Linux Format Newsletter -- #21, January 2007

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #21, January 2007

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:14 pm





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 89 on sale

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. Special newsletter feature

6. Coming up next issue

7. Receiving this Newsletter

8. Contact details

1. Welcome!

Happy new year, and welcome to the first LXF Newsletter of 2007.
Around this time, Linux pundits the world over ponder the oft-asked
question: will this be the year of Linux on the desktop? In our
opinion, there will be no single Linux "year", but a succession of
years in which the operating system keeps getting stronger.

That said, there are certainly some major developments coming up in
2007 which could trigger a popularity surge for Linux, including the
release of RHEL 5, Ubuntu 7.10 LTS and KDE 4 (if we're lucky). See
our special Newsletter feature this month for a lowdown on what's in
the pipeline for the next 12 months.

Also in the Newsletter: a peek at Linux Format issue 89, and
roundups of the latest news and hot forum topics. Enjoy -- if you
have any comments or questions, just drop me a line!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 89 on sale

The new issue of Linux Format is now on the newsstands, and you
won't miss the cover: a massive monolith with a familiar simian
logo. Yes, Mono is our focus this month -- we look at the people,
programs and technologies behind the open source .NET framework, and
show you why it's going to have a big impact on the Linux desktop
throughout 2007. If Mono whets your appetite for some coding, we
also have the next instalment in our C# tutorial series, this month
focusing on XML handling.

Are you making the most of your browser? If you're a Firefox user,
chances are you have a handful of extensions that you can't live
without -- but there are many lesser-known extensions that could
change the way you use the web. We hunted down the 10 best Firefox
extensions, showing you why they're useful, what they do and how to
get them up and running.

If you use a mixture of Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, check out our
feature on transferring your skills between those operating systems.
We set the geek threshold to 18 megaTorvalds with a guide to the
black art of assembly language, while Red Hat's Michael Tiemann sits
down with the LXF microphone for an interview.

Our reviews section includes Debian 4.0, CrossOver 6.0, Ardour 2.0
and OpenBSD 4.0 (plus a roundup of sound trackers), while on the
tutorial front we show you how to use the APT package toolset,
master Gimp layers, dual-boot on MacBooks, speed up MySQL and
compile your own kernel. Our books section highlights the latest
tomes covering open source technologies, and one of the highlights
is Ruby Cookbook:

# Ruby Cookbook -- Lucas Carlson and Leonard Richardson
Publisher: O'Reilly; ISBN: 0-596-52369-6; Price: $49.99

Ruby Cookbook isn't a tutorial for beginners, nor is it a
reference guide for experienced coders. Instead, it's designed for
developers who're familiar with other programming languages, and
who have to work with Ruby code. Given Ruby on Rails's continuing
popularity surge, there's a growing market for Ruby hackers, and
O'Reilly's Ruby Cookbook aims to provide a one-stop shop for
coding answers via a 'recipes' system.

These recipes are made up of three parts: a problem, a solution
and a discussion. For instance, a problem may be 'You want to
validate an XML document' or 'You want to compare the contents of
two files'. The problem is then followed up by a block of code to
solve it, and then a discussion explaining the code (often
pointing to other potentially useful recipes). That's all there is
to it - quick, snappy answers to common coding conundrums.

And over the 339 recipes, it works fabulously well. There's no
dawdling, no waffle, no excursions into unrelated topics; just
useful facts to get a job done. A handful of the recipes may be
too elementary for some coders (eg opening files and handling
strings) but the vast majority are superbly well-written and
informative. Topics covered include hashes, objects, modules, XML,
HTML, databases and, of course, Rails.

Ruby Cookbook may not be cheap, and its market is limited given
that total newcomers and advanced coders won't get much from it,
but it does its job with total aplomb. If you're a website
developer who doesn't have time to learn Ruby's ins and outs, but
you need to get stuff done with the language, this needs to be on
your desk.

VERDICT: 9/10. A tasty publication stuffed with code snippets
and facts for quick learning.

Grab a copy of LXF89 for reviews of two other books covering
regular expressions and Google tricks!

3. In the news...

Major changes underway for Fedora, while Linux grows in the east...

# What to expect in Fedora 7: no Core, no Extras ... le&sid=467

The Fedora team announced there will no longer be a core and extras
repositories; there will just be Fedora, in the upcoming release 7.
The announcement has this to say: "Starting with Fedora 7, there is
no more Core, and no more Extras; there is only Fedora. One single
repository, built in the community on open source tools, assembled
into whatever spins the Fedora community desires." Other items to be
included are: Yum speedups, KVM virtualisation, and more wireless
card firmware. See

# Big Linux moves in India ... le&sid=465

Tamil Nadu, a state of southern India, is fast moving to Linux with
Microsoft trailing behind. The state government states that 2007
will be a "watershed year" for IT, with plans to move many desktops
to Linux. Already, the state has deployed 6,500 Linux systems in
villages, with a further 20,000 SUSE-based boxes planned to be put
into schools. See

