Open Ballot: KDE and Gnome

Gnome

We're already planning the fifth installment in our podcast series, and our open ballot topic this time is going to be that old flamewar veterans' favourite battleground: KDE and Gnome. But we're not interested in which one's best; we want to know whether it's a good thing for Linux to have two major desktops. Is it a pointless duplication of effort that confuses newbies with multiple toolkits, or does the right to choice trump all other considerations? Post your thoughts below!

Please note: if you're posting without a user account, please be sure to change Anonymous Penguin to something else. And no matter how you post, please take the time to explain your views!

Arduino hardware hacking: Part 1

Code

Arduino is cool. It's cool because it's a tiny device - about three inches by two inches - that comes with a USB port and a programmable chip. It's cool because you can program it using a very simple programming language known as Wiring.

But most of all, it's cool because the entire reference design for the hardware is available under a Creative Commons licence, so you're free to build your own if you want to. However, that's probably a little extreme for most people, which is why you can also buy pre-built Arduino boards that are ready for action and available at very low prices.

In this tutorial, the first part of a mini-series, you'll learn all you need to get started with Arduino hardware hacking...

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.

LTSP: Thin clients made easy

Enterprise

In depth: One of the main advantages of using LTSP is its cost-effectiveness. Instead of 30 mid-range computers for a classroom or office, you buy one high-end machine and 30 cheap terminals. The terminals don't even need to be new computers, as the hardware requirements are so low that old hardware can be reused instead of thrown away. When the time comes for a hardware upgrade - to cope with more resource-intensive programs, for example - only the server needs to be upgraded, with the terminals carrying on doing the same job as before.

In this tutorial we're going to show you how to install LTSP on your distro of choice, then configure thin clients to connect up to the server with the minimum of fuss.

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!

Code Project: Create a web server in Ruby

Code

Most of us are aware of Ruby through its modern-day Ruby on Rails incarnation, which is a framework for developing large-scale websites. This has been used on talked-about websites such as the Basecamp, Jobster and 43 Things sites and is shipped with the latest version of OS X, Leopard.

Given Ruby's very recent step into the coding limelight, it's surprising how long the language has been in development: since 1993! Created by Yukihiro Matsumoto, Ruby was first released to the world in 1995, and was designed to reduce the menial work that programmers typically have to put in. Why should we have to battle with the syntax of a language when what we want to achieve is really very simple?

Gnome 2.26 arrives

Gnome

Fresh in time for upcoming Ubuntu and Fedora releases, the Gnome team has sent 2.26 out into the world. Brasero, a disc burning tool, has found itself a permanent home in the desktop, while Evolution can import PST folders from Microsoft Outlook and the Empathy IM client now supports file transfers. There's also an Awesome Bar-like menu in Epiphany and a new volume control tool that supports PulseAudio. Read the release announcement after the break, and see this page for screenshots of all the lovely new features. Rock on.

How to set up a web server with Apache

Apache

Ask anyone to name a web server for Linux and they'll either mention Apache or be deliberately obtuse by picking something else. It's not that there aren't alternatives, but Apache is everywhere. The others have their advantages, often being lighter, but if you're ever going to transfer a site from your local server to a commercial one, the chances are that it'll run Apache and all your configurations will copy straight across.

Why would you want to install a web server? There are many reasons, but only one needs to apply for you to want to proceed.

The beginner's guide to coding

Code

You don't learn to ride a bike by reading books. No one can become a pilot by listening to someone else talk about plane journeys they've been on. Instead, we learn by doing, by trying, by failing and - most importantly - by succeeding. Because when you feel like you're winning, you get confidence in your skills and know that you can do anything.

Programming your computer is no different: it might seem hard, confusing or perhaps even boring, but it isn't. In fact, programming is hugely rewarding, because you exercise complete control over your computer. You can make it do things the way you want them to happen. And, if you're good, it can also lead to a whole new career.

This tutorial will teach you programming by making you program. Along the way you'll learn some theory, you'll learn some jargon, but most importantly you'll write your own program. More specifically, you'll write your own game. Even more specifically, you'll write your own super-cool game for Linux. Excited yet? You should be. Let's not hang around any more - it's time to get started...

PCLinuxOS 2009.1 gets the review treatment

Distros

We didn't hear much from the PCLinuxOS team for about 18 months -- sure, plenty of development effort was taking place behind the scenes, but with the six-monthly release schedules of Ubuntu and co. taking up all the limelight, PCLinuxOS's absence of major releases may have left many to question the distro's lifespan. Well, 2009.1 proudly arrived a week ago, and Raiden's Realm has given it a thorough going-over.

10 Linux games needing help

Games

Fancy digging your fingers into a new project? Free Gamer has put together a list of 10 Linux games that deserve to be revived. Some of these games were formerly commercial projects and open sourced when the developer(s) moved on to pastures new, while others were free software from the start but fell into obscurity when the hackers behind them got bored. There's an FPS, a top-down RPG, a pinball game and more -- all waiting for some coding love.

Podcast Season 1 Episode 4

Podcast
Title: GScrot's Previous Icon

In this episode: Jim Zemlin wants a united front for netbooks, Codeweavers starts on DirectX 10 for Linux, has Firefox been exploited, can we help people who are new to Linux, and should proprietary software be easy to install?

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!

Open Ballot - proprietary codecs

Distros

We're just about to record the TuxRadar podcast #4, and this episode our Open Ballot question is: should distros make it easy for users to install proprietary codecs/drivers/apps on Linux? Please give a yes or no answer, and show your workings to get all the marks available for this question. Oh, and Anonymous Penguin, please provide a name that we can reference alongside your comment in the podcast. Gracias!

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.

Economic plight boosts Linux adoption

Linux

In our second podcast we pondered whether the dodgy economic outlook could actually bring more users to Linux and free software. With everyone afraid to open their wallets, surely software that has an initial zero cost is much more attractive for businesses looking to move on from legacy software, right? And home desktop users -- how many of those will really want to splash out on the much-hyped Windows 7 when it comes out, if things get worse?

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!

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