Linux Format Newsletter -- #19, November 2006

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #19, November 2006

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:08 am





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 87 on sale

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. Special newsletter feature

6. Coming up next issue

7. A quick word from PC Plus

8. Receiving this Newsletter

9. Contact details

1. Welcome!

As Christmas approaches, I've been thinking: what's the best present
to buy a Linux user? Sure, there are distros and books, but that's
not very exciting. What about a Tux T-shirt? Or an inflatable gnu?
Together we can pool some great ideas, so if you think of anything,
drop me a line at the email address below, and I'll include the
suggestions in next month's Newsletter!

Meanwhile, read on for info on the new LXF issue 87, a roundup of
the month's developments in Linuxland, some highlights from the
forum and a special feature on compiling software. Enjoy the
Newsletter, and if you have any comments or suggestions, just drop
me a line!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 87 on sale

Linux Format issue 87 is now on the shop shelves, and this month our
cover feature focuses on the highly popular Fedora Core distro. Ever
since Red Hat created its community-based project, many questions
have been raised: what does 'Core' actually mean? Is it just a
testbed for Red Hat's enterprise products? How can the project match
user demands with the need to omit heavily patented software? We
look at the past and future of Fedora, and speak to all the leading
players behind the distro.

Meanwhile, Jeff Waugh, one of the founding employees of Canonical
talks about his work on Gnome. Jeff is a Free Software fanatic,
committed to making Gnome a desktop that anyone can use - and
bringing open source to the masses. We ask Jeff about the emergence
of XGL and Compiz, working with Mark Shuttleworth, and his favourite
programs on the Linux desktop. Keep an eye on our website next week
for some snippets from the interview.

What's it like to spend most of your Linux-using life running KDE,
then switch completely to Gnome for a month? Graham Morrison finds
out, describing his experiences - what he liked, what he missed, and
how you can change desktops much easier with some helpful tips.

If you're in a programming mood, we have two tutorials to get your
coding fingers clicking. Those completely new to programming should
check out Paul Hudson's Mono series: the first instalment gently
introduces the basics of the language, showing you how to use the
MonoDevelop coding environment. If you're already a programmer, and
looking to spread your wings, read our Tcl feature, which explains
why the language is worth knowing and some of the cool things you
can do with it.

We have reviews of Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu 6.10, Mandriva Powerpack
2007 and more new software, plus a roundup of Linux's best web
browsers. On the tutorials front we show you how to set up a
scanner, get more from Konqueror, secure your system and learn
DocBook. Our 4GB DVD sports the full, final release of Mandriva Free
2007, plus three big magazine features (in PDF format) from previous
LXF issues, KOffice 1.6, Qt 4.2, and heaps of new desktop apps,
development tools and games.

Our regular HotPicks section uncovers the best new open source
releases, and one highlight this month is HomeBank:

# HomeBank 3.2 --

The early adopters of personal computers tried hard to justify
their purchases. One frequent excuse ­ sorry, application ­ for
that expensive pile of silicon, copper and plastic was a means to
balance a chequebook. The reality, as the digital pioneers found
out, was that pen and paper was quicker and much less hassle.
Today, of course, when computers are vastly more powerful and
easier to use, such tasks are readily possible, as software such
as HomeBank proves.

HomeBank is a GTK application for managing your personal bank
accounts. It's a relative newcomer to the Linux platform, but it's
actually a port by the author, Maxime Doyen, from a long-standing
Amiga program. HomeBank has been around for over ten years, so if
longevity is a feature you're looking for ­ and for this problem
space it probably is ­ HomeBank looks like a good bet.

HomeBank's interface is similar to most accounting software. There
are a few differences from usual accounting terminology that need
to be overcome, though ­ for example, HomeBank terms account
transactions as 'operations' and, recurring transactions (such as
a direct debit for your mortgage or rent) bizarrely as 'archives'
­ but the documentation will help you clear these initial hurdles.

The strength of applications such as HomeBank is that they easily
let you see where your money is going. You set up user-definable
categories ­ for example, pay check, rent, utilities, food,
clothing and so on ­ and then assign each transaction you add to
an account for one of these categories. The online facilities of
many banks may provide similar capabilities, but standalone
applications offer more finesse.

HomeBank is no exception and excels in this area, particularly
with its reporting tools. Want to know how much you spent on food
each month last year? How does that compare with the previous
year? Queries such as these are easily answered, and HomeBank can
present such reports in textual or graphical forms. Another handy
feature is budgeting, which lets you set spending limits for your

No binaries of HomeBank are currently available, but it is simple
to build the program yourself since the only significant
dependency is GTK. Doyen is currently seeking developers to help
with distro-specific packaging of HomeBank.

Grab a copy of LXF 87 for more open source loveliness!

3. In the news...

Good news for those looking to buy Linux-only PCs...

# Dell refunds unused Windows ... le&sid=440

A few years ago, much debate started up about Windows Refunds --
getting money back for unused copies of Windows that were bundled
with PCs. Now a Dell customer has succeeded in getting his money
back, after buying a laptop bundled with Windows. The customer, who
only wanted to run Linux, received the money, although Dell insists
that it is not a change in policy. See

# Oracle Linux uncovered ... le&sid=433

Oracle recently announced the release of their own version of Red
Hat Enterprise Linux, simply called Enterprise Linux or 'Unbreakable
Linux'. In a remarkably similar move to such projects as CentOS,
Oracle have decided to remove all Red Hat specific trademarks and
brand it as their own (all quite legit, of course). Click the above
link for Linux Format's own take on the new distro.

