How to set up your own Linux media server


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Get started with Fetchmail, Procmail and Dovecot


Having already shown you how to run your own web server using Apache, we'll now turn our attention to the most important application of networking: email. Running your own mail server may seem like overkill, but there are a number of good reasons for doing so. And if you consider yourself well-versed in the lore of sysadmin, this is definitely a topic you need to be comfortable with. Read on!

Win a subscription to Linux Format magazine


In Episode 12 of our podcast, Mike sang the Free Software song. If you want the chance to win a free subscription to Linux Format magazine - that's 13 issues delivered to your door wherever you are in the world, plus access to all our back issues as PDFs - read on...

Reviewed: AVG Anti-virus 8.5 for Linux


As long as NTFS partitions continue to sprawl over heterogeneous networks, anti-virus companies will dole out scanners for Linux. No surprise then that AVG Technologies, makers of the popular AVG Anti-Virus, has a scanner that runs on Linux in its latest 8.5 series bouquet.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 for Linux (hereafter abbreviated to AVG Free) isn't AVG's first scanner for Linux. The company has released binaries for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures for Linux and FreeBSD, and the scanner itself is loaded with features up to the brim. Despite all this, it is utterly useless for the intended audience.

Hands on with Mint 7


Now in its seventh iteration, codenamed Gloria, Linux Mint aims to bring easy-to-use Linux to the masses. It's based upon the ubiquitious Ubuntu, and as such it shares many of the same features; the installation routine, for example, is virtually identical and takes under 30 minutes to complete. However, there is far more to Mint than just Ubuntu minus the brown colour scheme.

If you read our guide to choosing the best Linux distro for you and want to know why this new release of Linux Mint is worth trying, read on to find out why we gave it a 9/10 rating...

Podcast Season 1 Episode 12


Title: Mike's Song

In this episode: Mono is finally safe to use while the HTML 5 specification is causing trouble. Canonical's Design and User Experience team launch the One Hundred Paper Cuts project for their next distro release and do version numbers really matter?

Group test: screencasting apps


Screencasts - digital movies with the desktop as a backdrop, the mouse as the protagonist and a voiceover - have become an integral part of electronic learning and form the basis of the computer-based training industry. As bandwidth becomes affordable and video-sharing websites start popping up, there's a huge influx of free and open source tools.

Not all tools follow the same methodology of capturing activity on your screen. Some rely on desktop sharing services such as VNC, some take a series of screenshots in quick succession and stitch them together into a video. Some give you the option to select an output format, and some will spew the video in patent-free formats only. Using these tools you can screencast your complete desktop or a particular window. Some enable you to narrate audio along with your videos and others don't.

Which to choose? Read on for our group test of the best screencasting apps available for Linux...

Organise your music with Picard


Organising your digital music collection can be a Herculean effort. Yet when you have several gigabytes of tracks to sift through, your only chance of finding what you want to hear is if your music files are properly tagged.

Don't panic if your machine can't tell Barry White apart from the White Stripes, though: the creators of Picard feel your pain. That's why, by the time Picard is finished with your music collection, each file will know the album it belongs to, the artist who performed it, its track number within the album and a host of other details.

Microsoft makes Mono tastier


Here's some news to pacify (perhaps) the anti-Mono crowd: Microsoft will apply its Community Promise to the C# language and CLI execution framework. Essentially, this means that anyone can implement a C# compiler and the CLI without the threat of Microsoft jumping in and throwing patent claims around.

Open Ballot: Do version numbers matter?


We'll soon be recording podcast episode 12, and our big debate is about version numbers. After the fun and flamewars surrounding KDE 4.0 and KOffice 2.0 - major version number bumps for "developer-focused" releases - we're wondering if the system needs to change. Why is Window Maker still at version 0.92, despite being stable for years? Should we have more 1.0s to make free software appear more complete and mature? Or should we just scrap major/minor numbers and follow the lead of less, which is at version 429?

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