Reviewed: Mandriva 2009.1 Spring


Reviewed: Since its last release, Mandriva has undergone a few changes – many of which have rubbed the community up the wrong way. But when it comes to producing a general-purpose Linux distro, Mandriva always seems to pull it off. Its latest, Mandriva 2009.1 Spring, is haute couture, trend-setting stuff.

Open Ballot: do we need a standard package format?


We all know that "choice is good", but does that extend right the way down to the very fundamentals of our Linux lives? In our next podcast the Open Ballot question is this: should we standardise on a single package format, eg RPM or .deb?

If you haven't participated before, the rules of our Open Ballot are simple: we want you to answer the question with a simple yes or no, backed up with the deep insights and reasoning that led you to your answer. Do users really care about package formats? Would it make much of a difference even if we did have a standard? Please also provide a name other than "Anonymous Penguin", because it sounds silly when read out lots of times. Let us know what you think!

Linux Format 119 - on sale now!

Linux Format is the world's best Linux magazine. No, really.

The latest issue of Linux Format magazine is on sale from today. Yes, you can buy it across the world. Yes, even in Australia/Brazil/Norway/America/Wales.

Inside the issue you'll find all-new tips to help you work smarter with Linux, a hands-on guide to what makes Slackware as awesome as ever, a group test of Midnight Commander-alike file managers, an interview with Zeev Suraski from Zend, plus tutorials on, SSH tunnelling, Trickle, HomeBank, Gimp, ffmpeg and more.

In short, LXF119 covers the best the free software world has to offer, condensed down to 116 pages of magazine goodness. Click here to find out more about what's in the issue or, if your visits here have left you thinking, "wait a minute, if I had bought LXF I could have read this stuff months if not years ago" and you're desperate to part with your cash, click here to find out how to buy a copy - if you're in the US you should use the store locator for Barnes & Noble or Borders.

(NB: if you're a subscriber, you can download the PDFs for LXF119. If you're not a subscriber, what's taking you so long?)

An open letter to Mark Shuttleworth


Dear Mark,

Thanks for creating Ubuntu! Jaunty is the best release yet - stable, fast and full of features, just the way we like it. We particularly like the new notifications and the awesome new Screen tools that have been put in place. But there's one thing we don't like. In fact, there's one thing we think is colossally stupid, and we're hoping you'll give some thought to changing it to something smarter.

Group test: netbook distros


Ultraportable laptops – netbooks such as the Eee PC – are becoming increasingly popular. A computer that’s small enough to live permanently in your bag without giving you backache can be incredibly useful, especially as wireless connectivity and 3G hardware are growing in ubiquity.

Netbooks aren’t just consigned to disposable web surfing, though – they can rely on cloud computing services to provide you with a host of additional functionality. If you’ve never heard of cloud computing before, the idea behind it is that you’re able to store and use your data online, rather than on a local computer. That may sound confusing, but for commonly used examples of online apps that save data to remote servers, you need look no further than Google’s range of apps. The upshot of this is that all you require is an internet connection to have access and control over all your data, regardless of where you are.

If you already read our Ubuntu Netbook Remix review and decided it wasn't for you, read on to learn about four good alternative distros for your netbook...

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 hands-on


In episode 6 of our podcast we asked the question, "should netbook manufacturers standardise on a single distro?" Well, as netbook manufactuers continue to find ever more obscure distros to fit onto their systems, Canonical has stepped into the fray wielding a mighty cluestick: Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR).

When we interviewed Mark Shuttleworth a few weeks ago, he agreed that Ubuntu was late into the netbook arena. But the arrival of Jaunty Jackalope means that UNR has finally seen an official release, so there are lots of questions that need answering: how is it different from normal Ubuntu? How well does it work on average netbooks? And, most importantly, is it any good?

If you've already read our group test of netbook distros and want to know what Ubuntu can do to pull ahead ahead of the pack, you can read our full review of Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix below. Read on!

