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It's Christmas, so we're enjoying the last few days in our snow-surrounded office before heading away to enjoy the break. (Or get trapped in public transport for six days.) Happy Christmas to all, and here's to a great 2011 for Linux.

But! There is one more thing...

Off into the sunset

I've had an awesome time working on Linux Format these last years, but it's time for me to move on. I started back on LXF30 - 110 issues ago! - and have appeared in some form or another in every subsequent issue - whether that's writing PHP tutorials, C# coding academies, features, reviews or, well, just about every part of the magazine. It's been a huge privilege working in a job where all I have to do is sit and play around with Linux, and you all have been very supportive during my tenure.

First impressions

Every month, in preparing the LXF coverdisc, I search the net for hot new (and updated) Linux software. Freshmeat, HappyPenguin, KDE-Apps and other websites help greatly in this endeavour. However, I come across many individual project websites with problems - and fair enough, the developers are busy focusing on the code itself. But just a few tweaks can make all the difference to the immediate perception of a project, so here are my recommendations...

Qt Developer Days 2010

I’ve just got back from Nokia’s Qt Developer Days in Munich, and the first thing to note is that this year’s event was a lot larger than last year's, pulling in around 20% more developers with a total that must have been close to one thousand attendees. To accommodate this influx, the venue has changed, leaving behind the Hilton Munich Park that’s relatively close to the historic centre of the city to decamp in a brand new hotel, called Dolce Munich Unterschleissheim, about 17km away from the old town. The medieval grandeur of Munich wasn’t a walk away, but then I didn’t have enough time for a walk.

Dare ye click it?

For many years, Linux's user account system has worked marvellously well for maintaining security. In the older days of Windows, users would run with administrator privileges all the time, never being aware when a program decided to trample all over critical system files. In contrast, pretty much every desktop Linux distro pops up a big password dialog box, saying that it needs special privileges to do a certain task - and making the user think for a moment.

Win a Synology NAS box!

Update 1 Oct: this competition has now closed. We'll be in touch with the winner in a couple of days!

We've teamed up with the folks at Synology to give one lucky reader a DS110+ network attached storage device, worth £264. This mini box scored 9/10 in LXF136's review, so for a chance to get your mitts on one, head over to the competition page.

Oh, and if you're fully social-networked up, you can become a fan of Synology on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Synology are looking for feedback on the release of their DSM 3.0 software, so take a look at this thread on our forums for more info.

Calling all Manchester Linux geeks!

U^3 (U-Cubed), a self-described "Ubuntu and Upstream UnWorkshop day" in collaboration with HacMan, ManLUG and Manchester Free Software, is taking place in just a few days, and still have over 20 tickets available for free. If you use Ubuntu or one of its many upstream projects (Debian, Gnome, etc) and want to learn how you can get involved, this is the perfect event for you.

One of the organisers wrote in with a general invite: "we're hoping to find support on the day from people experienced in Ubuntu, but also people that are involved in more than just Ubuntu, so we're reaching out to anyone in the North West UK region to see if people are prepared to help out - even if Ubuntu isn't the Linux distribution you normally would use, so, if you're interested and available between 11am and 9pm and can get to Manchester, or even if you can just be around for part of the day, go to http://u-cubed.eventbrite.com to reserve a ticket."

So, there you have it: it sounds like it'll be a great day, it won't cost you anything, and you'll get to mingle with all sorts of other interesting geeks. Hurry - sign up ends soon!

Back from Bayern

Grüß Gott! I'm back from my epic 5-week Austro-Bavarian adventure. The bulk of this time was spent studying German at the Goethe Institut in Munich, which is a thoroughly brilliant place. Now I've gone from Watching Sturm der Liebe to, er, being able to give presentations about Sturm der Liebe! Munich is an amazing city, and it feels like I set off about six months ago... So much has happened. Here are some pictures for your perusing pleasure. Go on, you know you want to.

Free gift with LXF136!

Subscribers have already received their copy of LXF136; non-subscribers in the UK have to wait a few more days until it hits the newsstands, and if you're a non-subscriber outside of the UK then you have to wait for our specially trained pigeons to arrive.

In the meantime, though, if you want to see a teaser picture of the free gift that comes with LXF136, click here.

Annoyed by OpenSUSE's forums

When I have the time, I like to look around to see what things - good or bad - people are saying about Linux Format. Today I came across a forum thread about Linux magazines, where a number of folks were praising LXF (yay!) and at the same time annoyed that we hadn't posted a review of 11.3 and also complaining that it was too expensive (boo!), so I decided to reply to their messages.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, one of the admins contacted me to say they were embarrassed by what I had written, because it "basically constitutes spam", and my post was deleted. I don't have the patience to deal with that kind of community, so rather than argue my case I'm just reposting my message here so that anyone who wants to read it can. Believe it or not, I really do want people to pay as little for LXF as they can!



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