Manjaro 18 Elementary OS 5.1
D .3 EE V 19 FR B DINT 7G M
Get started with the best Linux OS 2 Solus 4 3 Deepin 15 4 Zorin 15
4. X NU LI
TOP BEGINNER DISTROS
SET UP A FIREWALL MANAGE PASSWORDS IMPROVE YOUR EVERNOTES
The #1 open source mag
PROJECTS Grab your Pi and get building with our top ten maker guides for 2020!
pages of tutorials & features
Monitor and record shortwave radio signals The Linux Foundation’s
on how Zephyr steps in when even the kernel is too big
Write a custom GIT status tool
Use R and Python to visualise dates and times
Deploy Docker the easy way with a Nextcloud server Take back control and clean up your .config files
It might be Linux-powered, but would you consider using a streaming gaming platform, asks Joanna Nelius? She takes Google’s offering on a test drive.
SUBSCRIBE NOW! Page 24
Sensing the coming of spring, Jonni Bidwell emerges from his state of semi-hibernation and outputs a feature full of glorious maker projects! Get building on page 32
Although it’s only a point release, Mayank Sharma is curious to tinker with the distro that comes recommended by Edward Snowden himself.
Just because he can’t resist his urge to pronounce it as chaos doesn’t make it true, discovers a flustered Mayank Sharma with this semi-rolling release distro.
Lazing into his chair with a hot toddy, Mayank Sharma mulls over the age‑old questions: can an old dog learn new tricks? And can you judge a book by its cover?
Life is Strange 2 Management’s heard that Alistair Jones is going through puberty again so have stocked up on spot cream, but he’s just eaten too much chocolate.
There are dozens of distributions aimed at new and inexperienced Linux users. Shashank Sharma narrows the selection down to five to help you take the plunge.
4 LXF260 March 2020
CONTENTS ON YOUR FREE DVD
INTERVIEW When Linux won’t do!
Linux Mint 19.3 Elementary OS 5.1 BlackArch 2020 Page 96
Jonni Bidwell meets Kate Stewart, senior director of Strategic Programs at the Linux Foundation, to talk about Zephyr, licenses, garbage trucks and reindeer.
IN-DEPTH Exploding firewalls!
Jonni Bidwell loves building walls, especially between us and our Mexican neighbour Effy, but also ones in Linux. So discover how to protect yourself from whatever is the packet-based equivalent of fire with our firewall primer.
TUTORIALS TERMINAL: Musikcube
JOPLIN: Migrate from Evernote
EMACS: Project management
REGULARS AT A GLANCE 6
The internet is getting more secure, Linux is getting angrier, Mozilla is getting smaller, Nvidia is getting nicer, Darktable is getting a dev and Linux is getting Evernotes, perhaps.
Linux user groups
Les Pounder wonders where the Pi Foundation is going after eight years of fun.
Sorting random crashes, do we need swap files, disappearing keyboards, restricted users, router connections and Xfce install.
Mailserver Easy streaming options, easy printing options, easy Ubuntu install options and easy fixes to USB problems.
Mike McCallister moves your Evernote files to Joplin, stores them on your own cloud, and shows off some other neat tricks, which is nice.
Mihalis Tsoukalos explains that these aren’t calendars for pirates and shows you how to work with dates and times in R, along with Python to draw calendars.
Nick Peers reveals how to take your password management to the next level with the option of a self-hosted server and sensible password policies.
John Schwartzman discusses a PyQt5 program that will find all of your git repositories and display their status in a shiny GUI of your creation.
Building calendars in R
Shashank Sharma won’t ever stop singing the praises of the command line, and applications like Musikcube are the reason why, much like rhythm, it’s gonna get you.
CODING ACADEMY Build a git monitor
Jonni Bidwell gets you up and running with two of the biggest names in Linux distros: Mint and Elementary OS, both with point updates, plus the net install release of the penetration testing distro BlackArch.
Taking “Your Life in Plain Text” to the extreme, Aaron Peters shows how to manage complex projects with the Org-Mode of the famous Emacs.
LINUX: Manage configs
Alexander Tolstoy hasn’t got time to rebuild, redesign and set up an entire new Russian government. He’s far too busy discovering, compiling and building only the best new FOSS, like: Trinity, MusicBrainz Picard, Veusz, Reiser5, QtHashSum, NodeTube, Tangram, Bonsai, Qtfm, Marble Marcher and The House.
Your free DVD
It’s time to help you check your configuration files, remove unnecessary clutter and save vital disk space – all in a day’s work for Mats Tage Axelsson.
DOCKER: Easy Nextcloud
With the help of Chris Notley we set sail on a voyage of discovery to install Docker and use it to build a working instance of Nextcloud in easy steps.
CUBIC SDR: Software radio
Sean Conway provides instructions in this tutorial on software-defined radio (SDR) that turns your Raspberry Pi (or desktop) into an FM radio receiver.
March 2020 LXF260 5
Newsdesk THIS ISSUE: Internet security Mozilla troubles ZFS dislike Nvidia GPUs Darktable development Evernote on Linux?
Tightening internet security in 2020 LibreDNS and the death of cookies could change the internet in 2020 for the better. t looks like there are some big changes afoot for the internet in 2020, most of which will be welcome to anyone concerned about their online security and privacy. First of all, LibreDNS (https://libredns. gr) has now launched, offering “a public encrypted DNS service that people can use to maintain secrecy of their DNS traffic, but also circumvent censorship.” The DNS has been created by a group known as LibreOps (https://libreops.cc). On its GitHub page the group claims it is “a group of hackers (re-)decentralizing the net. Doing our part.” That ‘part’ includes creating “decentralized services and tools that respect users’ privacy by default.” As well as offering a DNS service, LibreOps has also created Diaspora (https:// librenet.gr), a distributed social network, Etherpad (https://pad.libreops.cc), an open source online editor for collaborative editing, and Jabber (https://gnu.gr), an open real-time communication protocol, among other tools and services. For anyone who is looking for an alternative free and public DNS (Domain Name System) service, which translates the domain names you enter in a browser to the IP addresses required to access the websites, this could be an exciting new option. In other positive internet news, a recent post on the Chromium blog (http://bit.ly/ LXF260Cookies) titled ‘Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete’, the Chromium team has gone into more detail over its Privacy Sandbox initiative,
6 LXF260 March 2020
which aims to banish the web’s reliance on cookies and help increase people’s privacy when browsing the web. “Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render thirdparty cookies obsolete,” explains the blog post, with the aim to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within two years. Google moving away from a reliance on cookies (though just third-party ones, mind you) is encouraging, and while it will only affect Chrome and
LibreOps is the name of a group of ethical hackers that have created the Libre DNS service.
“PRIVACY SANDBOX CAN SUSTAIN A HEALTHY, AD-SUPPORTED WEB IN A WAY THAT WILL RENDER THIRD-PARTY COOKIES OBSOLETE” Chromium-based browsers, we should see a knock-on effect for other browsers as well. It’s not all good news on the internet front, with reports that researchers have found a new attack using the outdated SHA1 cryptographic hash algorithm. According to Ars Technica (http://bit.ly/LXF260SHA1), this attack allows malicious users to to create PGP encryption keys that can be signed by the SHA1 algorithm and used to impersonate targets. It’s worth reading Ars Technica’s report, and it shows why internet technologies need to keep innovating.
