Open Ballot: should distros license codecs?

TuxRadar

So, Canonical has licensed H.264 for its partners. Is it a good thing? Should more distros strike deals that allow end users to play DVDs, watch Flash movies and more out of the box, or is it more important that we take a united stand in the name of Free Software and support free codecs like Theora?

We're due to record our next podcast in just under three hours, so don't delay - post your comment below and we'll read out the best on the show. Don't forget to use a name other than "Anonymous Penguin" otherwise we may just ignore you.

Opinion: Competition vs cohesion

Open Source

What's more important for the success of Linux: competition between the various components and projects involved, or co-operation to present a unified front in the battle for the desktop? How do we ensure a good balance between the two? Read on for Mike Saunders's entry for the podcast challenge, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Python + PyGTK + WebKit in 20 minutes

Code

In season 2 episode 7 of our podcast we laid down the simple challenge for each of the four podcasters - Andrew, Graham, Paul and Mike - to produce something original for the website. Paul - eager to show the world how much he, er, loves Python - has now finished his entry, and you'll find it below: a video talking you through how to get started with Python, PyGTK and WebKit. It's easier than you think!

Humble Indie Bundle - last chance to buy!

Games

You have just 10 hours left to buy the Humble Indie Bundle - a collection of six indie games that run on Windows, Mac and Linux. No, they aren't open source, but we think there are four important reasons why you should seriously consider investing:

  1. You get to pay what you want. Even $0.01 gives you a licence for all the games on all the platforms.
  2. You get to choose how much of that money goes to charities, including Childs Play and the EFF. The default split is 50/50: half to the developers, half to charity, but you can customise that if you like.
  3. If you want to encourage more people to make commercial games for Linux, this is your big chance - send them some cash and you're helping fund the next generation of Linux games. And, yes, you do get to tell them you're running Linux as opposed to Mac/Windows, so they know for sure.
  4. It includes World of Goo, which we already told you is absolutely awesome on Linux.

But you know what really makes us proud? Right now, the average Windows user paid $7.74 for the games. The average Mac user paid $10.06. But the average Linux user? Well, we paid $14.24 - and we're accounting for 25% of all their sales, too. Yes, that means Linux users are almost twice as generous as Windows users, and remember - half the money goes to charity!

So, please pop over to the Humble Indie Bundle and buy it while you still can.

Podcast Season 2 Episode 7

Podcast

Title: Passive Electioneering

In this episode: Lucid Lynx, Ubuntu 10.04, is nearly here. And Valve might be porting Steam to Linux. Discover how we coped with two weeks of Z shell and what we think is the biggest threat to Linux.

Open Ballot: what is the biggest threat to the future of Linux?

TuxRadar

For our next podcast, we'd like to know what you think is the biggest threat to the future of Linux. We'll discuss the results, along with our own ideas, in our next episode, available on Thursday. Please leave some sort of name alongside your thoughts so that we don't end up reading out 20 comments from Anonymous Penguin!

Discover the new features in Ubuntu 10.04, the Lucid Lynx

Ubuntu

Ubuntu 10.04 is just around the corner, and it's shaping up to be one of the most eagerly awaited (and controversial) releases in the distro's history. What new goodies are included? How does it tap into the ever-expanding world of social networking? And most importantly, can you move those window control buttons back to the right of the titlebar, as nature intended? Read on for the gory details...

Podcast Season 2 Episode 6

Podcast

Title: Pink Ponies, naturally

In this episode: The Android-based WePad takes on the mighty Apple iPad while Nokia and Intel launch MeeGo. Hear the results of our music-making challenge and ask yourselves, is Linux sexy?

TuxRadar originals

TuxRadar

If you've been too busy to visit the site every day, relax - here's our pick of unmissable features from recent days:

Plus there's much more to come - add us to your bookmarks or follow us on Identica or Twitter to make sure you don't miss a thing.

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Open Ballot: is Linux sexy?

TuxRadar

Our kid Graham has an opinion piece up on TechRadar.com giving various reasons why he thinks Linux is struggling to break into the mainstream. But his third point - and the one that seems to have turned into a flash point for commenters - is that Linux just isn't attractive enough visually. He said:

"The biggest challenge is sexiness. There's very little of it in Linux unless you're an antisocial geek, and products like the Apple's iPad illustrate this massive divide painfully. As Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, puts it, "Linux can compete with the iPad on price, but where's the magic?" Linux has the programmers, the managers, the community, the innovation, the time and the skill. But to succeed in 2010 and the coming decade, what it really needs is a magician or two."

Do you agree? Is Linux sexy enough for mainstream use, or does it still need more work? Perhaps a side issue is whether Linux needs to be sexy at all. Please post your views below for inclusion in our next podcast - don't forget to add a name other than Anonymous Penguin, and don't forget to provide some sort of explanation as to how you came about your answer. Pedants who happily answer that Linux is just a kernel might want to question whether they are indeed the "antisocial geeks" that Graham describes.

