TUX Magazine Issue 13 review

Another issue of TUX magazine in upon us and I review it while waiting for an Internet connection at Debconf6.

Linux laptop ad: I am planning to get a new laptop soon. I am looking at Dell Inspirion 1705 because of WUXVGA screen, NVidia Go 7800 video card and the Core Duo processor. I should look into the Linux laptop market to see if any Linux laptop provider is providing or planning to provide something like that.

Kevin Shockey nicely summarizes the main reason why free software is better in to one word - "control". Cost control, hardware control, support control, feature control, virus control - free software users have it all. That is a nice executive level thing to say when people ask you "Why Linux is better?", I must remember that.

A review of F-spot is in the magazine. The "excellence" of f-spot's RAW support is way over rated. A more advanced filtering by tag would also be very welcome.

If you need an Quickbooks replacement for Linux, make sure to read the article about MyBooks professional. It is commercial and costs around 60$, but in my mind accounting is one of few areas where free software model still needs to mature a bit. I know nothing about accounting (and I do not want to), but the article is quite optimistic and makes it look almost easy.

Project management is one thing that I do want to know about, so the article about task planners is a very useful thing. A couple weeks ago I spent several hours trying to make a nice Gaant chart of my research project in MS Project, but it was much too complicated for me. Imendio Planner proved to be a much more understandable alternative. Taskjuggler is a more advanced KDE app that defines a project in a text file. I am not sure that I am that savvy. However, looking at the way these planers deal with project costs I can not stop to wonder why isn't there some kind of integration between planners and the accounting software - it would be nice to mark a vacation for a person in one place and then automatically have the project plan updated and a vacation cost planned in the accounting software.

It is funny how the articles in TUX magazine are always relevant - the next one is about Scribus: the publishing tool that I used just a few days ago to make an A1 poster describing my research project at the Cranfield University. It was very easy in general, but I found that I had to use Inkscape to make a diagram that I needed (just some boxes and arrows) and that fonts got a bit pixelated when transferred from Inkscape to Scribus either via SVG of EPS. Apparently I missed the Scribus drawing toolbar.

Reviews of FreeMind and Wengo Phone gave me the inspiration to check those services out. FreeMind is a mind mapping thing. I do have a need for those quite frequently, but I never managed to get something like this working better then a plain piece of paper. Maybe FreeMind with its keyboard shortcuts will do the trick. On the Wengo side everything looks nice and dandy, but I really really would love to see a combination of Gaim, Wengo and Ekiga in one nice app with integration to Evolution and a synchronization to my phone book of my Palm Treo. I will also note that Wengo uses ALSA and is free software which makes it head and shoulders technically better then Skype (which is reviewed later in the issue). Also the dial-out prices seem to be better.

Firestarter is reviewed next. I would really love to hear how well it integrates with the Network Manager, which is all the rage nowadays.

A review of waterproof point-and-shoot cameras follows - it is probably a clever plot to make us geeks go out to the beach at some point. :)

Neverputt is the game review of the month and I fully agree with all the praise in the review. The game is clearly superior to all other mini golf simulators out there and is in my mind one of the best free software games out there.

I think that TUX magazine has great potential and I would even tolerate some more advertisements in it if that would help the writers to get even better content in. It is quite an innovation in the publishing world and I really hope that it is successful.