Linux Format Newsletter -- #30, November 2007

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #30, November 2007

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:36 pm





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 100 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!

Wow, time flies when you're having fun. Yesterday, Linux Format
officially reached the grand old age of 100 - well, issues, that is!
And what changes we've seen. I remember Caldera OpenLinux being all
the rage, MandrakeSoft's descent into near-bankruptcy, and the first
version of Phoenix (aka Firebird (aka Firefox)). Nothing moves as
fast as the technology industry, so here's to another seven years
and all the surprises it will bring!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this month's Newsletter. We have
our usual roundup of the latest news and busy forum threads, plus a
look at LXF 100 and a special feature on the relationship between
CentOS and Red Hat. If you have any questions or musings about the
Newsletter, please drop me a line!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 100 on sale...

...and, if you go to buy it in the shops, you'll spot its shiny bag
containing a special double-distro DVD! On Side 1, we have a
souped-up version of Ubuntu 7.10 that includes masses of extra
packages. In fact, it's effectively Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu
rolled into one - you get KDE, KOffice, Xfce, development tools and
much more in a single Ubuntu installation. And as before, Ubuntu
runs in Live mode so if you're new to Linux, you can try the OS
without having to install it.

Also on the DVD we have the full version of OpenSUSE 10.3, a fine
distro backed by Novell and a large supporting community. This 10.3
release brings many new features to the table such as a KDE 4
preview, Compiz, Gnome 2.20 and faster booting. Plus there's
100 chapters from Apress books - copious reading material to
while away these long Autumn nights!

In the magazine, we've spoken to major players in the GNU/Linux
world such as Richard Stallman and Gael Duval, asking where they
believe GNU/Linux has succeeded in the last seven years, what's to
come over the next seven, and what challenges we face as a
community. We also look at how 2008 shapes up in terms of software:
what cool features are approaching in KDE, Firefox and more.

Also in the mag: nifty (and very affordable) hardware hacking with
the Arduino board; working smarter with Business Intelligence; Linux
Podcasts on test; and tutorials on choosing the right distro, fixing
boot problems, migrating settings across distros and more.

Our Graham has taken the HotPicks helm this month, and he's found
the perfect terminal emulator for playing Nethack without the boss

# Yakuake 2.8 --

If you've been to any KDE conferences this year, you couldn't help
but notice that all the hackers were using a terminal that
magically dropped down from the top border of the screen. This is
known as a Quake-style terminal, because it was this game and it's
embedded console that first featured the smooth scrolling effect
as the terminal appeared and disappeared from view. And the KDE
version that all the developers were using is called Yakuake ­ the
next generation of KDE's Konsole. Press a key combination from the
desktop and Yakuake will smoothly scroll into view, letting you
type immediately whatever commands you need to.

Press the same key sequence again, and the panel slides out of
view. The best thing is that your terminal session remains
indefinitely. Each time you open the console, you can continue
from the same point. This means you can perform tasks like
compiling software in Yakuake and just slide the terminal out of
view while you wait for the build process to finish. Thi must be
why all the KDE hackers were using it. Either that or they were
hiding their console IRC chat. Yakuake is functionally identical
to Konsole ­ it even uses the same Schema for changing its
appearance, and you have a lot of control over how you want the
console to appear using downloadable `skins' You can change the
amount of screen real estate Yakuake uses (as a percentage of the
space available), and which side of the screen it appears from,
and just like Konsole, you can open more than a single session by
adding tabs.

All this makes it the perfect replacement for the ageing console,
and while you might initially think that the smooth scrolling is
something of a gimmick, sliding a console into and out of view as
and when you need it feels much more productive than launching a
new Yakuake every time. If you find yourself using the Linux
command line every day ­ like we do here at LXF ­ we're sure you'll
end up telling your friends and colleages that you simply can't
recommend Yakuake highly enough.

Head newsagentwards for more issue 100 goodness!

3. In the news...

More bad news for SCO and Microsoft. Our collective hearts bleed...

# Fedora 8 released ... le&sid=626

With a typically wacky announcement (, the
Fedora project has cut a new release. For a feature overview, see - and
download a copy from (or grab it
from the upcoming LXF 101 DVD).

# Ubuntu 'Hardy Heron' planning ... le&sid=619

Development on Ubuntu 8.04, the 'Hardy Heron' release, has kicked
off at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Coders are planning the new
feature list for 8.04, which will be an LTS (Long-Term Support)
release. If all goes well, the Heron should take to the skies in
April. See

# Hans Reiser trial begins ... le&sid=625

Accused of the murder of his wife, even though a body has never
been found, filesystem coder Hans Reiser is in court for the opening
statements of the trial. Reiser, who created the widely-used
ReiserFS Linux filesystem, had a complicated history with both his
wife and a friend, Sean Sturgeon, who has claimed to have killed
eight people.

