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The Terminal Man

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It’s one of those issues where we’ve had to sneak the main feature past management to get it into the magazine. But using the terminal is so core to Linux day-to-day life we were way overdue a decent look at the subject. Over the last year of Linux Format we’ve been slowly pecking away at the terminal with a regular tutorial section, but like the clichéd guided horse there’s no reason that someone might try it unless they’re forced to!

Slippery slope

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In the USA there’s the Fourth Amendment, here in Europe there’s the European Convention on Human Rights and both protect an individual’s rights when it comes to government interference over person, possessions and private life. In the past that largely meant the government couldn’t just waltz into your property and seize any documents (or persons) it felt like, listen in on your private conversations or stop you from moving around the country without a damn good reason. Sounds reasonable, right? It seems in the internet age those rights no longer apply.

Secured for 2017

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We know 2016 was bad for security threats and 2017 isn’t looking any better. But with hackers turning their attention to poorly secured internet of thing (IoT) devices, rather than better secured servers or desktop computers, isn’t it about time you started taking your network security more seriously?

This issue we take a long look at the rush by consumers to install insecure devices on their home networks, what you can do to lock down your own network and devices to help protect yourself, create a truly secure smart home built not only on Linux servers, but also Linux-powered IoT devices that you control. It’s these last two points that are just as important. Part of the issue with the IoT is the loss of ownership and control people have over these devices.

Get into Linux!

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When was the last time you tried to get someone to use Linux? A family member, a friend, your workplace, heck, how about your entire government? It all starts with a simple install, but unless there’s someone there to give them a disc or the right download, it’s only the lucky few that are ever going to discover Linux for themselves. Considering it’s nearly impossible to buy a new PC preinstalled with Linux it really is down to people to get into Linux themselves or with a little help from their friends…

So if you’re new to Linux we have a complete guide to get you started, it’ll hold your hand, explain how to use live discs and try Linux in a virtual machine, so you don’t even need to change a thing on any existing PCs. If you’re already sold on Linux, we look at building a reassuringly fast PC for a modest amount of cash. It’s an impressively speedy box that runs Linux like a champ.

Ultimate Ubuntu

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While us Northern hemisphere types pull out the thermal underwear to endure chillier weather and longer nights, we do get the bonus at this time of the year of a whole new Ubuntu distro release to enjoy. Ubuntu 16.10 has hit the internets and brings with it a host of updates, upgrades and Ubuntus.

This issue we’re not going to dwell on the core release – where enhanced support with the Linux kernel 4.8 and the Unity 8 preview are the highlights – instead we’re asking how can you make Ubuntu even better? Install Fedora you cry? Surely not, though Fedora 25 is just around the corner. Our resident experts have given us their tips on how to boost Ubuntu and make it even better.

Power to the Pi!

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We know that some people scoff at the popularity of the Raspberry Pi, but selling in the millions and running the Debian-based Raspbian, why not think of it as one of the biggest selling GNU/Linux devices of all time? (Possibly because it is?) Surely that can only be a good thing and spreads contact with Linux to a wider and vitally younger audience? I recently listened to a FOSS (free and open source software) talk where the discussion centred on how any FOSS device could even come close to the success of the Apple iPhone. The talk turned to finding a niche new market or demand that no one else had thought of… Surely, I thought at the time, what they’re talking about here is the Raspberry Pi?

Privacy, privacy, privacy

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“Please, come into my home nameless government agent. Yes, I have no issues with you looking through my letters, my computers, my phone, my messages, my photos and my emails. You want to store copies on your own servers forever? Fine, fine, take what you want, what a wonderful use of my tax money!” That’s effectively the situation that’s happening every second of the day while you’re online. Without being told, or warned, or asked, it appears all of our internet traffic has been stored away by government agencies in a number of secret programmes around the globe.

It’s all done to protect us, you understand, despite the documented misuse of this information – and that’s only the leaked cases we know about – and the almost zero documented cases of it actually stopping anything, but unlimited government surveillance is here. Thankfully with FOSS we have the tools, know-how and organisation to block prying eyes and protect sensitive data.

Epoch 683157428

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What has any of us achieved over the last 25 years? I can tell you the Linux kernel has developed into a Goliath with 17 million lines of code, that started life as one coder’s hobby and has turned into a world-leading kernel, which powers the majority of servers in the world (and apparently over 2.3% of desktops).

That faintly smiling penguin we know and love as Tux propelled, what should be an unknown and uncared-for OS component to worldwide fame. No one wanders around talking about the Windows kernel, the Mac OS X kernel (sorry BSD!) or complains that their TLA doesn’t proceed that kernel’s name, but apparently Linux is known well enough that it can have entire magazines named after it!

We're minted!

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2016 is turning out to be an exciting year for GNU/Linux distro releases. First we had the release of the class- leading Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and from that a host of spin-off distros have been slowly appearing. The next most popular release is Linux Mint 18. Based on that LTS Ubuntu release, this next big Mint release brings with it a host of huge changes to the popular distro.

To celebrate Linux Mint 18 being released, we’re running a comprehensive feature on what’s new and exciting in this release of Mint, from its all-new X-Apps to the new improved Cinnamon desktop that so many know and love. We run you through the install process, look at how Mint is built, examine where it went wrong with its security in the past, show how it has fixed the situation and where Mint could still improve itself. We’re sure you’re going to love Mint 18, so we’ve got both the 64- and 32-bit releases on the disc.

Serving you since 2000

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In this modern world with all-powerful mobile devices, ever-present internet connections and storage devices measuring in the multi-terabyte level you’d be excused for thinking a self-supported home or office server is as dead as the dinosaurs. How wrong you’d be.


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