Podcast Season 1 Episode 15

Podcast

Title: PodKastigation

In this episode: There was a hole in the kernel for eight years. Dell announces that its Linux netbook returns are a non-issue and we look at Ubuntu One. We report on our two weeks with the KDE desktop and our open ballot asks whether open source licences should be viral.

Code Project: create a media player

Code

Amarok is a great music player for KDE when judged by both its capabilities and its size. But it's hardly a quick point and click music player - it takes several clicks and some careful GUI navigation to listen to your music collection and that takes a toll on both your CPU and your head. We're going to offer an alternative by building the most simple and straightforward music player we could think of.

We're going to take some inspiration from Apple's new iPod Shuffle, and only offer the bare minimum of controls. One button for selecting your music, another button for play and pause, and a third button for skipping to the next track. For most people, and most uses, these are the only controls you need, and it makes a refreshing contrast to the bloated frippery of players like Amarok.

Hands on with SUSE Studio

SUSE

Novell has launched SUSE Studio, a service that allows anyone to create their own Linux distro respin using nothing more than their web browser. But did you know Novell already has plans to open source the new technology it contains? We spoke to Nat Friedman to get more information, then took it for a test drive ourselves...

Podcast Season 1 Episode 14

Podcast

Title: Tron with Ponies

In this episode: SUSE Studio is out; Debian adopts timed releases, should we be giving coverage to companies who don't support Linux and should geeks prefer Free internet services over free internet services?

Debian adopts time-based release freezes

Debian

We love Debian, but it's hardly the most spritely distro around when it comes to popping out regular releases. Historically, part of the problem has been determining when it's finished - and the old adage "it's ready when it's ready" doesn't really make much sense unless you have a very clear set of goals. Now the Debian team has announced that it's moving to two-year time-based release freezes. This doesn't mean that a release date will be announced well in advance, as with Fedora, Ubuntu and co, but that there will be a cut-off point for adding new features.

Get started with HomeBank

Apps

With HomeBank you can automate recurring transactions, set reminders for future transactions, assess your future account balance so you can plan your spending sprees and manage your expenses expertly. You see, we work hard for our pay cheques - well, some of us work harder than others - and we spend money on groceries, utilities and, ahem, fun Fridays. But keeping track of what's coming in, when the bills are due and how much is left after the recurring monthly expenses is not something that many of us make the effort to do. It's time-consuming and boring and there's always that episode of 24 that you'd rather be watching.

If you take the time to master some good home accounts software - such as HomeBank or one of the other great apps we featured in our home finance software group test - you'll find these accounting chores much less painful. Read on!

Build a realtime audio studio

Linux

Who says Linux isn't a great platform for professional audio editing? Crazy people - that's who! Our friends at PC Plus have posted a detailed guide to creating a Linux audio studio using a real-time kernel, JACK and Ardour. The tutorial also makes use of a software synthesiser called Zynaddsubfx, which gets our thumbs-up just for having such a cool name.

Reviewed: Fedora 11

Distros

Leonidas (either named after the king of Sparta who led his troops to victorious annihilation in the Peloponnese or the chain of chocolate shops), is the 11th release of the Fedora operating system. Along the way there have been a few duds, but in recent times Fedora has been really delivering on its promise of the four Fs: "Freedom, Friends, Features, First". Fedora 10 was a rock-steady release that introduced a slew of new features, and Leonidas is promising more of the same.

Other smart folk were quick off the bat to review Fedora 11, but we're not like that. Instead, it takes us a few weeks to properly settle down into a distro to see what we make of it. Read on for our findings, then read the comments to our earlier post to see what other people think...

OSCON interview snippets

Interviews

OSCON 2009 is now drawing to a close, and, before we hop on a flight back to the UK, we spent an hour or two typing up just a few snippets from some of the interviews we conducted at the conference. So, if you'd like to read what Jacob Kaplan-Moss thinks about Google, what Jim Zemlin thinks about Larry Lessig, what Michael Tiemann thinks about lobbyists, what Stormy Peters thinks about KDE, what Evan Prodromou thinks about Miguel de Icaza and what Bradley Kuhn thinks about Mono, read on...

How to set up your own Linux media server

Sysadmin

In previous tutorials we looked at setting up and using web servers and how to make Fetchmail, Procmail and Dovecot deliver email.

While these are undoubtedly useful, some of you may consider them a little geeky. In this tutorial we are concentrating more on the home, with a media server (although there are definitely commercial and public uses for this). You could set up a standard file server using NFS or Samba, which we'll cover in the future, and simply make all your media files available to applications on each computer, but there are a number of advantages to a dedicated media server, including:

  • Simultaneous access by several users viewing different files.
  • Having all your files on one box makes them easier to find.
  • Backing up is simpler.
  • Indexing is possible.
  • Media files can be played on devices other than full-blown computers - iPods, for example.

