LXF Website Newsletter -- #6, November 2005

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LXF Website Newsletter -- #6, November 2005

Postby M-Saunders » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:13 pm






1. Welcome!

2. Sneak preview of LXF 74

3. In the news...

4. This month on the forum

5. Special newsletter feature

6. Coming up next issue

7. Receiving this newsletter

8. Contact details

1. Welcome!

The nights are drawing in, frost covers the pavement like a spilled
Sherbet Dip-Dab, and Christmas is approaching with alarming
rapidity. So what better way to pass the long nights than by making
your own distro? Creating your very own personalised Linux isn't as
hard as it sounds - and it's a great way to learn about the wheels
and cogs underneath that make Linux tick. Whether you want to just
change a few default images, or completely overhaul a distro's app
selection, our walkthrough in LXF 74 will help you along the way.

Meanwhile, this month's newsletter includes the regular roundups of
news and forum activity, along with a special feature analysing
trends in the Linux world based on our website polls. If there's
anything you'd like to see in the newsletter - or if you want to
contribute something - do drop me a line!


Mike Saunders
Newsletter Editor

2. Sneak preview of LXF 74

Issue 74 of Linux Format hits the shop shelves today - and the
colourful cover should grab your eye immediately. Our main feature
this issue is a comprehensive guide to creating your own Linux
distro. Sounds tough? It's not as taxing as you might think,
especially if you base your work on another distro rather than
starting completely from scratch. Our walkthrough shows you exactly
how to take a KNOPPIX disc, change the software, add your own
branding and rebuild a new distro. We've also got stacks of other
guides and tips on changing package contents, working with other
distros and much more.

We have a new regular section of the magazine: Distrowatch, from
Ladislav Bodnar, the maintainer of distrowatch.com. Ladislav looks
at the new releases and trends in the ever-shifting distribution
world, this month examining Slackware 10.2 and the Tao Live CD
(built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux). Other features include a
detailed look at the increasing role Linux is playing in education,
along with two interviews: kernel 2.6 maintainer Andrew Morton, and
prolific open source coder Jim Jagielski.

Our news section includes a special roundup of recent Linux expos
and events, including LinuxWorld London, Brainshare Barcelona and
the KDE Community World Summit in Malaga. On the review front we
have Ubuntu 5.10, Maya 7, ThinkFree office and a selection of books.
Plus there's plenty to sink your teeth into with our tutorials -
partitioning, Gambas, Inkscape, Emacs and PHP. Our jam-packed cover
DVD includes the full SUSE 10.0 OSS distro, along with a bumper
collection of educational software, games, sound apps, development
tools, and much more...

Here're a few sample questions from the Andrew Morton interview, the
answers to which will appear on our website in a few days:

# Do you think it was good to have had the time with BitKeeper
in kernel development, or should they have stuck with CVS?

# In terms of kernel features that have a buzz about them, Xen
being one of them, and Inotify, which has just gone into
2.6.13, which things do you find interesting?

# Is your -mm kernel source tree quite a long way from the actual
true, officially published kernel?

Grab a copy of LXF 74 for the full interview. (Oh, and a crossword
on the back page!) Our regular HotPicks section, where we trawl the
internet for the best new and updated software, has a mixture of the
latest apps. One of the highlights is KleanSweep, a smart utility to
keep your Linux installation free of cruft (broken symlinks,
orphaned packages etc.):

# KleanSweep -- Filesystem tidying tool

Although Linux and other UNIX-like systems are generally regarded
as cleaner than Windows, if you install lots of new software your
hard drive can fill up with clutter very quickly. The typical
Linux distribution drops tens of thousands of files onto your disc
during installation - even more if it's a large distro - and after
a distro upgrade, many of these are rendered pointless. KleanSweep
aims to free up hard drive space by sifting through your
filesystem and plucking out pointless files.

Binary packages are available for Debian and SUSE (and provided on
our coverdisc), but if you'd rather compile from source you'll
need the KDE development packages installed beforehand. In many
distros, these are known as kdebase-dev, kdelibs-dev or similar.
Because the main searching script is written in Perl, you'll also
need a recent Perl release too. The build process uses scons - so
just run ./scons and './scons install' (as root) to build and go.

When started, KleanSweep pops up a wizard-like dialog, accompanied
by plenty of helpful text. (If you're not running it as root, it
notifies you that you can only clean up files in your home
directory.) KleanSweep lets you select the type of files to
remove: empty files and directories, broken symlinks, orphaned
packages, dead menu entries, duplicated files and more.
Additionally, you can specify a starting point if you only want to
clean up a small area of your filesystem. Following the scan,
KleanSweep displays a tabbed view of the results, listing files
that were identified with full their filesystem details
(permissions, owner etc.).

A particularly smart feature is the ability to back-up the
to-be-deleted files; if something goes wrong on your system after
the scan, you can recover the files. This is very useful to have -
some empty files in critical system folders, for example, are
still required for proper working of the OS. If you accidentally
delete one, you can get it back from the archive KleanSweep
produces. On the whole it's a small, friendly and useful tool to
keep your system free of wastage.

As usual, there're five and a half more pages of HotPicks in 74,
including a close look at the excellent LMMS music-making
app, and sinister AI global dominance sim Singularity.

3. In the news...

New releases, updates and a bit of Microsoft-related flamefestery
for good measure this month...

