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.

Resurrect your old PC

LXF

Rather than throw old hardware away because it can't cope with Vista's bloat, we show you how to put it to good use - read on to learn how to transform your old computer into a mail server, a fileserver, a web server, a spam blocker, a PC for kids and more!

Amarok vs Songbird

Apps

Reviewed: Most migrants from other operating systems will seek out a Linux alternative to the ubiquitous iTunes, and chances are they'll come across Amarok 2.0 and Songbird 1.0. They're both contenders for the Linux music player crown, but take different approaches. Which one is right for you?

Save time with Gedit snippets

Apps

Some people think that Gedit is a toy text editor not suitable for more experienced users. And while it might lack Emacs's psychiatrist or Vim's undo branching, it turns out that Gedit has a lot of power under its hood - if you know where to look.

One feature that is guaranteed to save you time is Snippets, a plugin that enables quick insertion of commonly used text, and something we use frequently here on TuxRadar. We're going to show you how to get started using the built-in snippets, and how you can use shell commands and even Python code to make your own...

More Linux tips every geek should know

LXF

If you've already read and memorised our "Linux tips every geek should know" and "20 all-new tips for KDE 4.2" features, we've picked out 50 more Linux desktop tips for you to enjoy.

And remember, if you don't ask, you don't get - follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter to have your say on what we post next...

MythTV made easy

Apps

In depth: MythTV is an incredibly ambitious suite of applications designed to sit at the heart of your home entertainment centre. It records, pauses and rewinds television, plays music and videos, catalogues your photo and DVD collections, browses the internet, makes phone calls, delivers the news and the weather and plays games - and it does all this thanks to the power of Linux.

Read on for our guide to installing MythTV and getting it to do just about everything you could want from a Linux box in your lounge...

Tell us what you want

TuxRadar

If you're on Identi.ca or Twitter follow us (tuxradar) and send us a message telling us what you want us to post. We have thousands of articles of all types - coding projects, reviews, command-line hacks, newbie tips, MythTV tutorials and more, so just send us a message with your request and we'll do our best to supply what you asked for.

Linux Format free to download for 24 hours only

LXF

As promised, we hosted a full high-res copy of the latest Linux Format magazine right now. Sadly, it was for 24 hours only, and you were too slow!

Still, we have some other incredible content you might want to read, not least of which are these five:

  1. Linux tips every geek should know
  2. The Linux Starter Pack - 130 pages of PDFs available for free download
  3. The Linux Pub Quiz - we bet you can't get 100% correct...
  4. How to install Linux on a USB flash drive
  5. 10 simple ways to make your Linux box more secure

Note that the Linux Starter Pack is available only as a low-res PDF. If you'd like to see it made available as a high-res torrent, let us know in the comments below.

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. The ultimate guide to the command-line for newbies
  2. Debian 5.0 hands-on, with exclusive interview the Debian project leader
  3. Download the Linux Starter Pack
  4. 20 all-new tips for KDE 4.2
  5. How you can help Windows users quit
  6. Error messages explained
  7. Linux tips every geek should know
  8. How to install Gnome Do in 3 minutes

And of course our old favourites - the Linux Pub Quiz, build a Space Invaders clone, and how to install Linux on a USB flash drive - are also worth reading if you didn't already catch them.

Plus there's much more to come - add use to your bookmarks or subscribe to us on Identica 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!

Your views wanted: are there too many distros?

TuxRadar

Our podcast is released every two weeks, and in our regular Open Ballot section we ask you, our readers, what you think - and there's no room for sitting on the fence, because your answer needs to be either "yes" or "no" along with any explanation you feel like attaching.

We're about to record our third episode, so it's time to tell us what you think: are there too many Linux distros? Is such a thing even possible, or do we already have so much choice that newbies are overwhelmed with Ubuntu respins containing nothing more than a different wallpaper?

Tell us in the comments below, and we'll read out the best in the episode!

The tragedy of Creative Commons

Community

In depth: What if we told you that not everyone welcomes the growth of Creative Commons? And we're not referring to the RIAA and their friends - instead, many people openly fear Creative Commons as little more than a friendly face on unwelcome copyright laws, saying that it has too many varieties to be easily understood, and that, worst of all, it gives people who otherwise hadn't even considered copyright before a perhaps unwelcome taste of the Western legal system. Marco Fioretti reports...

Linux tips every geek should know

LXF

What separates average Linux users from the super-geeks? Simple: years spent learning the kinds of hacks, tricks, tips and techniques that turn long jobs into a moment's work. If you want to get up to speed without having to put in all that leg-work, we've rounded up over 50 easy-to-learn Linux tips to help you work smarter and get the most from your computer. Enjoy!

How to fix Linux boot problems

Linux

Booting, or "bootstrapping" for us older folk, is that deeply mysterious sequence of operations performed by your computer between the moment when you switch it on and the moment it's ready for you to log in. During this time, all kinds of incomprehensible messages scroll up the screen, but they're not something you usually take much notice of, and most linux distros cover them up with a pretty splash screen and a nice encouraging progress bar. This is all fine, of course, until it stops working.

Error messages explained

LXF

In depth: Some people are scared of Linux because the error messages it produces seem to imply the coming of the apocalypse. And there's a great number of them. If you search for the word 'Error' on the Linux Format forums, you get more than 150 pages of results. That's a lot of people experiencing a lot of problems!

The biggest difficulty for these users isn't the number of error messages; it's trying to get something useful out of them. What does 'Kernel Oops' mean, for example, or 'PCI Can't Allocate'? Linux error messages are obtuse, difficult to understand and rarely helpful. Which is a pity, because the vast majority of problems can be solved quite easily, and a considerable number involve the same problems recurring again and again. In business speak, these are low-hanging fruit. And it's these problems we want to target.

You shouldn't need to be a Linux expert to get your machine to boot, or a programmer to play a movie file. Yet it's this level of expertise that most error messages seem to assume of their users. We want to demystify these common errors, and provide solutions that should help ordinary Linux users side-step the problem and get their machine back on track. We've chosen areas we think are the most problematic. These include booting problems, general software usage, the filesystem, networking and distro installation.

We've picked a few of the most common errors from each, and explained what's happening along with the solution. The intention is that even if the problems don't apply to you, you can get an idea of how and why Linux error messages might seem arcane and a little intimidating. And hopefully, this will leave you with the knowledge to find a better solution that might help you to solve your own problems.

Hudzilla Coding Academy: Project Four

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