Got a burning question about open source or the kernel? Whatever your level, email it to email@example.com swap usage Q Early I’m using Kubuntu 19.10 and
noticed that swap was used very early after starting the desktop, even if there’s still RAM available (4GB RAM, KDE Plasma desktop). How can I troubleshoot what’s causing this early use of swap? isn’t swap supposed to be used only if RAM is full? Can I do something about it? Leon Butcher
This is not a problem to be solved, it is the system working as it should. Memory management in Linux is both advanced and mature – years have gone into optimising it. Data is moved from memory to swap because it is unlikely to be needed but has to remain available in memory in some form. For example, code used when starting up system services may not need to be accessed once those services are running, so it can be safely paged to swap. Linux will try to use all the memory available to it. RAM not occupied with code or data will be used for filesystem caching to speed up disk usage. So swapping out unneeded data can make your system
faster. It is also worth bearing in mind that if RAM does become short and the system needs to swap out data, it will not automatically swap it back in once RAM becomes free. There is no point in the system doing that until it is needed, otherwise it would only have to swap it out again the next time something demanded more RAM. 4GB is not considered a lot of RAM nowadays, especially when using a heavyweight desktop like KDE. It is certainly sufficient, but your system is doing its best to make sure that as much of that RAM as possible is available for use. As long as your system is not frequently moving data to and from swap, which will really slow things down, your system is working as it should. Use a memory monitor, either one of the graphical ones like KSysGuard or the terminal command free -h to see what is going on. I would be more worried if swap was not being used, as it would mean that unnecessary code was being allowed to take up RAM instead of using the more suitable resources available to it – swap is there to be used.
Neil Bothwick is debugging your code as we speak, he’s inside your home…
keyboard Q No I read the magazine and find it really useful, although my computing knowledge is limited. About 11 years back I migrated to Linux. I’ve managed to deal with all the hiccups except this one. My wife was fed up with Windows problems so I fitted a SSD and loaded Mint 17.3 on her Toshiba Satellite L850D-12P laptop. On boot up it doesn’t always find the keyboard and touchpad. A forced power off and reboot will fix it maybe the first or second time. I’ve tried changing boot from fast to normal as I guess it might be something to do with timing, but no luck with that. Dave Fisher
The first thing to check is how your keyboard and touchpad are connected to the computer – meaning what type of interface are they using internally. You may be able to do this using a program like lshw or lsusb. My suspicion is that they use the USB bus internally. If that is the case, go into your laptop’s firmware configuration (what we used to call the BIOS in simpler times) and look for an option called USB Legacy or something similar. Try toggling this setting, it affects how USB keyboards and similar devices are detected at early boot. Does the keyboard work after you have booted? You may need to alter your boot options, in /etc/default/grub to make Mint the default boot option – don’t forget to run update-grub after changing any Grub options. If it works, you may be able to find an error message relating to it with: $ sudo journalctl -b
While swap usage is usually low, more of it being used is not a bad thing. The only time it should affect performance is when data is being frequently moved in and out of swap.
12 LXF260 March 2020
in a terminal. The -b option tells it to show entries since the last boot, which includes the early messages from dmesg. This will show what hardware detection is done by the kernel. If you do find errors in here, try pasting them into a search engine. If you still have no keyboard after booting into Linux, install openssh-server (if not already installed) so you can SSH into the laptop from your own computer, then you can check the journal even without the use of a physical keyboard.
KaOS 2020.01 Just because he can’t resist his urge to pronounce it as chaos doesn’t make it true, discovers a flustered Mayank Sharma. IN BRIEF An independent distro that uses what can be best described as a conservative rolling release model. Its raison d’être is to deliver a coherent desktop experience thanks to its focus on a single desktop environment (KDE) and toolkit (Qt), as well as one architecture (x86_64).
MIN SPECS CPU: Any 64-bit processor MEM: 2GB HDD: 25GB BUILD: 64-bit
he real difference that sets KaOS apart from others like it isn’t in the specifications but in the execution. On paper KaOS is a KDE distro that’s available only for 64-bit machines. Pull the blinds up and you’ll see tools, utilities and methodologies cannibalised from various different projects, all neatly stacked into a cohesive installation that behaves and performs admirably well. KaOS’s developers have structured the project’s infrastructure to meet their objectives. The repository structure enables the developers to ship a rolling release that’s more conservative and stable than its more bleeding-edge peers. Since the project builds its own packages, the developers can also ensure that the toolchain is completely GTK-free, which delivers a far cleaner and more integrated KDE experience than other distros (that are not KDE neon). The first thing you notice about KaOS’ custom KDE desktop is the awkwardly placed application launcher that’s on the right side of the desktop. We tried using it where it was but it turned out to be too much of a distraction. On the plus side though, repositioning the application launcher is perhaps the only thing you’d want to change about the distro. KaOS is a live installable distro that uses the Calamares installer. One of the highlights of the latest release is the improved support for Nvidia’s hybrid graphics hardware. To that end, the Calamares installer has been tweaked to support the non-free Nvidia Prime technology as well. The distro uses the XFS filesystem, and you can’t switch to another, unless you are installing in a UEFI-equipped box, which requires a Fat32-formatted /boot partition. Also, while the distro believes in adapting existing tools for its needs, it recently dropped the Kaptan greeter app in favour of its own home-brewed version called Croeso, which is Welsh for welcome. The QML-coded Croeso exposes a lot more settings than other greeters. In fact, we think that the app can be used as an alternative to KDE Control Center to tweak the frequently used settings, which is how we used it. Surprisingly, the greeter app when running KaOS in the live environment, which includes an offline installation guide, isn’t Croeso.
The usual suspects KaOS bundles all the usual productivity apps that you’d expect from a desktop distro. Two that stand out in the menus, however, are the client for the Seafile file-hosting server and a link to the web-based instance of the proprietary communications platform, Skype. The app that was conspicuous by its absence was an email client. Two popular apps that have long been the Achilles’ heel of KDE-only distros like KaOS are Firefox and LibreOffice. For the browser, KaOS relies on Falkon (previously known as QupZilla) which is essentially just a Qt-wrapper for Chromium. The office suite of choice used
20 LXF260 March 2020
Besides the Croeso greeter, the distro also includes another custom utility to transfer ISOs to USB.
on the distro for a long time has been Calligra Suite. However, while this is adequate for several tasks, it isn’t a match for LibreOffice in terms of functionality. KaOS has now replaced it with stock LibreOffice, thanks to its improved KDE integration that enables it to ship as a pure Qt app. To help users flesh out their installer, KaOS uses the Octopi graphical application installer, which is a front-end to the powerful Pacman package manager. So while it makes use of Arch tools, KaOS is not your typical Archbased distro. As we mentioned earlier, in order to maintain its tight integration KaOS builds all its packages in its three repositories from scratch specifically for KaOS. Furthermore, it also provides a user community package repository called KaOS Community Packages (KCP). You can browse KCPs on the project’s website and install them essentially with a single click, thanks to a helper program that’s integrated into the distro’s package management system.
