December 2005, From the Publisher: The Desktops Are Coming

Although LJ readers have been using Linux desktops for years, putting desktops in front of ordinary users is now a reality. To help, we created TUX.

I know we are all going to miss Don Marti. Many of us LJ folks have known Don “forever”, and we have worked with him for five years. Don had the big picture, knew his bits and was a great writer—exactly the right mix.

Getting to write this piece gives me a chance to talk a bit about what is changing in Linux and, because of that, what I have been working on.

We as a company decided to switch everyone in the office over to KDE, back on version 1. Everyone thought I was crazy, and many times, I believed them. However, this meant they all knew what Linux was and used it every day. Since then, while most people were watching Linux (and Apache) take over the server market, the desktop quietly matured. It isn't perfect today, but it is certainly easy for your grandmother to sit down at a Linux box and use it. But LJ's job isn't done. Desktops still require new drivers, new applications, security and, in general, administration. LJ here to help you with that, and will be for years, but Linux has a growing user market—users like the receptionist I subjected to KDE 1 so many years ago.

More than a year ago, we started working on a new magazine named TUX, and it's different in a lot of ways—not just in audience: 1) it is distributed as a PDF; 2) it tells you how to get things done rather than what is inside; 3) it's free; and 4) all the back issues are available for free too.

Is there a catch? Yes. We want lots more people to use Linux. Some of them will become geeks and, thus, LJ readers. But, lots of them will simply get to see why we are so excited about what we do and, hopefully, buy a few Linux systems. Some of those people will buy a system for home, but many will end up using Linux at work. That gets us all closer to the goal—World Domination. If you have a friend or relative who just wants to use a computer and you think Linux is the right answer, point them at TUX ( for articles and free subscription links. And, maybe if you are pretty geeky and know how to do everything on the command line, you should get a subscription too. Although I am writing this with vi, some GUI programs out there are useful—from amaroK to Inkscape.

Enough about what else we are up to. Let's talk about what we did this month in LJ.

Reuven continues looking at pieces of Ruby on Rails, focusing on ActiveRecord, the object-relational mapper (page 14). I have been working on a project using Ruby recently, although we rejected using Rails because the project was far from a pure Web application. Ruby on Rails certainly has its place, and Reuven is doing a great job of showing us how to use it.

Marcel looks into amaroK and new features that have recently appeared in this fancy music player (page 22). Even though OGG isn't French for anything, Marcel fills you in on what amaroK can do.

Beyond that, we show you how to make Schenker graphs, master DVDs, replace your TiVo with your own Linux box, squeeze parts of KDE into a small footprint and a whole lot more.

Phil Hughes is Group Publisher for SSC Publishing, Ltd.


Phil Hughes

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