Linux Format Newsletter -- #25, May 2007

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #25, May 2007

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:23 pm





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 93 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!

Welcome to the May edition of the LXF Newsletter. Everyone's talking
about Dell's choice of Ubuntu for its proposed Linux-based PCs - how
much will this make Ubuntu the 'standard' distro? And is this,
finally, the move that will bring Linux to the mainstream? Some
people are taking a more cynical approach to the move, suggesting
that it's merely a bargaining tool so that Dell can get cheaper
Windows licenses from Microsoft. And, of course, Dell's PCs are
supplied with various trial programs; companies pay Dell to install
these, thereby offsetting the cost of Windows. So the Linux-equipped
machines may not turn out much cheaper.

Time will tell, but for a PC giant like Dell to start pre-installing
Linux on consumer-level hardware is a major step forward for open
source. I'm typing this on a Dell Inspiron 1300 that I bought last
year, and aside from the usual Winmodem complications, Linux runs
flawlessly on it. When the time comes for me to upgrade my machine,
I'll be very happy if I can get one without paying a penny of
Windows tax - and without even having to burn a distro CD!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this month's Newsletter. We have a peek at
the latest issue of LXF, our regular catchups of the best news and
forum posts, plus a special feature on the results of our Make it
with Mono competition. Yes, a winner has been selected, and we've
given the project an, er, interesting name...

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 93 on sale

The new issue of Linux Format has hit the shop shelves, and this
month our main feature focuses on something we all have to do:
system administration. Yes, we're all admins in some way or another,
whether we're updating software for the latest security patches or
trying to squeeze more speed out of our machines. We have a
comprehensive selection of the best tips and tricks for making more
of Linux, whether you just run a single machine at home or maintain
hundreds of PCs at work.

Meanwhile, if you're feeling creative and have a few tunes going
through your head, why not set up an open source music studio? We
show you the music and software you need to start recording and
editing songs on your Linux box. For this task we look at 64 Studio,
a Debian-based distro that's supplied with all the essential
software needed to get mixin'.

In our other features we show you how to harness the power of the
SELinux security framework, and understand Kamion, the new desktop
migration tool that will be a key component of KDE 4. Over in our
tutorials section we explore the Linux filesystem, set up a secure
VPN, create a web-based app without coding, understand object
oriented programming and do very cool things with Blender. Under the
spotlight in our Reviews pages are Ubuntu 7.04 (well, a preview
really), Scribus and Linux-powered music machine Squeezebox.

On our 4GB DVD you'll find StartCom Enterprise Linux 5, a distro
designed with maximum stability and security in mind - after all,
it's built from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux sources. This distro is
an excellent choice if you want something well-tested that won't
fall over due to being on the cutting-edge. There's lots more to
explore on our disc too, including 2.2, Kino 1.0, our
Answers archive, and full LXF features in PDF format.

To get a sample of our system administration feature, here's one of
our tips for getting a welcome speed boost from your distro:

# Performance: Start applications quicker

If the speed at which your system boots is a cause of frustration,
then the speed that certain applications take to launch is
certainly going to compound the problem. And we don't mean just either. If we added up all the seconds we waste
everyday waiting for everything from a web browser to an email
client to load, there'd probably be enough time to make a cup of
tea and take a digestive biscuit out of the tin.

It may come as a surprise to learn that there is something you can
do to help speed this process up (not the tea making, you can't
rush a good brew). You can speed up application loading using a
tool called 'prelink'. A large chunk of an application's startup
procedure is taken up by working out which shared libraries need
to be loaded in a massive web of dependencies, and one library
will very often rely on another. These libraries are linked to the
executable for your application, and what 'prelink' does is
calculate all the dependencies before hand - cutting out the
repeated process of calculating dependencies.

Just install the 'prelink' package for your distribution, and open
'/etc/default/prelink' in a text editor. You just need to make
sure it contains 'PRELINKING=yes'. Prelink will have also
installed a small script that's set to run daily from
'/etc/cron.daily/prelink'. This needs to be run once after
installation to initialise the prelink database. After the lengthy
first run, you shouldn't notice the daily check unless you've
completely upgraded your distribution. Prelink cut our OOWriter
start time from 25.027 seconds to just 8.943.

Snag a copy of LXF93 for many more top-notch tips!

3. In the news...

Perhaps Dell will make 2007 truly the year of Linux on the desktop...

