Open Ballot: Is it time to start trusting Microsoft?


Few people reading this site will claim to be supporters of the Redmond behemoth, but arguably, Microsoft has changed in recent years. The poor reception of Windows Vista, the advancement of Linux in the server space, and the birth of Android and iOS have made Microsoft vulnerable. In many areas, they're the underdog now. And then we have the news that a Microsoft coder made the most changes to Linux 3.0, albeit primarily to support the company's Hyper-V virtualisation interface.

So as we roll up our sleeves for the next podcast, we want your opinions: can we start trusting Microsoft more? Has the company changed - is it competing more fairly than in the past? Or is the Redmond giant's heart still the same, and we should be cautious more than ever of embrace, extend and extinguish? Let us know if the comments below, and we'll read out the best in our podcast. Even if you happen to be Steve Ballmer.

Open Ballot: Is Firefox moving too quickly?


Unless you've had your head stuck in a bucket of sand in a cave on Mars for the last few weeks (or you're running Chrome and don't care), you will have seen the furore surrounding Firefox 5. But it's nothing to do with features, the UI or anything like that - it's outrage that merely three months after Firefox 4, that older release is no longer supported. No bug fixes, no security fixes - nothing.

Now, Mozilla supporters say this is a good thing: the team can concentrate on new releases, accelerating the pace of development and bringing new features to home desktop users. But those deploying Firefox in the enterprise are fuming: they need to roll out updates carefully, checking for breakage with apps and extensions, and this break-neck pace is turning them to alternatives.

Let us know what you think for our next podcast: is Firefox moving too fast? Should the developers consider business users a bit more, or just focus on the home desktop?

Captchas Fixed?


Just a little update...

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging comments about TuxRadar - they were all very greatly received here at LXF towers!

We think we've fixed the captchas so that logged in users should no longer see them. Hopefully this is the case, but let us know if not.

One small improvement at least.

Linux Format issue 147 is on sale now!


We all need a change of scenery now and then, so how about a change of distro? With so much rapid innovation going on in the Linux world, distros are constantly edging ahead of one another in areas such as performance stability and ease-of-use. In this month's cover feature we throw six of the best distros into a pit and let them battle it out for supremacy. Who's the winner? You may very well be surprised...

What do you think about TuxRadar?


We've been wondering, what do you think of TuxRadar? What do you like about it, what would you change about it, and what would you like to see more (or less) of on it?

We can't make any promises that things will change of course (the magazine keeps us fairly busy!) but we have been making an effort to do more with TuxRadar lately, so any feedback on what you'd like to see from this space might help us to spend what time we do have for TuxRadar more effectively.

Open Ballot: Is Ubuntu on the way out?


Pop over to the DistroWatch popularity stats page and you'll see something very interesting: Ubuntu is sliding down. As each set of data gets more recent, you can see the gap between Ubuntu and other distros narrowing - and in the last month, Mint and Fedora have overtaken it. So this leads to perhaps the biggest Open Ballot we've ever posted: has Ubuntu had its day? Has the switch to Unity, the talk of Wayland, and all the upheaval on the desktop driven traditional Linux users away?

Maybe this is inevitable, and Canonical isn't concerned, as it's chasing bigger markets. Or conversely, perhaps Canonical should try harder to keep old-time Linux users, as they're the advocates who will spread Linux in the future. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, choosing a hipper name than Anonymous Penguin, and we'll read out the best in our upcoming podcast recording.

Open Ballot: Do you trust the "cloud"?


Cloud storage: everyone's talking about it. Dropbox is all the rage, Apple has got into the game with iCloud, and we Linux users have Ubuntu One. But as we gear up for our next podcast, we want to know: do you feel safe with your data in the cloud? Is it the future of storage and backup, or just a fad that'll disappear after a few major security incidents? Maybe all your data is in the cloud, and you think everyone else is being paranoid.

Whatever the case, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Tap your musings into the comment box below, give yourself a way neater name than Anonymous Penguin, and we'll read out the best in our podcast.

Linux Format issue 146 is on sale now!


A new Ubuntu release always generates a certain amount of chatter in Linuxland, but nothing compares to the impact of Ubuntu 11.04. This signals a new direction for Canonical, with the familiar Gnome 2.x desktop being replaced by Unity, which significantly alters how we interact with our computers. In our cover feature we show you how to master Unity, we talk to the developers behind the desktop, and also probe Mark Shuttleworth for his thoughts too.

Open Ballot: Should Gnome become Linux-only?


Here's a thought. The Gnome desktop currently runs on a wide variety of OSes, including Linux, the BSDs and Solaris. One hacker has proposed making Gnome Shell dependent on systemd, a boot and services system that only runs on Linux. This would require that all distros that use Gnome also take up systemd, and limit the desktop to one OS - and as expected, it has generated a huge amount of discussion in the free software world.

As we prepare to record our next podcast, we want your opinions for our Open Ballot: should Gnome become a Linux-only project? Would tighter integration with Linux-only technologies produce a more streamlined, coherent OS? Or would dropping support for more esoteric platforms be against the spirit of freedom and free software?

Let us know in the comments below, but please don't commit a name-fail and call yourself Anonymous Penguin.

The full story: Friday's IRC chat


Missed our Internet Relay Chat event on Friday? Bursting to find out what happened, what was said, and how much Mike talked about Frontier? Well, we've put online the whole log of the two hours and 25 minutes of action...

Don't miss our IRC session on Friday


Just a quick note for those who didn't listen to the last podcast recording (naughty, naughty): on Friday 20th of May, at 15:00 British Summer Time, the team behind Linux Format magazine and TuxRadar will be on IRC for chat japes galore. Log into and join the channel #linuxformat to ask us questions, tell us what you're thinking and chat with other LXF/TuxRadar readers. If you've never used IRC (Internet Relay Chat) before, we recommend X-Chat as a good graphical client, and Irssi if you're a command-line kinda guy or gal. See you there!

Send us your desktop!


That is, a photo of your actual, physical desktop (not a screenshot). You may remember that, long ago, we use to have "Anatomy of a Geek Desktop" on the back page of Linux Format magazine. Well, it's coming back, and we'd love to feature awesome reader/listener desktops. If you want to take part, send us a high-quality JPG image of 1600x1200 pixels, preferably no more than 4MB, to Mike Saunders along with some text describing your computer, the surroundings and any other interesting bits 'n bobs you have lying around. If we like it, we'll print it in the mag!

Open Ballot: What is Linux's killer feature?


As we rev up our podcast engines for the next recording, we want to hear your words: what do you think is the killer feature of Linux? What's its strongest selling point, the thing that makes it better than its competitors? Perhaps you reckon the kernel's rock-solid stability is key, or maybe you think the plethora of desktop environments gives it an advantage.

Let us know in the comments below, and remember that leaving your name as boring old Anonymous Penguin will make kittens cry.

Open Ballot: Has desktop fragmentation gone too far?


First there was TWM. Then we had multiple window managers. Then KDE came along, and Gnome started as a result of licensing issues. Xfce grew up. And now, after a decade of the three big desktops slugging it out, it's about to get a whole lot more complicated with the addition of Unity and Gnome (3) Shell. Some distros are talking of forking Gnome 2.x to keep the older desktop alive.

Podcast update


Just to let regular listeners know: we won't be putting up the podcast today, as we're busy finishing Linux Format magazine (the deadlines are a bit earlier than usual because of Easter). Rest assured, we'll be back to normal next week though! So, go out and enjoy the sun, and we'll be with you again very soon...

Linux Format issue 144 is on sale now!


MythTV usually conjures up two thoughts amongst Linux users: it's a brilliant digital TV platform, but it's also notoriously difficult to set up correctly. Fortunately, then, this month's cover feature teams up with the mighty Mythbuntu (on the DVD) and helps you configure a powerful, attractive and feature-laden personal video recorder. You can watch TV over the web, cut out annoying adverts and never miss your favourite shows again.

Open Ballot: is Android's success good for Linux?


There's no doubt that Android is a storming success, with 37% of the North American smartphone market share in January, and over 150,000 applications available. At its core is a customised Linux kernel. But there's a big question here: is all this success actually good for Linux? Millions of people now have Linux in their pockets and are using it every day, but will this ever help Linux in its more familiar server and desktop settings?

New podcast section: Speak Your Brains!


Are there things you want to tell us? Perhaps you've got a question about choosing a Linux netbook, or you've written a limerick about KDE. Maybe you want to announce a funky new project you're working on, or just rant about Microsoft. Either way, we have a shiny new section of the podcast for you.

It's dead simple. Email Mike with the subject line "Speak Your Brains" and we'll read out our pick of the best in the next podcast. Think of it like a traditional magazine letters page, but with more sound atoms involved. And the possibility to ask Effy to say things in Spanish.

Open Ballot: is Canonical good for free software?


Love them or hate them, the folks behind Ubuntu have changed the Linux landscape. Many users have discovered Linux thanks to Canonical's marketing efforts and free CD programmes, but recently we've see a lot of controversy such as the Banshee affair and spat with the Gnome team.

Open Ballot: does free software need a figurehead?


We're prepping up for our next podcast, and having just returned from interviewing Richard Stallman (coming to an issue of LXF soon!), we want to ask you: does free software need a figurehead? We all talk about the freedom and democracy that FLOSS brings - but does it also help to have a strong character at the top keeping us on the right path?

Let us know what you think in the comments, and we'll read out the best musings in our podcast. This does not apply to grey, soulless drones who call themselves Anonymous Penguin, of course.

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