Linux Format Newsletter -- #72, March 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #72, March 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:09 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 143 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! OSNews has just put up a good story (
about a video on YouTube, showing a virtual machine with Windows 1.0
being upgraded all the way through to Windows 7. In fairness to
Microsoft, it's pretty impressive that compatibility with old DOS
games and Windows apps is retained through all the releases, but I
wonder how much baggage Windows must be carrying to support this.

Here in the free software world we have our own ways of handling
compatibility: recompiling. Sure, you can make a binary statically
linked if you want to semi-guarantee it working into the future, but
it's far better to release an app as free software / open source so
that others can adapt it to newer libraries and build systems,
without having to carry cruft everywhere.

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 effectively advocating Linux and free software.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 143 on sale

At heart, we're all system administrators. That doesn't mean we all
have big beards and spend our time reminiscing about punch cards -
it just means we all have to do things like securing our networks,
accomplishing tasks at the command line and so forth. With this in
mind, this month's cover feature is all about sysadmin secrets: tips
from the pros to make your Linux box faster, safer and smarter.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. In this packed issue we show
you how to upgrade to KDE 4.6, discover a better file manager in our
roundup, code awesome apps in KDevelop and get your box dual-booting
between two distros. In our reviews section we have the rather
special Google Nexus S, while our tutorials cover LPI certification,
funky uses of ExifTool and much more.

And then there's the 4GB DVD, loaded with hot new software: Debian
6, LibreOffice 3.3, KDE 4.6 Live and heaps more. And one more thing!
We have a very cool gift that will remind you to celebrate the
birthday of your favourite distro or Linux celebrity...

Here's a taster of LXF143 from the HotPicks section:

# Wings3D 1.4 --

Linux Format is almost unsuitable for bringing you news of a new
version of Wings, because it's only capable of doing so in two
dimensions. When you think about it, though, this software builds
3D models in a 2D medium - your monitor. Smoke and mirrors. As is
common with such apps, you start out by creating a simple
'primitive', then mess around with it and slice it up until it
resembles what you want. There are more than a few similar tools
for Linux, but Wings3D has some decent features, and while the
interface looks distinctly un-Linuxy, there may be some things
that you find compelling about it.

As well as the standard tools for shaping your objects, there's a
very handy magnet puller - which works sort of like one of those
car body repair magnets and is used for deforming a shape's
vertices - and the AutoUV mapper makes texturing a little easier,
too. The modeller also supports a wide range of formats for
importing and exporting, so if you're refining a 3DLS, LightWave
or Wavefront object (of which there are a plentiful supply
online), or you ultimately want to export to a format such as VRML
or POV-Ray, you can rest easy.

Wings makes use of the curious and perhaps underused Erlang
language to power its multi-dimensional world. Fetching it from
your standard repository might land you with an older version, but
it will pull in the language itself and all of the additional
libraries that are required.

If you're going down the self-build route, you'll need to install
the Erlang-esdl package, and set the ESDL_PATH variable before you
hit make. You can do so by running something like this:

export ESDL_PATH='/usr/lib64/erlang/lib/esdl-1.0.1/'

Otherwise, you can download some Deb packages from the homepage.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 143.

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...

# Debian 6 released!

Yay! OK, so it was six months later than originally planned, but
that's the Debian way - stability is the absolute priority. This
release sports updates to pretty much everything, with a modern set
of desktop apps and a playful space theme. Under the hood, it has
faster dependency-based boot scripts too.

# Firefox planning flurry of releases in 2011

Four releases this year - yes, four. Some might accuse Firefox of
trying to chase IE and Chrome in the version number race, but others
say it's a sign that the team wants to make steady, evolutionary
releases rather than world-changers every two years. As long as it
catches up with the mightily zippy Chrome in the speed stakes, we're

# Nokia and Microsoft team up

That in itself isn't particularly interesting to us in the Linux
world, but it poses a question: what's going to happen to the MeeGo
platform, which Nokia was backing before? All we know at this stage
is that Nokia is planning some kind of MeeGo product this year, but
what it is remains to be seen. And what'll happen to Qt?

5. This month on the forum

Rhakios found a news story that didn't impress him much: a report
about Linux machines being vulnerable to security exploits via "USB
worms". We get a strange image in our heads when we think of a "USB
worm", but apparently you have to disable loads of security measures
and then have physical access to a machine and then trigger a
certain bug in a certain piece of software. Nelz craftily noted that
direct physical access isn't always necessary though - you could
hand out USB keys with smiley faces and cause much chaos. [1]

Poor AndyBaxman. Trying to be a decent bloke, he took his family for
a trip to the cinema, and came off almost 40 quid down. Nelz had a
similar rip-off experience recently too. We remember the days when
40 quid would get you a copy of Zelda III, which would last you a
good month. And then you'd spend another month trying to find Chris
Houlihan's secret room.



6. Special Newsletter feature


We all want to spread the word of free software. We've all seen how
much safer, faster and better computing can be thanks to Linux. We
know that we're free of corporate domination and can delve into our
operating system as much as we want, without being labelled as
criminals. It's great being a Linux user, but how do we spread the
work properly?

1) Start small

If you want to switch someone over to Linux, they're not going to
tear up their existing operating system in one fell swoop. It's a
good idea to demonstrate the benefits of free software gradually,
first by showing the big news stories on the BBC and similar
websites about how scarily insecure Internet Explorer is. Show them
Firefox, how easy and familiar it is, and explain how much safer
they are online now.

2) Count up the price

We're all used to web browsers being free (as in beer), but you can
really make an impact talking about office software. This works
especially well in small businesses, when you can point out that
switching to LibreOffice will potentially save thousands of pounds.
If your convertee in the making gets applications through torrent
sites, show them free alternatives that they can use without the
risk of legal problems.

3) Don't yell FREEDOM

We value software freedom, but it's quite an abstract idea and for
those who don't understand what source code is, it can be hard to
get across. So initially, it's good to focus on the practical
benefits of free software (price, reliability, security). Once a
user is settled in, show them how they can't be controlled by a
company. And even if they have no use for the source code, by
everyone having access to it, nobody is at mercy of corporate

4) Step up to live CDs

There's no need to jump straight into a hard drive Linux
installation. Give someone a live distro, help them to boot it up
and leave them exploring. Tell them that they can't damage their
machine like this and they can simply reboot whenever they want.
That generates massive confidence.

5) Stick with popular distros... least at the start. You may love WonderBuzz Linux 84.7, but
because a new convertee may need help from a community online, it's
best to start with a well-known distro where it's easy to find help.
Once your convertee is fully settled into the Linux world, you can
show him/her the broader world of distros.

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 144, on sale Thursday 31 March...

# MythTV -- Download TV and watch what you want, when
you want. Lorraine Kelly never looked so good!

# The conversion challenge -- How to make friends and
influence people (to use Linux, or maybe BSD)

# GUI plotters group test -- Sharpen your pencils and
plot your axes with this graphical geekery

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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