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LXF Website Newsletter -- #9, February 2006

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:18 pm    Post subject: LXF Website Newsletter -- #9, February 2006 Reply with quote





1. Welcome!

2. Sneak preview of LXF 77

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 the second LXF Newsletter of 2006. Christmas only seems
like a few days ago, but we're already 1/8.6th of the way through
the year! We're approaching one of those 'distro seasons' where a
flurry of new releases come along - Fedora 5, SUSE 10.1 and Ubuntu
6.04 are due within the next couple of months. It's certainly a
hectic time if (like us) you try out every distro as it arrives, but
rest assured we'll have all the major releases on our coverdiscs.

Meanwhile, this month we added two new forums to the LXF website:
'Other OS' and 'Off topic'. After all, we're a big happy family at
LXF Online, right? So now we can natter about all sorts of matters
without awkwardly trying to get back on topic. ("But does it run on
Linux?" is a good way to achieve that in any straying debate!) Also,
we've created a Firefox search plugin for finding information on our
forums - just click 'Add to Firefox' in the top-right of any page on
the site.

Anyway, along with a preview of the new LXF issue, this month's
newsletter also has a feature on speeding up Firefox, and you can
get first access to new magazine PDFs online. Enjoy!

Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. Sneak preview of LXF 77

Issue 77 of Linux Format hits the shop shelves today, and our big
feature this month is a server-tastic 10-page series of
walkthroughs. Want to broadcast your own radio station over the Net?
Fancy running your own web or IRC server? Need to get Samba or MySQL
working ASAP? It's all here, along with extra tips to keep your
server secure and fast. For a bit of light relief, you can even set
up your own chat server with Jabber Wildfire.

We also have features on fascinating technology that's getting more
attention by the day: Xen, the virtualisation system, and FreeBSD,
an open source UNIX flavour that's almost unbreakable in its
stability. The cover DVD is a bumper compilation of all things BSD -
including the Free, Net and Open variants - and we also have an
extra bonus in the form of Realsoft 3D 4.5. This is the full version
of the professional 3D graphics suite, worth over 200 pounds!

In the reviews section, we examine the new KDevelop, Apache and
NetBSD releases, while Paul Hudson tries to shake off his 8-bit
Elite nostalgia, and takes on X2: The Threat. Meanwhile, Graham
Morrison gets all spaced out in a roundup of astronomy software -
plus there's the usual book reviews. On the tutorials side, Web 2.0
technologies are explained, while our GIMP and Inkscape tutorials
give tips for artists; in Hardcore Linux the process of building
Autopackages (to ease software distribution) is detailed in full.

Chris DiBona, former Slashdot editor, games coder and VA executive
chats about his new work at Google in our interview. Here's a few of
the questions we asked Chris - see the website soon for answers:

# In what ways would you say Google is sponsoring open source?

# What's the preferred Google licence?

# In four years' time, will Google be a 100% open source company?

Grab a copy of LXF 77 for the full interview. Also this month, our
regular HotPicks section looks at the latest open source app
releases, including programmers' editor Geany:

# Geany 0.3

Linux is doing well on the IDE front - we have KDevelop, Gambas,
Anjuta and others doing the rounds, along with an excellent
toolchain to back it up. At the other end, many developers are
sticking with Emacs and Vi(M) as their coding tools of choice,
preferring their immediacy over the large IDEs. Geany hopes to
straddle a middle ground, offering a handful of features you'd
expect in a development environment but still being a lightweight
editor. Its only major dependency is GTK, with its Scintilla
editing component handily supplied in the source archive.

Geany's main window furniture consists of tabs galore: a tabbed
list down the left to choose functions in source code or open
files, a tabbed editing pane on the right, and a tabbed
status/compiler output box at the bottom. This works well in
practice, letting you quickly toggle on what you need without it
wasting a lot of screen real-estate. The usual editing facilities
are included: copy/paste, find/replace, and multiple undo/redo.
Scintilla is a superb choice as the editing component - it sports
syntax highlighting for all major languages, code completion, line
numbering and excellent stability.

Where Geany moves into IDE territory is the Build menu. This lets
you compile the source code you're working on, either a file at a
time or via 'make'. You can also execute the resulting binary with
a single keypress, and set your own arguments for execution or
compilation. It's great that Geany's developers have quietly
included these features without the rest of the editor getting too
bogged down in becoming a full IDE. You can customise the build
commands (along with the general appearance aspects of the

Geany is the ideal editor for a budding coder who wants more than
a plain-text editor, but doesn't fancy being overwhelmed by the
powerful IDEs. Whether you're coding C/C++, Perl, Python or even
LaTeX, it does a fine job. It ticks all the right boxes in a
development tool: fast, reliable, good on the eyes and gets out of
your way.

As usual, there're five and a half more pages of HotPicks in LXF 77,
including LXF's first look at the impressive (and just open sourced)
Synfig animation suite, and crazy platformer SDLjump.