How to get Linux in your office

Enterprise

Many people pick up a copy of Linux Format magazine because they've yet to be converted to the wonderful, magical world of open possibilities and open source. They want to be convinced. And with Linux and free software making a name for itself in the world of big business, many more people are testing the feasibility of switching small and home office software to their open source equivalents.

Regardless of how you feel about the Linux desktop, this is one area in which Linux can have a real impact, both financially and productively, and any small or home office has the potential to be transformed by just switching one application or two to their open source equivalents. So, we've put together this guide to helping people in offices switch to Linux, explaining what tools are available for different jobs and how best to maximise compatibility with other Windows users. Read on!

How it works: Linux audio explained

Linux

There's a problem with the state of Linux audio, and it's not that it doesn't always work. The issue is that it's overcomplicated. This soon becomes evident if you sit down with a piece of paper and try to draw the relationships between the technologies involved with taking audio from a music file to your speakers: the diagram soon turns into a plate of knotted spaghetti. This is a failure because there's nothing intrinsically more complicated about audio than any other technology. It enters your Linux box at one point and leaves at another.

If you've had enough of this mess and want to understand just how all the bits fit together, we're here to help - read on to learn exactly how Linux audio works!

What's the best lightweight Linux distro?

Group Test

Group test: There are plenty of reasons for wanting a low-resource distro running on your computer. Maybe you have some ancient hardware that you need to breathe new life into. Perhaps you want something that will fit on a modestly sized memory stick. Or it might be that you want to run 200 virtual machines simultaneously on your desktop.

The important things that we'll look at here are the amount of space needed, how much processing power is required to get the distro running at an acceptable level, and the effort required to get it to work. Something to bear in mind is that one of the ways in which developers are able to create slimmed-down distros is by ditching the scripts and wizards that we've come to take for granted. This can complicate tasks that you might expect to be straightforward, such as installing software.

Podcast Season 2 Episode 5

Podcast

Title: April Fools

In this episode: Ubuntu switches to base 10, Novell fights a takeover bid while Sony removes Linux support from its older Playstation 3 consoles. We reveal how little we've used Emacs and ask whether Wikipedia should use open codecs.

Linux on your iPhone?

Hardware

We wanted to create a really nice April Fool's joke for you all, we really did. So we created Fake Linux: a simple app that makes it look like you've put Linux on your iPhone, with the idea being that you install the app, then show it to your geek friends and see how long it takes for them to figure out it's a hoax. Sadly, the app was rejected by Apple three times, so all we can do is show you pictures and videos of what might have been - click here to read the full story.

Introducing Brain Party

Games

Looking to pass the time with a few simple games? We've just released the first version of Brain Party, a fun (and free software!) collection of 36 minigames for Linux. So, if you want to put your brain to the test, or if you just want to help us test the game and fix any bugs, download it now!

Ubuntu in its own words

Ubuntu

Ubuntu 10.04 is now about five weeks away, which means the announcement of Lucid+1 (our vote is still for Manky Monkey) is around the corner. To kill the time between now and the announcement of what's to come in the next version, we decided to take a look at the keywords used to describe previous Ubuntu releases to see how priorities have changed over the years

So, making use of the excellent Wordle, we made word clouds out of the release announcements from Dapper Drake through to Lucid Lynx - the bigger each word appears, the more it was mentioned. Can you guess which one is which? To make things a little more interesting, we've removed the Ubuntu distro code names (Dapper, etc), which means you'll have to use your cunning to figure it out. To make things even more interesting, we've included five other OS announcement word clouds after the Ubuntus - can you figure them out too?

The first person to correctly guess all the word clouds wins a free internet. We'll post the correct answers in a few days. Good luck!

Open Ballot: will a campaign to promote Theora and open codecs be a success?

TuxRadar

A recent campaign to add more videos to Wikipedia is being used to try and push the advantages of the open source Theora video format over those encumbered by patents. For our imminent podcast, we're asking whether you think this campaign will work despite poor results in a recent quality comparison, or whether this issue is less about quality and more about freedom.

Code Project: create an animated RSS reader with Clutter

Code

In a previous tutorial we had a look at the basics of Clutter as we used it to build a network speed monitor. This time we'll be looking at some of the very powerful animation techniques used in Clutter, how to group objects, and a little more about text actors. We will be doing this in the guise of implementing a feed reader. There isn't enough space for us to implement a complete multi-stream reader and explore the animations, but we will be covering enough ground to get you started on building such a beast, including fetching the data from the feed and applying it to the Clutter objects.

For those of you who haven't been tempted by one of these magnificent Python tutorials before, we usually try to do as much as possible in the interactive mode of Python first. It is a kinder, gentler environment than the normal mode in which programs are run, as you can type things in and experiment. The code listings in these cases include the Python prompt >>> at the beginning of the line when you have something to type in, and without it when the environment is giving you some feedback, just as it appears on screen.

(NB: don't miss our collection of free Python tutorials, and you can also try your hand at our Clutter beginners tutorial for C programmers if you're feeling adventurous!)

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