Linux Format Newsletter -- #62, May 2010

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Linux Format Newsletter -- #62, May 2010

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:56 pm





1. Welcome

2. LXF 133 on sale

3. Special subscription offer

4. In the news...

5. This month on the forum

6. Special Newsletter feature

7. Coming up next issue

8. Receiving this Newsletter

9. Contact details

1. Welcome

Regular LXF Blog readers will have seen my post linking to, an utterly fantastic website chock
full of GUI screenshots. It's fascinating to see how desktops and
interfaces have matured over the years, whilst still retaining core
concepts - menus, titlebars, icons and the like. It's due to this
slow process of tweaking that I'm a bit sceptical about Gnome Shell;
it's an interesting project, but it seems to rip out the foundations
of the GUI that have been so firmly set for years. Maybe I'll be
wrong and it'll totally revolutionise the desktop!

Anyway, read on for a preview of LXF133, a look at the hottest news
stories and forum posts, plus a special feature on starting your own
free software project. Enjoy, and give me a shout if you have any
suggestions for the Newsletter!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. LXF 133 on sale

Linux may be the greatest thing since sliced Mighty White, but it's
not always possible to totally free yourself from the world of
Windows. Perhaps there's a game or application that you need that
doesn't work with Wine, or perhaps you just like to keep at the
forefront of all computing trends. This issue's cover feature very
thoroughly covers all aspects of a dual-booting setup - and not just
between Linux and Windows, but Linux and other Linux distributions

In other features, we explore the massively powerful Xzip
compression system, talk to Ardour found Paul Davis, look at the
secrets of building a successful free software community, and show
you how to master the command line searching powerhouse, 'grep'.

On the disc you'll find the brand new version of Ubuntu, 10.04, with
extra packages galore - a really fleshed-out desktop experience.
We've also included Kubuntu 10.04 and Xubuntu 10.04, but not as ISO
images; for the first time, you can triple-boot all three flavours
of Ubuntu from a single disc. Choose the one you want, install and

Here's a taster of LXF133 from the HotPicks section:

# Omron++ 0.5.0 --

It's life, but not as you know it. Omron++ is a kind of weird,
more violent variation on the standard Game of Life automaton.
Unleashed into a screen-sized arena, coloured pixel warriors band
together and then wander around their world looking for others not
quite of their ilk to subjugate and destroy.

There are several parameters that may be manipulated at the
beginning of the game, including the number of pixels in the army,
the size of a 'mob', how far apart they start and other minutiae
of the sort that you may want to fiddle with. Two or four teams
can compete in the digital arena, and after the initial muster
they're pretty much on their own to seek out and destroy at will.

Interaction is provided by a hotkey that causes the pixels of a
particular faction to attempt to reform in their original
parade-ground square. This retreating action can be a useful
tactical ploy, as it lures the enemy into your territory, by which
time they are a little more dispersed and easy prey for your
concentrated forces of pixel cannibals. All the while, a read-out
in the bottom-left corner of the screen gives you information on
the current population and a percentage of the original forces

The game ships from the website as a pre-built binary, but you
will be fortunate to get it to run straight off, as it seems to
have been built against some outdated libraries. Never worry
though, because it takes but a few clock cycles to compile,
providing you have the devel packages for SDL and SDL_gfx. The
code itself is pretty sensible, so if you want to delve in and
fiddle with the mechanics a bit, that shouldn't be too difficult.

And remember, the only good pixel is a dead pixel. No, that
doesn't sound right...

Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture
for more information on Linux Format 133.

3. Special subscription offer

Subscribing to Linux Format not only has the benefit of fantastic
savings. Subscribers will also get exclusive, unlimited access to the
Linux Format subscriber-only area, featuring magazine PDFs, complete
issues and coverdisc downloads! That's access to over 60 issues of Linux
learning, free to subscribers to download! See our latest offers at: ... nuxformat/

4. In the news

The biggest developments from around the net...

# Fedora 13 released

So, Fedora 13 is here, and hopefully the release number won't bring
bad luck for the world's third most popular distro. As with previous
versions, there's a live CD along with a more beefy DVD version. The
biggest changes include: Shotwell, a new photo management tool that
replaces F-Spot; Pino, a microblogging client for and
Twitter; a new scanning utility; the Nouveau video driver for NVIDIA
cards; and wider PackageKit integration (so that, for example, the
Brasero disc burner can grab codecs from the internet if need be).

