Linux Format Newsletter -- #44, January 2009

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #44, January 2009

Postby M-Saunders » Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:51 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 115 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 2009! I hope everyone had a good Christmas break and new
year, stuffed with plenty of Linux of course. Over on the LXF Blog
( we've jotted down some
musings on the state of play for Linux as we enter 2009, looking at
the rise and rise of netbooks and a possible boom in the Android
market. Also, don't miss the special feature further down this
Newsletter for more things to look forward to this year!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 115 on sale

Virtualisation is radically changing the computing landscape. Gone
are the days when trying another distro or operating system required
repartitioning your hard drive and risking losing data - with a
virtual machine, you can try a huge range of OSes from the comfort
of your regular desktop. In our cover feature this month we show you
what you need, how to get started, and the cool things you can do.

It's a big, bad world out there on the internet, and even with a
highly secure OS like Linux we still have to take precautions to
keep crackers at bay. So we've collected together the 10 best
security tips to harden your machines, covering user management,
encryption and firewalls.

Then there's our guide to turbo-charging your desktop with three
fast and funky window managers, tutorials on Scribus, Gimp, email
servers and motion detection with webcams, plus our 4GB DVD that's
crammed with the Ubuntu-beating Fedora 10 release. Over in our
HotPicks section, amongst many other open source gems, Andy Hudson
looks at Twitim:

# Twitim 1.0.1 --

For all you Web 2.0 nuts out there, Twitter represents an
opportunity to indulge your passion for sharing your life events
with the world by writing short updates, less than 140 characters
long. Initially only available through a web interface, there's
been a growing number of client applications that can post
'tweets' (as these updates are rather whimsically known to the
Twitter community) and also pull tweets from those that you're

Twitim is one of those clients, and it tries to be a little
different by taking the form of an instant messenger app. The
interface is pretty clean, and by default takes your Twitter feed
and displays it in a timeline reminiscent of an instant message
conversation. You're able to create further tabs to isolate
different strands, such as your followers or the people you are
following. Depending on how many people you are following, you may
see a flurry of tweets or a steady barrage - Twitim timestamps
each post to the second that you receive them, all based on your
local time.

It's not hard to see Twitter becoming mildly addictive, especially
when you have more than a few dozen people who you follow - if you
happen to follow Tim O'Reilly you'll be kept up to date with some
very heavy posting, some interesting, some random but nearly a
dozen or more times a day. We find that Twitim helps you digest
the posts easier than if you use the web client, and keeping it
open makes you want to check it every so often so see what's
changed - it provides a pop-up to let you know that new tweets
have been received.

One minor gripe with it all though is that, although Twitter
restricts you to 140 characters, Twitim doesn't prevent you from
going over this limit. On the whole Twitim is a useful interface
to Twitter and is definitely an application you should use if you
want quick and easy access to Twitter on your Linux desktop.

Head over to the LXF website and click on the right-hand issue cover
picture for more information on Linux Format 115!

3. In the news

A new Debian looms, while Tux travels to gadgetland...

# Debian 5's binary blob controversy ... le&sid=777

Debian 5 (aka Lenny) creeps ever closer, but there's a bit of a
ruckus within the development team as Ars Technica reports. Debian 5
will include binary firmware blobs for enhanced hardware support,
but some developers feel that it goes against the spirit of purity
for which the distro is so well known and respected.

# Slackware 12.2 released ... le&sid=772

Slackware may not get much attention thesedays, but the
longest-running distro still has an army of hardcore fans who love
its simplicity and stability. Version 12.2 includes kernel,
KDE 3.5.10 and Xfce 4.4.3, all built with GCC 4.2.4.

# Linux kind-of ported to the iPhone ... le&sid=770

Yes, the most discussed gadget in the history of anything is now
Tux-enabled. Well, there's no support for the touchscreen, phone
transmitter, wireless or sound, but a basic framebuffer has been
implemented along with the Busybox shell utils. Could this be the
tiny acorn that grows into a full-on Android port? (Usual
disclaimer: if you try this, you risk bricking your iPhone and
making Steve Jobs frown.)

4. This month on the forum

Sentient_one started the inevitable thread to discuss 'Distro of the
Year 2008'. Ubuntu swept up the award of the same name in LXF issue
115, and Canonical's distro was equally popular in the forum
discussion, although the other major contenders got namechecked too.
Ram tried to take the thread in a different direction by suggesting
'openBuntu or USUSE' - or perhaps that will happen someday? [1]

We try to avoid getting into long-winded political debates on the
LXF Forums, but occasionally a topic comes up which could have a
major impact on the adoption of Linux. Ollie noted that the UK
police now have greater powers to hack into home PCs (aka 'remote
searching'), so perhaps we should advocate Linux as an operating
system that isn't easily hackable and therefore protects our rights
and freedoms. [2]

[1] ... pic&t=9269

[2] ... pic&t=9316

5. Special Newsletter feature


Linux and open source are going from strength to strength. Here's
some of the things to keep an eye on over the next 12 months...


Firefox 3.1 is currently in heavy development, and is expected to
include a 'video' tag from the HTML 5 specification. For improved
privacy, a Private Browsing feature will be available: turn this on
and do your work on the internet, and then, when you disable it,
Firefox will erase all cookies, cache and history from that browsing
session. This will be especially useful when you're on public
machines (eg in an internet cafe) and don't want others to get
access to your browsing history and information.

Version 3.1 will also include cross-site XMLHttpRequests, native
JSON DOM binding (an alternative to XML), and full CSS 3 selector
support. One of the planned features, a window manager-esque
tab-switching implementation, has been bumped to Firefox 3.2.


Release slips can happen, but KDE 4.2 is expected to arrive on 27
January, all being well. This release will refine and enhance the
work done in 4.0 and 4.1, hopefully winning back users who weren't
completely impressed with the earlier versions. 4.2 will feature a
desktop compositing manager with many slick effects, grouping and
multiple rows in the task manager, Google Gadgets support in Plasma,
performance improvements in Konqueror, and a new printing
configuration system.

Above all, KDE 4.2 aims to fill in the gaps of 4.0 and 4.1, bringing
the desktop back to feature parity with the 3.5 series.


Gnome 2.26 will be a largely evolutionary release, with the current
development effort taking place in the 2.25 code branch. For users
on small screens (such as netbooks), a new compact widget theme has
been developed, while Evolution has acquired WebKit support. You can
attach keybindings to commands in the Gnome Control Center, and
PulseAudio mixer has replaced gnome-volume-control. 3.1

OOo 3.1 is due in late March, and should sport overline text and
transparent selection in Writer, while Base gets SQL syntax
highlighting. Impress and Draw will receive slider widgets to zoom
in and out, and a new template repository should make it easier to
quickly knock out good looking documents.

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 116, on sale Thursday 5 February...

# The KDE issue! KDE 4.1 is everywhere now, so we help you get
started, discover features and get more from the most
powerful Linux desktop

# Bullet-proof DVD creation: make your backups nigh-immune
to the ravages of time

# Inside the creative commons -- the biggest collection of
free media the world has ever seen!

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 cooking

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 sad) you can opt-out like this:

1. Log into the LXF site and go to the forums
2. Click Usergroups at the top of the page
3. Select Newsletter and then View information
4. Click Unsubscribe next to 'You are a member...'

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) 2009 Future Publishing Limited
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