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Linux Format Newsletter -- #77, September 2011

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:50 am    Post subject: Linux Format Newsletter -- #77, September 2011 Reply with quote





1. Welcome

2. LXF 150 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


We made it! Linux Format magazine is now 150 issues old. (Or young,

depending on which way you look at it.) So much has happened since

issue 1 back in May 2000, when we were talking about Red Hat Linux

6.1 and KDE 1.1.2. We've been through some great times, such as

winning over new users thanks to the mess that was Windows Vista,

and some less great times, like the whole SCO vs Linux legal tangle.

But Linux has gone from strength to strength, and with Android's

explosive growth, we can be proud that our favourite OS (at least

the kernel!) is powering millions of devices around the world.

Read on for a look at the just-released LXF150, plus roundups of the

hottest news stories and forum threads. Then delve into our special

feature on the "GNU" vs "GNU/Linux" naming controversy - we've got

both sides of the argument. Enjoy!

Mike Saunders

Newsletter Editor


2. LXF 150 on sale


We feel a bit sorry for users of Windows and Mac OS X. Whenever they

come up with a new idea or fix for their operating systems, the most

they can do is send off an email to Microsoft or Apple and hope that

someone, somewhere, reads it. And then does anything about it.

Whereas here in Linuxland, everyone has the opportunity to make

their OS better, or customise it exactly how they want. That's what

this issue's cover feature focuses on: making your own, unique

distro. Who knows - maybe you'll produce the next big hit in the

DistroWatch charts?

Meanwhile, we explore the new features in kernel 3.0, report from

inside the Mageia project, talk to Rob Pike about the Google Go

programming language, and put KDE 4.7 under the spotlight in our

reviews section. You'll find tutorials on data protection,

MediaWiki, Python and Arduino, while the coverdisc is packed with

software to explore: CentOS 6, Chakra Linux (including KDE 4.7),

Ubuntu 11.10 preview and much more.

Here's a taster of LXF150 from the HotPicks section:

# Minitube 1.5 --

Can one man change the way we watch video? Probably not, but

Flavio Tordini is going to have a go anyway. His simple yet

cunning idea is to create a standalone player for YouTube videos.

Yes, you might say, isn't that just like a browser window? But no,

it isn't!

Well, it is, sort of. But because Minitube doesn't look like just

a browser window, and because it has some features which are

slightly more centred on viewers rather than web users, it does

sort of subtly change your perception of what's going on. It seems

as if you're no longer just clicking on links to watch videos of

cats sneaking up on people or small boys biting each other, but

actually watching channels of, erm, cats sneaking up on people.

Nevertheless, it's actually pretty good. It isn't any faster than

watching on YouTube or anything, and you may still experience the

tedium of waiting for files to fill the buffer and so on, but it

does encapsulate all the controls you need in a nice interface.

It's a bit of a wonder that the playing controls are at the top of

the screen rather than underneath the video window, but you can't

have everything.

Minitube is pretty straightforward to build from source. It's

written in C++ and uses the Qmake build system so it won't pose

any problems to those of you who can manage a few commands. Make

sure you have Qt 4.5 or better installed and then just type "qmake

&& make".

One thing we should mention: Minitube might not actually work.

Well, it works at the minute, but YouTube has a habit of changing

its website every so often, which in the past has broken previous

versions of the software. If it doesn't work, the author is

usually pretty prompt at fixing, so check the website for any


Head over to the LXF website and click on the issue cover picture

for more information on Linux Format 150.


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 80

issues of Linux learning, free to subscribers to download! See our

latest offers at:


4. In the news


The biggest developments from around the net...

# Ubuntu Technical Board member proposes monthly releases

Ubuntu has made some controversial moves recently, most notably with

the inclusion of Unity as the default desktop, and now one of the

members of the distro's Technical Board has put together a proposal:

that Ubuntu switches from six-monthly releases to monthly releases.

Will it happen? How big would the community backlash be? We'll have

to wait and see...

# Bruce Perens suggests new scheme for copyright assignment

Many open source projects love to have developers contribute, but

they also want the coders of patches to assign copyright too. This,

naturally, puts developers in a bit of a bind. Now Bruce Perens has

come up with a possible solution: developers hand over copyright to

their code to a project, but the project msut commit to having an

open source version for three years. Interesting reading.

# Major Linux websites hacked

No matter how secure a system is, it's only as secure as its users.

Some notable Linux websites such as and were

hacked recently, and the admins are still working out exactly what

happened. Suffice to say, if you have a login on any of those sites

and use the same password elsewhere, you might want to change it...


5. This month on the forum


Ever come across a seemingly inexplicable chain of dependencies,

when you're installing or removing a program? Rhakios wanted to

remove Apache from his Debian Squeeze box, and noticed that apt

wanted to remove Gnome as well. Huh? Roseway pointed out that

metapackages were the cause here, and the process of removing Apache

could go ahead safely. Pastychomper fanned the flames a bit by

suggesting the whole system was designed to make it very difficult

to remove Mono. Hah! [1]

With more and more people using notebooks as their primary PCs,

there's a lot of discussion about how well suspending (writing the

contents of RAM to disk) works on Linux. Nelz pointed out TuxOnIce,

a suspend system that lets you store the contents of RAM to either

the swap partition, or a file (that can also be compressed if need





6. Special Newsletter feature



Some people call it Linux. Some people call it GNU/Linux (GNU slash

Linux). A few even call it Lignux. But why? If you've ever tried to

research both sides of this debate on the internet, chances are

you've come away completely perplexed. After all, as our very own

Andrew Gregory has often pointed out on the TuxRadar Podcast, the FAQ on GNU/Linux usage is longer than the US constitution.

Here are both sides of the argument.


What we call "Linux" today actually started as another project with

a different name, back in the mid '80s. This was GNU, meaning GNU's

Not Unix, and was created by Richard Stallman to make a totally free

operating system that anyone could share and modify. GNU produced

lots of important software such as the GCC compiler suite, but

progress on its kernel was sluggish, and in 1991 a student called

Linus Torvalds wrote a kernel that fit in with the system.

A kernel is only one part of an OS, and so credit should be given to

the GNU project for its work. Moreover, there has been a tendency to

focus on the practical benefits of GNU/Linux - reliability,

performance and security - rather than the ethical benefits of

freedom and community as original espoused by the GNU team. By

calling it GNU/Linux, we remind people of the principles behind GNU.


We could argue that the history above is very pro GNU, and not the

full truth. In reality, "GNU" back in 1991 was a scattering of bits

and pieces, taken from various projects. It wasn't very advanced and

was missing by far the most important piece, a kernel. When Linus

released Linux, he didn't just slot it into GNU - it needed many

other components and modifications to become a working OS. The GNU

pieces helped, but so did code from many other projects. It's a real

mixture, and to give everything real credit we'd have to use a name

like GNU/BSD/X11/Apache/Perl/Linux.

GCC was alright at the time, but it's only when Linux arrived did it

start to become a seriously powerful piece of software, thanks to

work from "Linux" companies such as Red Hat. So in all, GNU had a

role to play in the development of our OS, but it's by no means

important enough to put in the name (and make an awkward sounding

name). The ball only really starting rolling when the Linux kernel

appeared, and that deserves the main credit.


These are two competing opinions of course, and we're not trying to

push you in any direction. But hopefully the argument is a bit

clearer now, and when you see flamefest thread #385,161 about GNU vs

Linux on a forum, you can chip in with some informed musings. Have fun!


7. Coming up next issue


Linux Format 151, on sale Thursday 13 October...

# Conquer the command line -- Never be scared of Bash again.

We take you from total CLI newbie to hacker extraordinaire

# Old hardware resurrected -- Don't throw it away! Discover

how to put those beige boxes under your desk to good use

# Build a XBMC media centre -- Create and use the ultimate

media centre without having to resort to MythTV

Contents are subject to change - the mysteries of life, eh!


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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