Linux Format Newsletter -- #31, December 2007

Past issues of the LXF Online Newsletter

Moderators: ChriThor, LXF moderators

Linux Format Newsletter -- #31, December 2007

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:55 pm





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 101 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 final LXF Newsletter of 2007. With just a few weeks
to go until Christmas, we've been thinking of the best present ideas
for geeks -- you can find our suggestions in the Special Feature
below. If you're trying to convince someone to buy you something,
then get working on your hint-dropping tactics! I recommend "Hrm, I
think I'll quit my computing career if I can't get an Eee..."

Anyway, I hope you all have a great Christmas break, whether you're
working or Linuxing (or both!). In the Newsletter we have a peek at
the latest issue of LXF, plus news and forum roundups and the
aforementioned geek gift guide.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 101 on sale...

Seemingly out of nowhere, PCLinuxOS has shot to the top of the popularity rankings, overtaking Ubuntu. How did this
happen? What's so special about PCLinuxOS? Well, this month we've
delved into the world of this distro to answer all your questions.
We look at the history and future of PCLinuxOS, show you why it's
winning many fans, and give you a full run-through of the
installation process.

And yes, it's on our DVD so you can try it straight away! It runs in
Live mode so you don't need to install it to your hard drive. Also
on our DVD we have the full version of Fedora 8, Red Hat's community
based distro that sports new goodies such as Pulse Audio, Codec
Buddy and Compiz Fusion.

Also in issue 101: a review of the ubercool ASUS Eee PC; the best
Firefox extensions rated; a guide to converting Windows
installations into virtual machines; and our regular bunch of
in-depth tutorials. See our website and click on the cover image for
more info.

As always, we've got our hands on the latest and greatest open
source books to review, and this month Andy Hudson has been reading
a guide to maximising security...

# Security Power Tools (O'Reilly)
Price: 37.50 UKP, Pages: 781, ISBN: 978-0-596-00963-1

Unix Power Tools was a seminal text for many system
administrators, and it was with some excitement that we saw that a
Security Power Tools was on its way. The front cover reveals the
sheer number of people involved with the book, with no less than
twelve authors listed. Nine are currently employed by Juniper
Networks as part of their security team, with Juniper's Chief
Security Architect leading the way.

You get a far wider view of security than we've seen in other
security-focused books. A lot of thought has gone into the flow
of the chapters, being sensibly grouped into sections to take you
through the security model. First up is a good section on the
legal and ethical issues surrounding security, which is a
fascinating read in that it touches on the legal aspects of
identifying bugs and holes, especially through techniques such as
reverse engineering. Next, readers are introduced to the offensive
world of reconnaissance, penetration and control before looking at
defense, monitoring and discovery.

What is frightening is the level of detail that the writers get
down to ­ you'll learn a myriad of ways to attack a network's
defences, as well as solid advice on locking your network down. If
you can think of it then it's probably somewhere in this book,
such is the breadth of coverage.

Whether you're into security or not, this is a hugely important
read as it is definitely useful to anyone who has even the
remotest interest in securing their computers or networks.

Verdict: Clearly destined to become a classic work, this is one of
those books that is a must-buy, period.

Rating: 10/10

Get hold of LXF 101 for more gems from the bookshelves!

3. In the news...

KDE 4 nears, while there's much debate about Gnome and Mono...

# KDE 4.0 Release Candidate 2 ... le&sid=640

KDE 4 creeps ever closer with the "last mile on the road" -- RC2.
The codebase is now feature complete, so it just remains for the
team to fix any showstopper bugs and clean up the code before the
final release on January 11. You can get hold of the source to build
this version for last-minute testing.

