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...

Podcast Season 2 Episode 3

Podcast

Title: SUSE SUSE Studio

In this episode: Version 2.6.33 of the Linux kernel is here and it includes a new 3D accelerated Nvidia graphics driver. Canonical's online music store will only provide MP3 files, and Apple sues Android partner, HTC. We report back on our experiences with SUSE Studio and answer our critics in the Closed Ballot.

Canonical unveils shiny new Ubuntu branding

Ubuntu

Yes, after six years of the Human theme and bouncy-roundy Ubuntu logo, it's time for a change. Canonical has announced the new artwork planned for Ubuntu 10.04, aka Lucid Lynx, and it's a major departure. For starters, the word 'Ubuntu' now has sharp, clearly defined points in the font, with the familiar three-folks-hugging logo a mere blob in the corner. On the interface side, new GTK themes accompany a curious arrangement of titlebar buttons - not quite Windows, not quite Mac...

Turn that old netbook into a NAS

Hardware

Everyone wants a Network Attached Storage (NAS) box - at least, everyone who wants somewhere to store swelling amounts of data. Whether you're a huge megacorp looking for an accessible and secure storage device, or you're a home user who needs something to serve your music and movies, NAS boxes are the solution. Now, you could go out and buy a special NAS box for oodles of cash, or you could covert an existing machine to do the job. And what better machine than something small, quiet and friendly with your electricity bill? Our friends at PC Plus show you how to turn your old netbook into a NAS device using the OS most perfectly suited to the job, Linux.

Get a lifetime of Linux learning for under $110

LXF

If you wanted to learn about Linux, you might think spending $40 on a book is a smart investment. Well, we're here to tell you in our Entirely Unbiased Way that you're wrong, because we've got a better deal: for US$107 we'll give you 2,119 tutorials, features and reviews from Linux Format magazine to download as beautiful DRM-free PDFs. And whether you're in Canada, Australia, France, the UK or indeed anywhere else in the world, we've got an equally great price for you too.

You're probably thinking that's a great deal, but wait - there's more! Your money also gets you 13 monthly issues of Linux Format magazine for the next year, which means you get the magazine delivered to your door every issue wherever you are in the world, as well as all those magazines available to download as PDFs if you want them. Once your subscription expires, those PDFs you downloaded as still yours to keep, because we hate DRM as much as you. Plus, you also get our awesome free DVD with every issue, or you can download it through our BitTorrent server.

Still not convinced? Here we've put a list of just some - maybe half - of all the incredible content you get for your money. Feast your eyes on what you're missing out on, then, when you simply can't bear it any longer, click the button to subscribe online.

Subscribe to Linux Format magazine

(PS: if you were wondering, it's $107 because of the conversion rate between Queen Elizabeth's very own British pounds and the US dollar - it fluctuates, see. If you wait two weeks it might get more expensive!)

Kernel love for Nvidia and Nintendo

Kernel

We don't normally make a big fuss about kernel releases - after all, many of the changes are low-level and don't directly affect us mere mortals - but 2.6.33 is an exception. First up, this release includes Nouveau, a totally free, reverse-engineered driver for Nvidia graphics cards. Not only does this driver support more cards than the proprietary, closed one, but it can be updated and maintained by the community indefinitely.

Nine Linux projects in 90 minutes

Apps

Previously we gave you 7 Cool Linux Projects that anyone could do, but if you still have a few hours to kill and you've already watched the latest Maru videos on YouTube, we have the perfect follow-up article for you: read on to discover just how versatile Linux is by trying nine easy projects that should take no longer than the kettle does to boil - learn how to run your own wiki, encrypt files, blog from home, create your own network wormhole and more!

Podcast Season 2 Episode 2

Podcast

Title: Badger Dog

In this episode: Nokia and Intel combine Maemo with Moblin to create MeeGo. OpenOffice.org 3.2 is here, and it's fast. We report back on our experiences of avoiding the command line and ask whether we'll ever use KDE 4.4.

