Linux Format logo

Linux Format Blog

Escape Windows 2018

Buy it now!
Read a sample

I say it every year (probably) there’s never been a better time to get into Linux. It’s never been easier, there’s never been so many features, it’s never been so smooth to install, it’s never been so much fun and this issue we have the best guide to getting Linux up and running on your PC.

So hot it hurts

Buy it now!
Read a sample

This issue is a celebration of the best open source distros. We’re recognising the achievements of thousands of unsung developers, coders, testers, organisers and documentation writers. Day in, day out, they’re working on open source projects, making git commits, filing bug reports and packaging tirelessly to bring us a bounty of free and open source software to choose from.

I think it’s far too easy to take that for granted. So this issue we’re taking a while to stop and appreciate the best distros that have arrived in 2018. The sheer diversity that Linux and the GPL offer is staggering. It enables the same kernel to have software wrapped around it to specialise in every area of computing: cloud servers, security and penetration testing, NAS devices, IoT devices, scientific research, super-computing development and coding.

Not to forget everyday desktop use and beyond! Instead of just pontificating about the merits of each distro, we’ve decided to take another approach. We’ll be showing you how you can build and package your own distro, too. So you can appreciated just how involved a job it is. This has some genuine uses: if you’re deploying the same image over a host of systems then having the same software and configuration across them all is ideal. So as well as being hopefully interesting, it’s also useful to know. We’re big fans of win-win situations! It’s not just diversity that open source helps prevail.

Hack it all!

Buy it now!
Read a sample

The internet joke is: I’ve installed Kali, now I’m Hackerman! Just having the tools doesn’t mean you’re an instant expert, but at least it’s a first step…

This issue we’re taking our regular look into the world of hacking and we’re backing it up with Kali Linux on the disc alongside an in-depth look at the core tools you’ll need. We’re not promising to turn you into an expert (white-hat) hacker overnight, but we can at least set you off on the right path.

We’re also keen to get you started with Linux, if you’re not already using it. With this in mind, on the DVD we’ve put the latest release of the cool Feren OS. Based on the popular Mint, it has a classic-styled desktop that everyone will love. As it comes with Wine baked in, people moving from Windows can still hold on to their favourite programs and games. Of course, we’d suggest people hunt out open source alternatives – of which there are plenty – once they’re happily up and running.

Cool, calm and collected

Buy it now!
Read a sample

Have GNU/Linux distributions fallen into a dull routine of refresh and release? It would be easy for a casual user to get the idea that Linux distros aren’t innovating. Indeed, years can pass between major releases for long-standing distros such as Debian and Slackware. As you’d expect, it’s behind the scenes where there’s constant work on improving, securing and bug squashing.

For many users, swan-like stability is key: keep everything on the surface calm and smooth, with frantic development activity well out of sight. There’s no doubt open source distros do offer this, but if you crave new horizons then there’s a continuous swarm of newly developed distros buzzing around the flowering core branches of the distro family tree.

In a way, this issue is a tale of two distro types. On the one hand we have the newly released and refreshed Mint 19: we love it, and you can read the full review and then go give it a whirl. While on the other you have the ever-updated rolling release distros in our Roundup. They’re all examples of how the open source GNU/Linux ecosystem enables people to experiment and launch things off in new directions.

Open alternatives

Buy it now!
Read a sample

I installed LineageOS 15.1 (Android 8.1 Oreo) on my “ageing” OnePlus Two recently. It’s running beautifully, better than ever I’d say, with improved battery life and bang up-to-date security and support updates. Without the freed open source world that simply wouldn’t be possible and I’d be stuck on the last update OnePlus released for the Two, back in November 2017… a mere two years after its original production.

That’s just one of the many points to open source. Highly skilled, knowledgeable people with the right motivation can achieve wonders by working together. It enables us to pack this magazine every month with fabulous projects and features. It’s also partly what drove Microsoft to buy GitHub with this move causing the understandable consternation from many areas.

While I’m sure Microsoft loves open source, I’m sure it loves money more. Its official blog mentions “we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels.” Obviously, using Microsoft tools and GitHub – or whatever it’s rebranded to – will be central to these aims.

Getting to Gnome you.

Buy it now!
Read a sample

Are you enjoying the Bionic Beaver yet? After two years of a faultless 16.04 LTS install, my work PC sailed smoothly along with an error-free upgrade to 18.04 LTS. So long Unity, hello Gnome.

Was it Gnome sweet Gnome for you, or more a case of here today, Gnome tomorrow? Ok, Gnome more bad puns… But that’s one of the points of choosing Linux and open source: you have a choice. Don’t like the desktop? Then dump it for something you do like or why not enhance it, so it is something you like. In certain quarters there certainly seems to be a underlying distaste for the Gnome project. It’s not one we agree with, but if you don’t like those design choices, there’s no lack of alternatives to choose from, but I guess we all like a good whinge online, right?