# Dell chooses... Ubuntu! ... le&sid=535

Recently we reported that Dell was considering Linux pre-installs
on some of its machines. Now the PC giant has confirmed that it will
be shipping Ubuntu with some of its machines, giving yet another
boost to the massively popular distro. Obviously the choice of
Ubuntu won't be to everyone's tastes, but by going with a single
distro, Dell could arguably bring some consolidation to the Linux
world. See

# Eben Moglen leaves the FSF ... le&sid=532

Eben Moglen has announced that he will step down from the Free
Software Foundation board of directors, now that the GPL v3 is
almost ready. However, Moglen will still be a prominent figure in
the Free Software legal world, as he intends to spend more time with
the Software Freedom Law Center. See

# Completely free Ubuntu in the works ... le&sid=525

Following on from the announcement that the 7.10 version of Ubuntu
will be codenamed 'The Gutsy Gibbon', project leader Mark
Shuttleworth has described a completely free version of the distro.
This Ubuntu flavour will not include firmware, drivers, images,
sounds and applications that do not adhere strictly to Free Software
principles. The distro will be produced in collaboration with
gNewSense. See

4. This month on the forum

As we expected, our Ultimate Linux Box feature in LXF92 sparked up
plenty of discussion. Dutch_Master proposed an alternative ULB that
doesn't break the bank, weighing in at 600 UK pounds but still
packing in plenty of horsepower. Many other forum regulars stepped
in with their suggestions for CPUs and power supplies, so if you're
in the market for some new PC kit, it's well worth checking out this
thread and asking for advice from fellow readers. [1]

So that's the best hardware, but what about the best ISP? There's a
huge amount of choice for dialup and broadband connections in the
UK - indeed, sometimes it feels nigh-on impossible to make a good
decision. Shifty_ben described his experiences with a few ISPs, and
others joined in to offer their mini-reviews too. Definitely
deserves a read if you're not happy with your current provider and
are thinking of switching. [2]

If you've been having trouble with phone spammers - you know, cold
callers who bug you with products you clearly don't want - then
check out the various suggestions in this thread. Not that Team LXF
condones pretending to work for the FBI. No way. [3]

[1] ... pic&t=5790

[2] ... pic&t=5848

[3] ... pic&t=5812

5. Special newsletter feature


Our Make it with Mono competition has now closed, and the winning
entry was "Web Weaver", which wants to see a full clone of
Dreamweaver programmed using Mono. Alright, so perhaps that doesn't
quite fit into our rules, but we've decided to give it a try anyway
- and we're calling it Project Cupcake!

"Cupcake?" Yup, that's our codename for this Dreamweaver clone - it
already has its own mini-site on the LXF wiki:

We're now in the process of recruiting programmers. If you have
programmed in C# in the past and want to get involved in a new
project from its very conception, this is your chance to show off
your skills to the world. Best of all, you know that you'll be
helping to create a program that people really want, so you may
even get a bit of fame in the Linux world!

If you've only recently learnt C# from our Mono tutorials, that's
fine too - all help is gratefully welcome. Graham, Nick, Mike and
Paul are all going to be involved with the coding, which means we
can help guide you through your first steps with C# as you start
to program.

C# isn't a difficult programming language to learn; it has C-like
syntax but is much nicer to work with, and, of course, you get
access to heaps of libraries and routines that the Mono/.NET
framework provides. A quick Google search will bring up plenty of C#
tutorials if you want to explore the rewarding world of programming,
such as these: ... _with_Mono ... efault.php

The long-term goal for Project Cupcake is simply to reproduce
Dreamweaver, but our proposed release schedule at ... e_schedule

will break the project down into smaller, achievable milestones
along the way. Milestone 1, which we hope to get out by July 1st,
aims to see just how feasible it is to replicate Dreamweaver using
GTK, whereas Milestone 2 is more about features - we hope to be
approaching Nvu's featureset by that point.

If you're interested in helping out with the project, you can either
add your name to the list at ... u_can_help

or, if you're not sure whether you're up to the job or just have
some questions, you can drop Paul a line at

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 94, on sale Thursday 31 May

# Distro showdown -- Who is winning the distro race? In this
special report, we weigh up community support, patch release
speed and many other factors. Don't miss it!

# Make the most of Wine -- Want to run your favourite Windows
programs on Linux but don't know how? Our guide reveals all

# FOSS without borders -- How to convert your Windows
and Mac-using friends to open source

# Massive 8GB DVD with four distros! (Yes, one of them will
be Ubuntu 7.0.4...)

(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 cutting
through the meltiest 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
LXF regular
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