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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

Managing your log files

LXF

Are you responsible for any Linux systems that are important to the running of your business? A web server, database server or mail server, perhaps, or some edge-of-network appliance like a firewall? If so, it's important to monitor the health of these machines, and the log files are perhaps your first port of call. Log files can tell you if things are misconfigured, alert you to break-in attempts, or simply reassure you that all is well.

In this tutorial we'll begin by taking a peek inside a few log files to get a hint about the kind of stuff you'll find there: then we'll move on to examine some tools for summarising and managing the files.

TuxRadar originals

TuxRadar

If you've been too busy to visit the site every day, relax - here's our pick of unmissable features from recent days.

  1. Take the Linux Filesystem Tour
  2. Compile source code - and solve problems
  3. Programming languages that melt your brain
  4. Group test: note takers
  5. From the archives: the best window managers of 2000

Plus there's much more to come - add us to your bookmarks or subscribe to 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 the Linux kernel works

Linux

In depth: My trusty Oxford Dictionary defines a kernel as "a softer, usually edible part of a nut" but offers as a second meaning: "The central or most important part of something." (Incidentally, it's this first definition that gives rise to the contrasting name 'shell', meaning, in Linux-speak, a command interpreter.) In case you're a bit hazy on what a kernel actually does, we'll start with a bit of theory.

Take the Linux Filesystem Tour

LXF

Well, hello! Welcome to the Linux Filesystem Tour. My name is Manuel Page, and I will be your guide today. I and my bus driver, Hal D., are very pleased to have you on board. Just a couple of safety announcements before we start off - please keep your hands inside the bus at all times, and don't delete anything you might see along the way, unless you're sure you know what you're doing. OK, off we go!

Compile source code - and solve problems

LXF

Building software from source - that's a bit old-school, isn't it? Who wants to wrestle with the command line, hunting down dependencies and coaxing the GCC compiler into running properly? Well, it does sound like a strange thing to do in this world of binary packages and online repositories.

We have thousands of packages available via the internet, all neatly compiled for our distros, thereby usually nullifying the need to get down and dirty with a Makefile. Or so it seems... Read on to find out why you may want to compile a program from its source code, and deal with the problems that can crop up.

Programming languages that melt your brain

Code

In their day-to-day jobs, coders naturally focus on the more commonly used languages, such as C++, PHP and Python, but there are plenty of more left-field choices, such as Ruby and assembly, that are well worth learning to broaden your coding knowledge. Now we're going to have fun with some really esoteric languages, all of which are so fabulously crazy and entertaining to try that you'll look at programming in a completely different way.

Before continuing, you should know we'll be assuming you have a general programming background; that said, even if you've never written a line of code in your life, you'll still find some of the concepts here compellingly mind-twisting. You wouldn't want to use any of these languages to write any large, complicated applications, but you'll learn a lot about the makeup of programming languages. Plus C, for all its fiddliness, will seem like a gorgeous paradise once you've spent some time in these foreign lands...

Renoise 2.0

Apps

Reviewed: Soundtrackers are cool. They let musicians create music in a style reminiscent of the way assembler programmers write code. Notes become numbers and timing becomes a position in a list. Renoise is a proprietary sound tracker for Windows, OS X and Linux with a mostly functional demo version. But does it live up to the memory of OctaMED? Read on...

Group test: note takers

Apps

Paper - don't you just hate it? We live in the 'information age', and yet the much promised era of the paperless office still seems decades away. Our desks are cluttered with notes, reminders and scraps of random information that desperately need to be sorted, but it's hard to find the time.

You've probably tried the brute-force method of computerising your notes: keeping a plain text file (or word processor document) on your desktop, ready at hand to tap in phone numbers, reminders and other tidbits that you need to store in a hurry.

This system works fairly well at first, but it soon becomes unwieldy. As much as you try to keep notes together in categories and purge expired information when necessary, eventually you end up with a morass of data that's impossibly hard to manage. Sure, it's a slightly better system than playing 'hunt the Post-It Note', and it certainly saves on trees, but there has to be a more elegant solution...

From the archives: the best window managers of 2000

LXF

A lot people read and enjoyed our previous article, "From the archives: the best distros of 2000", so we had a hunt around in the dark, damp cellar where old copies of Linux Format magazine live, and dug up another gem, this time from issue 2: a group test of the best window managers, complete with screenshots. Read on!

How to fix the most common Linux problems

Linux
Fix Linux!

We'll come right out and say this - Linux breaks. There, we've got that off our chests. No matter how much we might like our chosen distro, there is no denying that things can go wrong, or that it might not even be right in the first place.

Of course, Linux distros are not alone in this - a computer system is a huge, complex collection of interacting software and hardware, even more so when the basic install includes several gibibytes of extra software over and above the OS.

We can't show you solutions for every problem that might arise, but we can show some of the common issues people face and, more importantly, show you how to go about identifying a problem. One more thing to bear in mind as you're reading is that even if you can't work out the solution yourself, an accurate description of the problem will be of great help when asking others for advice.

Open source microbloggers you should follow

TuxRadar

If you're a fan of Identi.ca or Twitter and want to follow the alpha geeks of the free sofware world, we've put together a list of people to make it easy for you to find them.

Automate Linux with Cron and Anacron

LXF

How's your Greek? Did you know that Χρόνος (chronos) means 'time'? Sure you did! And in Greek mythology, Chronos was the god of the ages, the personification of time. Hence we have words like chronometer and chronology. Given that programmers have never been famous for being that great at spelling, we also have Cron – a Linux service that arranges for actions to take place at specific times.

In this tutorial you'll learn how to configure Cron to schedule your own jobs, and how to make sense of the Cron configuration that comes with your Linux distribution. Cron is great for machines that are left running continuously, but in the second half of the tutorial we'll look at its younger sister, Anacron, which may be more appropriate for personal computers that spend a lot of their time switched off.

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