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Many Linux distributions seek to be all-around systems, fulfilling the user's every desire on the desktop. The 4MLinux distro offers feature-oriented variants without the bulk.


Ask Klaus

Klaus Knopper answers your Linux questions.


Ask Klaus!



Through the Window

Microsoft provides a collection of tools for faster and more efficient Linux virtualization in the Hyper-V environment.


On the DVD

This month's DVD features two terrific distributions, ArtistX 1.5 and Arch Linux 2013.10.01.


Image Game

Microsoft has an entire portfolio of pre-built virtual machines, all of them Linux systems, designed to run on the Windows Azure cloud service.


On the DVD

This month's DVD features two great distributions, Fedora 19 Security Spin and Kali Linux.


Code Cleanup

"maddog" and Linaro are collaborating on a contest to improve the performance of certain GNU/Linux source code modules.



We look at SharePoint integration and show you how to manage Active Directory from Linux. But first, a special story on a dangerous new class of intrusion tools.


In Control

Two hobbies are prevalent in my house: Lionel trains and Linux computers. The train layout isn’t a permanent fixture; it gets set up a couple of times a year – usually around Christmas – but it’s been known to appear during the summer as well. The last time it appeared, I added a Linux computer to control the setup. Although I still run the trains with traditional throttles, I let the computer play with the rest. 

Rather than write one massive control program, I decided to split the design into single-purpose modules that run independently (Figure 1). Each module performs a single task in either the input, output, or control categories. Any given input or output module corresponds directly to a specific piece of hardware. Control modules don’t have hardware equivalents but instead provide the logic that links the inputs and outputs. Any number of modules can be run simultaneously.

The modules are written in Python and use mmap to communicate among themselves. The files inputs.txt, which represents the current state of the railroad’s sensors, and outputs.txt, which has the requested state for the relays or LEDs that activate working accessories, are memory-mapped files. They are both initialized to a single line of 100 zeros.


RunRev Releases Open Source Version of LiveCode

Open source version of LiveCode is now available for developing apps, games, and utilities for all major platforms.


Steam Punk

Games vendor Valve has ported its Steam platform to Linux, thus shifting the free platform into the focus of serious gamers. The manufacturer recently invited some users to participate in a closed beta phase. I took a look at the trial version of the Steam client, which still has some quirks.

Officially, Valve only supports Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions, so I used a recent version of Ubuntu (12.10 “Quantal Quetzal”) in my tests. With some tinkering, you can talk Steam into cooperating with other distributions. The “Valve’s Strategy” box explains why the company uses Linux as a platform.


Hat Hopes

Although my position demands that I maintain strict impartiality, I must admit that I have always secretly cheered for Fedora. I’m not sure why – I just like it. The people I meet from the Fedora project seem really smart and articulate. Fedora always seems to work when I try it – which is admittedly less remarkable for a Linux than it used to be. Fedora is also the inheritor of the great Red Hat Linux legacy – the old Red Hat Linux I mean: the one they used to give away.

Issue 163/2014

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