Linux Format Newsletter -- #24, April 2007

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #24, April 2007

Postby M-Saunders » Fri May 04, 2007 1:59 pm





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 92 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 first Newsletter of Spring 2007. Over the last month
or so, it's been interesting to watch the widespread public reaction
to Windows Vista, now that it's supplied with many new PCs. And the
mood tends to be negative -- programs breaking, compatibility
issues, sluggish performance and constant little annoyances. It's
supposedly pretty good on the stability front, but as users become
more frustrated with the OS stepping on their toes, now is a great
time to advocate Linux.

Let's face it, the days of Windows 98 are gone, and Windows today is
pretty stable if you don't load it with junkware. Similarly, it's
not a bad performer if you keep the system trim. So touting Linux as
infinitely faster and more reliable won't sync with everyone --
we're better off talking about how it doesn't get in-your-face and
assume you're a criminal all the time.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this month's Newsletter. Along with the
regular preview of the new LXF and roundups of news and forum posts,
we have a special feature on our Make it with Mono website, which is
becoming more popular by the hour!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 92 on sale

Linux Format issue 92 has marched proudly onto the newsstands, ready
to show you how to make the best Linux PC on the planet. We've
hand-picked the most powerful components and assembled them together
in a quad-core, 4GB RAM beast -- and then benchmarked it performing
all manner of tasks. Even if you're a bit strapped for cash at
present or don't want to build a full PC, you can still use our
guide to help you with a graphics card, hard drive or even power
supply upgrade.

Meanwhile, Graham Morrison has had fun with the Greenphone this
month, and shows you how to write mobile phone software, even if you
don't own Trolltech's new baby. He also assists you in the fight
against spam by explaining how to install and use SpamAssassin, one
of the best junk-mail-beating tools you can get.

We talk to Ian Murdock about the origins of Debian, the impact of
Ubuntu and his work on the Linux Standards Base, while in our
reviews section we analyse Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Thunderbird 2
and Gnome 2.18. Also see Nick's efforts to get a webcam, supposedly
supporting Linux out-the-box, to function properly...

On the tutorial front we show you how to make better backups of your
work, monitor your hardware to pre-empt errors, build a cool website
with SugarCRM, explore object-oriented programming in Mono, and
package up Java applications using Ant.

Nick took up the HotPicks challenge this month, and after much
battling to get dependency-laden programs running, found a top
selection of open source goodies including...

# UFO: AI 2.0 --

Strange things are happening to the cattle of planet Earth. They
are being horribly mutilated, then ground up, fried and served in
a bun. And that's just Mike's lunch. Worse things are happening
elsewhere, with pesky aliens dropping from the skies in their
souped- up spacecraft to abduct people and using the cities and
shanties of the populated continents as target practice for their
other-worldly energy weapons.

Yes, we're playing UFO: AI. If you never played UFO: Enemy Unkown,
you should track down a copy on eBay now (the DOS version is
pretty similar to the Amiga version, by the way). If you did, you
should know what to expect here: turn- based squad tactics in a
variety of different locations, contained in a story- driven
strategy game with resource and research management.

But something is a little different here. After years of playing
UFO: EU and its successors, you could almost swear you knew which
way the aliens were headed by that glinting pixel in their eyes
(or other ocular equipment). UFO: AI has changed the rules by
using real graphics! Based on the Quake engine, the turn- based
combat now takes place in lovingly crafted 3D environments. No
more constraints on the view: you can spin, pan and zoom with ease.

OK, confession time ­ this game isn't actually finished. The
overall strategy components need some work (such as the base
management, hiring and firing etc). It has also been known to
crash even when you're only trying to do relatively
straightforward stuff. But the actual missions work fine. Better
than fine, in fact ­ they are terrific. The aliens still seem to
pop up right behind you, there are never enough time units left to
actually throw the grenade you just primed and poor Daisy the cow
is just as doomed as ever. You owe it to yourself to wallow in a
warm bath of digitally remastered nostalgia.

See the magazine for 5.5 more pages of free software morsels!

3. In the news...

Will Linux finally be pre-installed on mass-market machines?

# RHEL 5 - from the new, more open Red Hat ... le&sid=511

Three weeks ago, Red Hat has launched its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5
operating system at Cebit and, more importantly, overhauled its
corporate infrastructure to more closely involve the open source
community. Click the link above for Linux Format's hands-on first
impressions of the release.