# Microsoft hands out SUSE subscriptions ... le&sid=462

Following the Microsoft/Novell agreement signed two months ago,
Microsoft has handed out 16,000 subscription certificates for SUSE
Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Part of the agreement required that
Microsoft would distribute 70,000 SLES coupons every year, so that
customers can supposedly benefit from a Linux distro that had
Microsoft's patent thumbs-up. See

4. This month on the forum

Shortly after OpenSUSE 10.2 was released in December, opinions and
discussions about the release started flooding Linux sites around
the net. What did LXF forum regulars make of it? Wyliecoyoteuk and
Rhakios reported good first impressions, and Alan_nunn was very
pleased with its laptop hardware support. Romansky had a few
problems with video drivers, but otherwise it looks like a solid
release. [1]

We humans have limited attention spans, and even the world of
computing can sometimes seem a bit... samey. Wyliecoyoteuk
reminisced about the 8-bit and 16-bit days, describing today's
computing world as "boring and safe". Forumers came up with
suggestions, including this gem from GMorgan: "Try writing an OS in
Malbolge". (Note: we'll be covering the horror that is Malbolge in
LXF90). Ollie suggested teaching as a way to stay in computing
without endless hackery and problem fixing. [2]

[1] ... pic&t=4875

[2] ... pic&t=4961

5. Special newsletter feature


2007 is set to be a big year for Linux. Sure, it's unlikely that
Vista will be in the £4.99 bargain bins come December, but with a
flurry of major software and distro releases coming up, it's clear
that Linux will keep edging into the mainstream computer world. And
who knows -- maybe the whole SCO fiasco will be sorted out? Here's
our guide to the most notable upcoming events:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

RHEL, Red Hat's Linux distro geared towards businesses, is getting
closer to a 5.0 release (beta 1 arrived in September 2006). RHEL 5
will be based on Fedora Core 6, and include the Xen virtualisation
suite along with SELinux improvements. Indeed, Red Hat hopes that
RHEL 5 will receive EAL 4 certification, making it officially
recognised as uber-secure, and therefore opening up new markets in
government and business.

Another significant addition is Stateless Linux, a combination of
technologies designed to ease management of many machines. If one
box goes down, it can be replaced easily and quickly -- and all
machines should be able to share the same operating system image.
For administrators, this means looking after only a handful of
boxes, instead of hundreds (or even thousands). RHEL 5 is due to be
released early this year.

Firefox 3.0

No exact release date (or guesstimate) for FF3 has been set, but it
looks likely that we'll see it this year, possibly around late
Summer. Many new features are planned, including Cairo support
for smooth graphics rendering, and XBL 2 which gives developers more
control over the look and feel of XUL widgets.

Additionally, Javascript 2 should be supported, along with the SVG
image format in GUI elements (eg navigation buttons). Users on
dialup will be happy to see improved offline browsing support; plus,
the developers hope to separate the underlying Gecko and XULRunner
engines, so if you download both Firefox and Thunderbird, you won't
be downloading two copies of the core program framework.

Ubuntu Linux 7.10

The Feisty Fawn release is due in April, but we're really looking
forward to October, when the next LTS (Long Term Support) version
will bound onto the distro scene. Ubuntu 7.10, whatever code name it
is given, will take the development effort of the previous two
releases and add plenty of polish, tweaking and bugfixing.
Considering how popular Ubuntu 6.06 has been, we have no doubts that
the next LTS version will be a barnstorming success. Keep an eye on
the upcoming 7.04 release to get an idea of how 7.10 will look.

KDE 4.0

In fairness, KDE's developers haven't even tried to guess when the
4.0 release will be available; there's so much work going on under
the hood that it's nigh-on impossible to set a firm date. However,
there's a chance it could be released in late 2007 if the
development pace keeps up, and we've got a lot to look forward to:
Plasma desktop extensions, seamless hardware configuration via
Solid, massive KHTML improvements (taken from Apple's Safari), and
Decibel, a new framework for instant messaging and video

Currently, KDE 4 is only available in snapshot form (source code and
binary packages for a few distros), and there's not much to see from
an end-user standpoint -- all the work is going on under the hood.
But by Summer, hopefully we'll be able to get usable packages that
demonstrate the new features, and, of course, we'll have them on the
LXF DVD as soon as they arrive.

So that's what's to come in 2007 from the biggest projects, but
naturally there'll be plenty of progress in smaller applications
too. If you've thought of something else that could give Linux a
huge boost in 2007, why not share it with others on our forums? See

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 90, on sale Thursday 8th February

# Solve it yourself! We diagnose the most common Linux
problems, and show you how to fix them

# Super Apache -- Make your web server do more with
the finest Apache modules around

# OpenID -- Digital identity gets decentralised, but
what does that really mean?

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

7. 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
melting butter:

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

8. 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) 2007 Future Publishing Limited
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