Illuminating Linux Podcasts
by Dan Petersen
Before starting with the survey, let's deal with a couple of terms that
are fundamental to this article. First, the word podcast. In simple
terms, a podcast is rich media, such as audio or video, distributed via
RSS. Podcast derives from the words broadcast and iPod. Podcasting lets
you automatically receive the latest show of your chosen programme as
soon as it is available.
Podcasts are shows, similar to radio or TV shows, that are
produced by professionals or amateurs and made available on the
internet to stream and/or download. They have entered into a more
mature phase; a few of the podcasts featured in this article are coming
up to their tenth anniversary.
Linux has some really fine blogs and news sites offering a
great library of information to tap into. Podcasts have some advantages
(and disadvantages) over these resources. Portability is a key
podcasts. You can be driving across states, or walking down the
street, and keep up to date with the latest Linux scene.
This article offers a survey of Linux podcasts, and podcasts
that have close links to Linux. Whilst the survey does not offer
exhaustive treatment, it offers an opinion on 20 different podcasts.
Ubuntu UK Podcast
The Ubuntu Podcast covers all the latest news and issues
facing Ubuntu Linux users and Free Software lovers in general. The show
aims to appeal to a Linux beginner as well as the oldest coder.
Ubuntu UK Podcast is broadcast on a fortnightly basis. The shows
examine what has been in the news, and the latest happenings in the
Ubuntu community. There are interviews, chats about projects, details
of forthcoming events and conferences. Examples of recent interviewees
include Daniel Foré (founder and lead designer of elementary), Sean
Tilley (from Diaspora), Rick Spencer (VP of Ubuntu Engineering at
Canonical), and Ivanka Majic (Creative Strategic Lead on the Canonical
The hosts of the show are Laura Cowen, Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Tony
Whimore. Laura works part time for IBM and is studying for a PhD. Alan
is an engineering manager at Canonical working on Ubuntu, Mark is
a web developer, and Tony is a photographer with a geeky
passion. Their different backgrounds and specialisms help to bring a
really well-rounded podcast to home.
The interlude music is catchy, the podcast is exceptionally easy to
listen to, it is extremely engaging, and the hosts are great fun.
Ubuntu UK Podcast is one of
those podcasts that you have to listen all the way through for every
show. Essential listening, professionally produced, and not just for
Ubuntu users. Our favourite Linux podcast by a whisker.
The podcasts are released under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
- Website: podcast.ubuntu-uk.org
- Length: 30 minutes
- Audio format: Ogg Vorbis, MP3
- First Show: 11 March 2008
FLOSS Weekly is a weekly netcast about free, libre and open
software. It brings the viewer/listener "... the movers, the shakers,
the big projects, the little projects, the projects you might be using
every day, the projects you might not have heard of".
Whilst FLOSS Weekly is more open source-centric and less
Linux-centric, it offers fascinating insights into software that runs
on Linux, by way of interviews with developers. A whole episode is
devoted to a specific open source
application and offers an in-depth examination. The vast majority of
recent shows focus on web-based software. Recent netcasts have
looked at web2project, Weblate, Apache Cloudstack, Dart, CakePHP, and
Zotonic. The way the interviews are conducted with open source
developers is particularly interesting and comes across in an engaging
way, keeping chit-chat to an absolute minimum. Viewers and listeners
really gain a powerful insight into the software being discussed with
the probing questions asked by the hosts.
The netcast is presented by Randal Schwartz and a rotating
panel of co-hosts. Randal is more of an open license proponent, rather
than a GPL guy; on the basis that selecting the GPL automatically
excludes some users. He is co-author of some popular books about Perl
including Programming Perl, Learning Perl and Intermediate Perl, and he
is a respected writer on the Perl Journal, Web Techniques, and UNIX
Review. His credibility in the Perl scene adds real credibility to the
This netcast is available as an audio stream, and in video in
both Standard Definition and High Definition formats.
FLOSS Weekly is part of the TWiT Netcast Network.
- Website: twit.tv/show/floss-weekly
- Length: Typically about an hour
- Audio format: 64kbps
- Video formats: SD (640x368), SD (864x480), HD (1280x720)
- First Edition: 7 April 2006
The Linux Action Show
The Linux Action Show is a weekly video tech podcast
which covers the best in the open source and Linux world. Find out the
latest news, gadgets, howtos, reviews each week. There are also guest
The show is produced by Jupiter Broadcasting, and is currently
up to Season 27. The shows are hosted by Chris Fisher and Matt Hartley;
presenters were Chris Fisher and Bryan Lunduke until 2012. The show is
I particular like the way the hosts make use of running the Chromium
browser in the background to illustrate the item being discussed. It
really helps to illuminate the discussion. The show is extremely
entertaining and fun, but at the same time highly informative, and
lives up to its name.
Going Linux is a podcast billed as providing practical
Linux users regardless of their level of experience using the
operating system. Going Linux was started primarily at users
contemplating switching from Windows to Linux, to demonstrate that
the transition is not a chasm.
Going Linux seeks to fill the ground between Linux tech heavy
podcasts, and podcasts that only evangelise Linux. It has a good mix of
the latest Linux news, software reviews, combined with technical
information. If you are considering switching to Linux, or you want to
use Linux more to get things done, there is some great material here,
presented in a winsome, engaging and laid-back way.
The podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution
- Website: goinglinux.com
- Length: Approximately 35-50 minutes
- Audio format: Ogg Vorbis and MP3
- First Edition: 20 January 2007
Hacker Public Radio
Hacker Public Radio (HPR) is an Internet Radio show
(podcast) that releases shows every weekday Monday through Friday.
Besides the frequency of the podcast, another distinguishing feature of
HPR is that it is a community-produced podcast. There have
been more than 1200 shows produced.
Many of the HPR shows focus on open source projects, but there
are some episodes that are dedicated to Linux. The topics covered range
from a general geeky conversation, to living in Emacs, to just
trying to survive in modern society. The only requirement is that the
episode is interesting to fellow hackers. The diverse range of
presenters helps keep the show fresh. There are tutorials, reviews,
interviews; a good mix.
- Website: hackerpublicradio.org
- Length: No restrictions, they last as long as the community
- Audio format: Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and Speex
- First Edition: 31 December 2007
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Last Updated Friday, October 11 2013 @ 06:02 AM EDT