Microsoft contributes to the Linux kernel

Linux

Some would say this has been a long time in coming, but others are probably looking around to see if they can spot Babe the pig taking off: Microsoft has announced it is submitting 20,000 lines of source code to the Linux kernel under the GPL2 licence.

LyX made easy

Apps

Regular readers will no doubt remember our LaTeX made easy tutorial on the Latex typesetting application. But although Latex is a hugely powerful piece of software, getting to grips with it can be a real headache if you'd rather just sit down and get to work.

Luckily, that's where Lyx comes in: if Latex has a steep learning curve, Lyx is the cable car that whisks you two thirds of the way up the mountain so you can enjoy the views without having to break a sweat. And just as web editors can create websites without you needing to know HTML, Lyx is able to prepare documents for typesetting without getting too involved in all the intricacies of Latex.

If you enjoyed our other Made Easy tutorials, try this one for size!

UKUUG Summer 09

Events

OSCON 2009 is just a few days away (and, yes, we'll be there - feel free to grab one of us and say hi), but if you're in the UK and can't afford to make the trip to sunny San Jose then you should definitely consider the UK Unix User Group's conference from the 7th to the 9th of August. Read on for more information - there's a nice discount if you're a student, so it's definitely worth checking out!

Wanted: your Linux tips

LXF

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!

Group test: Linux netbooks

Group Test

Netbooks may be on the cheaper side of computing, but as we're all watching our pennies now, making the right choice is essential. We've brought together all the netbooks we could get hold of - most of which are bundled with Linux - for a comprehensive test. We're looking at:

  • Performance All but one of the netbooks are based on the Intel Atom 1.6GHz CPU and 945GME graphics chip. But other components come into play, especially the storage and the wireless reception strength, so we're putting particular focus on these aspects.
  • Usability The most important aspect of a netbook. It doesn't matter if it looks wonderful if the keyboard is far too cramped, or the trackpad is rubbish.
  • Build quality You shouldn't need to baby your netbook. You want to chuck it in your bag, use it everywhere and not worry about it taking a bump or two.

To find out how each of our eight netbooks fared, read on!

FFmpeg made easy

Apps

So you've got those expensive headphones you always wanted. You put them on, set your playlist on shuffle, lean back on the recliner, and hit play. And Robbie Williams sounds just as bad as he did on the older cheapo headphones. What gives? Unless you aren't a Robbie fan, the music doesn't sound great because it isn't encoded to.

If you've already read MythTV made easy and want to take your media knowledge to the next level, read on for our guide to audio conversion with FFmpeg, Mplayer, HandBrake and more...

Code Project: Tower of Hanoi in Python

Code

If you've already followed our previous code projects and are using the weather for wallpaper, enjoying talking RSS feeds, running your own Ruby-powered web server and chatting to your own IRC bot, here's something new to try: we're going to show you how to make a Tower of Hanoi game using Python.

Get started with Fetchmail, Procmail and Dovecot

Sysadmin

Having already shown you how to run your own web server using Apache, we'll now turn our attention to the most important application of networking: email. Running your own mail server may seem like overkill, but there are a number of good reasons for doing so. And if you consider yourself well-versed in the lore of sysadmin, this is definitely a topic you need to be comfortable with. Read on!

Win a subscription to Linux Format magazine

LXF

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...

Reviewed: AVG Anti-virus 8.5 for Linux

Apps

As long as NTFS partitions continue to sprawl over heterogeneous networks, anti-virus companies will dole out scanners for Linux. No surprise then that AVG Technologies, makers of the popular AVG Anti-Virus, has a scanner that runs on Linux in its latest 8.5 series bouquet.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 for Linux (hereafter abbreviated to AVG Free) isn't AVG's first scanner for Linux. The company has released binaries for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures for Linux and FreeBSD, and the scanner itself is loaded with features up to the brim. Despite all this, it is utterly useless for the intended audience.

Hands on with Mint 7

Distros

Now in its seventh iteration, codenamed Gloria, Linux Mint aims to bring easy-to-use Linux to the masses. It's based upon the ubiquitious Ubuntu, and as such it shares many of the same features; the installation routine, for example, is virtually identical and takes under 30 minutes to complete. However, there is far more to Mint than just Ubuntu minus the brown colour scheme.

If you read our guide to choosing the best Linux distro for you and want to know why this new release of Linux Mint is worth trying, read on to find out why we gave it a 9/10 rating...

Podcast Season 1 Episode 12

Podcast

Title: Mike's Song

In this episode: Mono is finally safe to use while the HTML 5 specification is causing trouble. Canonical's Design and User Experience team launch the One Hundred Paper Cuts project for their next distro release and do version numbers really matter?

Group test: screencasting apps

Apps

Screencasts - digital movies with the desktop as a backdrop, the mouse as the protagonist and a voiceover - have become an integral part of electronic learning and form the basis of the computer-based training industry. As bandwidth becomes affordable and video-sharing websites start popping up, there's a huge influx of free and open source tools.

Not all tools follow the same methodology of capturing activity on your screen. Some rely on desktop sharing services such as VNC, some take a series of screenshots in quick succession and stitch them together into a video. Some give you the option to select an output format, and some will spew the video in patent-free formats only. Using these tools you can screencast your complete desktop or a particular window. Some enable you to narrate audio along with your videos and others don't.

Which to choose? Read on for our group test of the best screencasting apps available for Linux...

Organise your music with Picard

Apps

Organising your digital music collection can be a Herculean effort. Yet when you have several gigabytes of tracks to sift through, your only chance of finding what you want to hear is if your music files are properly tagged.

Don't panic if your machine can't tell Barry White apart from the White Stripes, though: the creators of Picard feel your pain. That's why, by the time Picard is finished with your music collection, each file will know the album it belongs to, the artist who performed it, its track number within the album and a host of other details.

Microsoft makes Mono tastier

Microsoft

Here's some news to pacify (perhaps) the anti-Mono crowd: Microsoft will apply its Community Promise to the C# language and CLI execution framework. Essentially, this means that anyone can implement a C# compiler and the CLI without the threat of Microsoft jumping in and throwing patent claims around.

Open Ballot: Do version numbers matter?

TuxRadar

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

TuxRadar

...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.

Creeping Unix featurism

Sysadmin

Doug McIlroy once said, "write programs that do one thing and do it well," but even Linux developers aren't immune to the desire to add more features over time.

We counted the number of options described in the man pages of 16 common commands, and compared them across three Unix/Linux distributions. Read on to see just how some of the core Unix commands have, er, "blossomed" over the years...

Control your bandwidth with Trickle

Apps

Ever had one of those situations where you pause for a moment, think back to a time long ago, and say, I wish I knew this back then? Even if you haven't, Trickle will trigger many such memories. With Trickle you can control the upload and download speeds for applications such that no single application hogs all the bandwidth. This gives you the power to ensure that downloads from Firefox don't interfere with your attempts to download a file through FTP.

Which version control system is best for you?

Code

Version control systems are indispensable if you're working on a multi-person project, and they're pretty damn useful even if you're just working solo. Keeping a full history of the changes you've made gives you a basic backup and enables you to revert back to an earlier version if you screw something up.

But with so many options available, from the rather dated CVS onwards, which one is best? What about distributed versus centralised? Read on as we look at three of the big names - Bazaar, Subversion and Git - to give you an idea of which one might best suit you and your project, whether that's large-scale software, small-scale coding, keeping track of config files or anything else that might spring to mind.

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