VERDICT DEVELOPER: The KaOS team WEB: https://kaosx.us LICENCE: Several FEATURES PERFORMANCE
EASE OF USE 8/10 DOCUMENTATION 7/10
We don’t like distros making decisions on our behalf, but KaOS does a wonderful job of delivering a tightly integrated desktop that performs well – as long as you agree with its choices.
REVIEWS Teen-angst simulator
Life is Strange 2
Management’s heard that Alistair Jones is going through puberty again so have stocked up on spot cream, but he’s just eaten too much chocolate. SPECS
Minimum OS: Ubuntu 18.04 64-bit CPU: 3.4GHz Intel Core i3-4130 Mem: 4GB HDD: 42GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 2GB, AMD Radeon R9 380 4GB (Vulkan driver, Nvidia v430.14, AMD Mesa 19.1.2), Intel GPU not supported. Recommended: CPU: 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-6500 Mem: 8GB GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB, AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB
uring the third episode of Life is Strange 2, main character Sean Diaz is presented with a choice that could help bring his ordeal to an early end, but would put his little brother Daniel in danger. Being the responsible father figure that we clearly are, we decline the opportunity. But then later on in the episode, we’re asked to make that same choice again. And then again. In the end, the decision is made for us, and everything falls to pieces. Life is Strange 2 begins in suburban Seattle, where a fatal misunderstanding forces Sean and Daniel to flee their home. In his panic, Sean takes his brother on the run, aiming for his father’s family home in Puerto Lobos, Mexico, and the pair take the first steps on their year-long journey to the border. His decision provides an impressive backdrop to their adventure – chilling Oregon winters, towering Californian forests and sweltering Arizona deserts offer an ambitious alternative to the series’ traditionally small-town narratives – but also forces Life is Strange 2 to immediately undermine its road-tripping raison d’etre. Rather than directly portray a 2,400-kilometre journey, developer Dontnod sticks to its series’ classic tropes. Exploration, dialogue, and character development are its strengths, but those are difficult to achieve within the confines of a Greyhound bus. Instead, the story moves
Scenic environments offer moments of respite for the brothers.
from vignette to vignette, with each chapter set months after the one before, in a place where Sean and Daniel can stay in relative safety for a few days or weeks. Here lies the game’s most existential dilemma. These havens provide a place to live –at least temporarily – almost entirely off-grid, a rare opportunity to lay low and take stock. In one episode, whole chunks of dialogue are given over to the idea of holding out for next month’s pay cheque, while another places the brothers firmly within the nuclear family they both so clearly crave. Those themes of financial security and familial responsibility are woven throughout the game, but their importance pales in comparison to Dontnod’s desire for a classic road trip, and so Sean and Daniel are moved on, irrespective of the decisions made within the episode.
Brotherly bonds are put under pressure when fleeing from the law.
22 LXF260 March 2020
SUBSCRIBE Save money today!
Sign up today and get this fantastic
STM DRIFTER LAPTOP BACKPACK YOUR GIFT! WORTH £89.95 t,
ou Don’t miss ow! subscribe n
Designed to carry most 15-inch laptops and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, this 18L backpack is spacious, comfy, protects your devices and is packed with pockets!
The protective tech-cell lifts your laptop off the bottom of the bag keeping, off it the impact zone Spacious 18L capacity for books, shoes, clothing and more! Dedicated tablet pocket is integrated into the laptop sleeve 3D foam mesh back-panel with air-flow channel for hot days Internal power pocket provides a place to store your charger Reflective light loop for better visibility and night safety
SUBSCRIBE NOW! www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/lin/stm1
Call: 0344 848 2852 24 LXF260 March 2020
Overseas subs on p65
PLUS: Exclusive access to the Linux Format subs area! 1
! DON’T MISS s ar ye Now with 5 & r se U x of Linu Developer issues
CHOOSE YOUR PACKAGE! 6-MONTH PRINT ONLY
ANNUAL PRINT AND DIGITAL
£32.50 6-month print by Direct Debit
2-YEAR PRINT AND DIGITAL
Annual print and digital by Direct Debit
2-year print and digital one-off payment
Terms and conditions: This offer is only available for new UK subscribers. Gift is subject to availability (MSRP £89.95). Please allow up to 60 days for the delivery of your gift. In the event of stocks being exhausted we reserve the right to replace with items of similar value. Prices and savings quoted are compared to buying full-priced print and premium subscriptions. You will receive 13 issues in a year. You can write to us or call us to cancel your subscription within 14 days of purchase. Payment is nonrefundable after the 14 day cancellation period unless exceptional circumstances apply. UK calls will cost the same as other standard fixed line numbers (starting 01 or 02) or are included as part of any inclusive or free minutes allowances (if offered by your phone tariff). For full terms and conditions please visit: www.bit.ly/magterms. Offer ends 31 March 2020.
March 2020 LXF260 25
1) Only available to MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk subscribers.
1,000s of DRM-free PDF back issues and articles! Get instant access back to issue 66 (May 2005) with tutorials, interviews, features and reviews. At linuxformat.com
ROUNDUP Beginner WE COMPARE TONSdistros OF STUFF SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
Roundup Deepin Elementary OS Solus Zorin OS
Shashank Sharma By day Shashank is a New Delhi trial lawyer, but by night he’s an open source vigilante!
Beginner distros There are dozens of distributions aimed at new and inexperienced Linux users. Shashank Sharma narrows the selection down to five.
HOW WE TESTED… All the distributions were tested on the same dual-core machine with 4GB RAM, and we’ve selected the latest stable release for each distribution. Documentation is one of the most important deciding factors when choosing a distribution if you’re a new user. And just as important is the installation process. Since our focus is on users who’ve probably never installed a Linux distribution before, this is a key criteria. Another important factor is software management and the kind of apps that are shipped with the distribution. Apart from these, the distribution also needs to be easy to use for day-to-day activities. As you spend time with Linux distributions, you’ll learn that adaptability is one of their best qualities. An ideal distribution for newbies is one that does all of the above and also makes it easy for them to tweak settings and make other changes to mould the distribution to their liking.
26 LXF260 March 2020
he end of support for Windows 7 in January 2020 is just one of the many reasons that might compel new users to switch to Linux in the new year. If you’ve never used Linux before, or have limited experience, choosing a Linux distribution out of an ever-growing list can be a very daunting task. Linux distributions can be categorised on the basis of many different criteria, such as the default desktop environment, their package management system and even the resource requirements. Conventional wisdom suggests that rolling-release distributions are best suited for advanced users. While this might have been
true in the early to mid-2000s, it’s no longer the case, with the myriad sources of information, vast amounts of documentation and informational video tutorials scattered across the internet. This is why our selection features two rolling-release options. Regardless of your computing experience or background, our selection of distributions will serve as the perfect starting point for your open source journey. We understand that being new to Linux doesn’t necessarily mean you’re new to computing. Some of the distributions in our selection might seem too simplistic, and if that’s the case you may find a useful option in the Also Consider section.