Geotagging with Linux


Geotagging photographs makes it possible to give your computer orders like “show me on a map where this picture was taken” or “find all my pictures taken within a three-mile radius of Buckingham Palace”. If you want to publish your pictures online, geotagging makes it possible to make your own maps hyperlinked to and from your online picture galleries or services like Flickr.

Digital cameras with integrated GPS sensors that automatically geotag every shot will become more and more affordable over the next few months, but that doesn't mean that there's no reason to learn how to do it yourself. Think about it for a moment: if you like the possibilities of geotagged pictures, the biggest obstacle you're likely to face is not the shots you'll take from your next holiday, but the thousands of pictures you have on your hard disk already. We're going to help fix that...

Podcast update: smaller files!


Thanks to your complaints suggestions, our sound engineers have gone over the first six of our podcasts and recompressed them to make them as teensy as possible. Hmm... that doesn't quite sound cool enough, so let's say they digitally remastered them. Yes, that's better.

Anyway, the podcasts could get even smaller, but we like keeping them in stereo because podcast junkies who listen with headphones on get to hear our voices in a neato stereo sound field. All our podcasts will be made to this smaller file size in the future, but if you've subscribed to the RSS feed for either the Ogg Vorbis podcast or the MP3 podcast you may get a little hiccup as the new files kick in - sorry!

If you're scratching your head and thinking, "what podcast?" then get with the agenda already: we produce the world's best Linux podcast every two weeks for your listening pleasure, so stop reading books as you commute to the office and instead enjoy our fornightly(!) update of Linux news, tips and ranting. But mostly ranting.

Podcast Season 1 Episode 7


Title: Setting Sun

In this episode: Ubuntu 9.04 is here and Renai LeMay says it's as slick as Mac OS X. We also get to play with the GP2X Wiz portable games console and ponder on the announcement that Oracle is going to buy Sun Microsystems. Our open ballot asks whether we should dump

TuxRadar originals


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.

And remember, TuxRadar is brought to you by Linux Format magazine - the #1 source for Linux news, reviews, tutorials and wit, available from all good magazine outlets worldwide. Click here for the latest subscription deals - starting at just $US99 for 13 issues!

How to choose the best Linux distro for you


At the time of writing, there are three hundred and twenty three distributions being tracked on There's one called Ehad. And another is called Estrella Roja. Many include the letter 'X' in their name, and many feature hand-drawn mascots and disparate communities. Not all are Linux-based, and not all are actively developed, but the overwhelming majority are. This is the world of choice, and it's a world made possible by free and open source software.

Choice is the best thing about Linux. Without choice, we may as well use an operating system where the developers make those choices for us. As we've covered in the past, anyone can create a Linux distribution. If it is different enough, it will survive, but most disappear without a trace. There is a flip side to all this choice however, and that's finding the time to find the perfect distribution for you. You really need to try several before setting on the one you prefer, and downloading, installing and testing a Linux distribution takes a lot of time.

Write your own web browser


Our cohorts at PC Plus have been particularly prolific with their Linux content recently, explaining how to create your own distro and build a Linux-powered cluster. Now they've turned to programming, with a tutorial on writing a portable web browser with Qt and WebKit. Thanks to the drag-and-drop goodness of Qt Creator, coupled with the embeddability of WebKit, writing a simple browser doesn't require a zillion lines of code. It's a great project if you want to get started with Qt.

LVM made easy

Command line

Imagine you had a magic knife that would allow you to slice a loaf of bread and spread some butter on the slices. There's nothing magical about that, is there? Now imagine this knife will let you join the bread slices together again or make them thinner without affecting the butter. This is exactly what a technology called Logical Volume Manger (LVM) enables you to do. The loaf is your disk, the slices are the disk partitions, the butter is any filesystem and LVM is the magic knife.

If you enjoyed our articles Virtualisation Made Easy, MythTV Made Easy and Find Files the Easy Way, then read on to take your skills a bit further with LVM!

