Linux Format Newsletter -- #78, October 2011

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #78, October 2011

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:30 am





1. Welcome

2. LXF 151 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

As I write this, Ubuntu 11.10 is just about to be released to the
world. Looking back a few years, I remember when Ubuntu was being
heralded as the de facto "standard" for Linux, building on reliable
Debian foundations, offering lots of up-to-date software, and using
a pretty familiar Gnome desktop without much tweaking.

Today, things seem very different. Ubuntu has become the maverick
distro, pushing boldly ahead with technologies like Unity and
Wayland. This appears to have alienated some long-time Linux fans
who like their distros to stick with established software, and so
it'll be interesting to see how 11.10 is received.

Meanwhile, read on for a look at the new issue of Linux Format,
roundups of the hottest news stories and forum posts, and a special
feature on what's to discover in the new Ubuntu release. Oh! And if
you just happen to accidentally own one of those shiny Apple mobile
gadgets, look here for a very special LXF offer: ... -app-store

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 151 on sale

If you want someone to make you a cup of tea, you say to them:
"Please make me a cup of tea." Well, if you're being polite. In any
case, you don't wave your hands around, pointing at different things
in the kitchen and hoping that your servant magically understands.
Very often, direct commands work best, and that's the same with
Linux -- its command line is often the best way to get a job done.

Some people see the CLI as a scary, incomprehensible world only for
use by whizzkid gurus, but that's not the case. It's surprisingly
accessible, and in this month's cover feature we introduce you to
its power and flexibility, helping you to work faster and smarter.

Meanwhile, we show you how to recycle old PCs by using lightweight
distros, and give you 18 steps towards better data security. You'll
find tutorials on Arduino, Android, Perl, XBMC and other topics,
while on the coverdisc you can try out Mandriva 2011, a shiny new
release of the novice-friendly Linux distro.

Here's a taster of LXF151 from the HotPicks section:

# GnuPG 2.0.18 --

Few tools have a more interesting history than GnuPG and the
encryption tools that preceded it. You may not know it, but there
was a time when there was no way of encrypting a message (or
authenticating it) that wasn't trivial to break with even a modest
computer setup. The idea of asymmetric key-pairs provided the
answer to encryption algorithms, which manage to keep everything
from your private mail to your bank transactions safe.

The OpenPGP software became a standard for secure communication
(RFC4880) and way back before LXF was even born, a compatible Unix
version was born (in 1997!). And yet, in spite of the awesome
things it's responsible for, GnuPG is quite a humble little
command-line app that just does its job simply and efficiently and
generally stays in the background, keeping you safe and secure
with barely a murmur.

The software doesn't have an API as such, so most of the tools
that require some sort of GPG functionality just write a wrapper
around the command-line tools. Simple, but effective - you
probably use it every time you use your computer, for one thing or

This new version, which has been a while in coming, probably isn't
going to rock your world that much. The headline is that it now
supports keys up to 4,096 bits in length, which is more than
secure enough to make sure you're downloading the correct package
and your grocery list is safe from prying eyes. Of course, few
people need that level of security, but isn't it nice to know that
GnuPG is there, quietly watching out for you?

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 151.

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 Plasma Active One arrives

"A mobile device should be more than a collection of applications.
It should reflect who you are." So says the KDE team, which has
created a new interface -- sorry, "user experience" -- geared
towards tablets. The idea is that you can collect all of your
documents, contacts, media and more under a single topic. Check
out the link for screenshots galore.

# Kindle Fire announced ... price-tag/

Yes, Amazon has got into the tablet game now with a 7-inch device at
a scratch under 200 US dollars. With Amazon's online media stores,
it's providing arguably the biggest competitor to Apple's vast
ecosystem - but more interestingly for us, it's running a variant of
Android, which is of course based on the Linux kernel.

# Tizen, yet another Linux-based mobile OS announced

Remember Moblin? And Maemo? And MeeGo? Well, despite their lack of
traction in the market, there's another attempt from the codebase in
the form of Tizen. It's designed to work on smartphones, tablets,
netbooks and other devices, and while we wish it look, we don't yet
see anything to indicate it'll be any more successful than its

5. This month on the forum

Fancy going distro shopping? Spangwiches posted a detailed list of
requirements for his dream distro, explaining that he wanted
something with "well stocked repos" and that also ideally had
rolling releases. Naturally, Arch, Gentoo and Sabayon came up as the
top suggestions, and Farcry suggested using ArchBang as a way to get
into the distro without being put off by all the command-line
fiddling. [1]

Software piracy is an interesting concept. On the one hand,
everybody agrees the stealing -- ie depriving someone of their own
property -- is wrong. However, it can be argued that piracy is not
stealing, because the original copy remains. And when people
casually pirate movies and songs, would they have bought them in the
first place? It's a tricky subject, and Spangwiches kicked off an
interesting discussion in Off Topic. [2]



6. Special Newsletter feature


A new release of the world's most popular Linux distribution (and
thereby the world's third most popular PC OS) is due today. What's
to get excited about? Read on for all the details...

1) Multi-arch support

If you run Ubuntu in its 64-bit incarnation, and get sick of all the
hoops you have to jump through to get 32-bit binaries such as Flash
and Skype working, rejoice -- it's now much easier. You won't need
to install 32-bit compatibility libraries for many programs, so the
experience will be a lot more pleasant.

2) Unity updates

Love it or hate it (in which case, Kubuntu and Xubuntu are always
available), the Unity desktop is here to stay. In 11.10 it will
sport a new Alt+Tab switcher, and there's now less of a gap between
the codebases of the 2D and 3D versions. For laptop users, there's
also a new power indicator.

3) Revamped login manager

It looks pretty. That's all we can really say!

4) Deja Dup backup tool

This backup program is now included by default, and features a very
welcoming interface. You can find out more about it on the website

5) Thunderbird replaces Evolution

Yes, Mozilla's mail client has replaced Evo, which we sort-of liked
but got tired of its data engine thing always hogging RAM in the
background. Thunderbird is mature and well-regarded, so this
shouldn't be too much of a controversial move.

6) Software Centre improvements

With "app stores" (sorry for the trademark infringement, Apple) all
the rage now, Ubuntu's Software Centre has some welcome updates to
look fresher and make its offerings more attractive.

So, those are just a few things to try out. There's lots more of
course, and we'll be interested to hear your feedback on the release
on our forums. Have fun exploring!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 152, on sale Thursday 10 November...

# Desktop showdown -- Forget talk of new paradigms and
synergised workflows -- what actually works best?

# PHP returns -- After a gap of several years, we return
to the language that put the P in LAMP

# Women in FOSS -- Free and open source software doesn't
just have to be the domain of blokes

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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