Beginner distros ROUNDUP
The installation process for most Linux distributions typically follows a routine set of steps, which define the time zone and specify the keyboard layout, partition the hard disk and creating a user account.
Will these distros assist or hinder you on your journey? any Linux distributions give users the option to try them before installing them to disk. This highly useful feature lets you test the various aspects of a distribution, such as installing new software, and otherwise acclimatise to it without going through installation. This is important because installing Linux, although a far more streamlined process nowadays, still requires users to make some crucial decisions that they might not have faced before. The most important of these is partitioning, where you can choose to either erase the entire disk and use it to install the distro or specify a custom partitioning layout. At the very least, Linux distributions require a root partition (often referenced by the / symbol). Its also possible to carve separate partitions, such as /home, etc. but this is for slightly more experienced users. If you’re unsure about performing the partitioning yourself for fear of risking the data on your disk, running Linux in a virtual machine is a viable solution. You can install Oracle VirtualBox or a similar app to your existing operating system, and then install Linux within, which will not harm your existing installation or data. Deepin requires a minimum of 16GB of disk space, and recommends at least 20GB. It doesn’t have a live medium, so you must install it to disk before you can use it. The Elementary OS installer is quite robust and lets you create a custom partitioning layout on your disk. By default, the installer will automatically download all available updates during installation. You can turn this off by unselecting the relevant
checkbox. You can always install updates post-installation, if after a few days of testing you decide to persist with the distribution. The Solus installer is more primitive compared to others. You must already have specific space on your hard disk carved out for it before beginning the installation. You can use the live environment to experiment with the distro and even use the included GParted tool to partition your hard disk and make room for Solus. Unlike the other distributions, which don’t let you choose what software is installed by default, Manjaro gives you the choice between LibreOffice and SoftMaker FreeOffice suite during installation, but nothing else.
VERDICT DEEPIN 8/10 SOLUS 6/10 ELEMENTARY OS 10/10 ZORIN OS 9/10 MANJARO 10/10 With the exception of Deepin, all other distributions provide a Live environment so that you can use the distribution without installing it first.
Bundled software Are they usable out of the box? eepin ships with a large compliment of custom, homegrown applications to help you play music, videos, etc. Also on offer is the Chrome browser and Thunderbird email client. Instead of LibreOffice, the office suite of choice for most distributions, Deepin instead ships with WPS Office. Elementary OS strives to provide a very simple and elegant design. It’s for this reason that it ships with lightweight apps that follow a simple design philosophy. It ships with Epiphany web browser, which is incredibly lightweight. One app of note is the Ciano multimedia file converter, which can be used to convert audio, video and image files to different formats. These are complimented by a string of home-grown apps such as Music, Video, Camera, Photos, etc. that perform the functions suggested by their names. Manjaro ships with all the applications a user will most likely need on their desktop, such as Firefox, the Thunderbird email client, KGet download manager, VLC media player, etc. Also available is Timeshift, a system backup and restore tool. You can also connect the distribution to your Android device using the KDE Connect application. With Zorin OS, you get the usual multimedia, office and internet apps such as the Totem video player, Rhythmbox audio player,
All the distros in our list offer the very minimum, such as internet browser, email client, text editors and media players.
LibreOffice suite and the Firefox web browser. Also included is the Remmina desktop-sharing app, as well as the video editor Pitivi, GIMP image editor and Shotwell image viewer. Unlike the other distributions, Zorin OS also ships Déjà Dup, an easy-to-use tool to backup your data.
VERDICT DEEPIN 8/10 SOLUS 6/10 ELEMENTARY OS 6/10 ZORIN OS 10/10 MANJARO 10/10 Compared to others, Elementary OS and Solus provide fewer default packages.
March 2020 LXF260 27
WON’T DO Jonni Bidwell meets Kate Stewart, senior director of Strategic Programs at the Linux Foundation, to talk about Zephyr, licenses, garbage trucks and reindeer.
46 LXF260 March 2020
Kate Stewart INTERVIEW
ack in LXF247 we interviewed the Zephyr Project’s Thea Aldritch, where we learned Zephyr is a tiny real-time operating system (RTOS) that is destined for great things. Zephyr is not Linux, but that didn’t stop kernel don Greg Kroah-Hartman, in our last issue, describing it as one of his favourite Linux Foundation projects. Kate has had over 30 years’ experience in the software world as a developer and a manager. She’s also a key player in the SPDX project, which aims to sort out code licensing once and for all. She gives us an update on what’s new with the Zephyr project, and how it’s learning from Linux.
Linux Format: Can you tell me about your role at the Linux Foundation? Kate Stewart: Well I’m the director of the project board, so that means I interface between the board and the technical community. I work on strategy and try and build relationships within various parts of the ecosystem. I help to build the ecosystem and try to make sure that any problems that come up are addressed. There are a lot of places I’d like Zephyr to go this year. We just formed a relationship with the Eclipse IoT people, because they’ve got communication stacks and protocols, but they needed a good underlying RTOS to power them all – they had an open spot there. So finding where we can be complementary and reinforce other open source projects is something we feel strongly about. LXF: I met with Thea at the Open Source Summit in 2018, and one of the things that made the Zephyr Project so special was the openness of the community. Can you speak about that? KS: The community has continued to grow. Right now we have about 550 developers who have committed [code] to the GIT repo. So people seem to enjoy working with us, we’re getting a very positive reaction and response. There’s growing pains right now, a little bit anyway, but that’s what happens when you’re growing. We’ve got a fair amount of cool things emerging into the repo, some things that we really weren’t expecting. Last year we added 64-bit RISC-V support (http:// bit.ly/LXF260risc), that was contributed by Nicolas Pitre. And then last week the OpenPOWER Foundation (see news LXF255) contributed a port for the 64-bit POWER Architecture. I wasn’t expecting Zephyr to
be in the 64-bit space initially. So people are finding it useful for various purposes. We’ve been keeping the community aspect front and centre. Our Slack channel has well over a thousand contributors in it. And we’ve seen a tremendous number of visitors to our website, and downloads from GitHub and such. LXF: I visited your website this morning. KS: Ah so you’re one of that number
actually lots of really cool products coming out with the 91 soon. There’s one called Anicare (see http://bit.ly/LXF260nordic), which is an ear tag for reindeer and other animals in Scandinavia. These are things that you wouldn’t expect, but because Zephyr’s built and designed for low-power and long-life applications it’s ideal. These tags go on the reindeer so they can be tracked and geosensed. People can see if they’re moving or not, and things like
BRINGING ZEPHYR TO REINDEER “These tags go on the reindeer so they can be tracked and geosensed. People can see if they’re moving or not, and things like that. The battery has to last a long time.” then. Thanks. We’re actually revising the website in the coming months to make certain areas more approachable. But the community mostly interacts with Slack and in the repo lists and such. We’re having a hands-on session at this conference actually, so people can play with a Zephyr-powered board and get basic communication sorted. Nordic donated the boards for that. LXF: I’ve seen some Nordic Semiconductor boards, they’re rather cool. And they have funky names. I think it was the Thingy:91 I was looking at. KS: I wanted that one too, but for our hands-on we have the Thingy:52. There’s
that. The battery has to last a long time, and it’s much better than the big collars people used to use for tracking. Apparently it makes sense for the hearders, because if anything happens to the animals and they can prove that it was something natural like a wolf attack, then they get the insurance. So that way they can see if it’s worth doing the extra trek. Another application has put devices into boxes that are welded onto the side of garbage trucks. Why? Well, these trucks are meant to go to landfills. So the device triggers when the driver dumps the cargo, and sends a geolocation signal. This can be of use to catch people that aren’t using landfills – there’s a big problem with illegal
March 2020 LXF260 47
Protect yourself from whatever is the packet-based equivalent of fire with Jonni Bidwell’s firewall primer.
he phrase “Linux doesn’t need a firewall” is commonly voiced. And it’s true, in the sense that your desktop distribution will work just fine without one. The same is true for Windows, up to a point, yet it still ships with one enabled by default. And any hardened user of the Redmond-ian OS would frown at you if you turned it off without good reason. Why? Because it takes away a layer of security that probably wasn’t doing any harm in the first place. The main difference, and the reason Linux users get away with no firewall, is that a standard desktop install isn’t running many services. So even if someone you didn’t trust could contact your machine, there are no listening ports to connect to. On Windows, a standard install will have at least file and printer-sharing (SMB, NetBIOS) services
50 LXF260 March 2020
listening, and probably much more. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – those services are firewalled after all – but even if they weren’t, many of them (by default) are only listening on the LAN, or even the local loopback address. However, if something went wrong and for some reason the filesharing service started listening on the 0.0.0.0 (all interfaces) address, without a firewall we’d be living dangerously. Not only could attackers see our shares, but they could leverage an exploit against the service. Here we’ll discuss the ins and outs of filtering packets with iptables, nftables and the simpler ufw. We’ll dispel myths about the protections offered by home routers, and we’ll show you how to set up a simple firewall that doesn’t get in your way, doesn’t require any command-line jargon and will make your Linux install just that little bit safer.
Streaming from the command line
Shashank Sharma won’t ever stop singing the praises of the command line, and applications like Musikcube, are the reason why. olidays are the time to get together with friends and family and share stories over some good food. It’s an undeniable fact that such gettogethers are even better when complimented with music – major brownie points if you’ve got a streaming system in place. But if you want geek creds, you’ve got to be able to do all that from the command line. Musikcube is a cross-platform music player. The native streaming ability sets Musikcube apart from other popular command-line music players such as Cmus. Although it isn’t available in the software repositories of many popular desktop distributions, the BSD-licensed project provides 64-bit binaries for the more-recent releases of Fedora and Ubuntu. Unlike most other command-line utilities, Musikcube does have quite a few dependencies, but thankfully most of these are offered in the software repositories of most distributions. After downloading the pre-packaged binaries for your distribution, you can use the native
OUR EXPERT Shashank Sharma is a trial lawyer in Delhi. He’s pained at having to abandon the noble quest of growing a yeard (a hipster beard) after 10 months.
STREAMING WITH MUSIKDROID Apart from the command-line music player, the project also produces an Android app called Musikdroid. This can be used as a remote control to manage the Musikcube player, or to stream music. First, head over to the Settings view on Musikcube and select Server Setup. The default ports should suffice for most users. Select the Audio Streaming Enabled option using the arrow keys and then press Spacebar. You should now see an [X] adjacent to this option. You can optionally set up a password for remote access. This is all the configuration that is needed to stream music to your Android devices. Next, download the Musikdroid app from the project’s releases page and install it on your Android phone. Once installed, you still need to configure the app. Open its Settings and enter the IP address of the host machine and password, if any. The icon at the top right of the app’s interface is used to toggle between streaming or remote control mode. In the latter mode, the actual playback occurs on the host machine, but you can select the track to play and otherwise control playback from your Android phone. In streaming mode, you can access and listen to your library on your phone.
54 LXF260 March 2020
package management utility to install Musikcube, and it will inform you of any missing dependencies. The project’s wiki on GitHub has a list of distribution-specific dependencies and instructions on installing Musikcube from source.
Using the player The hardest part of working with Musikcube is getting its spelling right. Thankfully, the auto-complete feature on Bash means you will never encounter this difficulty. Besides, you can also create an alias to circumvent the curious spelling. When you launch Musikcube, it drops you into the Settings view. The interface is split into three different panes. The pane at the bottom lists a number of configurable options that define the app’s behaviour. For instance, you can configure Musikcube’s server settings, change key bindings, change the output device, etc. Take your time navigating through the different configurable options. You can tie Musikcube with your Last.fm account or change to a different colour theme. If the Check For Updates On Startup option is enabled, Musikcube will display a pop-up informing you of the availability of a new release. In the top left is the file browser. You can use it to select your music directories. To add a directory to the
You can use the Tab key to switch from one pane to the next. The user guide refers to the different panes on the interface as windows.
TUTORIALS Password manager Credit: https://bitwarden.com
Set up a secure password manager Nick Peers reveals how to take your password management to the next level with the option of a self-hosted server. t goes without saying that relying on the same old passwords to secure your online accounts is not good practice. A quick trip to https:// haveibeenpwned.com should reveal that one or more of them has been exposed in the past 20 years or so. The solution is simple, yet complicated. It’s simple because you just need to generate long, random passwords comprising letters, numbers and symbols to make them hard to guess or crack through brute force, but complicated because it’s hard to remember them all. The solution lies in employing the services of a password manager. This helps you to generate those random passwords, then stores them securely in an encrypted file (or vault) that’s locked behind a ‘master
OUR EXPERT Nick Peers At last Nick believes he’s protected by unique, long, random passwords.
Manage passwords and other info 1
password’ – the only password you’ll have to remember going forward. This should be lengthy but memorable (to you), and can be further protected using secondary layers such as 2FA. Password managers come in all shapes and sizes, but to be truly effective they need to be cross-platform, work in any browser and simplify the act of entering passwords through autofill and paste features. Plenty of proprietary solutions offer these, but few are open source, which raises questions about transparency. Cross-platform means apps for all major platforms: Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, Apple and web browsers (Chrome and Firefox, but preferably more). Your vault is kept synced between your devices via the cloud. The cloud might mean storing your vault on one of your cloud services, or relying on the password manager’s own proprietary server. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get the option of setting up your own self-hosted server. Using the cloud throws up security considerations of its own, so the vault needs to be encrypted using keys that aren’t accessible to your password manager. We’ve narrowed our choice of recommended password managers to three. The first option is the least flexible but is a good choice if you’re already using KeePass to store sensitive information on your PC. That option is KeePassXC (https://keepassxc.org). It’s optimised for multi-platform use but has no built-in support for cloud providers (you’ll need to set this up). Our second option is simpler to set up and implement – check out the boxout (opposite page) for more on Buttercup. It’s currently quite early in its
6 Types You can store more than just passwords – payment cards, identities (for filling forms) and generic secure notes can all be stored.
List matching logins The currently selected type or folder’s contents are listed here – click one to view and edit its properties.
Organise into folders Group related information together – click + next to Folders to add a new folder.
Organise items Choose which folder to file the current item into here, or tick Favourite to make it easier to find.
Edit item After clicking Edit, you can manually change existing information and add new info. Previous passwords are retained under Password history.
56 LXF260 March 2020
More controls Buttons beneath the edit item fields enable you to save, share (with other organisations) and delete the item.
You can store more than one login for each website – which is useful when accessing multiple services on the same server.
TUTORIALS Joplin notes Credit: https://joplinapp.org
OUR EXPERT Mike McCallister has spent the millennium wrangling Linux and telling people about his adventures. He’s partial to openSUSE, but don’t hold that against him.
Ragtime? Download Joplin at https://joplinapp.org. Scroll down to the Installation section, and you’ll see the desktop apps. Click the Get It On Linux button to download an AppImage, or use the script provided: wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ laurent22/joplin/master/Joplin_install_and_update.sh | bash
Set up a to-do list in Markdown, and check off your tasks in the WYSIWIG panel.
60 LXF260 March 2020
Save the script to a file, as you can run it to update the app to a newer version. You can also install a portable app to store and run from a thumb drive, which is handy if you switch machines often. On first launch, a Welcome notebook offers a quick tutorial for Joplin.
Updating Joplin Joplin updates frequently with bug fixes and new features. You can get on the project mailing list to be notified when a new release is ready to download. You can also go to Help > Check For Updates in the app to get the latest AppImage from GitHub. Download the new AppImage and make it executable. The updated version then takes over, and your notes and settings are all restored. Go to Tools > General Options and scroll down to Application to have the application check for updates on startup. Check the Automatically Update The Application option to be notified when there’s something new. Look for Get Pre-releases when checking for updates if you want to test beta releases. When a new release comes out, the notification window will take you to the download site for the new AppImage.
Import old notes The next step is bringing your Evernotes into Joplin. Evernote uses an ENEX extension for its export file. To create this file, go to your All Notes notebook and select all. Go to File > Export. If you have a decade’s worth of notes, be patient! Tags make it through the exportimport process, but you have to create new notebooks in Joplin. If you really like your notebook collections, export each notebook separately, as Evernote will name the export file with the notebook name. Once the ENEX file is complete, open Joplin. Go to File > Import > ENEX file. Select the file to import, and after a while it will appear in Joplin. One caution: while you may be planning to switch permanently away from Evernote, you may choose to keep your app on hand. Joplin does a good job of importing all material, but if you’ve got a 10-year-old web clipping with a graphic included, the graphic may be sitting on an Evernote server, but the export file only includes the graphic’s URL at the time it was saved, or perhaps an internal Evernote reference point. If the
SUBSCRIPTION OFFER FREE DIGITAL MAGS!
and get a selection of digital tech mags for FREE!
www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/lin/intt10 Offer available to EU, US and ROW subscribers *Terms and Conditions: This offer applies to all new subscribers. This offer entitles new subscribers to their first quarter of issues for £10, €10 or $10 dependent on location. After these issues, standard subscription pricing will apply – please see online for details. Offer applies to print subscription only for iCreate, Linux Format, MacFormat, T3, What Hi-Fi?, Windows Help & Advice. You will receive an email after your purchase with a downloadable link to your free digital magazines. Prices and savings quoted are compared to buying full-priced print issues. You can call us to cancel your subscription within 14 days of purchase. Payment is non-refundable after the 14 day cancellation period unless exceptional circumstances apply. For full terms and conditions please visit: www.bit.ly/magterms. Offer ends April 30th 2020.
TUTORIALS Project management
Project management all in plain text Taking “Your Life in Plain Text” to the extreme, Aaron Peters shows how to manage complex projects with Emacs Org-Mode. rg-Mode’s motto is, “Your Life in Plain Text”, and in LXF241 we took a look at how you could use Org-Mode to author and publish a writing project, such as that Linux Format article itself (sort of like getting an OS to finally compile itself?). We also touched on Org-Mode’s ability to manage tasks, i.e. items that are either to-do or done. In this article we’ll look at Org-Mode’s more sophisticated projectmanagement functions.
OUR EXPERT Aaron Peters is constantly amazed (confused?) by the depth and breadth of Org-Mode’s functionality.
If you followed the tutorial in LXF241, you may want to include your project plan and the text of your writing project in the same file. If so, change the #+COLUMNS line to a :COLUMNS: property for the headline holding your plan.
Org-Mode tasks Before proceeding, let’s briefly review tasks at a basic level. Org-Mode considers any line starting with one or more asterisks (followed by a single space) to be a *headline*. Headlines, among other things, can be assigned a status and thereby made into a task. By default, you can rotate a headline through the following three states: blank (no status, it’s just a headline); *TODO* (a task, but not yet completed); and *DONE*. The keybinding Shift-Left and Shift-Right cycle through this order backwards and forwards, respectively; in addition the command *org-todo* will cycle forward only. For the purpose of this article, when we refer to a “task” it implies that it’s an Org-Mode headline with an assigned status. We’ll also cite the formal Org-Mode commands in the article, but we’ll provide a summary of them with their associated keyboard shortcuts at the
Org-Mode parent task with rolled-up progress for five children. Note also the checklist in the first one.
66 LXF260 March 2020
The Properties drawer can be toggled with the Tab key, making it easy to hide when you don’t need it.
end. This alone gives you the ability to assemble functional if simple task lists. But you’re not here for simple are you?
Break it down A basic part of project management is to break down large initiatives into smaller pieces that can be delegated, easily understood, and achieved. In OrgMode terms this means taking high-level headlines and creating sub-headlines beneath them. Looking back at LXF241, we see that adding asterisks to the start of the line indents headlines. So for a large task such as writing this article, we can break it down into some distinct sub-items, as follows: * Advanced Project Management in Org-Mode ** Outline the Project Management Process ** List Relevant Org-Mode Features ** Draft Article Text ** Take & Crop Screenshots ** Format for Submission
Adding these as sub-tasks enables you to attack your project in manageable chunks. Org-Mode also supports a ‘roll-up’ of your sub-task progress. If you append [/] to the end of a task that contains sub-tasks, it will begin to track the number completed versus the
HOTPICKS THE BEST NEW OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE ON THE PLANET
Alexander Tolstoy humbly thinks that he has visited most of the nooks and crannies of the internet and knows where the best OSS picks are!
