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Epic giveaway: one Excito B3 for one of our readers!

We at Free Software Magazine are excited to announce our very first giveaway. And we are doing so with a fantastic, invaluable free software product: the Excito B3. Yes, you can win a great Excito B3 and enjoy your new server.

Winning is easy: it will take very little of your time, and some creativity.

Last call for the 2012 Cascadia IT Conference!

The League of Professional System Administrators and the Seattle Area System Administrators Guild are proud to present the 2012 Cascadia IT Conference. Cascadia 2012 is a regional IT conference for all types of system administrators – computer, database, network, SAN, VMware, etc. It will take place on March 23 – 24th (Fri – Sat) of 2012 at Hotel DECA in Seattle’s University District.

The Completely Blank Xfce Desktop

The Xfce desktop environment comes with Xubuntu and is also available in the Xfce versions of Linux Mint, Fedora and other Linux distributions. Using Xfce, you can easily set up a highly functional but completely blank desktop - no icons, no menus, nothing. Just a blank screen or a favourite wallpaper, ideal for the user who hates distractions or loves simplicity. Here's how to do it.

Upload Photos to Wikimedia Commons with Commonist

Sharing is caring, and there is probably no better way to share your photographic masterpieces with the world than adding them to the Wikimedia Commons pool. While Wikimedia Commons features its own web-based tool for uploading photos, a dedicated tool like Commonist can come in rather handy when you need to upload multiple photos in one fell swoop.

How to kill movie piracy: charge $1 for movies, and 50c for episodes

Movie piracy is the next big thing. The RIAA is quickly realising that their reputation is nearly beyond unrecoverable, after taking to court single mums, dead people, and children. In the meantime, in Australia they are having secret meetings to try and work out a way to prevent movie privacy. The solution is simple: to kill movie privacy, allow people to download movies, make it cheap, and make it easy. Yes it's hard. But yes, it's rewarding.

Is GNU/Linux just not cool anymore?

Software is becoming less and less important. Most people today just don't care about what software they use, what operating system they run, or who is behind the pretty screens they see. What they want, is something that works. Or, better, anything that works. This shift caused a series of changes which shook the whole industry. One of them amongst them: are GNU/Linux and free software in general just not cool anymore? Google Trends gives some interesting answers.

Archiving emails as text files, with command line help

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to store emails in text files, one per correspondent. For example, 'Bloggs_Fred.txt' contains all my emails to and from Fred Bloggs, in chronological order with the newest message last. Other people might have the need to periodically store parts of emails in predefined files (for example, when collecting information).

I wrote a very simple script to make this kind of archiving easier. Before I explain the script, I'll show you how it works.

What to do if your mail server is blacklisted

This article is not strictly about free software. In fact, it's not about free software at all: it's about what to do to find out if your server's IP is blacklisted for sending mail. I just discovered as one of the things I had to do to sort the Free Software Magazine mailing list, and wanted to check why some of our emails were rejected. (Note: We are not affiliated in any way with If you manage a Postfix mail server, this is a resource you cannot miss.

MegaGlest: a fantastic, free software strategy 3D game

When the Glest team started "Glest" as a college project a few years ago, they probably didn't expect their game to go such a long way. While "Glest" stopped being developed a couple of years ago in 2009, it was forked in two different projects: GAE (Glest Advanced Engine) and MegaGlest (the game I am reviewing in this article). So, how is it? The answer is simple: this game is incredible, polished, enjoyable, addictive, smart, and plain simply fantastic.

Free gaming platforms: welcome to the revolution

Talking about online gaming and gambling is a huge issue -- and it has always been. Many people have strong opinions about gambling, and yet Las Vegas exists, as well as many others ways to gamble. Gamblers have soon turned online, and found a huge market there too. I recently visited an online casino, CasinoJuggler that specialised in finding the best casino for mobile, and started wondering: what does online gambling have to offer, in terms of free and open source software? The answer will probably surprise you.

Bulk renaming using Thunar

Thunar is a lightweight file manager that comes with Xubuntu and other Xfce-based distributions. It has several useful features not found in other popular file managers, like 'Bulk Rename'. To use this feature, select a group of files in the Thunar file pane and hit the F2 key, or choose Rename from the Edit menu. A window appears with 'before and after' views of your file names, and a drop-down list showing the renaming possibilities.

Why Android might just kill GNU/Linux. Quickly.

I write this article exactly 24 hours after receiving my Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's something I've been wanting for a long time. I had to wait for the dispute between Apple and Samsung to settle (Samsung actually lost on millions of dollars worth of sales thanks to software patents, but that's another story). After all that, I came to the realisation that we are in front of a forking path. On one side there is the death of GNU/Linux as we know it. On the other side, there is a new exciting world where free software is still relevant. I am not writing this just to be "sensational": here is why.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: finding the leading apostrophe

In my previous article about GNUMeric , entering data with a leading apostrophe, as in '12/3, ensures that the 12/3 will be interpreted by Gnumeric as text, even when the cell is formatted 'General'.

But Gnumeric displays the 12/3 without the apostrophe. It's hidden. This can lead to unpleasant little surprises when sorting groups of cells, some of which contain hidden apostrophes and some of which don't.

FOSDEM 2012, Hardware Security and Cryptography, Call for Papers

FOSDEM 2012 will take place in Brussels, the heart of EU.

This is a call for talks and presentations that will take place in the Security devroom at FOSDEM 2012. Do you develop software that can do HTTPS queries? Can it use keys and certificates on a smart card? Does your service use RSA keys for signing? Can it work with hardware keys? Are you interested in protecting your private keys like Three Letter Organizations or do you want to roll your own proper PKI with a smaller than five or six digit budget? How can we make cryptographic hardware Just Work with any application that uses crypto? The devroom is the place to share experiences and learn.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: text as "text" (instead of "dates")

Gnumeric is an excellent spreadsheet application and gets a lot of use in our house. Every now and then, though, you can hear a "!Q#z$%* Gnumeric!" from me or my wife, because we didn't pay attention to cell formatting.

By default, every cell is formatted 'General', which means Gnumeric guesses what type of data you enter in that cell. Gnumeric seems to be particularly fond of dates, and strings that are definitely not dates get interpreted as dates anyway. If I enter 12/3, Gnumeric uses my Australian date format preferences and displays 12/3/2012.

5daysprofitable: A corporate web site, start to finish, in 4 hours

In my previous article, I explained that I would embark in the Herculean task of starting a company, and make it successful and profitable, in just 5 days. And by using free software.

The first piece of this complex puzzle is a corporate web site. I had mine ready in less than 4 hours, start to finish. Here is what I did.

A company, zero to operational and profitable, in 5 days with free software

Everything started with a simple question my wife asked me: you are so good at teaching, why don't you do it? Given that I will only ever work in my own term, I would have to organize everything on my own: incorporation, web site, stationery, advertising, the lot. Chiara's question was natural: well, you can do all that basically for free with Free Software, right?

Right. So, the adventure begins: the bet is that I will have a company, zero to profitable (that means with customers, bookings, etc.) in 5 days.


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