Linux Format Newsletter -- #74, May 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #74, May 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:02 am





1. Welcome

2. LXF 146 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

Fedora 15's release is a huge moment for the Linux community. It's
the first major distro to include Gnome 3, a radical departure from
the previous desktops we're all used to. Personally I'm a little bit
nervous about the coming weeks and months - many new users are going
to be trying Linux for the first time, and first impressions count
enormously. I really hope Gnome Shell will be well received by the
masses, but I'm just keeping my fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, read on for a look at the brand new issue of Linux
Format, roundups of the hottest news stories and forum posts, along
with a special feature analysing the importance of version numbers.
If you have any questions or thoughts, please drop me a line!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 146 on sale

A new Ubuntu release always generates a certain amount of chatter
in Linuxland, but nothing compares to the impact of Ubuntu 11.04.
This signals a new direction for Canonical, with the familiar
Gnome 2.x desktop being replaced by Unity, which significantly alters
how we interact with our computers. In our cover feature we show you
how to master Unity, we talk to the developers behind the desktop,
and also probe Mark Shuttleworth for his thoughts too.

Meanwhile, we examine the state of accessibility software on Linux,
take the Google Cr-48 laptop for a spin, and show you 19 ways how
you can contribute to the open source/free software movement. In
our reviews section we look at Epiphany 3.0, Slackware 13.37 and
Zorin OS4, while in tutorials you can learn about Xfce, Firefox 4,
Frugalware and Asterisk.

And don't miss the 4GB DVD: it's an LXF exclusive triple-booting
disc with Ubuntu (including loads of extra packages), Kubuntu and
Xubuntu all rolled into one. We also have lightweight window
managers from our roundup, games, podcasts and much more to explore.

Here's a taster of LXF146 from the HotPicks section:

# Parted Magic 6.0 --

If one of your machines is up the creek, Parted Magic is
inevitably there to help. It certainly helped me the last time one
of my hard drives went bad; I was able to retrieve the files off
the dying disk - which wouldn't mount or even format properly -
using TestDisk, just one of the many free tools contained within.
No self respecting geek should leave home without a copy.

It's also great, as its names suggests, for tweaking the partition
sizes of established installations - Parted and GParted are on
board, and support for a wide range of filesystems means that
pretty much any disk can be changed with ease.

It'll test memory, benchmark machines, and run secure erase
procedures if there's something you really want rid of. OK, Parted
Magic won't whip you up a tasty omelette, but you can't have

This new major version release completely rejigs the way Parted
Magic handles the kernel, which should improve its ability to live
boot on more obscure systems, and completely removes the graphical
boot menu which has apparently caused problems on some machines. A
host of programs within have been upgraded, a few downgraded for
compatibility, but overall things look much as they have for a
while. It's a live distro that could save your bacon.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 146.

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...

# Fedora 15 released

There's a whole bunch of new stuff to delve into here, most notably
Gnome 3 with its controversial Gnome Shell. There's also a new
Ethernet device naming system, a dynamic firewall (to which you can
make changes without restarting) and LibreOffice.

# Could Gnome become a Linux-only project?

There has been some talk about Gnome making systemd a dependency,
which would thereby make the desktop a Linux-only project. On the
one hand, this could arguably produce a more coherent experience
from the kernel right up to the clickable bits, but on the other, it
could be a loss for smaller OSes that also feature Gnome, like the

# The end of Linux kernel 2.6 is approaching...

Linus Torvalds thinks that the version numbers for Linux 2.6.xx are
getting too big, so he might switch to 2.8.0 in the near future. Or
indeed he's even considering 3.0, as Linux moves into its third
decade. While version numbers shouldn't really matter, could a major
X.0 release make pointy-haired IT management types scared?

5. This month on the forum

Gnome 3 has been the hottest topic of the last few weeks, and
felis_silvestris kicked off a thread about it, saying he had ran out
of patience and gone to Xfce. RedWillow preferred Unity, while Brian
Hunter pointed to a useful "cheat sheet" of Gnome Shell shortcuts.
In general, opinions were mixed on the new desktop, with
SpecialStuff saying he/she loved it, while a couple of users
couldn't get it to run properly. [1]

Microsoft's recent acquisition of Skype furrowed a few brows among
the forum regulars. Being closed source software, it was never going
to be massively popular amongst the Linux crowd anyway, but Towy71
asked for some alternatives. Nelz recommended sticking to the
standard SIP protocol, which is open and implemented in many
clients. [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


What's in a number? It's tempting to think that whether a program is
1.0 or 11.5, it doesn't actually matter - the quality of the
software is what's important. However, version numbers can reveal a
lot about the developers' intentions behind making releases, and how
they're perceived by end-users.

The most important version number is 1.0. There are countless free
software projects that have proven to be stable, reliable and
featureful, and yet never manage to reach that magical 1.0 mark.
Window Maker is a great example of this, as is Inkscape. Now,
perhaps the Inkscape team has a bunch of functionality still to
implement, and it wants to wait - that's their decision.

But we'd argue that just the label "1.0" generates a huge amount of
interest. This author has experience in this field: I started
working on MikeOS, my little operating system, releasing various
0.4x versions on SourceForge and Freshmeat. They received some
interest, but nothing special. When I decided that I was happy with
my work and released 1.0, I followed exactly the same process - an
announcement on SourceForge and Freshmeat.

And the difference was astounding.

Suddenly my project received a great deal more interest, with more
downloads on the site and emails coming my way. I believe that just
the "1.0" mark distinguished it clearly from millions of other
projects on Freshmeat that perpetually languish in the 0.x zone.
That's not to say my OS was better than most 0.x projects - but it
said "This is ready for everyone to try."

Now, if we're talking about big business, your average pointy-haired
IT purchasing manager will be wary to go with anything x.0. It
sounds too new, too untested, too raw. Once you get to x.1 or x.2 it
reassures potential users that the software has been well tested,
and bugs have been ironed out.

So there's a lot of psychology behind version numbers. If you've
been sitting on a piece of software that's reliable, solid and does
what it says, don't just leave it at 0.35 just because you once had
plans to add 500 more features. Release it as 1.0, get it on the net
and you might find a lot more help and support to add those

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 147, on sale Thursday 23 June...

# Epic distro showdown -- Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch, SUSE, Debian
and Mint go head-to-head in this monster contest

# Android apps -- Like man and fish, your Android phone and
your Linux box can live together in peace

# Inside the Fedora project -- From the brains of the coders
to your desktop is a twisting path

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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