Learn Python with our free tutorials


If you're a beginner who wants to learn Python programming, you've come to the right place. If you're a more advanced coder who wants to push their skills even further, we've got your covered there too. Below you'll find our list of code projects for Python: tutorials that help you learn Python without boring you to death with hello world nonsense - we want to help you learn how to Make Cool Things, and you'll learn along the way.

We'll be adding more tutorials as time goes by, but for now just jump in - click here to visit our Python tutorials page and get started!

(PS: if you're looking for all our coding tutorials regardless of language, visit our programming tutorials section)

Code Project: monitor /proc with Python and Clutter


If you already read our beginner's guide to the Clutter toolkit and wished it were available in something other than C, then good news: we're putting together a tutorial series covering PyClutter, the Python binding to Clutter, which merges all the power and beauty of the Clutter toolkit with the simplicity and brevity of Python.

So, let's start with a simple project to get things going: you're going to produce a network monitor that monitors data transfer and displays it all on the screen using Clutter. It's nice and easy, but we're going to be adding more involved PyClutter tutorials in the coming months, so you should get started while the learning curve is shallow!

A newbie's guide to Fedora 12


Sometimes it's easy to forget that we all had to start somewhere with Linux. When you're not used to the way it works, or the kind of concepts involved, Linux can seem like a foreign language. If you're struggling with free software, or if you know someone who needs help making the switch to Linux, we hope this feature will help.

Fedora is a great choice of distribution to start with. It's easy to install and just as easy to use. It's one of the most well-respected distributions available, and has a very tight relationship with its parent and chief sponsor, Red Hat. With Fedora, you have access to one of the largest communities in the world of Linux, and one of the the biggest selections of software to play with. In this mini-feature, we're going to walk you through your first steps installing and using Fedora 12 so that everyone can get started and have fun in the Linux community.

(If this really is your first time using Linux, you might want to read our extensive Linux newbie FAQ before you start, then, when you're up and running, check out our guide to fixing Linux problems yourself. Finally, place a bookmark to our searchable archive of Linux solutions - you never know when it might come in handy...)

Podcast Season 2 Episode 1


Title: Oleophobia

In this episode: Three quarters of the Linux kernel code is written by developers being paid to do so and Facebook transforms PHP performance. We promise to give up the command line for two weeks and ask whether Ubuntu is wrong to switch the default search engine in Firefox from Google to Yahoo. Plus, we introduce two new sections.

Get the best virus scanner for Linux

Group Test

Pretty much every Linux user thinks they're immune to viruses, but they're wrong. Just recently, malware was found hidden inside an innocuous-looking Gnome theme from a reputable site. Users who installed the theme also got several scripts installed as root that were designed to attack internet targets, but it could easily have been much worse.

You see, the problem with thinking that Linux is immune is that sooner or later, something like this happens, and you'll have no protection. Yes, 99% of the time you won't need it. Maybe even 99.9% of the time. But if a virus checker saves you just once a year, we think that's a good enough reason to install one.

(For a second opinion from another reviewer, check our reviews of BitDefender and AVG Anti-virus.)

OpenBallot: Ubuntu + Yahoo = evil?


As you probably already know, Firefox in Ubuntu 10.04 will use Yahoo as its default search engine because Canonical has struck a revenue-sharing deal with Yahoo. This potentially leaves us with a small dilemma: if you're an Ubuntu user then you probably want to help support the distro at least a little, but on the flip side Microsoft Bing is the search engine behind Yahoo, which means using the default means supporting Microsoft.

So, we're looking for your input: will you give Yahoo+Bing a try and help Ubuntu a little, or will changing to Google be the first thing you do on any 10.04 machine? Perhaps more importantly, is Canonical's move a step away from its free software roots while also arguably providing users with inferior search results by default, or just sound business sense?

Post your comments below, make your answers clear, and please provide a name other than Anonymous Penguin otherwise we're likely to ignore you. (NB: we'll be releasing the first podcast of season 2 on Thursday.)