Open Ballot: will you take KDE 4.4 for a spin?

TuxRadar

KDE 4.4 is here, bringing with it improved support for social networking and online collaboration, plus thousands of bug fixes. The question is, do you intend to try it out? Post a comment below with your thoughts!

Usually our answers come down to a simple yes or no, but here you're welcome to prevaricate as much as you want - are you going to upgrade to 4.4 simply because your distro will sooner or later? Are you still using 3.5 and are going to stay there until you die? Are you a Gnome user tempted by all the new features, but unsure about switching desktop? Does the sheer number of bugs fixed scare you a little, or is it all progress in the right direction?

As per usual, we'll read out the best comments in our podcast, but please do make sure you leave a name other than Anonymous Penguin!

Free Linux DVDs for schools, unis, LUGs...

Distros

Yes, it's that time of the year again: we've built up a stack of spare Linux Format magazine coverdiscs in the office, and we'd love to give them away to Linux advocates: eg if you work in education, run a LUG or have another way to spread the word of Free Software.

These DVDs include a variety of bootable distros - Ubuntu, Fedora, CrunchBang, Slackware and more - and also have newbie-friendly guides (in the Help/New to Linux section of the HTML interface).

UPDATE: We've had a huge response to this, so to make sure that everyone who applied gets a decent amount of DVDs, we're closing this offer now. Thanks!

Learn Python with our free tutorials

TuxRadar

If you're a beginner who wants to learn Python programming, you've come to the right place. If you're a more advanced coder who wants to push their skills even further, we've got your covered there too. Below you'll find our list of code projects for Python: tutorials that help you learn Python without boring you to death with hello world nonsense - we want to help you learn how to Make Cool Things, and you'll learn along the way.

We'll be adding more tutorials as time goes by, but for now just jump in - click here to visit our Python tutorials page and get started!

(PS: if you're looking for all our coding tutorials regardless of language, visit our programming tutorials section)

Code Project: monitor /proc with Python and Clutter

Code

If you already read our beginner's guide to the Clutter toolkit and wished it were available in something other than C, then good news: we're putting together a tutorial series covering PyClutter, the Python binding to Clutter, which merges all the power and beauty of the Clutter toolkit with the simplicity and brevity of Python.

So, let's start with a simple project to get things going: you're going to produce a network monitor that monitors data transfer and displays it all on the screen using Clutter. It's nice and easy, but we're going to be adding more involved PyClutter tutorials in the coming months, so you should get started while the learning curve is shallow!

A newbie's guide to Fedora 12

Fedora

Sometimes it's easy to forget that we all had to start somewhere with Linux. When you're not used to the way it works, or the kind of concepts involved, Linux can seem like a foreign language. If you're struggling with free software, or if you know someone who needs help making the switch to Linux, we hope this feature will help.

Fedora is a great choice of distribution to start with. It's easy to install and just as easy to use. It's one of the most well-respected distributions available, and has a very tight relationship with its parent and chief sponsor, Red Hat. With Fedora, you have access to one of the largest communities in the world of Linux, and one of the the biggest selections of software to play with. In this mini-feature, we're going to walk you through your first steps installing and using Fedora 12 so that everyone can get started and have fun in the Linux community.

(If this really is your first time using Linux, you might want to read our extensive Linux newbie FAQ before you start, then, when you're up and running, check out our guide to fixing Linux problems yourself. Finally, place a bookmark to our searchable archive of Linux solutions - you never know when it might come in handy...)

Podcast Season 2 Episode 1

Podcast

Title: Oleophobia

In this episode: Three quarters of the Linux kernel code is written by developers being paid to do so and Facebook transforms PHP performance. We promise to give up the command line for two weeks and ask whether Ubuntu is wrong to switch the default search engine in Firefox from Google to Yahoo. Plus, we introduce two new sections.

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