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2016 is turning out to be an exciting year for GNU/Linux distro releases. First we had the release of the class- leading Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and from that a host of spin-off distros have been slowly appearing. The next most popular release is Linux Mint 18. Based on that LTS Ubuntu release, this next big Mint release brings with it a host of huge changes to the popular distro.

To celebrate Linux Mint 18 being released, we’re running a comprehensive feature on what’s new and exciting in this release of Mint, from its all-new X-Apps to the new improved Cinnamon desktop that so many know and love. We run you through the install process, look at how Mint is built, examine where it went wrong with its security in the past, show how it has fixed the situation and where Mint could still improve itself. We’re sure you’re going to love Mint 18, so we’ve got both the 64- and 32-bit releases on the disc.

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In this modern world with all-powerful mobile devices, ever-present internet connections and storage devices measuring in the multi-terabyte level you’d be excused for thinking a self-supported home or office server is as dead as the dinosaurs. How wrong you’d be.

Best Open Source 2016

We’re celebrating the best in the open source world this issue, by picking our top 100 tools of the open source crop. The one proviso being this is an impossible job, with tens of thousands of projects, tools, services, applications and more in constant development, singling out a meagre 100 as the best seems somewhat presumptive.

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For all you new Linux users, whether you’ve chosen Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora, we know that starting to get to grips with your new OS can be a bit daunting. And we know that even experienced Linux users can still have trouble every now and then. This is why we want to give you the chance to get 2 years of Linux Format for the price of 1.

Desktop revolution

In this issue – cue music – Linux users are doing it for themselves. We’re not happy with how our desktops are being built, so we’re going to make one ourselves. It seems a long-standing open source tradition that if you don’t like what you’re given, you can just fork it and do the job yourself. While we’re not going to develop a desktop environment from scratch, we are going to take out our digital digger and look at building our ideal desktop ourselves.

Linux Inside

Quad-copters! Let’s distract management with the shiny thing, so us grown-ups can sit down and talk about embedded Linux. In this issue there’s not only an entire cover feature on the subject, but also a host of tutorials on the idea of running Linux in embedded systems for speed, fun and entertainment.

Information wars

We live in the information age – yes, I just used a silly bit of hyperbole – but with many of us now living with so much of our live stored online the threat of information loss through theft or vandalism grows greater each year.

Escape Windows 10

It’s that perennial question: how do you get your friends, family and companies to switch from Windows to Linux? The best way is usually to wait for Microsoft to launch a new improved edition of its operating system – like Windows 10 – that causes so much disruption and issues that people are dying to escape Windows.

Hack your home!

Smart homes, smart TVs, smart watches, smart phones, smart fridges: is there anything that isn’t smart these days? Smart humans, might be a useful start. The startling thing is that behind that huge list of smart things is Linux (and perhaps a bit of BSD). The open source nature of Linux; its lightweight footprint and robust security (though nothing is foolproof) makes it perfect for use in tiny, deployable, internet-connected smart things.

A happy home

An entertained home is a happy home, with the digital dream a real one, most homes have turned into a digital entertainment heaven. My home’s daily routine often revolves around keeping the tiny humans entertained streaming music, video and photos from a home Linux server (plus online services) around the home to a variety of devices. From the traditional TV with a Raspberry Pi media centre to Android tablets and Chromebooks, or through the Pi-powered projector for cinema-style fun.