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LXF Website Newsletter -- #8, January 2006

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 11:11 am    Post subject: LXF Website Newsletter -- #8, January 2006 Reply with quote





1. Welcome!

2. Sneak preview of LXF 76

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. New archive PDFs

6. Special newsletter feature

7. Coming up next issue

8. Receiving this Newsletter

9. Contact details

1. Welcome!

Welcome to issue 8 of the Linux Format newsletters, and welcome to
2006! What does the year ahead hold for Linux? No doubt we can
expect to see more progress on the desktop, especially with X
development ramping up and new technologies such as Mono and Cairo
being rolled into the major distros. And if the first week of 2006
is anything to go by, we can expect more SCO-related news too...

Meanwhile, on the LXF website we've added a page about the
international versions of LXF. Did you know that the mag has Russian
and Greek editions? See for the page -- and
no, there are no Klingon or Pig Latin versions in the works.
Although Esperanto would be fun...

Anyway, enjoy the newsletter -- we have some new archive PDFs and
a guide to making CDs/DVDs with mkisofs.

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. Sneak preview of LXF 76

Issue 76 of Linux Format hits shop shelves today, ready to take your
hardware to the next level. Our mammoth guide to running devices
with Linux goes right from the basics (multimedia keyboards and
scroll mice) through to wireless networking. We also show you how to
make the most of your printer, scanner and graphics card. If you're
trying to set up a new bit of kit in Linux, or you want to improve
performance/features of your current hardware, take a look.

We also have a feature on modifying Dynebolic, the multimedia
production Live CD (included on our coverdiscs). Tom Russell shows
you how to configure the disc's layout to include your own software
or media -- a great way to distribute Linux-based stuff to friends
and coworkers. Our ever-popular What on Earth series analyses the
implications of GPL 3, the next version of the most popular Free
Software licence, while we pit the most popular spreadsheets
head-to-head in our roundup.

Reviews-wise, we examine Quake 4, Blender 2.4, Cedega 5.0.1, Eternal
Lands, KDE 3.5, and a bunch of the latest book releases. Our
tutorials section walks you through's presentation
tool, using the FUSE virtual filesystem, beefing up Ubuntu, running
MySQL 5.0 with PHP, and much more. We met up with Jeremy Allison,
lead developer of the Samba Windows interoperability software --
here are a few of the questions we asked (keep an eye on the website
for his answers):

# How long has development on Samba 4 been going on now?

# Samba 4 is currently in its 'Susan' stage, where Andrew
Tridgell tests it on the server his wife uses, right?

# Will Samba have multiple back-ends?

Grab a copy of LXF 76 for the full interview. Following on from our
crosswords, we have a Sudoku puzzle to tax the old grey matter --
along with the winners of the Sudoku coding challenge! Our regular
HotPicks section looks at the latest open source app releases,
including a retro-style RPG in the form of Dragon Hunt:

# Dragon Hunt -- Adventure game

Graphics do not a good game make, despite what marketdroids would
have us believe. Take Zelda (Link's Awakening) on the original
Game Boy: a vast, captivating, endlessly clever adventure
expressed with only a meagre pixel count and four shades of grey.
It's with the same view we should approach similarly plain
adventure games like Dragon Hunt - no salivatingly fetching
visuals, but the opportunity for serious gameplay to shine

You'll need Python and Imagetk installed, after which you can
enter './Dragon_Hunt_Linux' to begin. Initially, the game
generates your character with random attributes of health points,
attack power, money and so forth - but where you're strong in one
aspect, you'll be weaker than the other. You're then dropped into
the middle of a quiet town, where you can equip yourself with
weapons, armour and medicines to help you on your journey.

Dragon Hunt takes place over an expansive 2D world: monsters,
items and villages litter the map, and as you progress your
fighting ability improves. Battles are turn-based - you can pause
for thought as you decide to attack, heal yourself or scarper.
Sadly, there's no music to establish a more engrossing atmosphere,
nor any cut screens and changes in pace to create the episodic
gameplay that forms the bedrock of classic RPGs. The twee sprites
and monotonous scenery don't help either.

Yet the carefully thought-out design makes up for these
shortcomings, as you juggle your gold reserves, uncover new areas
of the map and scrape through demanding battles. A text box at the
bottom of the screen provides extra details on your situation - it
leaves your imagination open to expand upon the cookie-cutter
graphics. Separate from the main game, also there's a Tk-driven
map editor which lets you customise the game world.

Dragon Hunt would benefit greatly from an artistic overhaul, but
RPGers will still find depth and challenge in the game. Good sense
of progress? Check. Mixture of strategy and action? Yep. Plenty to
explore? Definitely, so if you enjoy traditional adventure capers
with turn-based battles and item-collection aplenty, it'll keep
you occupied for a while.

As usual, there're five and a half more pages of HotPicks in 76,
including a review of the the Japanese novelty KreetingKard, and the
ultimate desktop calculator.

3. In the news...

SCO is back, Debian rumblings, and a new Qt release...

# SCO vs Novell heats up

SCO is seeking to amend its complaint against Novell, now claiming
copyright infringement "based on, among other things, Novell's'
unauthorized distribution, in its Linux offerings, of UNIX
technology outside of the limited license". This move aims to
prevent Novell from redistributing its variety of Linux-based
operating systems, such as NLD and OpenSUSE. Read more at:

# Shuttleworth: Why the DCC could fail

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the explosively popular Ubuntu distro,
has written about DCC, the Debian Common Core Alliance that hopes to
improve cooperation between the various Debian-based distros.
Describing the problems inherent in keeping the 'core' system
consistent between distros, Mark states that the DCC's vision won't
work, as evidenced by the United Linux project. But he's optimistic
that it may be able improve collaboration between the distros. See for the mailing list post.

# Qt 4.1 released

Trolltech has announced the 4.1 release of Qt, its cross-platform
toolkit famously used throughout KDE. Major new features include SVG
support, a PDF back-end to the printing system, and a lightweight
unit testing framework. See

4. This month on the forum

Will Linux ever supplant Windows as the most popular desktop OS?
That's the question raised by 'rob/80386O', who was having trouble
getting hardware to work on Linux. With the next release of
Microsoft's OS on the horizon, 'lurgee' slyly noted: "People will
realise that a glass can be half full or half empty, but Vista is
just half finished!". As 'Cogar' pointed out, Linux's small market
share isn't enough for major hardware manufacturers to devote much
time to Linux drivers. [1]

Is Firefox 1.5 a step backwards? 'nordle' described his negative
experiences with the latest release of the browser; 'Cogar' pointed
to an article that suggests it could've done with more bugfixing
before going gold. The thread then moved onto managing plugins and
extensions to limit the number of problems. [2]

What type of curry is your favourite Linux distro? 'ggreaves' posted
an on-topic message about Apple software and how it compares to the
freedoms of GNU/Linux, but straight away the discussion turned to
food. Nelz said, "As a Gentoo user, I prefer a bag of rice, some
meat and spices and a recipe" but Nigel thought even that was too
advanced: "Bah! - that's the Slackware version... the Gentoo version
would be a goat, a paddy field, shares in a camel train and the
email address of the brother of a chef in Bombay". 'Nuff said... [3]




5. New archive PDFs

We've added some more PDFs of past articles to the LXF Archives, and
Newsletter readers can see them a week early, before they're added
to the website page:

* Firefox and Thunderbird tutorial:

* Intel C Compiler tutorial:

* Interview: Python's Guido van Rossum:

* Spell-checking in PHP:

* Issue 62 Answers:

* VMware review:

These PDFs are copyright Future Publishing and may not be
redistributed. Stay tuned for more updates!

6. Special newsletter feature


Creating CDs and DVDs under Linux can be tricky. There are a handful
of graphical tools around to assist with the job, but they rarely
offer a full range of features -- so it's best to learn the command
line program. Fear ye not, though, as 'mkisofs' is a fairly
straightforward little app once you've mastered the essentials,
and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.

mkisofs lets you create ISO9660 filesystems from a directory on your
hard drive, ready to burn to disc. ISO9660 is a standard for
CD-ROMs, so when you create a CD it will be accessible by any
operating system or machine. (There are some tweaks you can make to
the standard -- more on that in a moment.) First off, you'll need to
install mkisofs, either via your distro (most distros include it) or
from -- it's
part of the 'cdrecord' package.

Using mkisofs at a basic level is very simple:

# mkisofs -o mydisc.iso stuff/

This creates an ISO disc image called 'mydisc.iso', using the
contents of the 'stuff' directory. Note that the 'stuff' directory
name itself won't be on the resulting disc -- just its contents. You
can now burn mydisc.iso to a CD/DVD and pass it around. However,
herein lies a problem: if you have any filenames that are longer
than 8 characters, they may not display properly on other machines.
But two add-on 'standards' come to the rescue here.

The '-J' flag to mkisofs generates Joliet information for the disc,
which tells Windows machines about longer filenames. So if you have
'mylongfilename.ogg' on the disc, and use the -J option, it'll
display properly in Windows (instead of a strange 8-character
contraction). The equivalent for Linux and other UNIX flavours is
the '-r' flag -- this generates Rock Ridge information which, again,
caters for longer filenames. So:

# mkisofs -J -r -o mydisc.iso stuff/

will make an ISO image containing extra filename information for
Windows and UNIX/Linux. But what about bootable discs? If you're
remastering a Linux distro, you'll need to set certain options so
that the disc is bootable -- otherwise it'll just contain a load of
files with no extra information. The flag to use here is '-b',
followed by a filename.

The filename you specify is relative to the directory used to build
the disc -- in our case 'stuff' -- and must be a bootable image
file. Often, the file will be a floppy disk image, so that the
machine emulates floppy booting by reading the image off the CD/DVD.
For example:

# mkisofs -J -r -o mydisc.iso -b boot/floppy stuff/

Here, we've set the resulting disc to boot from the 'boot/floppy'
image, which is in the 'stuff' directory. After burning, you can
drop the CD/DVD in a drive and boot a PC from it. If the boot image
isn't a floppy, you'll need to specify the '-no-emul-boot' flag, and
if the disc contains a boot catalog file you can set it with '-c'.

So that's the general usage of mkisofs -- consult the manual page
with 'man mkisofs' for information on the other parameters. When
burning the disc, you can use 'cdrecord' or 'growisofs' for CD and
DVD recording respectively, or one of the many KDE/GNOME front-ends.

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 77 -- on sale Thursday 9th February

# At your service -- All you need to turn your Linux box into
a server. Serve web pages, run a database, host files with
FTP, set up your own chat server, and more...

# The LXF Interview: Chris DiBona on open source at Google

# FreeBSD 6.0 -- On the discs, and full installation guide

# Xen made easy -- System virtualisation hands-on

(Exact contents of future issues are subject to change.)

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 boiling
an egg:

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 sad) you can opt-out by removing
yourself from the Newsletter group as above.

9. Contact details

Any questions or suggestions, please send them to me (Mike) at the
address below:

Newsletter Editor: Mike Saunders --

Letters for the magazine:

LXF website:

Subscriptions: 0870 837 4722 (overseas +44 1858 438794)
Website subs page:

(C) 2006 Future
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