Trinity MusicBrainz Picard Veusz Reiser5 QtHashSum NodeTube Tangram Bonsai Qtfm Marble Marcher The House DESKTOP ENVIRONMENT
Trinity Version: Trinity Web: http://trinitydesktop.org hese days there are very few Linux distributions that support the legacy KDE 4 desktop. Despite that, there is a vibrant community that looks even further into the depth of time and supports development of the yet older KDE 3 branch under the name of Trinity, or TDE for short. This is a stunning example of a project that’s managed to successfully resurrect the historic software and breathe new life into it. Lately there was the new Trinity 14.0.7 release with lots of goodness, plus a generous selection of ready-to-use packages for many mainstream Linux distros, so it is easy to give it a try. Essentially, TDE is KDE 3 updated to work with modern Linux apps and services. It retains all the benefits of its parent – speed, a low-resource footprint, impressive selection of settings and things you can change or tune (spoiler: almost anything), plus it eliminates bottlenecks that an older desktop would cause if used nowadays: the inability to mount drives, outdated certificates, broken IM protocol support, no PulseAudio integration, etc. TDE fixes all these points, and in version 14.0.7 it even brings back the AIM and MSN support in Kopete. We had a great time working with TDE. It felt very snappy, very smooth and fun, and not flat or boring. Unlike MATE, where Gnome 2 parts were renamed en masse, TDE kept any original names whenever possible, so that we have Konqueror for file and web browsing, Kview for opening images, Kate for a text editor, and so on. The TDE installation usually resides in /opt or somewhere else outside /usr, so the desktop can co-exist with newer KDE and Plasma. If you have low-end hardware, TDE can give it a new lease of life. The desktop is insanely fast and beautiful without any effects, CPU-heavy indexers or other background processes. Most components and apps open with one second or less, even on a slow PC, and most of them are useful – like KMail 1.9, which can successfully manage modern Gmail mailboxes.
82 LXF260 March 2020
‘Crystal’ icons and ‘Keramik’ style are here to stay. No material design detected!
What’s where in Trinity... 5
2 1 The main panel Icons, launchers and the taskbar strip is called Kicker here, and it is highly customisable, just like almost everything in TDE!
Konquer your desktop and the web Konqueror is the integrated suite for file and web browsing. Depending on what you need, it launches with different layouts.
The ‘Start’ menu A built-in search tool and an autoupdated list of recently used apps.
The desktop Place files and shortcuts here. Rearrange all the items the way you need them using the right-click menu.
Trinity Control Center Provides a lot more things than the modern ‘systemsettings5’. Customisation rocks!
CODING ACADEMY CODING ACADEMY Python & Qt5
Monitor git projects John Schwartzman discusses a PyQt5 program that will find all of your git repositories and display their status. o you need a hand keeping all your git repositories up to date? Do you want a visual reminder of the modified, added, renamed, untracked and deleted files in your git working directories? Build a Qt 5 Python 3 GUI application that finds all of your git repositories and displays their status through colours. The left panel of Figure 1 (see right) shows the locations of all of the git working directories sorted alphabetically. We have selected the git working directory home/js/Development/historyDialog. Notice that its colour is red, which indicates the presence of modified files in the working directory. There are also deleted and untracked files, but the overall status is determined by the presence of modified files. The right panel shows the issues that git reports about individual files in the git working directory. They are colour-coded by importance, where red signifies an important issue, orange signifies a less-important issue and green signifies that git reported no issues. Our historyDialog directory shown in Figure 1 is not currently used. It could be deleted, but we can also tell gitStatus.py to ignore this repository by adding it to the gitStatus.ini file in the same directory. You’ll build the dialog-based application visually using Qt 5 Designer and then save it as GitStatusDialog.ui. This is an XML file that contains information about all of the widgets in the application and their properties and configurations. You’re going to use a tool to convert it into a Python script. Execute Qt 5 Designer from the system menu or from the command line. In order to run it from the command line type: designer-qt5 . You should see the File > New Dialog as shown in Figure 2 (see opposite). You need to add the methods shown in the boxout (see opposite). Build the dialog from scratch by clicking on Dialog Without Buttons under Templates/Forms. You can also, of course, start with your copy of GitStatusDialog.ui. If you’re building it from scratch, you will want to add widgets from the palette found on the left; add three QLabels, two QTextEdits, two QListWidgets and two QButtons and position them as shown in Figure 3 (see page 90). The upper-right corner of the screen in Figure 3 shows the added widgets and their assigned names. The QLabels and the QTextEdit widgets should have a focusPolicy of NoFocus selected. Set the properties of these in the property editor, seen on the right-hand side
OUR EXPERT John Schwartzman is a long-time engineering consultant to business and government. He also teaches Computer Science at a local college. John can be reached at john@ fortesystem. com.
Running pydoc ./gitStatus.py provides a list of the methods and data in gitStatus.py and allows you to browse it using less. Running pydoc ./gitStatus.py > gitStatus.txt
will produce gitStatus.txt you can browse in your editor.
88 LXF260 March 2020
Figure 1: The gitStatus application has found the git repositories. The Status pane shows issues reported by git for the historyDialog repository.
of Figure 3. All other widgets should have their focusPolicy set to StrongFocus. All widgets should have their enabled check box checked and should also have their toolTip and whatsThis text properties set to something descriptive. We now want to set the size policy of all of the widgets so that the dialog will resize properly. The four widgets on the upper left of the dialog and the two QButtons have their horizontal and vertical size policies set to Fixed. They won’t be resized. We want all the other widgets to stretch when we resize the dialog. The Status label has its horizontal and vertical size policies set to Preferred. The two list widgets, listWidgetRepo and listWidgetStatus, have their horizontal and vertical size policies set to Minimum Expanding. Select Form > Preview from the menu and make sure that the dialog resizes properly when you stretch it by pulling on the bottom right-hand corner of the dialog. There are just a couple more steps. Select Edit > Edit Buddies from the menu and make the Git Repositories label a buddy of listWidgetRepo. Then make the Status label a buddy of listWidgetStatus. Now, select Edit > Edit Tab Order from the menu and set the tab order to 1. listWidgetRepo, 2. listWidgetStatus, 3. pushButtonRefresh and 4. pushButtonClose. Finally, select Edit > Edit Signals/Slots and drag a line between pushButtonClose and the Close Button on the top right-hand corner of the gitStatus Dialog. Use the Configure Connection dialog to make the SIGNAL clicked(bool) connect to the SLOT accept(). This is
On the disc
DOWNLOAD YOUR DVD Get
code and DVD images at: www.linuxformat.com /archives
Discover the highlights from this month’s packed DVD!
START HERE USING THE LXFDVD
Using Linux for the first time can be very confusing. It’ll be unlike anything that you’ve likely operated before, especially if you’re used to Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS. Generally our DVDs are designed to be run directly, which is to say that when you first power on your PC (or Mac) it should ‘boot’ from the DVD – so before Windows or macOS even starts to load – with Linux running directly from the DVD. This trick is known as a Live Disc. It enables you to try out the various versions of Linux without having to install or change anything on your PC. Just remove the DVD, restart your PC and it’ll be exactly as you left it. While many systems will boot from a DVD when it finds one, many will not. See below for the standard process for enabling booting from a DVD on various desktops and laptop PCs. The alternative option is to locate the ISO file on the DVD and write this to your own USB thumb drive and attemp to run that. We recommend using Etcher from https://balena.io/etcher that’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux. Good luck!