# HP to put webOS on its Slate tablet

Now that HP has acquired Palm, it can use the Linux-powered webOS
platform for its new projects. Currently it looks like the Slate, a
potential competitor to the iPad, will end up running webOS, thereby
utilising its interface which is specifically designed for mobile

# A sneak preview of KDE 4.5 ... -kde-sc-45

Version 4.5 of the KDE 'Software Compilation' (that still feels
strange to say) is due to be with us in August. There aren't going
to be many major user interface changes, but Linux Crunch has taken
some screenshots of the GUI tweaks that are taking place.

5. This month on the forum

So, Ubuntu 10.04 has been out for a few weeks now, and Linux fans
the world over have been able to put it through its paces. On the
LXF forum, Marrea noted that the default desktop background is
"awful", while LeeNukes found the GRUB menu really ugly. Poor Ollie
suffered an interrupted upgrade when his daughter closed the lid of
his laptop, thereby powering the machine down, while Rhakios
reported success on his MSI Wind laptop. Join in the thread and let
us know what you make of the latest release! [1]

LeeNukes pointed out a rather soppy article on the Guardian website,
noting that some children don't write letters any more. Many forum
regulars noted that they didn't write letters as kids either, and
Guy chipped in with this excellent contribution: "I never received a
bard, semaphore, Morse, parchment or a stone tablet. I just feel
sorry for the 80% of kids being pressured to stop texting for a
moment and handwrite replies - I mean, have you ever tried holding a
pen with your thumbs?"



6. Special Newsletter feature


What better way to give back to the community than to start your own
free software project? The great strength of open source is that
anyone can roll up their sleeves, get involved and make a
difference. You don't need to buy developer licenses or sign
agreements or anything like that: you're the boss.

However, it's a good idea to have a timeframe and structure so that
your project achieves the most success possible. Here are some tips
to bear in mind as you progress.

1) Choosing the right tools

If you want to attract other developers to your project, it's a good
idea to work with mainstream tools. You might love the Lua
programming language and its Allegro bindings, but far more
developers know SDL with its C and Python (PyGame) bindings.
Similarly, using a common build system such as Autotools or Cmake
will make it easier for other coders to make modifications.

2) Choosing the right name

It might seem trivial at the start, but if your project becomes big,
you might regret not choosing a very good name at the start.
Consider Gimp - the name leaves many non-Linux folks scratching
their heads and has some dodgy connotations, but it's too well known
to change (well, not easily). Short and quirky is best (eg Pidgin);
don't go overboard with recursive acronyms, as tempting as it is!

3) Get good hosting!

This is by far the most important step. Having a single, static
webpage is OK, but if you really want to grow a community then
you'll want mailing lists, bug report systems and so forth.
SourceForge, Savannah and BerliOS are some of the biggest free
software hosting solutions, giving you webspace, hosting your
downloads and providing additional features.

4) Develop the community

Many projects begin with a flurry of activity, with people on
mailing lists dreaming up extravagant goals for the program, without
any actual code being written. Try to keep this to a minimum: it's
great when your community has aspirations, but think of where you
want to be in a month's time rather than five years, and try to get
your team coding towards that. Reward coders, artists and even
bug-reporters in credits on your site or in the software's

5) Announce, announce, announce!

When you have the first usable release ready, it's time to share
it with the world. By far the best place to start is on;
this site indexes a vast range of free software, and many other sites
pull in its feed too. So once your announcement is on Freshmeat, it'll
also start appearing on other sites too. If your project is a game,
post it on - there you'll be able to read comments
from other Linux gamers on what works and what you could improve.

Above all, do it for the love of free software, and have fun!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 134, on sale Thursday 24 June...

# Get the best mobile Linux -- Android vs MeeGo vs Palm Pre:
discover which Linux devices are most open to tweaking

# Fedora 13 -- Try the very latest in desktop innovations
with what is easily the smartest distro to date

# Set up a WordPress site -- Use open source software to
get your own website up and running in minutes!

Contents are subject to change, and may settle in transit.

8. 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 writing
Hello World in BASIC:

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 cry) 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...'

9. 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:

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