# Dell plans more pre-installed Linux ... le&sid=518

In response to a survey on the Dell website, in which 70% of
respondents said they would use Linux, Dell has announced a plan to
sell more machines pre-installd with the operating system. Dell
currently offers a server and workstation line with Linux, but the
new plan indicates that this will expand to regular desktop and
notebook machines. See

# Compiz and Beryl to merge? ... le&sid=515

Last year we had Compiz, a spectacular 3D window manager building on
the technologies of XGL and AIGLX. Then Beryl forked off from it,
initially due to different goals, but now the projects could
re-unite. But what would the merged version be called? The
portmanteau 'Coral' has been suggested...

4. This month on the forum

A show of hands from those who've heard of PCLinuxOS, please! The
progress of this distro, originally derived from Mandriva, has been
fascinating to watch. It's very steadily winning new fans, including
'Sentient_one' on the forums. Others chipped in with their
experiences of the OS, and all gave it the thumbs-up. Will PCLinuxOS
become the new Mandriva? Or will it be like New Coke? [1]

Do you Ubuntu? Before you can even try, you should know how the
distro is pronounced. As Linux users we're accustomed to reading
names without any clue to their pronunciation (glibc - gee lib see?
glib see?), and 'Pootman' listed a plethora of potential ways to say
'Ubuntu'. Ever the pragmatist, 'towy71' quipped 'Who cares as long
as it works'. [2]

[1] ... pic&t=5580

[2] ... pic&t=5427

5. Special newsletter feature

Make it with Mono - your votes count!

Following on from our special Mono cover feature a few issues ago,
we're running a competition to see which program the world most
wants to see programmed for Linux. That competition is now in its
second phase: all the nominations are in (we have more than 200!)
and you can now vote for your favourites. You can vote for each
program only once, but you can vote for as many programs as you
like, so be sure to look through them all and find the ones that
interest you most!

To give you a head start, we've picked out Team LXF's favourite
ideas so you can see the range of software people are thinking
about. Please note: you may notice we have excluded some of the
bigger apps from this list, such as MonoCAD, which aims to reproduce
AutoCAD on Linux. While this is a worthy idea, we feel it's a long
way beyond the scope of Make It With Mono, and would simply be
unprogrammable without a dedicated team of programmers and several
years of effort.

General applications:

Monomyth is an app that aims to make it easy for anyone to
configure MythTV - a task that is currently next to impossible for
anyone less than a Linux expert. It needs to communicate directly
with the MySQL back-end to read and save configuration options in a
friendly, wizard-like way.

NetworkClipboard is an app that will automatically synchronise
copy/paste clipboards across multiple machines. So, whenever an
admin sitting at a Linux computer selects some files and adds them
to his clipboard, he can walk over to a Mac computer in the next
room and paste them from the network clipboard there. Think
automatic, ad hoc filesharing and you've got the right idea.

Syncotron is an app that can synchronise system settings across
multiple computers, either automatically (scheduled) or on demand.
So, if you add a bookmark in Firefox, that book mark will
automatically be added on your laptop next time it syncs.

System tools:

MonoBench is a benchmarking suite that aims to test all aspects of
a PC's performance and provide a quantitative rating of a computer's
speed that can be compared against other computers. Hard disk, CPU
speed, RAM, etc - MonoBench should do it all!

MonoShell is a Bash replacement that adds in all the power of .NET
to enable regular expressions, arithmetic, spell checking, random
number generation, internet connections and more.

todo.c# is a simple front-end to the todo.txt file that oh-so-many
people have on their desktops. Hit a key to bring up a quick entry
box, type your task, and it automatically gets added to the list.
You can also review existing to do items, tick them off when they're
done, and s on.


Hold'em# is a Linux version of the popular Texas Hold'em Poker
card game. The real-life version of this game is massively popular
at geek Birds of a Feather events, and is all the rage online too -
so perhaps it's about time that Linux had a version of its own?

Lyndicate is a clone of Syndicate, Bullfrog's seminal shooter from
the 90s. Not only would this need to replicate all the original
features, but it should also add multiplayer support, either co-op
or vs.

Yu-Gi-Mono is a clone of the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! card game that
allows people to play with other networked computers or online using
a free deck. Great for kids!

So, there you go - a sampling of the 200 or so projects in the
competition. You can see them all, read comments from other users,
and vote for your favourites at

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 93, on sale Thursday 3rd May

# Be your own sysadmin -- Whether you oversee one PC or one
thousand, we give you performance, security and network
tips to make your life easier

# Kamion: Linux migration made easy. Read our sneak preview
of KDE 4's new user migration tool

# Jeremy Allison talks about Samba development, quitting
Novell and his new life at Google

(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 making
a Pot Noodle:

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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