Hands on with the GP2X Wiz


Our GP2X Wiz finally arrived and, although we've literally only had this Linux-powered handheld in our grubby mitts for an hour, we wanted to give you our first impressions. You may recall the original GP2X, a Korean-manufactured portable media player and retro gaming box - well, the GP2X Wiz bumps it up a few notches in power and design.

The GP2X Wiz is smaller and faster than the original GP2X.

Open Ballot: Time to dump


We all enjoy moaning about how slow is, but is it time we voted with our package managers and ditched OOo in favour of lighter office apps, such as AbiWord and KOffice?

As always, we're looking for a yes or no, backed up with your thoughts/prejudice/fear. What keeps you using OOo? Should distros come with lighter alternatives as standard? Please also provide a name other than "Anonymous Penguin", because we're sick of reading that out. Let us know what you think!

ReactOS 0.3.9 boasts insanely huge speedups

Operating systems

Naturally we focus mostly on Linux here at TuxRadar HQ, but we keep tabs on the wider open source world too. For the last few years we've been intrigued by the progress of ReactOS, a free software Windows implementation that could one day give Microsoft the chills. Well, ReactOS 0.3.9 is now here, with major performance improvements, initial sound support and the latest WINE DLLs for improved compatibility. Summary after the break.

Group test: project planners


Computer-based project management and planning (PM for short) is a strange beast. Real geeks love to hate it: "What planning and deadlines? We'll release when it's ready!" PM, however, is vital in all large organisations and remains one of the reasons that keeps many desktop users locked into their old proprietary operating system - Microsoft Project does after all, run only on Microsoft Windows.

Don't despair, however. If you were suffering in silence because you thought you couldn't draw a Gantt chart or an RBS diagram on Linux, you were wrong. In this article we'll present five project managers that are aimed at non-geek desktop users. They're all programs that can work without an internet connection or relying on external servers, so their installation is really easy, even if they aren't already included in your preferred Linux distro.

Creating local backups of TuxRadar


Listen, guys, we know you like our articles, and we're flattered that so many people use tools like Wget to take a copy of our entire website for their offline use, but please be nice about it. We're happy for you to take a local copy if you really want to - please, go ahead, and we hope you learn a lot from our articles.

All we ask is that you set your software to leave at least a five-second delay between page requests so that you're less likely to affect performance for other users. When one of our articles appears on high-traffic sites such as Digg or Reddit, a lot of visitors come our way in a short space of time, and if several people are simultaneously getting their offline mirror software to download 200 articles plus pictures in 10 seconds, it's not really fair on other users.

So, you have our blessing to copy our content for your offline use. We appreciate that not everyone has 24/7 internet access, and we want to help as many people learn to love Linux as we can. But in return, we ask that you put a delay on your software so that it doesn't bombard our site with requests.


Code Project: Build an Ncurses UI with Python


Picture the scene: you're logged into a remote server via SSH, or you've installed a new graphics card and you're left staring at the command line. You need to enter a command, but you can't remember the zillion options that go along with it. You're stuck - all you can do is consult the manual pages and pore through pages of waffling technical gobbledygook. We've all been there, and no matter how experienced you are with Linux, sometimes you need to accomplish a job quickly without sifting through masses of reading material.

In this coding project, we're going to solve this problem - and have fun along the way! We'll show you how to write a dialog-based program that gives you options one-by-one so that you don't need to consult the man pages. In this guide, we'll show you how to write a nifty front-end for the useradd utility, a command which (unsurprisingly) lets you add user accounts to your Linux installation. Like many administration tools, useradd requires a long string of options and parameters; we're going to make it much simpler by creating an interactive dialog-driven version called UserMaster.

Benchmarked: Firefox 3.5 beta 4


Previously we've told you that Firefox performance on Linux sucks, and, worse, that even Windows Firefox running on Wine is faster than Linux Firefox, so as Firefox 3.5 edges slowly (very slowly!) closer to release, we joined in the Firefox 3.5b4 testday to see how performance is coming along in these later development stages...

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