# Cedega 5.0 released
http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.ph ... le&sid=144

TransGaming has announced version 5.0 of Cedega, its customised WINE
software that allows many Windows games to run on Linux. New games
supported include Battlefield 2, City of Villains, Madden NFL 2005
and 2006, and Dungeon Siege II. http://www.transgaming.com

# Firefox 1.5 RC 1 arrives
http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.ph ... le&sid=141

Firefox 1.5 is approaching, and the Mozilla project has announced
the first release candidate. Assuming no major bugs are found, this
should be very similar to the final version. New features since the
1.0.x series include faster back/forward navigation, smaller
updates, better accessibility and improvements to popup blocking.
Download a copy from http://www.mozilla.org/projects/firefox/

# Microsoft: is open source really that open?
http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.ph ... le&sid=143

At the Open Source Business Conference, Jason Matusow (director of
Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative) discussed his stance on the
effectiveness of open source software. Matusow believes that as open
source becomes more commercialised, it may also become less open -
citing Red Hat's need to "lock things down" to provide value. Read
the full story at http://tinyurl.com/a83lf

4. This month on the forum

Muddling through MIDI: User 'ditdah' was having trouble getting MIDI
sound playback working, and the ever-helpful forum regulars offered
their advice. 'crispibits' provided a useful step-by-step guide to
getting Timidity running, and the whole thread is a useful resource
for anyone struggling with this aspect of Linux sound. [1]

Having trouble choosing the right Linux distro? Linuxgirlie pointed
out the automagic Linux Distribution Chooser, which asks you a
series of questions before spitting out the distro(s) best suited
for your purposes. Many forum regulars were pleasantly surprised
that it correctly chose the distros they were already running! [2]

Ah, the joys of deciding hostnames. 'doctorflange' asked the forum
what names people used for their boxes, with a variety of
space-themed and sci-fi-related answers cropping up. The Most
Unimaginative Award goes to 'towy71' for his choice of 'Debianbox'
and 'Mepisbox' etc., while 'wyliecoyoteuk' was turning his network
into a bizarre Monopoly spin-off by using London streets. LXF Ed
Nick revealed his age by describing his naming scheme for floppy
disks - can anyone beat that? Perhaps your tape reels are called
Lemon and Asparagus, or maybe you have an elaborate naming scheme
for your folder of punch-cards? [3]

[1] http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/index.php? ... pic&t=1536

[2] http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/index.php? ... pic&t=1413

[3] http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/index.php? ... pic&t=1423

5. Special newsletter feature


Since the LXF website relaunched back in April, we've had a series
of polls on the front page to gauge trends and opinions in the Linux
world. These have produced some interesting results, so it's worth
looking back at some of the most popular polls and seeing how the
votes stack up.

Of course, internet-based polls can't be taken as totally accurate
research; no matter how you set them up, it's possible for the
results to be rigged sharply in one direction by multiple voting.
Happily, though, this hasn't been an issue with the LXF polls, and
hopefully it'll stay that way :-)


Always a hot topic. This poll brought in 123 votes, with KDE
taking the spotlight (54%) and Gnome half as popular (28%),
roughly matching similar polls around the Web. Although Gnome is
growing in popularity, KDE is more firmly established as the
all-round desktop of choice - and is also the default in popular
distros such as SUSE and Mandriva.

Xfce and Fluxbox took third and fourth places. It's intriguing to
see a *box window manager doing so well, considering the limited
functionality they provide. Many users spice up their *box
desktops with add-ons - so on the whole, Fluxbox is clearly the
pick of the lightweight WMs.


Some surprises in this one. 60% of voters had been using Linux for
over three years - a long time in computing, and even longer with
the pace of Linux progression. The number of newcomers (less than
a month) was a healthy 14%, but the dip in the middle (2 months to
2 years) was a surprise.

Perhaps this reflects some users' experiences with the OS - give
it a try, stumble across a few problems, then wait a couple of
years to see how it's progressing. It'd be interesting to know
the percentage of those newcomers who get addicted to Linux and
find themselves in the 3+ years category down the line...


Inevitably with a poll such as this, someone who perhaps deserves
inclusion is bound to be missing. We chose the most well-known
characters in the Linux and Free Software scene - and it's no
surprise that Linus Torvalds picked up a bulk of votes (44%). Not
too far behind, though, was GNU daddy Richard Stallman (21%).
Notwithstanding Stallman's massive contributions to what we now
call Linux and open source, Torvalds is better known for quick
soundbite quips and self-deprecating humour.

6. Coming up next issue

Linux Format 75 -- on sale Friday 9th December

# Upgrade it all -- New versions of KDE, X.org, MySQL, Apache,
GCC and more are coming soon. We show you how to give the
new features a spin and impress other Linuxers.

# The LXF Interview: Larry Wall -- Eccentric Perl head-honcho.
We ask him: is Perl 6 better never than this late?

# Women in open source -- yes, they do exist!

# MythTV guide -- set up your own video recorder.

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

7. 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 losing
to Paul at Unreal Tournament:

1. Go to the website forums and log in (or sign up first):
http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.ph ... e=PNphpBB2

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.

8. Contact details

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

Newsletter Editor: Mike Saunders -- mike.saunders@futurenet.co.uk

Letters for the magazine: lxf.letters@futurenet.co.uk

LXF website: http://www.linuxformat.co.uk

Subscriptions: 0870 837 4722 (overseas +44 1858 438794)
Website subs page: http://tinyurl.com/dv295

(C) 2005 Future
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