Robin Monks's articles

Free software media players

Last year, while running Ubuntu, I decided I wanted to watch a video, so I opened it up in the built-in Totem player. What happened next took me back to the dark era of codecs and computing. The XviD video I was watching became pixelated, the video became out of sync; within a few minutes it was unwatchable. I dual booted back into Windows XP, opened up by trusty MPUI and watched the video with the free software XviD codecs without any issues. The experience had left a bad taste in my mouth.

Burning CDs in GNOME

The GNOME desktop environment comes with a simple and single-minded CD burner application built into the Nautilus file manager (not dissimilar to what Microsoft bundles with Windows XP’s Windows Explorer and Vista’s Explorer) that can handle a lot of your file burning needs. But what do you do if you need more complex tasks done, like burning or ripping an ISO file, or creating an audio CD?

We are free software, you will be assimilated... you are assimilated

I love to write witty titles, in many cases more than the actual article, but this title kinda says it all (if you don't understand it, read this). If there are still those of you that are avoiding free software, give up. You lose. To view this blog entry alone you've used dozens of free software products.

Set up a free software IRC client in less than 5 minutes

Everyone loves IRC (stands for Internet Relay Chat; a kind of group chat room often used by open source/free software projects and developers, or as support channels), unfortunately the open source IRC clients out there are often hidden away. In this week's article, I'm going to show you how to set up your IRC client in under 5 minutes using only free software.

Make PDFs for free under the GPL

Now that the new versions of Ghostscript are available under the free software GPL license other projects relying on Ghostscript can be fully GPL software as well. One of these projects, PDFCreator, I recently tested and I must admit I'm impressed.

PDFCreator allows you to make a PDF of anything you can print, documents, spreadsheet, presentations, anything with a print function. PDFCreator even has encryption and security features that would make it perfect for a corporate environment.

Free software games: Tetris clones

Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena: from office suites to encyclopedias to full operating systems. One genre of computer software that most people overlook when thinking of free software is gaming. The fact is, sites such as Freshmeat have literally thousands of free software and freeware games for a huge variety of operating systems.

Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena

A free software win32 may be closer than you think

Imagine this picture...you turn on your PC, use Google Desktop to find a document, open it in Word 2003 and then print it to your Windows-only printer. A normal Windows users day right? Did I mention this person's OS is free software, is developed by a community and is in active development now?

That's right, there is a Windows replacement in the works (and now partially working!) that plans binary compatibility with Windows XP. That means you can use the same applications, the same drivers and have an easy UI. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Book review: PHP 5 Power Programming by Stig Bakken, Andi Gutmans, Derick Rethans

PHP is, in my opinion, the best computer language for developing almost any kind of web application. The authors of “PHP 5 Power Programming” apparently agree—they’ve written the most in-depth guide to the changes and new features in PHP 5 I have ever seen. Many free software web applications such as blog tools and content management systems are written in this versatile language.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Keep your private documents private

Digg it!

Nowadays, with more and more governmental censorship (and with it getting worse by the day, just look at Slashdot’s privacy section) and reports of hacking into major servers becoming almost a daily occurrence, we all want the maximum security and privacy possible online. Thankfully, some great free software projects have risen to the challenge! Here are some simple steps to keep your "stuff" safe:

Getting started with Knoppix Linux

Getting started with Knoppix Linux doesn’t have to be costly. Chances are you already have everything you need. The requirements are simple. Any computer newer than 5 years old with a working bootable CD or DVD drive should be able to run Knoppix.

Many consider Knoppix to be the most popular live CD. Knoppix has at least one of everything, configures automatically, and is a great way to get your feet wet in Linux.

Personal security: passwords

Passwords are, without a doubt, the perferred method of online security by online blogs, portals, e-commerce sites and just about anything else. For the most part, this is a good system. But, like all security systems, there is a point of possible disclosure, and it lies with you, the password creator, manager and holder. There are tricks to managing passwords, and free software programs to make managing passwords simple and I’ll show you some of them, right now...

The problem

Book review: Hardening Apache by Tony Mobily

A recent Netcraft survey found that approximately 67% of websites (two-thirds of the entire internet!) are served with Apache. With such a large number of administrators using Apache on their servers it stands to reason that a large number of crackers will focus their attentions on cracking it. That’s where “Hardening Apache”, a book by Free Software Magazine’s own excellent and keen-eyed Editor In Chief, Tony Mobily, comes in (it was just a little plug).

It’s an Ubuntu world

Ubuntu has become increasing popular amongst many Linux users, especially users trying Linux for the first time. Just why is Ubuntu so popular? I’ll explore some of its features and distributions this month, including Kubuntu and Edubuntu, and try to find out.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu, according to their website, is “Linux for Human Beings”. Ubuntu, an ancient African word meaning “humanity to others”, is a community designed Linux distribution based on Debian that is designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

Free software sites review - December

In this newsletter I’m going to try to point out the paramount free software sites. Or at least try to point out a few that will make you think for a minute, and maybe get your older computer to do something new.

I’ve asked around a bit to try to see what others feel are the best free software sites around, and I’ve chosen 5 of the best to show you for this article. Don’t be afraid to explore for yourself and find your own favourites.

I’m going to try to point out the paramount free software sites

KDE

KDE.orgKDE.org

Book review: Open Sources 2.0

Few people take the time to truly consider just how free software concepts have affected, and continue to affect, the software industry, developers, corporations, organizations and the entire web community. The book Open Sources 2.0 takes many essays from free software and open source leaders that have shaped free software as a thought process and as an industry, and places them into a single compilation.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

The contents

Book review: Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel

Many people who start an open source project just announce their project without any prior planning. But now Karl Fogel—who has worked on the development teams of CVS, GNU Emacs and, most recently, Subversion, and is also the writer of “Open Source Development with CVS”—has introduced an extremely comprehensive project guide that will change the way people begin and think about open source projects.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Pages

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