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

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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!)

Reviewed: VueScan 8.6.10

Apps

Can it be true: is this really a piece of scanning software that can recognise your scanner first time? On Linux? Read on for our verdict on this commercial scanning program that provides an impressive amount of control over the picture-grabbing process...

Reviewed: OpenOffice.org 3.2

Apps

There's a new version of Linux's grandest office suite, but is it a major step forward or just another humdrum release with little to show? And most importantly, does it finally get the startup time down to an acceptable level? Read on for all the gory details...

Podcast Season 2 Episode 4

Podcast

Title: Penguins Are Doing Time

In this episode: Gnome's Guadec and KDE's Akademy are getting back together in 2011, and they're looking for a venue, while Canonical unveils a major rebranding for Ubuntu 10.04. We reveal which presenter had the most SUSE Studio downloads and report back on our time spent with Ubuntu 4.10.

Open Ballot: would you hire the FSF for the role of Linux PR department?

TuxRadar

The Free Software Foundation has always done a great job defending the various free software licences, promoting their use, and asking for Linux to be referred to as GNU/Linux. But we're asking whether, regardless of its good work in this field, the FSF has helped free software grow or whether its hard stance against proprietary software has harmed Linux up-take. Add your comments below, preferably answering "Yes, they're the voice of free software" or "No, I prefer open source and Linux without GNU."

How to compile the Linux kernel

Kernel

Do you want to remove bloat from your Linux installation? Are you looking to enable extra features that aren't provided by your distro? Fancy trying some of the cutting-edge patches doing the rounds? You'll need to recompile your kernel, and while it might look like black magic if you've never done it before, it's actually pretty straightforward. Read on for everything you need to know...

(PS: along with this you might want to read the newbie's guide to hacking the kernel and how the kernel works.)

The newbie's guide to hacking the Linux kernel

Code

You don't need a PhD in computer science and years of experience to hack the kernel. Sure, they help, but the nature of Linux development means that it's open to all by default. All you have to do is get stuck in. You use the Linux kernel in whatever shape or form every day; wouldn't you feel just the tiniest swell of pride if you'd helped work on it, no matter in how small a way?

We asked prolific kernel hacker (and Linux Format reader!) Greg Kroah-Hartman to tell us what it takes for newbies to patch the Linux kernel - here's what he had to say...

(PS: you might find our earlier article, How the Linux kernel works, a helpful primer to this tutorial)

Get the best Twitter app for Linux

Apps

If you thought microblogging using Twitter and Identica was as simple as tapping out 140 characters once a day describing what kind of food you just ate, you'd be wrong. In fact, there's a huge amount of functionality to help you follow and be followed online, and if you're a Linux user you're spoiled for choice.

So, we spent some time wading through the collection of available apps, put them all through their paces, and wrote up our results below - read on!

Try the Linux desktop of the future

Apps

For the tinkerers and testers, 2010 is shaping up to be a perfect year. Almost every desktop and application we can think of is going to have a major release, and while release dates and roadmaps always have to be taken with a pinch of salt, many of these projects have built technology and enhancements you can play with now. We've selected the few we think are worth keeping an eye on and that can be installed easily, but Linux is littered with applications that are evolving all the time, so we've also tried to guess what the next big things might be.

Take a trip with us on a voyage of discovery to find out exactly what's happening and how the Linux desktop experience is likely to evolve over the next 12 months...

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