldn't contain his rage any more,
spurring others to express their raw, seething hatred. [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


If you haven't heard yet, Gnome 3 is going to sport a radically
redesigned interface called Gnome Shell. This throws everything we
know from the standard Gnome desktop into the air, and the results
are... well, really, it's too early to develop a strong opinion yet.
It's certainly very modern and fresh in its approach, but will it
just alienate users who're familiar with the old panel and menu
design? Here's how it works...

1) The top bar

Along the top you'll see a black panel that ever-so-slightly
resembles the one in normal Gnome, with a clock, system tray and a
user button that you can click to switch to another user account or
shut down the machine. Click on the clock and you get access to
a calendar, which hooks into the Evolution PIM client. On the far
left of the panel is this button...

2) Activities

This is where everything happens. Click Activities (or move the
mouse right into the top-left corner of the screen) and the desktop
will fade out, with any windows currently on display resizing into
the centre in Mac OS X Expose-like style. This appears to be the
primary way to switch between running applications - there's no
traditional task bar to speak of, although (thankfully) Alt+Tab
still works.

3) The dock

In the Activities view, there's a panel down the left-hand side
which contains your most-used programs. You can add other programs
to this by clicking the Applications button near the top, and then
dragging them into the dock. It is very similar in operation to
the dock in Mac OS X.

4) Searching

Search facilities are an ever-growing aspect of all modern OSes,
and the search box in the Activities view looks for applications and
preferences. There are also buttons at the bottom so that you can
perform your search on Google or Wikipedia instead.

5) Workspaces

When you're in the Activities view, there's a very thin line on the
right-hand side; mouse over it and you'll see a small '-' box and a
long '+' pane. These can be used to add and remove workspaces (aka
virtual desktops). You can then switch between these using the
little boxes at the bottom of the view.

Ultimately, Gnome 3 is still in development and it may be more
refined and polished by launch day. It's certainly a decent
performer at the moment and we've encountered no major bugs in our
testing. However, it's just so unusual and feels like we spend far
more time mousing around to get things done than in the normal Gnome
setup. Constantly jumping into the Activities view, which causes a
flurry of effects on the screen, just to launch a program seems
really messy. We'd love some quick launchers on the top panel.

It'll be interesting to see how well it's received...

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 145, on sale Thursday 28 April...

# More on Gnome 3! Our in-depth guide, along with Gnome 3
Live on the disk, gets you involved. Plus: coding tips

# Stallman speaks -- RMS, the beard-toting guru who started
the free software movement, doesn't mince his words

# Developers rejoice! Say hello to our brand new, awesome
coding supplement

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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