# Does anybody want Mono? ... le&sid=638

Mono has polarised the Free Software community: some think it'll
help Windows developers to make Linux ports of their programs;
others see it as getting in bed with the devil (Microsoft). This
article ponders why Mono hasn't won more enthusiasm for the
community, and explains how it can improve:

# Gnome project bickering ... le&sid=634

Two prominent Gnomers, Murray Cumming and Jeff Waugh, have locked
horns in a blog-based flamewar. Cumming describes Waugh as a
"psychotic failure, obstructive and destructive" -- in Waugh's
response, he admits that he has made mistakes in the Gnome project,
and appeals against Cumming's attempts to "denigrate, disenfranchise
and discredit me consistently over the years". The soap opera

4. This month on the forum

If you don't have an internet connection at home (or it's very
slow), but you have access to a faster one elsewhere, you can use
this faster one to grab packages for your distro. Tuxmando asked how
to do this for Ubuntu, and various suggestions were put forward for
finding package dependencies. A useful thread if you want to grab a
bunch of software and take it home. [1]

Astoundingly, the Off Topic forum has managed to survive for months
without a 'global warming - is manking responsible?' discussion.
GeordieJedi needed to have a bit of a rant, though, and kicked off
the debate with his views that it's a natural phenomenon. Pootman
pointed out that the hard facts are muddled by rubbish documentary
makers who only want the extreme, polarised opinions -- not the
'needs a lot more research' approach that scientists normally
suggest. Got any revelationary new facts? Get posting! [2]

[1] ... pic&t=7088

[2] ... pic&t=7080

5. Special newsletter feature


Yes, it's that time of year again, and we're all engaged in the
customary head-scratching for gift ideas. If you're looking to buy
something for the geek in your life (or perhaps drop a hint to
someone), here's a few possible prezzie options...

1. ASUS Eee PC --

Scoring 9/10 in LXF issue 101, this miniature (7" screen) laptop
checks in at a marvellous 220 UKP, and runs Xandros Linux
out-the-box. You can beef it up with development tools and extra
apps -- so it really is an ideal mini machine for hacking on the go.
It's available in white and black colours, comes with Firefox,, Adobe Flash and various other tools, and runs well
with a 900MHz Intel CPU, 512MB RAM and 4GB flash (serving as the
hard drive).

2. Tux Droid --

Who wouldn't love a robotic version of the Linux mascot? It flaps,
it spins, it talks and, best of all, it's programmable with Python.
Get Tux Droid to read RSS feeds, alert you to new emails, keep track
of your CPU temperature or just spin around for the sheer thrill of
it. It's currently priced at 99 Euros, and a developer community is
forming at We'll have a full review in
LXF 102, but in the meantime it's a cute and hackable stocking
filler for Linux users.

3. Giant Tux doll --

If you prefer your penguins cuddly rather than filled with
electronics, then this is 22" Tux doll is a top gift. Keep it next
to your computer or let it lounge in the, er, lounge -- whatever you
choose, this plushy penguin will be a constant reminder that Linux
has a cut mascot, whereas Windows doesn't. Hah.

4. Chumby --

This "personal internet player" is essentially a small Linux-powered
box with a 3.5" screen. The supplied software is based around Adobe
Flash applets, so you can visit Facebook, Flickr and other sites
from the dinky little machine. Although it connects via wireless,
we're told that it doesn't have a battery and has to be tethered to
the mains -- thereby losing any portability benefit. It's priced at
$180; search around for some reviews before buying, to see if it
does what you want.

5. USB rocket launcher --

LXF's sister magazine PC Answers had a similar device a few years
ago, and we had much fun in the office firing (foam) missiles at
passers-by, hidden under our desks to avoid being caught. Via your
PC monitor, you align the launcher and then click buttons to release
the missiles. They're soft and harmless, but excellent for
repeatedly annoying someone.

6. Electronic bubble wrap --

Admit it: you love popping bubble wrap. We all do. In fact, it
wouldn't surprise me if scientists discovered that popping bubble
wrap released more endorphins than anything else in the history of
humanity. But the problem is, bubble wrap runs out, so wouldn't it
be great to have a simulated version? Well, this is just the
solution -- take a mini electronic box around with you and 'pop' the
buttons to your heart's content.

7. Linux Format subscription --

Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry. But it really is a great gift :-)

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 102, on sale Thursday 10 January

# Resurrect your old PC! Got an old Pentium III box sitting unused?
Give it a new lease of life with Linux

# Web-based word processors -- find out if Google Docs is a real
match for

# X3: The Elite for 2008? We give it a thorough playtest

# 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 slicing

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 tearful) 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
Posts: 2893
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:14 pm

Return to Newsletter Archives

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests