Issue 15

Issue 15

Digital image resizing with the GIMP

Processing digital images is a very common task today. Image processing tools are so common that users often process images by trial and error, without really knowing what they are doing. One of the operations people fail most commonly is resizing an image.

In this article I will explain how to resize images. This is a way for me to celebrate 10 years since I started studying digital image processing!

Fundamentals

Fun with free software astronomy

Astronomy software comes in many forms—from the details of computer intensive Grid computing of the distribution of stars (okay that’s astrophysics) to rendering the night sky in artistically detailed and sumptuous graphics. Being a devoted backseat observer to the evolution of the Universe in general and GNU/Linux software in specific, I thought it was time to show off what I consider to be the elite of desktop elegance. I will describe the installation and use of two astronomy related software packages: Stellarium and Celestia. These packages are visually appealing and fun to use.

Stitching seamless panoramas with Hugin

We can’t all afford four-figure priced twelve megapixel digital cameras with wide angle lenses. We can, however, all use free software to embellish the photographs taken by our modest equipment and belie their resolution and viewing angle. Set the GIMP aside for a moment and launch Hugin, a powerful cross-platform GTK frontend that will help you quickly and easily stitch individual photographs into one, large, seamless panorama.

Panoramas from start to finish

Bzflags

The aim of this article is to introduce the reader to Bzflags. Bzflags is a free software multiplayer 3D tank game that is frantic, full of immediate action, with a kill or be killed emphasis. The game is best served in multiplayer mode where you can hunt in packs, fight to the last ounce while chatting. Instant violent fun, gratification for those of you that need to let off steam and clear your minds living for the moment.

Creating a managed website—Part 2

Free software Content Management Systems (CMS) are capable of running most websites these days. Indeed, low initial costs and strong community-based support mean that many sites which can’t afford a proprietary CMS can now benefit from the facilities a CMS provides. In the first part of this article I looked at how a CMS might help and what you need to do to define your site’s target audience and structure. Now I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of selecting a CMS, installing it and setting up and promoting your site.

How do I choose the CMS?

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What CMSs are available?

Free software and politics in Yankeetown

The picturesque village of Yankeetown on Florida’s Nature Coast has been the recent target of a large time-sharing resort condominium development proposal. Several townsfolk looked into the development and discovered what appeared to be corrupt practices in the town government. A loosely organized group of citizens decided to coordinate and share information via a web presence. Beyond any expectations, the picture albums, message boards, and mailing lists they used have been the catalyst for gaining state-wide attention and have led to direct intervention from the Governor’s office.

Secure email servers from scratch with FreeBSD 6 (Part 2)

In the last article we parted ways after configuring a base FreeBSD system, enabling it with upgrades via cvsup and portsupgrade, and securing it with a simple ipfw2 firewall. The previous article created a solid foundation which this article will build on, covering the configuration of Postfix, amavisd-new, ClamAV, SpamAssassin, MySQL and finally SquirrelMail for web mail.

Have I already lost my bet?

I am angry. It’s not a good state to be in, and it’s definitely not healthy. However, today I just can’t help it.

The main problem is that I have a bet going on, and I feel I am going to lose it. My bet is that by 2010, more than 50% of the world’s laptop sales will have GNU/Linux preinstalled, rather than Windows.

Until a little while ago, I was feeling optimistic. However, my optimism fell after I decided that I needed a new laptop.

You’ve probably guessed already: I want a laptop with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled, and I’m having a great deal of trouble finding one.

Most forwarded

Anybody up to writing good directory software?

Since the very beginning, directories (of any kind) have had a very central role in the internet. (I have recently grown fond of Free Web Directory. Even Slashdot can be considered a directory: a collection of great news and invaluable user-generated comments. As far as software is concerned, doing a quick search on Google about software directories will return the free (as in freedom) software directories like Savannah, SourceForge, Freshmeat and so on, followed by shareware and freeware sites such as FileBuzz, PCWin Download Center and Freeware Downloads (great if you're looking for shareware and freeware, but definitely less comprehensive than their free-as-in-freedom counterparts).

Interview with Dave Mohyla, of DTIDATA

Dave Mohyla is the president and founder of dtidata.com, a hard drive recovery facility based in Tampa, Florida.

TM: Where are you based? What does your company do?
DTI Data recovery is based in South Pasadena, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa. We have been here for over 10 years. We operate a bio-metrically secured class 100 clean room where we perform hard drive recovery on all types of hard disks, from laptop hard drives to multi drive RAID systems.

Interview with Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Thawte, the first Certification Authority to sell public SSL certificates. After selling Thawte to Verisign, Mark moved on to training as an astronaut in Russia and visiting space. Once he got back he founded Ubuntu, the leading GNU/Linux distribution. He agreed on releasing a quick interview to Free Software Magazine.

Most emailed

Free Open Document label templates

If you’ve ever spent hours at work doing mailings, cursed your printer for printing outside the lines on your labels, or moaned “There has got to be a better way to do this,” here’s the solution you’ve been looking for. Working smarter, not harder! Worldlabel.com, a manufacture of labels offers Open Office / Libre Office labels templates for downloading in ODF format which will save you time, effort, and (if you want) make really cool-looking labels

Creating a user-centric site in Drupal

A little while ago, while talking in the #drupal mailing list, I showed my latest creation to one of the core developers there. His reaction was "Wow, I am always surprised what people use Drupal for". His surprise is somehow justified: I did create a site for a bunch of entertainers in Perth, a company set to use Drupal to take over the world with Entertainers.Biz.

Update: since writing this article, I have updated the system so that the whole booking process happens online. I will update the article accordingly!

So, why, why do people and companies develop free software?

More and more people are discovering free software. Many people only do so after weeks, or even months, of using it. I wonder, for example, how many Firefox users actually know how free Firefox really is—many of them realise that you can get it for free, but find it hard to believe that anybody can modify it and even redistribute it legally.

When the discovery is made, the first instinct is to ask: why do they do it? Programming is hard work. Even though most (if not all) programmers are driven by their higher-than-normal IQs and their amazing passion for solving problems, it’s still hard to understand why so many of them would donate so much of their time to creating something that they can’t really show off to anybody but their colleagues or geek friends.

Sure, anybody can buy laptops, and just program. No need to get a full-on lab or spend thousands of dollars in equipment. But... is that the full story?

Fun articles

Santa Claus - the most successful open source project

It dawned on me the other day, as I was shopping for the dozens of gifts it seems I have to buy every December (this year, I bought myself a holiday accommodation in Denmark, WA!), that Santa Claus is the most successful open source project in history. (Bridget @ Illiterarty would agree with that). Santa Claus is essentially a marketing development that is embodied by everyone who stuffs a sock, gives a gift, hosts a dinner or wishes Merry Christmas over the holiday season.

The next big thing in personal computing

As far as personal computing, there has been a strong shift, in the last few years, towards multimedia contents. It started with digital cameras in phones, around 2003, which is when people really started taking a lot pictures with their phones, and started using their computers to organise them. They also started using MP3 players, and having to manage their music. If pictures and music weren't big and cumbersome enough, people also started managing their movie libraries (even though today a lot of people give up and opt for a cheap satellite TV subscription from sites like http://www.saveontvdirect.com/) instead, as movies still are too big to manage for a lot of people...

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Editorial

When I first started thinking about Free Software Magazine, I was feeling enthusiastic about the dream. I had Dave, Gianluca, and Alan willing to help me, I had established members of the free software community willing to help me out, I had writers volunteering their time and energy for free, and I had a generous offer from OpenHosting for servers, all before I'd proved myself. There was a sense of excitement in the air, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.

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