Linux Format Newsletter -- #76, August 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #76, August 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Sep 16, 2011 2:19 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 149 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

Welcome! It's been interesting to read about Linus Torvalds's
experiences with Gnome 3 over the last few weeks. He has very
vocally moved over to Xfce, complaining that Gnome 3 does things in
a backward way. Personally, I was surprised that he uses desktop
environments at all - I always assumed he ran something ultra
minimal like FVWM 1!

In fact, I think I'll dig out my old FVWM config file now... In
the meantime, enjoy this month's newsletter. We have a look at
the shiny new issue of Linux Format magazine, roundups of the
hottest news stories and forum threads, and a special feature on
starting your own open source project.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 149 on sale

Cloud computing is the hottest buzzword of recent months, but what
exactly does it mean? Big businesses talk about shifting their whole
infrastructure to the cloud, but how can we home desktop users get
in on the action? In this month's cover feature we show you how to
utilise cloud services to simplify your life: streaming your music,
sharing email across all your devices, and evening running a whole
operating system remotely.

Meanwhile, we send Linux into outer space with a look at astronomy
software, and find out why IPv6 is going to save the internet. We
show you how to put embedded terminals onto your desktop, and make
Debian more friendly for new users. Then there's our coding section,
in which we explore Python, Arduino, C and more.

On the coverdisc you'll find the very latest releases of Sabayon and
PCLinuxOS, along with the ever-so-impressive Haiku BeOS clone. Then
there are games, development tools, podcasts and heaps more to

Here's a taster of LXF149 from the HotPicks section:

# OrDrumbox 0.9.06 --

Drum machines are either the greatest liberating force in music
(you don't need to find a drummer for your band anymore, and lets
face it, they're usually the weird ones, and why should they share
in all the glory when all they contribute is hitting things every
now and then), or the greatest tragedy (the creative energy of
generations replaced by a few lines of code and a handful of too
perfect and inhuman samples). In either case, they're popular and
useful, so we're confident that, aside from having a sack of
badly-written mail from disgruntled percussionists, you'll be
interested in OrDrumbox.

The reliance on Java shouldn't put you off. It doesn't look like
the best thing in the music world ever, but OrDrumbox is all about
the thumping beats, not the visuals. Once running, you'll quickly
be able to grasp the sort of standard pattern and track building
options you usually get in such software. OrDrumbox ships with a
modest but good set of drum sounds in various styles, so you
probably won't need to add your own for most types of composition.
In spite of being notoriously difficult to manage real- time sound
in Linux (and Java come to that) it does a creditable job of
reliable, stutter-free playback and there is always the option to
hook it up to your MIDI equipment too.

One of the most interesting features though is the automatic
pattern generator, which uses a set of rules to generate patterns
for you (which can then be tweaked and adjusted) so you don't even
need any talent. In fact OrDrumbox is full of nice touches - name
a track with some sort of instrument name and it will
automatically assign the closest matching sample it can find.

There are various binary downloads available for OrDrumbox if you
have difficulty, but in reality it's very easy to compile from
source. Just unpack the zip file, enter the resulting directory
and type ant to engage the Java compiler. The resulting JAR file
can be run with java -jar <xxxxx.jar>.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 149.

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 80
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 5 starts development ... ay-at.html

Don't panic: this isn't going to be another KDE 4. Well, hopefully.
The idea here is for a more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary,
release, with emphasis on "modularity and dependency clarity". It's
still very early days, so there's no reason to fall out of love with
your KDE 4 installation just yet.

# Torvalds ditches Gnome for Xfce ... bnL3KaVRtM

Everyone's favourite kernel team leader has had a good rant (scroll
down the posts) about the state of Gnome 3. Complaining about the
"head up the arse" behaviour of the desktop, Torvalds's words echo
those of many in the community. Gnome 3 continues to be

# Chrome overtakes Firefox in the UK ... ket_share/

Are we seeing the end of Firefox's glory days? The switch to an
ultra-rapid release cycle hasn't pleased many bystanders, and now
comes the announcement that Google Chrome has more users than the
venerable Mozilla project. Of course, a lot of this could simply be
down to Google's advertising campaign.

5. This month on the forum

Ubuntu's move towards Unity has caused a few arguments on the net,
to say the least. Some users have flocked to Linux Mint which
currently offers the 'classic' Gnome environment, but Stuartpalmer
asked if that could be considered a permanent solution. lok1950
noted that whatever Mint's intentions, the Gnome team won't support
earlier versions for much longer, so at some point there will be a
day of reckoning. [1]

Installing new software on older distros can be troublesome, as Colin
White discovered when trying to get Google Chrome running on Ubuntu
9.10. After following the recommendation to upgrade to a newer version,
Colin's video was messed up, which led to a useful discussion about
ways to gather video information.



6. Special Newsletter feature


There are millions of free software/open source projects out there,
and you might have a great idea to start your own. But to avoid your
effort being lost in the wilderness of SourceForge, here are some
tips to bear in mind. You'll have to deal with the programming side
yourself - these tips will help you integrate better with the

1) Start small

It's easy to think of grandiose plans for your project, with a vast
featureset and hundreds of contributors. Look, for instance, at the
many attempts to replace the X Window System with something else.
But at the start you'll have to produce something sufficiently
interesting to tempt others to help. Have a clear set of version 1.0
objectives and think about bigger plans later.

2) Polish your presentation

So many free software projects have brilliant code and technology
behind them, but bare, messy or badly written websites. Even if
you're not much of a web designer, spend a bit of time on your
internet presence, stating clearly what your software does and what
level it's at. Broken links and typos can put off potential users
and - even more so - developers.

3) Come up with a good name

This is a touchy subject, and we don't want to give Gimp a hard
time, but a clear, sensible name is hugely valuable. As temping as
it is to use an acronym (or a mutually recursive acronym, HURD
style), think of how your users will pronounce the name. Short,
snappy, and related to the software is key - think of Inkscape or
Rhythmbox, for example.

4) Spread the word

Once you've made a release you're happy with, generate interest by
talking about it on the net. This doesn't mean spamming forums with
links; rather, post on Freshmeat which is a software directory
that's syndicated by many other websites around the world.

5) Accept all feedback

You might have some less-technical users reporting seemingly
redundant problems with your software. Although we can easily
dismiss these issues as a result of user inexperience, they can be
pointers to significant problems with the software. If 20 people
report the same problem with a seemingly obvious solution, perhaps
the solution isn't so obvious after all.

So, those are some things to bear in mind when sowing the seeds of
your first open source project. Good luck, and get in touch if you
have any other hints you'd like to share with readers!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 150, on sale Thursday 15 September...

# Build your own distro! Make the next big thing on
planet Linux happen - straight from your home

# Kernel 3.0 is here -- discover its new features

# Take three monitors, three operating systems and
meld them into the ultimate in geek showoffery

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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