# Second KDE 4 snapshot released ... le&sid=436

The second snapshot of the eagerly anticipated KDE 4 is now
available, with binary packages for Kubuntu. As with the earlier
snapshot, there's nothing amazing to see yet, but this forms the
basis for developers to build apps around the KDE 4 framework.

4. This month on the forum

It seems that everyone is into Ubuntu now -- even Bill Clinton, as
reported on a BBC News page linked to by Sandinista. The former US
president told a Labour party conference that "society is important
because of ubuntu." Of course, he was referring to the world-view
rather than the distro, but for us Linuxers it all sounds very
entertaining. Maybe next week we'll hear Kofi Annan talking about
the importance of "slacking". [1]

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and that ever-annoying question
rears its ugly head once again: what to buy people? Clearly 90% of
the population would be happy with a Nintendo Wii (no bias there, or
anything!) but LXF forum regulars also had plenty of other
suggestions. Kudos to Catgate for thinking of "a TV set without an
on button", and Towy71's nostalgic recollection of receiving a
"battle wagon" back in 1953. [2]

[1] ... pic&t=4306

[2] ... pic&t=4645

5. Special newsletter feature


Here's something we always get loads of questions about at Linux
Format: building programs from the source code. Many of you will
already be familiar with doing this, but if you're not, here's a
guide. Note that if you're a new Linux user, don't let this daunt
you -- most programs are available for Linux in binary package
format, so you don't have to do this often, but if you find a new
program that isn't yet in your distro's package repositories, you
may have to build it from source.

Typically, the source code will have a filename like
program-1.0.tar.gz or program-1.0.tar.bz2. They're the same, just
compressed using different programs. So download the file to your
hard drive, then open up a terminal window (eg Konsole or
Gnome-Terminal). If you've downloaded it to your desktop, you'll
need to enter:

cd Desktop

to switch into that directory. Otherwise, if you've just downloaded
it to your home directory, you can extract it straight away:

tar xfvz program-1.0.tar.gz

For files ending in .bz2, use:

tar xfvj program-1.0.tar.bz2

You'll see a list of files scroll down the screen, showing you what
has been extracted. You'll also see that it has made a new directory
to store these new files; switch into it as follows:

cd program-1.0/

Of course, replace 'program' with whatever was created. Now you can
start building. First, see if there're README and INSTALL files;
it's worth checking these to see if there are any unusual
requirements. Most programs adhere to the standard build procedure,
so enter:


This starts the 'checking' phase of the build process -- analysing
your machine to make sure it can actually compile the source code.
You'll see it scan for a compiler and relevant libraries, and print
out an error if something is missing. If, for instance, it says that
it can't find SDL, you'll need to install the SDL development
libraries via your package manager (eg 'libsdl-devel'). If you get
really stumped about a requirement, try posting on our website
forums at

If it doesn't spit out any error messages, you can start actually
building the code by entering:


The compiler will start working through the code. Once it's done,
you'll be returned back to the prompt, and now you can install the
newly-built software on your system. You'll need to be logged in as
root to do this, so on Red Hat, Mandriva and SUSE enter:

su -c "make install"

And your root password. On Ubuntu and Debian, enter:

sudo make install

Followed by your user account password. (If you're not running one
of the aforementioned distros, try both methods.) This will copy the
files into your Linux installation, and when it's done you can fire
up the app by entering:


at the prompt. So, for instance, if you've extracted and built
fabeditor-1.0.tar.gz, you'll want to enter 'fabeditor' at the
prompt. After it's all installed and working correctly, you can
safely remove the source code directory and compressed file.

So that's source code compilation in a nutshell. As mentioned,
there's always plenty of help to hand if you can't get something
working, so try our forums if you get stuck.

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 88, on sale Thursday 14th December

# KDE 4 -- Exclusive preview! New features, new looks and
a new vision -- KDE is reinventing the desktop

# Linux Games -- We hand-pick the best 15 bits of
entertainment you can get

# Massive 8GB double-sided DVD -- featuring (drum roll)
Fedora Core 6 and an expanded version of Ubuntu 6.10!

(Exact contents of future issues are subject to change.)

7. A quick word from PC Plus

Just some info from PC Plus, Linux Format's sister magazine:

PC Plus magazine - Save £1.50! Now only £4.99

Look inside the latest issue for free in our special e-mag sampler

PC Plus is the foremost authority in personal computing and now
you can enjoy every issue at the great new low price of £4.99. Is
Vista better than XP, Linux or Mac OS X Leopard? The latest issue
explores whether Microsoft has delivered on its promise of a
better operating system.

Also in this month's PC Plus:

# Find out which kit's best as we compare the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi
networking adaptors and routers.

# Uncover the threat of digital rights management which could lock
down some of your recently bought hardware.

# Discover what's beyond quad core as we reveal details of the
next-gen CPUs.

# Take your PC building to the next level as we reveal the
professionals' secrets to getting your system to work harder and
faster for you.

All this plus 14 challenging hands-on projects, over 42 pages of
latest product reviews, a Hotlist of 50 essential products and a
free DVD with our exclusive (unofficial) Windows XP Service Pack 3
selection of utilities and software to advance your current OS.

So take advantage of the new low price and pick up a copy. It's on
sale now in WHSmith, Tesco Superstores, Asda, Sainsbury's and
Morrisons and all leading independent newsagents.

We now return to your regularly scheduled Newsletter...

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 driving
fast at Hockenheim:

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 sad) you can opt-out by removing
yourself from the Newsletter group as above.

9. Contact details

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 subs page:

(C) 2006 Future
LXF regular
Posts: 2893
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:14 pm

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