New releases catch-up

Apps

Here's some recent updates for those of you too busy to hit F5 on Freshmeat every 10 seconds. Ardour 2.8 is now available featuring track and bus templates, distributable VST support and AudioUnit state saving -- stuff which has to be cool if you're into digital audio. Gnumeric 1.9.5 brings everyone's favourite non-OOo spreadsheet closer to 2.0 with bugfixes en masse, while HardInfo 0.5 displays a shedload more details about your system, and remains the essential fact-gathering tool when you need to get Linux help. Some more updates after the break.

BitDefender Antivirus for Unices

Enterprise

Reviewed: Just because you use Linux, it doesn't mean your computer doesn't have viruses or worms. They are just lying dormant, embedded in the EXE files on the NTFS partitions, or hiding beside those DLLs on the dual-boot computers, waiting for you to send them to your Windows-using friends.

Unless you sadistically enjoy seeing your non-Linux peers suffer, you should act responsibly and get yourself an anti-virus scanner that runs on Linux. One such is the latest BitDefender Antivirus Scanner For Unices. If you agree to use it on your home computers only, you can have it for free - that's free as in freeware, not Richard Stallman free.

Free Linux DVDs for schools and unis

LXF

Here at LXF Towers we have a bunch of spare DVDs from previous issues of the magazine, and we'd love to get them into the hands of potential Linux convertees. They include Fedora 10, Ubuntu 8.10, CentOS 5.2 and Mandriva One 2009. If you work at a school, college or university and want to distribute them amongst students, email Mike DOT Saunders AT futurenet DOT com with the school/uni's address and we'll put some discs in the post.

Now, because we don't know how many people will request discs, we can't guarantee the amounts we'll send out. So we'll wait a week for all requests to come in and then split up the DVDs accordingly. Any questions? Just post a comment!

Update: the discs have been sent out. We'll do another run sometime in the future -- watch this space!

Find files the easy way

Command line

One way of estimating the relative importance of the tasks that folk use Linux for would be to count the number of different applications that have been written to perform each of those tasks. Given the rather large number of programs that exist for "finding stuff", we might conclude that the thing users do most often is to lose it in the first place!

In this tutorial you'll learn how to find files on the command line by specifying all sorts of different search criteria.

Code Project: Make talking RSS feeds

Code

On the face of it, writing a script/program to download and parse an RSS feed, and from there send news items to a speech synthesizer, sounds ambitious - even for TuxRadar. But as it turns out, it's actually rather straightforward.

Principally, this is thanks to three technologies, Python, Festival and Linux. Python, the world-dominating scripting language par-excellence makes it easy to construct a script without too much thought or effort. The open source Festival Speech Synthesis System sounds fantastic, and can be installed with just a couple of clicks from your distribution's package manager. And Linux itself; without its powerful pipes and process scheduling, we'd have to spend a lot more time writing that functionality into our program, and we'd also need to add a GUI to make it all easily accessible.

Luckily, all we need to do is write a small Python script and use a little command line magic to tie all these things together. We're going to write a simple script in Python that will output plain text news stories than can then be piped into Festival, which will then speak the news through your speaker or headphones. This gives you maximum flexibility. This two-pronged approach (Python script piped to Festival) can be modified to suit almost any purpose. In less than an hour, you'll be able to sit back and listen to the dulcet tones of a female voice synthesizer reading the latest happenings from TuxRadar.com.

Diagnose and fix network problems yourself

Networking

A recent and typical case of Linux network failure was the friend who rang up to say his "network had stopped". As error reports go, this is on a par with the classic Apollo 13 line "Houston, we've had a problem", though a little less life-threatening. Luckily, Linux has a goodly collection of network tools to help us figure out exactly what had gone wrong. (To eliminate any stress-inducing suspense, let me reveal that we eventually discovered that he had been disconnected by his ISP as a result of forgetting to renew his subscription.)

So, follow along with us now as we review some of the network diagnostic tools in Linux and see how to use them to get answers to the question "what's wrong with my network?"

Red Hat: no money in desktop Linux

Red Hat

No mincing of words here. Ever since Red Hat dropped its Linux boxed set in favour of Fedora, the company has demonstrated a lack of interest in the mainstream desktop. Now, at the InfoWorld Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has reaffirmed his company's position on Linux for the masses.

Code Project: Build a mouse game with Python

Code

Most modern games take thousands of man-hours to create, not to mention an army of artists and musicians, but there's still some scope for solitary hacker to write something entertaining. After all, it didn't take a team of 500 coders and a Hollywood movie-set budget to create Tetris - Alexey Pajitnov managed pretty well on his own (until various filthy capitalist running-dogs of the West ran off with his idea, of course...)

In this tutorial, you're going to learn how to make a really simple mouse game with Python. If this is the first coding tutorial you've read - and you've certainly never written a line of Python code before - you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to understand; Python code is famous throughout the programming world for being very much self-explanatory.

SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 is here

SUSE

Novell's epic-length press release for SLE11 just landed in our inboxes, and there are a few interesting points worth picking out. Read on for Novell's corporate take on the recession, Microsoft .NET, virtualisation and cloud computing...

Kernel 2.6.29 released, with new logo

Kernel

We love a new kernel release as much as anybody. Especially when it includes a shedload of new features such as the Btrfs file system, video mode setting (to simplify interaction between X and the kernel) and a new 'no journal' mode for ext4. Oh, and full support for 4,096 CPUs -- we'll get round to building that rig later. But best of all, to highlight the plight of Tasmanian Devils in Australia, Linus has rolled in a change to the boot-up logo. For this release you won't see our favourite plucky penguin; instead, you get this little guy. Torvalds' announcement after the break.

Free Software on Windows and Mac

Apple

In depth: There's a long running argument between two opposing groups of open source advocates. Does the availability of free software for a proprietary platform promote or inhibit open source adoption?

Some, such as Richard Stallman, argue that running free and open source software (FOSS) on OSes such as Microsoft's Windows or Apple's OS X gives people one less reason to switch to GNU/Linux. Others feel that the availability of free GPLed software gives people a taste of software that may be otherwise out of reach, promoting the quality and diversity of open source development.

But is there really enough cross-platform free software out there to tempt users?

Open Ballot: KDE and Gnome

Gnome

We're already planning the fifth installment in our podcast series, and our open ballot topic this time is going to be that old flamewar veterans' favourite battleground: KDE and Gnome. But we're not interested in which one's best; we want to know whether it's a good thing for Linux to have two major desktops. Is it a pointless duplication of effort that confuses newbies with multiple toolkits, or does the right to choice trump all other considerations? Post your thoughts below!

Please note: if you're posting without a user account, please be sure to change Anonymous Penguin to something else. And no matter how you post, please take the time to explain your views!

Arduino hardware hacking: Part 1

Code

Arduino is cool. It's cool because it's a tiny device - about three inches by two inches - that comes with a USB port and a programmable chip. It's cool because you can program it using a very simple programming language known as Wiring.

But most of all, it's cool because the entire reference design for the hardware is available under a Creative Commons licence, so you're free to build your own if you want to. However, that's probably a little extreme for most people, which is why you can also buy pre-built Arduino boards that are ready for action and available at very low prices.

In this tutorial, the first part of a mini-series, you'll learn all you need to get started with Arduino hardware hacking...

TuxRadar by the numbers

TuxRadar

It's been about six weeks since we went live, and thanks to Apache log files and Google Analytics we've got a nice collection of data about the kinds of people who visit. We thought you might like to know just who comes to a Linux news and tutorials site, so let's dive into the numbers and see what we can find...

Detox your Linux box!

Backup

Let's get one thing straight - we're not saying that Linux isn't stable. There are Linux servers that have been running for years without a single reboot. But things are slightly different for desktop users. The problem is that we like to install things. Lots of things. In fact, you only need look at the average Linux package manager selection to see that one of the main reasons people use Linux is because there's a massive library of things to install.

And if someone hasn't developed the tools you want, then there are many users who are prepared to try and write their own. The net effect on the average Linux installation is that things will eventually start to break. It might not be in the first six months, or even the first year, but there will be a point when things start to fail. The detritus from two years of wanton package installation and compiling things from source will start to clog the smooth running of your system.

LTSP: Thin clients made easy

Enterprise

In depth: One of the main advantages of using LTSP is its cost-effectiveness. Instead of 30 mid-range computers for a classroom or office, you buy one high-end machine and 30 cheap terminals. The terminals don't even need to be new computers, as the hardware requirements are so low that old hardware can be reused instead of thrown away. When the time comes for a hardware upgrade - to cope with more resource-intensive programs, for example - only the server needs to be upgraded, with the terminals carrying on doing the same job as before.

In this tutorial we're going to show you how to install LTSP on your distro of choice, then configure thin clients to connect up to the server with the minimum of fuss.

New Coding section launches

TuxRadar

In the seven weeks we've been running since launch, we've put up great some coding tutorials using PHP, Python, Perl, C# and Ruby, but it's easy for them to get lost in the mix. So, to help point out the best coding content we have to offer, we've just put up a new Code section - make sure you check it out!

If you prefer the old-style listing of articles, just change your bookmark to www.tuxradar.com/codearchive. Or if you just want to keep track of the coding projects as we put them online, bookmark www.tuxradar.com/codeprojects.

Happy hacking!

Code Project: Create a web server in Ruby

Code

Most of us are aware of Ruby through its modern-day Ruby on Rails incarnation, which is a framework for developing large-scale websites. This has been used on talked-about websites such as the Basecamp, Jobster and 43 Things sites and is shipped with the latest version of OS X, Leopard.

Given Ruby's very recent step into the coding limelight, it's surprising how long the language has been in development: since 1993! Created by Yukihiro Matsumoto, Ruby was first released to the world in 1995, and was designed to reduce the menial work that programmers typically have to put in. Why should we have to battle with the syntax of a language when what we want to achieve is really very simple?

Gnome 2.26 arrives

Gnome

Fresh in time for upcoming Ubuntu and Fedora releases, the Gnome team has sent 2.26 out into the world. Brasero, a disc burning tool, has found itself a permanent home in the desktop, while Evolution can import PST folders from Microsoft Outlook and the Empathy IM client now supports file transfers. There's also an Awesome Bar-like menu in Epiphany and a new volume control tool that supports PulseAudio. Read the release announcement after the break, and see this page for screenshots of all the lovely new features. Rock on.

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