Linux Format Newsletter -- #40, August 2008

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #40, August 2008

Postby M-Saunders » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:53 am





1. Welcome!

2. LXF 110 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 40th Linux Format Newsletter, and the second to fall
in August. If you've popped by the front page of the LXF website
recently, you'll have seen a few articles marked with red text.
These are exclusive articles from the LXF writing crew - you won't
find them on other websites. We're working to expand the amount of
stuff we put online, so if you have any recommendations for
articles, or indeed want to write something yourself, get in touch!

Read on for a look at LXF issue 110, a roundup of the hottest news
stories and forum threads, and a special feature on using the 'sed'
command line utility. Here's looking forward to a good September of
Linuxing fun - and just a tiny bit of good weather for those of us
in Blighty. Please!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 110 on sale

Linux Format issue 110 has burst into the newsagents, and this month
our cover feature explores the vast wealth of Free Software
available. We all tend to stick with one app for each job - Firefox,, and so forth. But when you read through 25 Killer
Apps, you'll discover that there's a lot going on elsewhere in the
open source world, and you may come across some excellent programs
that you've never heard of.

We also look at Linux training - aka the best way to make money from
your Linux skills. No matter how strong your geek gene is, you're
not likely to get a Linux-related job unless you've got some kind of
certification to back up your knowledge. So we've analysed the
various options available from Red Hat, Novell and the LPI, finding
out what's best for you.

Our 4GB DVD is a colossal quadruple-booting disc, containing
Sabayon, Fedora, Slax and Gentoo 2008.0 (along with ISOs of Ubuntu,
Puppy and DSL). There's also over 100 pages of
tutorials (in PDF format), and 40 top apps. Back in the mag, we have
our regular tutorials and reviews section, plus HotPicks where Nick
Veitch mines the internet for sparkling new programmy gems. Here's
what he makes of a particularly cool Firefox extension...

# Archview 0.7 --

Have you ever wanted to look inside something before you actually
get it? Maybe a boiled egg that you're not sure is done enough, or
a lucky bag at the arcade on the pier. Certainly, many people
partaking of lunch in the LXF Towers dining hall would like to
take a sneaky peek inside the 'pie of the day' before they put one
on their plate. There are, it would seem, plenty of occasions
where some sort of X-ray vision would help one a lot, and we have
only been thinking about the legal ones.

ArchView is like a special magic set of X-ray goggles for the
internet. Its purpose is to grab the important part of an archive
file you have found languishing on some FTP site and let you take
a look at the contents, before you wind up downloading a huge
archive only to find that the file you really wanted isn't inside
anyway. It does this by recognising the type of file and grabbing
and decoding the parts of the file file have the contents inside
it. So far, the recognised file types are RAR, ZIP and ISO files.
The last is probably the most useful, but beware - this is by no
means an instantaneous proposition. The ISO index portion can
easily take five minutes to download on its own.

ArchView is a Firefox extension, and it will run on Mac and
Windows as well, so you don't have to give up on it just because
the scumbags you work for make you use a different OS at work. You
can install the version direct from the LXF DVD, but it is also
registered online at the Firefox add-on site - just do a search
for ArchView on the browser/platform of your choice to get the
latest version. When it does, depending on the interface options
you have chosen (and we're voting XUL, in case you need someone to
choose for you) you'll see a browseable directory listing in which
you can do all the sort of things you usually do.

This is one of those extensions that you might not want to use all
the time - sometimes you know you want to grab a file without
having to wait ages to get a listing first. In this case, it is
easy to switch ArchView on and off via the little icon that
appears in the bottom-right of the Firefox window.

See the LXF website and click on the right-hand issue pic for a full
lowdown on 110's contents.

3. In the news

It's all about looking to the future this month...

# AppChecker to make LSB relevant at last? ... rticle=725 <>

For years we've heard about how the Linux Standards base is going to
make everything hunky-dory for software developers. In theory, you'd
be able to make one package and install it on any LSB-compliant
distro. But nothing much came of it, so the Linux Foundation is
having another shot with the Linux AppChecker. This tool scans your
binaries and lets you know whether your program will work on a given
number of distros, thereby (potentially) nullifying the need to have
15 packages for 15 different distros. We'll see.

# Microsoft ups SLES certificate deal ... rticle=730 <>

Novell and Microsoft have expanded their partnership further, with
Redmond agreeing to buy another $100 million in SUSE Linux
Enterprise Server support certificates. A Linux Insider piece
explains that, since the original 2006 deal, "Novell has invoiced
more than $157 million in certificate revenues, or 65 percent of the
original allotment, according to Microsoft". Community outrage
commencing in 5... 4... 3...

# Linux in 2012 ... rticle=727 <>

In the year 2012 we'll definitely have hoverbikes, brain implants
and all the other life-changing stuff that futurists once promised.
But what about Linux? This InformationWeek piece guesstimates what
the Linux world be like in four years, looking at free vs paid-for
versions, desktop technologies and hardware support. It neglects,
however, to mention that RMS will have cloned himself 200 times by
then, to create an invincible army of Free Software activists. Gulp.

4. This month on the forum

What's your opinion of KDE 4.1? Some intrepid souls have installed
the brand new release, and the feedback has been very varied. Farcry
complained that it's nowhere near as functional as the 3.5.x
releases, and Rhakios agreed. Meanwhile, Donoreo, Linuxfanatik and
SootynSweep were more positive about the release, albeit admitting
that there are a few things to iron out. If you're running KDE 4.1,
join in the thread and we'll all get a good overview of the
community's general perception. [1]

LXF issue 110 includes a Python game programming tutorial, written
for those who have a basic grasp of coding concepts but want to go
further. Lee Jarrat started writing the code from scratch and came
across a few problems - if you've been following the tutorial and
want to add your own ehnancements, check out this thread as it's
full of useful info. [2]

[1] ... topic=8422 <>

[2] ... topic=8485 <>

5. Special Newsletter feature


'sed', a stream editor, is an immensely useful command line utility
that can be found in nigh-on every Unix flavour in existence. It's
ideal for making bulk changes to text files, whether via a single
command or in a Bash script. sed lets you do things like inserting
text at the beginning of each line in a file - something that's
often very laborious in GUI text editors.

Create a new text file called foo.txt, and enter several lines of
random text. Save the file in your home directory, open up a
terminal window and enter:

sed s/e/HELLO/ foo.txt

You'll see that some instances of the letter 'e' have been replaced
with the text 'HELLO'. But not all instances - only the first
occurance of e in each line. To change every 'e' to 'HELLO', we need
to tack on 'g' at the end of the sed command:

sed s/e/HELLO/g foo.txt

Let's look at the structure of this command. The 'sed s' shows that
we want to perform a substitution operation. Then we have a forward
slash, after which we add the text to be replaced. The following
slash then starts the substitution text, and we have a final slash
to show where the substitution text ends. As mentioned before, we
can add extra parameters to the command, such as the 'g'.

sed makes heavy use of regular expressions, a hugely complex subject
which we're not going to dwell on here. But with a bit of basic
knowledge you can perform some more advanced operations. For

sed s/t.e/MOO/g foo.txt

The dot (.) here can stand for any character - so words such as the,
tee etc. are replaced with MOO. But the dot just stands for a single
character; if you want to replace an arbitrary number of characters,
use an asterisk like this:

sed s/u*utang/QUACK/g foo.txt

This would replace words such as urangutang, understandutang etc.
with QUACK (yes, understandutang doesn't exist, but you get the
overall idea :-) ). To inject text at the beginning of a line, use:

sed s/^/START/ foo.txt

This will put the word START at the beginning of every line in the
file. For the end of lines, replace ^ with $:

sed s/$/END/ foo.txt

You can pipe sed commands into other sed commands, and redirect the
output to another file:

sed s/^/START/ foo.txt | sed s/$/END/ > bar.txt

There's so much more that sed can do - see the manual page
('man sed') for more information.

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 111, on sale Thursday 18 September...

# Linux in your living room -- Create a brilliant home
media centre with Mythbuntu

# Installing made easy -- Learn how to build source code
for extra performance and new features

# 30 days with Haiku -- Our man Graham finds out what we
can learn from other open source operating systems

(Exact contents of future issues are subject to change. If we knew
everything for certain, we'd have won the lottery 2,521 times over
by now.)

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 a 3x3
square Sudoku puzzle:

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

8. Contact details

If you have 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 subscription page:

(C) 2008 Future Publishing Limited
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