Linux User & Developer, Issue 172

Linux User & Developer Issue 172Readers of this latest issue of Imagine Publishing’s Linux User & Developer will find my review of the surprisingly capable Nextcloud Box, a bare-bones network attached storage (NAS) system based around a Raspberry Pi 2.

Provided as a press sample by Nextcloud, the company split from the Owncloud project, the Nextcloud Box is at its heart a rebadged – though, oddly, cheaper – Western Digital Labs PiDrive. Inside the box you find the black plastic housing, a 1TB USB hard drive, a clever splitter cable for power and data, and the screws you need to mount your own Raspberry Pi. You also get a small 4GB micro-SD card, which serves as the bootstrap device: on first run, the operating system is copied from this micro-SD to the 1TB hard drive.

It’s the contents of the micro-SD card that makes the Nextcloud Box distinct from the PiDrive: it contains a copy of Ubuntu Snappy Core and a preinstalled Snap of the Nextcloud NAS software. Administered almost entirely from a web interface, Nextcloud proved to a powerful NAS package with everything from encrypted storage and remote access to centralised calendar and contact facilities – and with additional functionality available through a built-in ‘app store’ feature.

If you’re interested to read the full review Linux User & Developer Issue 172 is on shelves now at supermarkets and newsagents throughout the land, or can be grabbed in digital format from Zinio¬†and similar services.

Linux User & Developer, Issue 134

Linux User & Developer Issue 134In addition to my regular four-page news spread, this month’s Linux User & Developer includes a two-page review of a cloud-based backup service dubbed Securstore.

Cloud backup is a hot-button topic these days, whether people are warning you off the concept due to concerns over NSA and GCHQ intrusion or hailing it as the next big thing. Certainly, the recent growth in average broadband speed – my personal connection recently enjoyed an upstream boost that sees files uploading more than 20 times faster than before – makes the concept more accessible for those without deep enough pockets for leased line networking.

Securstore’s no stranger to the market, but it is one of the few cloud backup services that promises full cross-platform compatibility with support for all major operating systems – including Linux. The company also offers all the usual buzzwords required for enterprise backup systems – in particular ISO 27001 accreditation.

But how’s the software? Well, Securstore hasn’t actually written the software itself; instead, it has partnered with backup giant Asigra, who started in the market way back in 1986. Although not the most user-friendly of packages, Asigra’s software is powerful and Securstore offers training and one-to-one support throughout a company’s subscription.

What’s my overall opinion? Well, you’ll have to buy the magazine to find that out – and if you do, you can also catch up on the latest happenings in the worlds of open source, open hardware, open governance and the maker communities.

Linux User & Developer Issue 134 is available at most good newsagents, a few bad ones, the occasional supermarket and digitally via Zinio and other digital distribution services now. French readers can also look forward to seeing this issue in translated form as Inside Linux in the coming months.

Custom PC, Issue 110

Custom PC, Issue 110In this month’s Custom PC, I have three features: my regular Mobile Tech Watch column, a bonus opinion column, and a how-to guide on constructing a temperature-sensitive LED from an Arduino microcontroller following a reader request on the Bit-Tech forums.

First, Mobile Tech Watch: on the request of editor Ben Hardwidge, this month’s column looks at cloud gaming technologies – specifically Gaikai and Nvidia’s GeForce Grid proejct – and whether mobile gaming is truly turning a corner. Now, this article was written and submitted before high-profile cloud gaming company OnLive closed, sacked half its staff and re-opened to avoid massive debts, but the article’s focus specifically on Gaikai means it’s none the worse for that.

Cloud gaming is certainly generating plenty of interest: offering console-quality games on mobile platforms, and even branching out into Smart TVs – Samsung has signed a deal with Gaikai to put the company’s technology into its next TV sets for console-free gaming – it’s a something-for-nothing deal for the end-user, but can cost a fortune to run. Even using the very latest Nvidia Grid technology, a Gaikai server can only run four simultaneous streams.

Do I think that cloud gaming has a future, or is it a just a fad? Better read this month’s column to find out, hadn’t you?

Next, the cover-gracing LED temperature sensor feature. Following a reader request, I designed, programmed and constructed a temperature sensor that uses an Arduino to vary the colour of an RGB LED. If the case is cold, the LED is blue; as the case warms up, red is added and blue removed until the LED is completely red.

The code is available on my GitHub repository, while a correction to an equation I fat-fingered in the feature can be found on Bit-Tech.

Finally, the op-ed: normally, I only do a single column for each issue, but illness meant there was a last-minute gap as this issue was going to press. To solve the problem, I stepped in and wrote an opinion column on patents, the problem with patents and a suggestion for how said problem can be resolved. Considering the short deadline and the research-heavy nature of the piece, I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out.

For all this and more, pick up Custom PC Issue 110 wherever geeky magazines are sold, or digitally via Zinio.