Build a Linux distro via the net


Building your own Linux distribution sounds like a hair-raising experience, and it would be if you had to compile every source file from scratch with no guidance. Thankfully, though, the OpenSUSE folks have made it much simpler with their SUSE Studio build service, as our friends at PC Plus explain. With just a few mouse clicks you can generate your own custom version of OpenSUSE - and even test it inside a web browser! Good going.

Introducing TermBuilder - a Linux command line generator

Command line

If you're a Linux newbie who wants to learn a bit more about the command line, or if you want to chain a few commands together to get some special output, we have a new tool for you to try. We call it TermBuilder, and it's a web-based command-line generator for Linux and other compatible Unixes. All you have to do is click buttons and choose options and it will generate commands for you to copy and paste into your terminal.

Explore operating systems beyond Linux

Operating systems

We love Linux, us. We breathe it, eat it, and install it on anything that can add two numbers together. But we're also fans of other free software operating system projects - large or small - and we love to watch them improve. Our chums at PC Plus have uploaded a look at 10 alternative operating systems, covering ReactOS, Haiku, Syllable and more. Many of them ape classic OSes, so if you were a total Amiga or Atari ST addict back in the day, you might just fall in love again here...

Free Gimp tutorial PDFs


Issue 128 of Linux Format magazine carries the last instalment of our Gimp tutorial series. It's been going on-and-off for years now, with the latest batch running from June 2008 until now.

Although we're sad to see the Gimp tutorial go away for the time being, we'd like to thank its author - the incredibly prolific Michael J. Hammel - for all the awesome work he's done over the years, and we're happy to announce that we're releasing high-res PDFs of Michael's 18 most recent GIMP tutorials for everyone to enjoy.

LXF readers have, we hope, learned a lot following in Michael's footsteps over the years, and it's great to be able to share these tutorials with an even wider audience. In these tutorials, you'll learn how to create all sorts of fun, weird and wonderful effects with Gimp, and the step-by-step guide should make it easy for users of all levels to follow.

Read on for download instructions and more information about what's inside...

Reviewed: Linux Mint 8


Bored with brown? Looking for more oomph in your Ubuntu installation? We test the latest release of Linux Mint, the shiny green distro that stands on the shoulders of giants and offers its own unique tools. Read on to find out whether Mint is actually a better Ubuntu than Ubuntu...

Howto: Linux and Windows virtualization with KVM and Qemu


In the wise words of Wikipedia, "Virtualisation is a broad term that refers to the abstraction of computer resources". Within this definition sits a whole variety of products - Sun's VirtualBox, Parallels, Bochs, Xen, KVM, Qemu, various flavours of VMware and many others. And there's a great deal of jargon to confuse the unwary - emulation, full virtualisation, paravirtualisation, virtual appliance, hypervisor... the list goes on. And not everyone agrees exactly what all these terms actually mean.

We're going to deliberately sidestep the jargon and the hype to take a practical look at the virtualisation technologies in Ubuntu, in particular KVM and Qemu and the related userspace tools that create and manage virtual machines. Although the discussion centres on Ubuntu, the technology is applicable to all Linux distros.

Warning: if you're a little less experienced (or a little more time constrained!) you might find our other article, virtualisation made easy, a little easier to read.

Arduino hardware hacking: Part 3


In our previous two tutorials (see here and here), we created a Simon-type game using the Arduino, a hardware platform for simple, and not so simple, electronics projects.

We placed three buttons and three LEDs on to something called a breadboard, and wrote a small program that would send a random sequence to the LEDs, which the player would then need to replicate by pressing the buttons in the same order. Each time you got the sequence correct, the sequence would be extended by one and repeated. The further into the random sequence you got, the higher you scored.

In this, part three, we're going to build on what we already created and add another important feature - sound! So, get the hardware out, make some coffee, and prepare for some hardware hacking fun...

Now available: Hudzilla Coding Academy in print!


If you've been following the Hudzilla Coding Academy - our free Mono and C# tutorial series - you'll be pleased to know that it's now available as a special edition magazine, on-sale worldwide and available online.

The magazine version includes another six all-new projects (taking the total to 15), many corrections to the original online text, plus dozens of new tips that take your knowledge further. So, if you're looking to learn to program and aren't sure where to start, Paul Hudson's Coding Academy takes you from zero to hero with minimum theory with maximum fun.