In this tutorial we're going to show you how to set up two types of media server: an on-demand server for all media types, and a streaming server for audio files.

Podcast Season 1 Episode 13

Podcast

Title: Lion Eggs for Matt

In this episode: Google announces its own Chrome OS operating system and the Moblin project gets X Windows running with user privileges. We talk about how we got into Linux and discuss whether we think Google is becoming Microsoft.

Ross Turk on the SourceForge Community Awards

Events

OSCON 2009 is in full swing, which means you can't walk more than 10 feet without tripping over a well-known geek. We’ve just spoken to Ross Turk, Director of Community at SourceForge, ahead of the Community Choice Awards on Thursday night. Here’s what he had to say on who he’d have chosen, had it not been completely unethical and against all his better principles...

Greasemonkey for beginners

Firefox

The idea behind Greasemonkey is pretty simple. It's a Firefox extension, installed in the same way as any other Firefox extension (find it via the Tools > Addons menu and hit Install). However, it doesn't do anything in and of itself: what it does is to enable you to run scripts, either by other people or by yourself, which will alter the way webpages look and function.

If you'd like to try your hand at Greasemonkey hacks, read on to see how it works!

Microsoft contributes to the Linux kernel

Linux

Some would say this has been a long time in coming, but others are probably looking around to see if they can spot Babe the pig taking off: Microsoft has announced it is submitting 20,000 lines of source code to the Linux kernel under the GPL2 licence.

LyX made easy

Apps

Regular readers will no doubt remember our LaTeX made easy tutorial on the Latex typesetting application. But although Latex is a hugely powerful piece of software, getting to grips with it can be a real headache if you'd rather just sit down and get to work.

Luckily, that's where Lyx comes in: if Latex has a steep learning curve, Lyx is the cable car that whisks you two thirds of the way up the mountain so you can enjoy the views without having to break a sweat. And just as web editors can create websites without you needing to know HTML, Lyx is able to prepare documents for typesetting without getting too involved in all the intricacies of Latex.

If you enjoyed our other Made Easy tutorials, try this one for size!

UKUUG Summer 09

Events

OSCON 2009 is just a few days away (and, yes, we'll be there - feel free to grab one of us and say hi), but if you're in the UK and can't afford to make the trip to sunny San Jose then you should definitely consider the UK Unix User Group's conference from the 7th to the 9th of August. Read on for more information - there's a nice discount if you're a student, so it's definitely worth checking out!

Wanted: your Linux tips

LXF

Have you found a crafty command-line trick that makes your daily admin chores much easier? Perhaps you've discovered a shortcut in your desktop environment of choice that saves you heaps of time. Or you've come across an amazingly useful program on Freshmeat that you can no longer live without. Well, we're gathering together the best compilation of Linux tips in existence, and we'd love your input. From tiny CLI tweaks to major workflow changers, whatever you've found that makes your life easier, we want to know. Share your knowledge with the world and post your tips in the comments - thanks!

Group test: Linux netbooks

Group Test

Netbooks may be on the cheaper side of computing, but as we're all watching our pennies now, making the right choice is essential. We've brought together all the netbooks we could get hold of - most of which are bundled with Linux - for a comprehensive test. We're looking at:

  • Performance All but one of the netbooks are based on the Intel Atom 1.6GHz CPU and 945GME graphics chip. But other components come into play, especially the storage and the wireless reception strength, so we're putting particular focus on these aspects.
  • Usability The most important aspect of a netbook. It doesn't matter if it looks wonderful if the keyboard is far too cramped, or the trackpad is rubbish.
  • Build quality You shouldn't need to baby your netbook. You want to chuck it in your bag, use it everywhere and not worry about it taking a bump or two.

To find out how each of our eight netbooks fared, read on!

FFmpeg made easy

Apps

So you've got those expensive headphones you always wanted. You put them on, set your playlist on shuffle, lean back on the recliner, and hit play. And Robbie Williams sounds just as bad as he did on the older cheapo headphones. What gives? Unless you aren't a Robbie fan, the music doesn't sound great because it isn't encoded to.

If you've already read MythTV made easy and want to take your media knowledge to the next level, read on for our guide to audio conversion with FFmpeg, Mplayer, HandBrake and more...

Code Project: Tower of Hanoi in Python

Code

If you've already followed our previous code projects and are using the weather for wallpaper, enjoying talking RSS feeds, running your own Ruby-powered web server and chatting to your own IRC bot, here's something new to try: we're going to show you how to make a Tower of Hanoi game using Python.

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