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Linux Format December 2020

Linux Format is your complete guide to the world of Linux. Whether you've just discovered Linux, or you're a full-time guru, Linux Format has everything you need to make the most of your OS. The editorial formula is a mix of features, reviews and practical tutorials that tackle topics as far ranging as installing software to socket programming and network management. Thought-provoking features and interviews also provide a focus on key technologies, trends and issues in the fast-paced world of Free and Open Source software.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min
who we are

Jonni Bidwell My life has been improved by starting each morning with a handstand. Also, the Spotify Connect plugin for Volumio allows my whole household of misfits and vagabonds access to the kitchen hi-fi. Wait… that only makes for an eclectic day. And possibly complaints from the neighbours. Christian Cawley My hack for a better day when you’re working from home with the family milling about is blues music. It takes me away into someone else’s sorrow, a journey that drowns out the inanities of domestic life and helps me focus. Les Pounder My life hack is to standardise your mobile kit. Have a USB powerbank that can charge your devices, and a cable for each. I have a lot of micro USB devices and two USB-C devices, all of which can charge from a…

1 min
cyber insecurity

Each year we proclaim it’s time to learn how to hack. But why? Jonni always gets angry at the subversion of the term ‘hacking’ and I can understand why. Hacking is fun, as is finding out how systems work and how to get them to do things they were never meant to do. With open source and the Linux ecosystem there’s an abundance of hacking fun to be had, and it’s no wonder all the key tools for learning how to hack – and actually hack – are developed and run out of Linux systems. For this year’s look at the world of hacking Jonni’s introducing you to the metasploit framework. This is a playground where you can learn, explore and develop hacking skills. It’s usually paired with Kali Linux, and we’re…

2 min
google vs oracle enters the endgame

Google and Oracle’s decades-spanning fight could be coming to an end. At the time of writing, the US Supreme Court seemed it was leaning towards ruling against Google’s claim that application programming interfaces (APIs) can’t be copyrighted. To recap, Oracle has accused Google of infringing its copyright of the Java language when reimplementing APIs in Android, Google’s mobile OS for smartphones and tablets. Google argues that APIs can’t be copyrighted, because that would restrict APIs’ usefulness, and would damage interoperability. The argument has been in and out of courts for years, with the Federal Circuit Appeals Court ruling against Google’s claim in 2014, and issuing a second ruling in 2018. Google then started a petition in 2019 to get the Supreme Court to hear the case, arguing that, “The Federal Circuit’s approach…

2 min
cups gets forked

CUPS, the open-source printing system used in macOS and Linux, looks like its development is coming to an end, with only one commit made to the CUPS repository (https://github.com/apple/cups) in the whole of 2020 – and that was a rather minor fix as well. Michael R Sweet, who almost singlehandedly made and updated CUPS, left Apple in 2019. While Michael was at Apple, which purchased the source code back in 2007, there had been a pretty healthy amount of commits. As the Phoronix website points out (http://bit.ly/LXF270CUPS), in 2019 there were 355 commits, in 2018 there were 348 and in 2017 there were 400. As soon as Michael left Apple, however, those commits appear to have almost entirely stopped – perhaps unsurprisingly since he was responsible for the majority of contributions…

1 min
otf firings ruled illegal

Back in LXF267 we reported how the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) had ordered the mass firings of the CEO and senior officers of the Open Technology Fund (OTF), a US government-funded organisation whose aim is to offer uncensored access to the internet to people around the world, especially those in oppressive regimes. The move raised concerns at the time that the supposedly independent and bipartisan USAGM was being politically motivated under the instructions of Trump Administration-appointed Michael Pack. It appears a Superior Court judge in Washington, DC – who was also appointed by the Trump Administration – agrees, ruling that Michael acted illegally in his attempts to get OTF employees fired. Judge Shana Frost Matini, in a Superior Court Order (which can be read in full at http://bit.ly/LXF270USAGM), ruled…

1 min
breaking the cycle

“For too long, Windows has been the sole platform for any serious gaming on computers. In fact, there’s still much resistance by game studios for supporting multiple platforms, which can be partially explained by the high costs of porting games to Linux compared to the number of users that can be reached. This is a Catch 22 problem for the Linux gaming ecosystem, where not enough gamers care about Linux to attract attention from studios, while the limited catalogue of supported games hinders Linux from attracting more gamers. At Collabora, we’re working with others to break this cycle and make Linux the platform of choice to run the games of today by improving the emulation support provided by software like Wine. We’re solving the issues Wine faces when emulating the WinAPI over…