Solve your own Linux problems


We've been relatively quiet over the last few weeks, because we've been busy pulling together 60 issues of Linux Format magazine, converting all the reader questions and answers about Linux into web-friendly formats. Fortunately, that work is now done, so we're proud to present the TuxRadar Linux Answers Archive - a searchable database of over 700 common Linux problems and their solutions from the last five years.

The goal of this project is pretty straightforward. Even though we know many of these questions aren't relevant to the majority of users any more (unless you're still running Mandrake 10.1!), we know what it's like when you encounter obscure problems in Linux and Google searches aren't turning up the goods. And so, if even only a few hundred people are helped using all these Linux solutions, it will still have been worth the effort.

So, dive in, take a look around, ping us on or Twitter if there are any egregious errors (although we'd rather not hear about typos simply because we have more important things to be doing!), and pass the URL on to friends if they have trouble:

Linux frequently asked questions for newbies


Many Linux users pride themselves on being highly technical geeks. And, while that's great for finding people to contribute code patches to projects, it means that a lot of first-time Linux users get branded a "newbie" and are made to feel stupid when they ask fundamental questions about things we take for granted.

To be blunt, that situation sucks. If people have honest questions about Linux, we need to be helping them find answers, and we need to do so without sarcastic comments, without "RTFM" and without telling people "just use Google."

Here at TuxRadar, and in the magazine behind the website, Linux Format, we get a lot of really basic questions from new users. We've taken the most common questions and printed them verbatim below, providing Plain English answers along the way, trying to simplify technical information as much as we can. We didn't write the questions, so more experienced users might look at them and think "wow, that's a stupid question," but if you're a newbie asking Linux questions or if you have friends asking you questions that you don't have time to answer, we hope this information will prove useful.

NB: if you have technical questions about Linux, we have an archive of common Linux problems and their solutions - you should check there first.

Open Ballot: Should we embrace Microsoft's open source work?


Want to contribute your views to our podcast? Sure you do, and here's your chance to have a say: do you think we should embrace Microsoft's new-found open source policies, or should we keep them at arm's length? Recently Microsoft has announced the CodePlex Foundation for supporting its own open source code, it has contributed code to the Linux kernel, it has announced that .NET is available under its community promise, and much more. Should we be afraid, or should be happy to take support and code from anywhere as long as it's open?

Our usual Open Ballot rules apply: please state either "yes" or "no" backed up by some sort of cogent reasoning, and give yourself a name that's a bit more original than Anonymous Penguin otherwise we're quite likely - no, very likely - to ignore your intellectual meanderings.

NB: our podcast will be coming out on Thursday this week rather than Wednesday. Can you hold out that long? Can you?

Open Ballot: Are distro release cycles too short?


Back by popular demand, it's our Open Ballot. This is an opportunity to air your views on the important Linux issues of the day, which we'll be chewing over in our regular podcast. We'll read out the most incisive/witty/flamebaity responses on the show, so get posting!

The question is: with many distros adopting a six-monthly release cycle, is this a good or bad thing? Should we be looking at longer development phases so that there are bigger changes between releases, and users don't have to upgrade so often? Or perhaps you think six months is not rapid enough – maybe you'd rather have three months, or abandon releases altogether and just have rolling upgrades. Let us know what you think!

TuxRadar originals


It's been a busy few months here at TuxRadar HQ, largely because it's summer so we spend our time playing cards and drinking cider.

If you too have spent far too much time away from your computer and thus have missed out on the great stuff we've put online in the last few weeks, this is your chance to catch up: here's our pick of unmissable features from recent weeks.

If you've made it through that entire list and are still thirsty for more Free Software goodness, then we challenge you to read our article "100 Open Source Gems" (part two is here) and install as many apps as you can.

Of course, there's much more still to come - you should 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!

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!

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...

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?

Ubuntu: brought to you by Microsoft


...or at least so says Dell on their website. This neat little netbook apparently comes with a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 8GB of disk space, and the, er, well-known Microsoft operating system Ubuntu 8.04.

Microscobuntu 8.04

Thanks to submitter, Chris Brown.

Open Ballot: should geeks boycott closed systems?


Sure, the iPhone is shiny, the Xbox 360 has some good games and the Tivo is very useful, but should Free Software geeks resist from buying them because they're all closed platforms, or is it more important to use what works regardless of how it is licensed?

That's the Open Ballot we'll be recording for our next podcast, so if you'd like to contribute your views to the discussion all you have to do is post your answers below. Remember: use a username other than "Anonymous Penguin" otherwise we'll ignore you, and please try to explain your reasoning at least a little!

Addendum: Is a system "open" just because it has an SDK, or does the whole thing need to be open? Is the ability to run apps on an iPhone using Apple's SDK good enough, or is there no point being able to run some code on a non-free base system?

Open Ballot: should we thin the licensing herd?


Everyone knows the GPL and what it stands for, but it has many friends in the free software world - the LGPL, the BSD licence, the MIT licence, the artistic licence, the Creative Commons family, the Apache licence, the PHP licence, the Python licence, plus licences from Sun, Microsoft, IBM and many, many more all having been accepted by the Open Source Foundation.

Our Open Ballot for this fortnight asks, "should we as the open source community be trying to reduce the number of licences?" Is "choice is good" a valid answer for software licensing, or are we just hurting ourselves by fragmenting usage terms? Should more work be done to make licences interoperable? Tell us your answer below, and please make sure you use something other than "Anonymous Penguin" otherwise it's likely your words of wisdom will be ignored!

Follow us on Identica and Twitter


We post a lot of great content here on TuxRadar, with "How to choose the best Linux distro for you", "Ubuntu 9.04: 32-bit vs 64-bit benchmarks" and "Virtualisation made easy" all having been popular in the last couple of weeks alone. So why take the risk of missing something?

Follow us on or Twitter and find out about all our articles the second we publish them. You can also join in with your views on the free software topics of the day, or just send us cool links you think we might like - we're always open for a chat!

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?)

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.

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!

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!

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.


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