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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.

Writing device drivers in Linux: A brief tutorial

“Do you pine for the nice days of Minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?” Linus Torvalds


In order to develop Linux device drivers, it is necessary to have an understanding of the following:

  • C programming. Some in-depth knowledge of C programming is needed, like pointer usage, bit manipulating functions, etc.
  • Microprocessor programming. It is necessary to know how microcomputers work internally: memory addressing, interrupts, etc. All of these concepts should be familiar to an assembler programmer.

Free software events review March 2006

As the March Hare sprang from the ground to frolic in the newfound warm weather of the spring season (here in the North), the free software world continued its steady but rapid advancement in the information technology landscape. Meanwhile, waiting in the corner is yours truly, glancing occasionally at the media ready to report on events that I personally think are interesting and feel like including here. In the month of March that consisted of:

Free software events for February 2006

February saw many free software events come to pass. These included: two major conferences, one on each side of the Atlantic; the surfacing of a couple of solutions for permitting composite window effects to use video acceleration; the adoption of free software in a number of scenarios; a new release of an old secure friend; the incremental launch of a distribution; and more. The main events are summarized as:

  1. OpenSSH 4.3 Released

Accelerated X flame wars!... Maybe not

An advantage to free software is that it is an environment where competition can thrive, choice is always available and different solutions exist for the same problem. However, it’s also fair to say that free software is disadvantaged where competition breeds, choices are forced on unsuspecting users and diverse technologies fight each other.

What is X?

Everyone likes pretty pictures. The newsagent’s stand is now crowded with glossy magazines, roadside advertisements glare out at you as you drive along the freeway, you see a wondrous mosaic as you look at all the packaging on supermarket shelves. Television long ago replaced the radio as standard home entertainment and the fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover doesn’t prevent the vast majority of the human population from doing so. The same applies to computers now.

Free software events for January 2006

As time boldly advances through January passing the Chinese New Year, we can witness free software carrying on its momentum and spreading itself even further around the globe. With that comes the plethora of additions, enhancements and modifications to the portfolio with which we have to become accustomed. As with other articles of this nature, I can only bring you the events that I have become awae of. These include:

Jump to Debian GNU/Linux!

There are hundreds of GNU/Linux distributions around, each with its strengths and weaknesses. One that stands out from the masses is Debian. It is the only major distribution not developed (or even backed) by commercial vendors, but by a group of volunteers around the world. Its main features are robustness, great software package management, a huge software collection consisting of more than 15,000 pre-compiled packages ready to install and run, and a transparent and always helpful support system based on mailing lists and a bug tracking system.

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, 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 events for December 2005

2005 was a busy year for free software. The early days of 2006 provide a good opportunity to look ahead at the wonders that the new year will bring, but it’s also good to spend a small amount of time reflecting upon what 2005 delivered. Free software technology has made even more inroads into the corporate server space. Desktop and office applications have steadily improved as well, with implementations of them on the sharp increase. Awareness of free software, the business models, philosophy and its advantages are spreading well too.

Mozilla: a development platform under the hood of your browser

This article compares two development platforms: Java and Mozilla. The object of this comparison is not to establish which one is best, but rather to measure the maturity, the advantages, and the disadvantages of Mozilla as a platform from the point of view of a Java programmer (as I am).

Code signing systems

This article looks at the management of the private key for the Software Publishing Certificate (SPC). SPCs are used to digitally sign binaries that are produced by software development vendors. Digitally signing executables proves the identity of the software vendor and guarantees that the code has not been altered or corrupted since it was created and signed. Signing the code requires access to the SPC and the Private Key (PVK) associated with the SPC.

Free software events for November 2005

After a hectic October in the free software world, in which we witnessed events including the launch of 2.0 and MySQL 5.0, I thought November would be quieter and that I’d be struggling to find material for this article. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If anything, even more has happened this month than in the last, so I have concentrated on the events I feel most are the most important and relevant. To start with, there have been new versions in five very major software packages. These are:

  1. Mozilla Firefox version 1.5

A free software news summary: October

It has been quite a hectic month as far as major free software releases are concerned. Three major announcements that have occurred are:

  1. Production release of 2.0
  2. Production release of MySQL 5.0
  3. Beta release of Wine 0.9

Typical advocacy and discussions have also continued as normal.

A major production— 2.0

FUDCon 3—London 2005

I woke up on Thursday 6th October on a friend’s sofa in London where I had spent the night after the Lonix evening get-together after the first day of the LinuxWorld Expo the day before. After a half hour journey recovering on a number 28 bus I arrived at 9.30 a.m. sharp(ish) in time to attend the Fedora Users and Developers Conference (FUDCon) at Olympia.

What is FUDCon?

Working together and sharing code with TLA

If you ever worked on a free software project or if you have ever worked as a developer, you probably know that managing source code, patches, and software release cycles is not the easiest task to perform. Things get even worse if lots of people are working on the same project: more code to manage, more people to coordinate, more patches to integrate and mainstream. Even if you don’t write software or have never worked on such projects, I’m sure that as an addicted computer user sometimes you felt like “hey, why didn’t I make a backup of that document”, or “hell...


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