WE CAN COPE WITH SIMPLE REC. SPECS: 4GB RAM, 15GB STORAGE
Elementary OS 5.1 ithout a doubt, Elementary OS is one of the slickest, shiniest Linux distributions out there. Its Pantheon desktop is often compared to macOS, and more often than not that’s meant as a compliment. Elementary OS aims for beauty through simplicity, a nod to the oft-shoehorned Antoine de Saint-Exupéry morsel, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. So instead of layers of unnecessary configuration and options, Elementary OS goes for sane defaults that people wouldn’t want to change. Elementary has its own applications (you can of course add anything from the Ubuntu repos) that synergise with its delightful desktop. Apart from a cohesive style, these are pretty unique in that they save their state automatically. In theory that means you should never have to save your work, but that’s a dangerous habit to get into. Elementary has it’s own AppCenter (it’s what Pop!_OS’s app store is based on) where you can find any number of applications to augment your desktop. It has a pay-what-youwant model, which might irk the ‘free as in beer’ crowd, but developers need to eat too.
BOOT THE DISC
Many PCs should boot automatically if they’re turned on with a disc in the drive. If not, many offer an early Boot Menu accessed by tapping a key while powering up from cold: F9 (HP), F12 (Dell, Lenovo), F8 (Amibios) or F11 (Award BIOS). Alternatively, use the BIOS/UEFI to adjust the boot order to start with the optical drive. Again, this is accessed by tapping a key during power up, usually Del but sometimes F1 or F2. Some new UEFI PCs require access via Windows: holding Shift select its Restart option. If you’re still having problems using the DVD visit: www.linuxformat.com/ dvdsupport Mac owners: Hold the C key while powering on your system to boot from the disc.
96 LXF260 March 2020
There’s something calming about a blank desktop, but on elementary OS it evokes a zen-like state of blissfulness.
The stylish and privacy-conscious Ephemeral web browser is available in the AppCenter.
Back in October, Elementary OS’s versioning scheme grew up, as it jumped from 0.4 to 5.0. This point release, codenamed Hera, snuck out a couple of months later. And we figured it was well worth including on the disc. There’s a new Onboarding greeter app to help new users set up common tasks and show them where the documentation’s at. Accessibility features have been tweaked and settings applets can now be found straight from the Applications Menu search box. The Calendar, Photos and Music applications have all been revamped. This release incorporates Ubuntu’s 18.04.3 HWE stack. There’s now support for Flatpak applications in AppCenter, and if the Flatpak you want hasn’t made it to the app store, then there’s a tool called Sideload you can use to, well, sideload it. Elementary committed to Flatpak back in April, citing its sandboxing and decentralisation features as important in a world where traditional packaging no longer cuts it. There’s no shortage of perfectly good Ubuntu-based distros around, but Elementary OS is one of only a handful we’d say are doing something genuinely unique, innovative and quite pretty.
DEFECTIVE DISCS: For basic help on running the disc or in the unlikely event of your Linux Format coverdisc being in any way defective, please visit our support site at www.linuxformat.com/dvdsupport. Unfortunately, we’re unable to offer advice on using the applications, your hardware or the operating system itself.
AND MORE! NO COUNTRY FOR OLD LOGOS
THE LXF LIBRARY
MIN SPECS: 1GB RAM, 15GB STORAGE
Mint 19.3 Cinnamon e got so excited with the last point release of Mint that we based our whole LXF255 cover illustration on it. This time it gets barely half a page in the back of the magazine, but that’s not to say we’re not excited about it. (‘Tis merely an underhand suggestion that our cover ideas are engendered by whim and caprice – though what is life without whimsy? Ed). Based on the Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS, the new release features a 5.0 series kernel and some rejigging of the bundled application chattels. Xplayer, from Mint’s own X-apps suite, has been ousted in favour of the stylish MPV frontend Celluloid. HiDPI support continues to improve,
As always, Mint comes with a raft of new usercontributed background images. We chose the darkest one.
with almost all bundled applications now supporting being scaled. There’s a new Drawing application, which replaces GIMP, and there are far too many improvements in the Cinnamon 4.4 desktop to list here. There is a new System Reports app that can tell you about missing codecs, drivers or language packs. And Nemo now has configurable context menus, so you can choose which actions appear for which filetypes. Perhaps most noticeable, though, is the new Mint logo. In hindsight perhaps we should’ve used this on the DVD wallet. Ooops, next time. Still, we did borrow its new boot menu theme on the disc, so you can see it there. Mint has proven popular with 32-bit users, and even though our disc this month is useless to them, those readers should perhaps grab (or upgrade to) this release, because unless something drastic happens, this will be the last ever 32-bit Mint version. The next release will be based on the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, and that is a 64-bit-only affair. This one, based on Ubuntu 18.04, will be supported until 2023.
BlackArch 2020.01 e’re still buzzing from the hacking feature a couple of month’s back, and we’re always buzzing about Arch Linux. So this Arch-based penetration testing distribution is a winner – unless you don’t have an internet connection. Then it’s pretty useless, because it’s basically a tweaked Arch install medium with the BlackArch repository added. You can log into it as root with the password blackarch at least. But if you do have access to the internet, then that repository will provide you with 2,443 (we
dvanced Bash A Scripting Guide Go further with shell scripting. ash Guide for Beginners B Get to grips with the basics of Bash scripting. ourne Shell Scripting B First steps in shell scripting. he Cathedral and T the Bazaar Eric S. Raymond’s classic text explains the advantages of open development. he Debian Book T Essential guide for sysadmins. ive Into Python D Everything you need to know. I ntroduction to Linux A handy guide full of pointers for new Linux users. inux Dictionary L The A-Z of everything to do with Linux. inux Kernel in a Nutshell L An introduction to the kernel written by master hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman. he Linux System T Administrator’s Guide Take control of your system. ools Summary T Overview of GNU tools. NU Emacs Manual G Six hundred pages of essential information! roducing Open P Source Software Everything you need to know.
rogramming from P the Ground Up Take your first steps.
counted them) of the finest security-related tools money can’t buy. You probably won’t get far trying to install them all on the live distro, but once you fetch and run the install scripts (read the manual) then you are free to add them. If you do install everything you’re looking at about 50GB of binary goodness, but there are also handy groups such as blackarch-cracker (password/hash cracking) and blackarchexploitation if you want to get things by theme. As always, if you get in trouble using this, you didn’t get it from us.
NEW TO LINUX? START HERE…
Never used a Linux before? Here are some handy resources: Read our quick-install guide http://bit.ly/LXFinstall Looking for an answer? https://askubuntu.com Want to delve more deeply? https://linuxjourney.com
March 2020 LXF260 97
You can subscribe to this magazine @ www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk