Ubuntu Format magazine: on sale now!

LXF

While visiting Mark Shuttleworth to record our podcast with him, Mark agreed to give his backing to an idea we've been experimenting with for some time. So it's with great excitement that we can now announce the launch of Ubuntu Format magazine: your #1 resource for Ubuntu news, reviews and tutorials.

Ubuntu to rewrite Linux kernel using Mono

TuxRadar

Mark Shuttleworth, the Benevolent Dictator for Life of the popular Ubuntu Linux distro, has announced his plans to rewrite all of Gnome, X11 and the Linux kernel using the Mono platform.

Podcast Season 1 Episode 5

Podcast
Title: Space Shuttle

Guest presenter: Mark Shuttleworth

In this episode: We celebrate the release of Gnome 2.26 and talk about the Chromium browser. Could the Linux community have done more to capitalise on the weak take-up of Windows Vista, and how can we prepare ourselves for Windows 7? And is it a good thing to have two competing desktop environments?

Exploring filters and pipes

Command line

When many newbies first encounter Linux, the 'cool stuff' that often gets their attention is the incredible array of command line tools, and something called a pipe that allowed you to connect them together. Together, these provide an incredibly powerful component-based architecture designed to process streams of text-based data.

If you've never dabbled with filters and pipes before, or perhaps you've just been too scared, we want to help you out, so read on to learn how you can make powerful Linux commands just by stringing smaller bits together...

Free books!

TuxRadar

While we're busy working on each issue of Linux Format magazine, we get sent a huge number of books to read and review in the magazine. But once we're finished with them, where do they all go? The answer is: into a huge pile. And now a small part of that huge pile can be yours, because we're giving away free books to people who ask for them.

How PAM works

Security

PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) is one of those dark corners of Linux where most users don't venture - in fact, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of Linux users don't even know what it is. And yet, PAM is at the heart of every single thing in Linux to do with authentication.

Take our guided tour of PAM, join our science lab and perform our experiments (no bunsen burner necessary!) and see how PAM gives you fine-grain control over your security policy.

Group test: getting things done apps

Apps

Turning to time management software to organise your life is fine, just as long as it doesn't become another obstacle to actually Getting Things Done. David Allen's decision to give his time management method the acronym GTD is a good omen, then.

Another is that GTD has more cultists than GNU Emacs. The common faith goes like so: dump everything you must do out of your head and into a trusted system based on next actions, regular reviews and a 'tickler', which remembers everything and magically shows what you have to do next. That way you'll be much more productive.

Nagios made easy

Apps

In depth: What's the best way to monitor multiple Linux servers for configuration errors, high load or other problems? The answer is Nagios, which is a fantastic (and free!) networking monitoring system that lets you track multiple servers (HTTP, SMTP, SSH and more) across multiple machines, all backed by a neat user interface.

Nagios gives you an unbeatable overview of all your machines, meaning that you can fix upcoming problems before they turn critical and be certain that you're not missing anything about your network. The basic structure of Nagios is pretty simple: you set up one machine as your Nagios server, and it gathers information on the client machines you point it at, then displays it in a neat web page format. Read on to learn how to get started with Nagios on your own network!

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?

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