4. This month on the forum

Are the latest distro releases really all they're cracked up to be?
sentient_one listed some problems he'd had with PCLinuxOS and
Ubuntu, but forum regulars jumped in with some suggestions. Gordon
recommended trying Linux From Scratch, to gain an understanding of
how complex modern distros are. Intriguingly, a couple of forumers
expressed some disappointment with the latest Ubuntu release, in
contrast to the very positive feedback it has received around the
net over the last few weeks. [1]

You know those tacky TV programmes called "When X goes Y"? Like
"When holidays go bad" etc.? Well, we had a "When forumers get
bored" thread earlier in the month. dwjs1974 linked to a brilliantly
simple (and addictive) little game called Particles, while Rhakios
pointed towards Kitten Cannon, a jocular feline-flinging funfest. If
you know of any other good lunch-time-wasters, get posting! [2]

[1] ... pic&t=6875

[2] ... pic&t=6930

5. Special newsletter feature


A recent Slashdot article [1] brought up a commonly asked question:
is CentOS hurting Red Hat? For those who've never come across the
distro before, CentOS is a completely free and open source Linux
flavour, built from the source code to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Consequently, it doesn't blow the world away with bleeding-edge
features - but it's very reliable, very secure and receives
well-tested updates.

Some people have a hard time understanding the relationship between
CentOS and Red Hat. There are no official ties between the two
groups; indeed, on the main page for CentOS (,
you'll notice that Red Hat isn't even mentioned. Instead, you'll see
the words 'Prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor'
littered around the site, in order to respect Red Hat's trademarks.
In addition, it stops some first-time CentOS users assuming that the
distro comes with full RH support, and then moaning on the phone
when something doesn't work. CentOS is supported purely by the

One common misconception is this: because Red Hat Enterprise Linux
is built on open source components, it has to share its changes,
therefore remasters like CentOS are inevitable. But it's not that
simple. Red Hat releases the source RPMs for its Enterprise Linux
lineup - not just the source tarballs. If Red Hat didn't spinoffs
like CentOS, it would simply dump a load of unorganised source
tarballs on its servers, and maybe a few build scripts, then say
"Here it is - the RHEL source. Enjoy."

If that was the case, it would be very laborious for CentOS's
developers to recreate the original distro. But Red Hat makes
available neatly packaged SRPM packages, complete with build
scripts, and consequently it's much easier for the CentOS team to
make a binary-compatible OS. So this is pretty solid grounding to
believe that Red Hat isn't losing sleep over CentOS.

Another misconception is that CentOS is a cheap way to get Red Hat.
This viewpoint assumes that Red Hat is losing sales somehow, and if
CentOS and co. were to shut-up-shop, everyone would run out and buy
RHEL licenses. But that simply wouldn't happen - people are using
CentOS because they want a reliable, familiar OS with rock-solid
updates. If the CentOS project collapsed, they'd move to Debian or
Ubuntu LTS. Some users run CentOS because they want to test their
apps on a RHEL-compatible system, before rolling them out onto real
RHEL machines. Again, if CentOS disappeared, these people would just
test on Fedora. They wouldn't rush out and buy licenses.

Indeed, it could be argued that CentOS helps Red Hat, in providing
an entry path for potential Linux convertees. For instance, say John
Admin is looking for a Linux distro to run some corporate servers. A
local Linux geek shows him some distros - including CentOS. John
likes CentOS, gets familiar with it, and buys a support contract
from Red Hat for his production servers. Everyone wins.

Now you may be asking, "Why doesn't Red Hat release a free version
then?" And who knows, maybe the company will one day. But it's not
as easy as throwing up a load of ISOs. You have to add some kind of
support, you have to make sure people don't get confused with the
pay-for products - there's a lot more involved. So it's a bit
pointless when the CentOS project already has the supporting
community, package update system, and market position (free,
un-officially-supported) already firmly in place.

I don't think we'll be seeing CentOS disappear any time soon. Red
Hat has been an excellent player in the GNU/Linux community, and
CentOS poses no threat to its core business model of large-scale
24x7 enterprise support. May both projects live together in harmony!

[1] ... 04/1331247

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 101, on sale Thursday 13 December

# PCLinuxOS -- the new Ubuntu? Find out why this distro is
rapidly gaining popularity

# Firefox add-ons galore! The bext extensions rated

# Fedora 8 on test: read the review and try it from our DVD

# Plus more features, tutorials and opinions

(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 reading
a Meg and Mog book:

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 lonely) 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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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:14 pm

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