3. In the news...

New X developments, kernel GPL debate, and rebirth for Mozilla...

# Novell releases X enhancements

Novell has announced a two major contributions to, the default
GUI foundation in most Linux distributions. 'Xgl' takes the X server
architecture and layers it on top of OpenGL, making great use of the
performance of 3D accelerated graphics cards. There's also a
'Compiz' compositing manager for funky shadows and transparency
effects. See

# Torvalds: kernel to stay GPL v2

Following the first draft release of the GPL v3, an update to the
world's most successful free software/open source license, Linus
Torvalds has said it will not be used for the Linux kernel. In his
post to the LKML, Torvalds stated: "The Linux kernel is under the
GPL version 2. Not anything else. Some individual files are
licenceable under v3, but not the kernel in general. And quite
frankly, I don't see that changing." He ended his message with
"Conversion isn't going to happen."

# SeaMonkey 1.0 arrives

SeaMonkey, the community-supported continuation of the Mozilla
Suite, has just hit version 1.0. While many users have switched over
Firefox and Thunderbird in recent years, SeaMonkey still has its
place as an all-in-one app for web browsing, email, chat and more.
See the release notes for more information and a list of downloads.

4. This month on the forum

How suitable is Linux for business desktops? Despite the notable
corporate rollouts we see in the news every week, some companies are
reticent to go with anything open source. 'jaluka' posted his
experiences as a systems engineer, explaining that he'd switched to
Linux, but wanted to convince his colleagues. Forum regulars chipped
in with software recommendations, and 'wyliecoyoteuk' gave a great
explanation of how different Linux distros and open source apps are
used throughout his company. [1]

Recently, many Linux distributions such as Fedora have started
chopping out any code that could pose even the slightest of legal
troubles - such as MP3 and NTFS support. 'Hambo' asked how he could
get his MP3s off his NTFS Windows drive and play them under Fedora:
in other words, hitting both walls at the same time! Thankfully, the
forum regulars came to the rescue, offering tips and advice while
musing over the whole patent situation. [2]

The new 'Off Topic' forum got off to a great start with everyone's
favourite subject of spleen-ventage: spam. 'shifty_ben' devised a
plan to cut down the mass of junk email, but 'MartyBartfast' pointed
out some similar systems already in place. The discussion moved on
on to levels of spam thesedays and different ways of dealing with
the problem. [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:

* Taking back the Web -- Firefox:

* Ultimate distro roundup:

* Feature -- Network everything:

* Roundup: Email clients

* Feature: Play retro games via emulators

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

6. Special newsletter feature


Loading times aside, Firefox is a pretty fast browser in use, but
there are ways to make it even snappier. The recent Firefox 1.5
release brought about improvements to page navigation speed, so an
upgrade should be your first port of call if you're still running
1.0.x, but either way these tips will help...

1. Pipelining: Enter 'about:config' in the address bar, and a list
of Firefox's internal settings will appear. The 'Filter' bar beneath
lets you narrow down the options to ones you wish to change. Enter
'pipelining' and three settings will appear; double-click
'network.http.pipelining' to enable it (its value will become
'true'. Then double-click the '.maxrequests' line below and enter
'8'. This allows the browser to request multiple files from the
server at once, thus speeding up browsing -- although it's turned
off by default because a few servers have problems with it. Well
worth trying on your favourite sites though!

2. Rendering: In the 'about:config' screen as above, right-click in
a blank area and, from the menu that appears, select 'New, Integer'.
Name it 'nglayout.initialpaint.delay' and set its value to '0'
(zero). This makes Firefox draw web pages as soon as the first bits
of data trickle down the wire -- instead of waiting for the page
structure to be loaded. Consequently, pages will appear noticeably
faster, although images and tables may jump around as it loads.

3. Loading: On machines with slower connections (eg dialup modems)
you can change the 'network.http.max-connections' setting in
'about:config' (see tip 1) to lower than its default of 24. If
you're getting a lot of connection timeouts, try setting this to 8
to make your browsing much smoother.

These settings will be saved automatically, so you don't need to
enter them each time you run Firefox. And if you want to disable any
of the tweaks, simply enter 'about:config' in the address bar as
above, find (or filter down) the option in the list, and disable it
or change back to its default value. Good luck!

7. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 78 -- on sale Thursday 9th March

# Digital heaven -- Get the skills to shoot, download, edit,
upload and print your masterpieces -- all with open source!

# The LXF Interview: Mono's Edd Dumbill and Niel Bornstein

# Web 2.0 -- Beyond the hype: how open source thinking
is changing the internet

# Syllable -- Up-and-coming desktop OS explored. Fits in 50
megs and boots in under 10 seconds!

(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 cooking
a Micro Pizza:

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 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 subs page:

(C) 2006 Future
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