On the included DVD you'll find all the software you need to get started, pre-configured with all the source code from the projects in the magazine. In short, it's all you need to get started and take control of your computer today.

Click the Buy Online button below to buy the magazine now wherever you are in the world, or click here to see what's inside the magazine.


Win a free subscription to Linux Format


We just stumbled across this video of a happy reader getting his copy of the world's best Linux magazine, and we think he deserves a free year's subscription to Linux Format for his trouble. We're always happy to see this sort of thing, so if you upload to YouTube a video of yourself reading/enjoying/reviewing your copy of LXF then send us a link in the comments below, we'll pick the coolest/funniest video and give its creator a free year's subscription too.

(PS: if you're already a subscriber, we'll add a free year to your existing subscription. RPCJerkobi: drop us an email at paul.hudson@futurenet.com to claim your prize)

Mozilla believes in... free porn?


A few years ago, British newspaper The Telegraph covered the UK government's budget announcements by posting tweets onto their site that included the hashtag #budget. As you can imagine, this was soon abused, and Twitter users had much fun at the Telegraph's expense.

Well, apparently Mozilla hasn't learned, and so we were surprised to find a curious link on the Mozilla.org front page this morning, promising "Screenshot - Free Hard Sex Videos, XXX porn, Hot Sex...", apparently on the grounds that the link in question had "Mozilla Firefox" in its title.

We expect Mozilla will remove the offending link quickly enough, but let's hope they are smart enough to modify their Community Ticker code so it doesn't happen again. If you weren't lucky to catch the comedy URL yourself, we've put the pic below.

The best Linux desktop search tools

Group Test

Tools such as grep, find and awk have often come to the rescue of gleeful Bash-mongers searching for files buried beneath gigabytes of other items. But when a typical Linux distro takes up a couple of gigs of disk space, it's not hard to imagine that finding your files will only become trickier over time.

Compared with their internet brethren, today's desktop search tools can be used not only to look for the names of files on your disk, but can also perform context-sensitive searches within email archives, images, videos and music. Some tools take it a bit further and even index your browser history and bookmarks. But with so many different tools to choose from, often offering the same or similar features, just which are worth trying?

We picked out the best desktop search tools for Linux and put them through their paces - read on to find out how they fared!

(PS: if you much prefer working on the command line, don't miss our how to find files on the Linux command line tutorial!)

Ubuntu Netbook Remix vs Moblin


Over the last 12 months, netbook and mobile Linux has made massive advances in features and install base. This is primarily thanks to two netbook distributions - Moblin and Canonical's Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR). Both have built on the massive potential that was unlocked by the Asus Eee PC but led nowhere, as its operating system failed to inspire a new generation of Linux users.

But now technologies from Google such as Android and Chrome OS are bringing a new wave of innovation to the Linux netbook space, so we thought it was time to take a look at the contenders in the netbook and mobile distro space to see just what's going on. Which netbook distro is right for you? Do they work just as well on desktops? Are Chrome OS or Maemo real contenders? Read on to find out!

(NB: if you missed our previous articles, catch up by reading our group test of netbook distros and our guide to choosing the best Linux distro for you.)

Podcast Season 1 Episode 25


Title: Dreaming Androids

In this episode: Google releases the Nexus One and Mark Shuttleworth has announced he's going to relinquish control of Canonical. Freescale unveils a Linux touch tablet and we ask whether 2010 could really, honestly, be the year of Linux on the desktop.

How to sniff network traffic with Wireshark


The internet is inherently insecure. Whenever you send data across it, there is a chance that that data could be sniffed, and someone could end up with your personal data. Hopefully once you've read this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to prevent this from happening.

When data travels through the internet, it needs to pass through multiple connections to get to its final destination. Most people don't realise that the data can be read by any machine it passes through on this journey.

With the right tools, you can sniff this data yourself, and any data that passes through your network. This is because most networks actually send data intended for anyone on that network to all machines on your network, and your computer will ignore anything that's not meant for it. This is especially true for most wireless networks, even networks that are 'secured' with WEP/WPA.

Username:   Password: