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Podcast Season 2 Episode 2

 Podcast RSS feeds: Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and Opus.

Title: Woodforde’s Wherry

In this episode: Ubuntu is now officially the most secure operating system in Britain. The first FirefoxOS tablet specs have been revealed. There may not be an Ubuntu Phone this year. China is working on its own Linux-based operating system and Fedora 21 will have no name. We’ve got some great finds this fortnight, some neurons to be vocalised and a fantastic Voice of the Masses.

What’s in the show:

  • News:Ubuntu is officially the most secure operating system in Britain, according to the Communication Electronic Security Group. The first FirefoxOS tablet specs have been revealed. Canonical won’t be releasing an Ubuntu phone this year. The Chinese government is creating its own Linux-based mobile operating system, called COS. Net neutrality has been struck down in the US. Fedora 21 is going to take a little longer to be released, and won’t have a name.
  • Finds of the Fortnight:
    • Ben:
      • PHP and WordPress are a great combination.
      • OwnCloud 6′s document editing feature is brilliant for a first release, especially if you’re trying to create a magazine.
      • The listed incremental flag in tar creates archives containing only new files.
    • Graham:
      • BrewPi is an awesome project that really works. Watch out for a tutorial in issue one of Linux Voice.
    • Andrew:
    • Mike:
      • In 2005, PC Pitstop offered some money in its EULA. It took four months for the money to be claimed.
      • The North Korean Embassy is very close.
  • Challenge the tea^C ^C ^C
      ^C ^C ^C
  • Vocalise Your Neurons:
      Thanks for your contributions for this episode. And if you want your neurons to be part of our next episode, email
  • Voice of the Masses: Does “one interface for everything” make sense?

Presenters: Ben Everard, Andrew Gregory, Graham Morrison and Mike Saunders.

Download as high-quality Ogg Vorbis (49MB)

Download as low-quality MP3 (60MB)

Download the smaller yet even more awesome Opus file (20MB)

Duration: 59:10

Theme Music by Brad Sucks.

24 thoughts on “Podcast Season 2 Episode 2

  1. WordPress really isn't PHP done right. It's a mess that is easy to hack on and means that a lot of people end up with spaghetti code with things going on all over the place (a quick search will find many posts about how bad it is, e.g.

    It is easy to get started with PHP and wordpress, but mainly because you can do just about anything and it will "Just Work".

    If you really want to learn PHP pick a nice, well thought out framework, like Laravel, Symfony 2 or Yii (there are plenty of others out there, currently I'm really liking Laravel though).

    1. It seams quite a few people listened to the section on PHP and "wordpress is the right way to do it" and cried "Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!".

      The issue with wordpress is that it a rather poorly structured as now quite a few people have pointed out. WordPress does not use any real framework, it's lots of global functions and variable that are all rather poorly structured. There are a number of good php frameworks out there, new php developers should probably start with learning a framework which will in turn teach you the language.

      Some people like to pigeon hole php as a hackie web language, any language can produce very hackie code. I've worked in a number of languages, and I've been given awful code in Java, C, C++ you name it. The fact that a number of PHP projects have started with a developer just jumping in a producing code with out thinking about the structure does not help this reputation, also PHP had been around for a few years before any frameworks started to appear so this helped encourage the just jump in approach.

      PHP is also not only a web language, given how lite the requirements are to get php running on a Linux box (especially compared to getting java running) it does become a great language for doing all sorts of system tasks in.

      I've been working on the same core application for an ISP for the last 12 years now, it has it's own framework (that pre-dates any of the major php frameworks), it handles all our day 2 day operations, it contains all our business objects, it manages all our routers, switches and Linux servers. It controls access to our Datacentre, it monitors our power usage, heck we can even use it to control the office lighting and the phone system.

      The scale of this thing is huge (over 160,000 switches, 1000's servers, many 100,000's of customer and suppliers) and yet the whole application (well series of applications) have been written by and are maintained by a staff of 3 developers. It's a very efficiently language to work in you just have to structure you application well, but this is the case for almost every major language in use today.

      1. The thing with WordPress is that is pretty much encourages people to write bad code because they themselves don't follow best practices, and they have actively said they don't want to do so. This means using WordPress to learn PHP will likely teach people bad habits from the get go.

        I do agree that it is possible to write badly even with the best language and/or framework, and this has happened to me just recently (moved projects and the old project has now become full code that doesn't follow and kind of sense).

        I understand why WordPress is so popular, I just wish that they used their position to be a shining light of good ideas and we'll structured code.

  2. I'm only a recent user of WordPress – it's very powerful, but as someone who used Movable Type for years, I can't help but think WordPress's systems leave a lot to be desired. I'm no PHP expert, but I can get what I want done. But frequently I feel like I've achieved something in spite of WordPress and PHP, rather than because of it.

    BrewPi makes me want to buy a Pi, and start doing home brew!

  3. Thanks for the feedback.

    As many of you probably know, I'm really not a PHP coder, so I probably shouldn't have been quite so quick to claim what was 'right'.

    That said, What's impressed me about PHP in wordpress is the well structured classes and functions. This structure is kept tucked up out of the way, so that when you create the files that actually display the data, you can just focus on displaying what you want to display and not get bogged down in messy code mashed in with the html to format the output, which has been my previous experience of PHP.

    Basically, using wordpress is the first time I've been able to look at a PHP file and work out what's going on. Other times it's been a case of looking at the file, banging my head against a brick wall, looking at the file again, having a cup of tea, looking at the file again, tentativly changing something, wondering why everything's broken, banging head against brick wall again, eventually something seeps in, and I manage to work out just enough to make the changes I need.

    Perhaps I've just been unfortunate to work with some really rubbish PHP files before (I won't name names).


  4. A damn fine, if subdued podcast.

    PHP is a very flexible language which, as is the case with JS, is both its strength and its weakness. I think a big part of what helped PHP become dominant (and helps new users) is the amazingly good documentation over at

    WordPress is an absolute mess internally, and this is largely PHP's fault. It's not really suitable for such large projects (or at least it's not usually used in a way which makes it suitable).

    But it works. And it allows novice users to create fully-featured websites easily, which is hugely empowering and democratising, which is what gives WordPress a pass, in my book.

    (node.js is awesome btw and is probably the near-future)

    Regarding EULAs:

    Lots of love,

  5. Giant Albino Penguin

    I don't know about anyone else here, but I find that the .ogg files take about a minute to download, & my broadband isn't wonderful.

    What about this pictorial evidence of Zappa the cat, though? Or even a vine loop of Andrew sneezing as it tries to claw its way onto his lap.

  6. You forgot to post Zapper's picture! As recompense I suggest the next time the podcast crew comes to Ben's house everyone has to bring a gift to Zapper and present them in the next podcast.

    1. I disapprove of this idea. But I can add that the one and only time I've messed about with PHP was simply to uncomment a section so the 'comments' field didn't show up in a WordPress blog. It seemed simple enough to my monkey brain, but what ben's doing is much more advanced and waaaay more impressive that my tamperings.
      Cats are rubbish.

  7. Can I ask if you will using Linux software to produce the magazine? You blamed the publisher at Linux Format for not doing so. I would see it as a massive fail if you are not using Linux.

    1. Hi Tim,

      We're all using Linux for writing articles, editing copy, making screenshots and so forth. Linux is used to generate all the content in the magazine.

      InDesign is being used by our Art Editor for layout, because that's what she knows best, and we'd rather focus on making the best mag possible right now. We're a very small team and don't have lots of time to change this. In the long run, we absolutely want to move to purely free software — Scribus would be the key here.

      In fact, we'd like to sponsor Scribus developers to implement any changes we need to make our magazine. Then both we and the community as a whole will benefit. That's the plan!


      1. One more thing: the font we've chosen, Roboto, will work with Scribus just fine. The font we had before, on Linux Format (our old magazine) would not work with Scribus (not for technical reasons – it was a licensing issue). Scribus is impractical right now, for the reasons Mike has outlined above (and which we explained at the beginning of the IndieGogo campaign). But we have laid the foundations to make it possible for us to switch one day.

        1. Thanks for update, pleased you are maxing whast can be done with Linux. Looking forward to magazine :-)

  8. Part of the podcast briefly mentioned backing up to a removable hard-disk using rsync.
    I 'd agree that its good solution but I would also look a pdumpfs.

    While rsync just makes a copy of the all the files from source to destination (copying only the file changes it needs to). Pdumpfs create a directory for each date a backup is run, it copies across only the recent changes and then hardlinks in the all unchanged files from the previous backups.

    This means you can copy back any of the point in time backups, and backup disk has used the only minimum space need.

  9. Hum as an ex employee of the government looking into secure communication.

    I can confirm for a "secure" or "hardened" OS, it would have to be ratified against a specific build.
    We used to run a particular patched version of SunOS in the past as the "secure" OS. It was archaic at the time, but for secure systems it was our only official option.
    To get it ratified to this level costs an awful lot of money, which was why Sun was the only company able to invest to get it ratified.
    Microsoft would not pay for the ratification, viewing it as not worth the money, if you look at the old EULA it specifically excluded use in military, health and power generation systems from the licensing.
    In the US the NSA took on the mantra of validating OSes at their own cost, which then became an issue with cooperation agreements between the two sides of the ponds as there was no general consensus.
    PS the British defence industry has been providing systems based on Linux for at least the past 16 years to my knowledge. It's well known for it's adaptability and securty, so to me the fact that the bow tie wearing twonks on CESG have ratified this is almost none news.

  10. Just on the issue of PHPand WordPress. I am sure lots of people know this but just incase anyone wants to egin with toying around on WordPress, you can quite easily set up a LAMP stack and set the localhost as the machine to connect to using the IP (I think it's called the loopback address) which enables you to serve pages on your local machine, although I guess most people have set up their own local server system using either 162.something or other whatever those IPs are…

    You grab Apache and set that up, then either MySQL or something like that, then you can install the WordPress PHP codebase – or Drupal, I guess. I recall I used something else for my home experiment, there are lots of CMS' out there, just choose the one that fits your choices, and meets your choice of open/free etc.

    The benefit is that you can have the server running without neccesarily being online, so you can test website design, almost anything that you may want to do with PHP, etc. Basically it gives you a noce testbed for your own site without having to host it in the InterWeb world.

    The trick is to set your browser to look at the local host and have your hosting directories in the Apache server sub-directory.

    It's a great way for beginners to try out stuff without having to have a constant online connection, and can be done within a single PC.

    Maybe this is pretty well known (WK) to most listeners, but I figured it might be worth mentioning to people who want to try out PHP coding but don't know where to begin.

    Hope this is useful to people.

    There is no such thing as a problem
    without a gift for you in its hands.

  11. Given all these the security and mass surveillance revelations about the NSA, whats going on with systemd and upstart?

    This article is particularly worrying – as it seems rather sinister that many distros are pushing forwards with systemd and upstart when they may be drastically reducing security… I don't mean to sound like a doomsayer, but does the article above hit the mark, is systemd really broken by design? And if so, how has this gone unnoticed?


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