As a prime example, this very issue we have a DVD that offers three full-fat desktops: Gnome, Budgie and Cinnamon. Just fire it up and select the desktop of your choice to try. If you want to take things much further, follow our main feature this issue on how you can tweak, customise or build your own desktop (almost) from scratch. It’s just one of the many ways you can make Linux feel like home, ensure that it’s more fun to use and generally boost your productivity.

Paint the town orange!

Buy it now!
Read a sample

I for one am genuinely excited by the latest release of Ubuntu. Canonical is no stranger to controversial decisions, but it feels recent moves – switching back to Gnome, abandoning convergence devices – have enabled it to focus on the core job of making Ubuntu as good as possible.

Despite its comical Bionic Beaver codename, Ubuntu 18.04 will stand as the foundational basis for a plethora of Linux distros with support reaching out for five years. An untold number of servers will rely on its stability and support, while this release delivers the smallest footprint yet from its minimal install.

On Linux Format’s own Bionic Bidwell will guide you through a smooth upgrade from older versions, a smooth install from scratch and a smooth guide around the all-important new features. In the background the kernel moves to 4.15 (so including the essential Spectre and Meltdown patches), the new Gnome desktop is now the default new look, Wayland is an experimental option and there’s a host of updated programs. The rest of 2018 will see all the Ubuntu- based distro updated in turn: we’re expecting Linux Mint 19 to be the next big update and as you’d expect, we’ll be covering that in-depth when it happens.

Pi-mageddon!

Buy it now!
Read a sample

After 152 issues and almost 12 years (October 2006) Linux Format Towers has finally been able to afford a fresh lick of paint, but don’t panic! All your favourite sections remain intact and as they were. They’re hopefully just easier to read for everyone!

And the good news keeps on coming, because we have a double whammy of Raspberry Pi content this issue. First there’s the lowdown on the new Raspberry Pi 3 B+. Then there’s our lead feature on building, much like the Pi itself, all-conquering Pi robots! It feels like the Raspberry Pi Foundation has got into the swing of releasing these Pi boards, which is great. We now have a major board release and then an enhance update, so this latest B+ offers a minor processor speed boost, a significant drop in operating temperatures and a large boost in its networking prowess.

No matter if you have a Raspberry Pi old or new, have one gathering dust or are simply looking for something fun to do this weekend, then have we got something for you… a complete guide to building and coding robots! We’re going to look at the parts, the code and how you can put a kit together to make a fun, affordable Pibot.

Stop them spying!

Buy it now!
Read a sample

The UK’s “Snooper’s Charter” was described as “the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy” by the Open Rights Group. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) has been ruled unlawful three times now: in the UK High Court, in the European Court of Justice and most recently by the UK Court of Appeal.

It turns out the UK government simply has no right and is breaking the law by collecting the entire nation’s internet activity and phone records, and enabling public bodies to grant themselves access to these personal details when there’s been no crime or even suspicious activity, without incredibly any independent oversight whatsoever.

So we have no qualms wielding our open source privacy toolkit, to mask our browsing, send encrypted messages to our friends and keep files locked privately away.

Many of the noises coming from the UK government make it feel like it could even be lurching towards outlawing strong encryption, a much-derided position, but one that will put open source users in a difficult situation. Back in the late ‘90s the US banned exporting encryption stronger than 40-bits, later 56-bit with backdoors, which was largely futile and stifled innovation at the time.

Linux in 60 minutes!

Buy it now!
Read a sample

There’s never been a better time to start using Linux and you’ve never had a better chance than with this month’s issue of Linux Format! We’re packing the ideal Linux starter pack with a bootable Live Disc that you can just insert and run, alongside a 9-page guide on getting up and running with Linux in just 60 minutes! Amazing.

We’re standing on the shoulders of giants here. Dedicated, diligent, development geniuses have poured billions (probably) of hours into creating an open source ecosystem, which delivers an operating system kernel that’s capable of powering super computers, world-spanning enterprises, your home desktop and the meek Raspberry Pi.

This flexibility and open nature means people can create beginner-friendly versions of Linux distros (that’s what we call complete operating systems around these parts) with modern desktop interfaces and selected custom application suites. All this goodness comes wrapped up in a simple installer system to help get it onto your PC.

Linux distros don’t bug you for updates, they don’t snoop on you, there’s almost no Linux malware, there’s no bundleware and you’re not locked out from playing, exploring and hacking the OS to your heart’s content. If you want to have fun with your computers again, give it a try – you might like it!



Web hosting by UKFast