Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / LibreOffice

  • Apr 07 / 2014
  • 21
technology

Feature Comparison: LibreOffice – Microsoft Office

Anyone who thinks M$’s office suite is a “must have” should look at this page. Feature for feature, LibreOffice has what it takes. There are some features that one has that the other doesn’t but the performance is about the same. Why then, pay $gazillions for M$’s office suite when LibreOffice is $0 for as many copies as you want? The feature I like best about LibreOffice is that it can work with SVG so I don’t have to regenerate graphics for different sizes, a total waste of time. I still think GNUmeric does a better job with charts but The Document Foundation is working on that. It’s good to have choices. With M$, one gets to choose whether to pay a lot or a little. If you pay a little, you know you have cripple-ware from them, whereas for $0 LibreOffice is as good as it gets. What the world needs in an office suite it creates as FLOSS and shares. That’s the right way to do IT.

See Feature Comparison: LibreOffice – Microsoft Office – The Document Foundation Wiki.

Thanks to Herbert for supplying this link.

  • Mar 31 / 2014
  • 2
technology

2014 Will Be A Great Year For LibreOffice

The only issue I still have with LibreOffice is that it lacks styles for charts.“The tender specification lists five additional features to be developed, including new spreadsheet functions, chart styles and improved mail merge capabilities. The project is expected to be completed later this year.” That will change in 2014 as several European governments pool their resources to pay for developers to add that feature and several more. They are also wanting to update the change-management features in the ISO standard. That could eliminate the last barrier to adoption to some heavy users of office suites. M$ has been stripping ODF change-management… With the modification to the ISO standard, that will be unsupportable.

Does anyone think paying a few programmers for this project will cost more than hundreds of thousands of licensing fees for that other OS and its office suite? ;-) Chuckle.

See Call to fix interoperability of office suites.

  • Mar 24 / 2014
  • 20
technology

Bug 62925 Gets Some Grease

Yep, it pays to file bug reports about LibreOffice…
“there is some important movement: German and Swiss cities and institutions fund dvelopment on this feature and they just opened a tender: http://www.osb-alliance.de/working-groups/projekte/wichtige-funktionalitaeten-bei-loaoo/ (in German language)”

See Bug 62925 – FORMATTING: enhancement: please add "chart styles" to the styles of Calc.

See also Google’s translation of the German page.

  • Mar 05 / 2014
  • 1
Linux in Education, technology

New ICT Curriculum In Indian Schools

“The requirements of the curricula are not to be hardware or software speci c. Undoing the general trend of limiting software to office applications, which are not only ill suited for educational purposes but also tend to narrow down the view of what computers and ICT can achieve, a wide range of software applications specifi cally designed for education are introduced. Use of proprietary software would become very expensive and make the implementation unviable. Therefore, Free and Open Source software have been suggested throughout the curricula. The use of FOSS applications will also obviate software piracy and enable customisation to suit local needs.”

AMEN! This is a national curriculum for one of the largest countries on Earth. It is professionally done and not just about students. It includes training for teachers. Wow! If implemented widely, this should see increased use of computers in education and FLOSS in a country with 1billion+ people and many millions of students.

Further, the new curriculum does not hold teachers back. Those already skilled in ICT will be able to be certified in short order. The new curriculum does not hold students back. It starts with programming computers in the first year (~10 years of age).

The arrival of small cheap computers on retail shelves and OEMs’ catalogues will actually make this possible to implement widely as every school should be able to afford this and if they can’t the central government should be able to fix that.

See ICT Curriculuma.pdf.

  • Feb 27 / 2014
  • 32
technology

Shuttleworth and MySQL

“I think Oracle have been an excellent steward of MySQL, with real investment and great quality. Appreciating and celebrating that doesn’t detract from our willingness to engage elsewhere. I think the tendency to imagine conspiracies and malfeasance is one of the sadder aspects of OSS [open-source software] culture. Don’t feed it.”Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical are going to keep MySQL from Oracle as the goto database. Oracle has made some moves to help Debian-based distros use MySQL by providing proper repositories.

That’s all good but Oracle has done plenty to hurt the FLOSS community. Lest we forget:

  • Driving out OpenOffice.org. What was that about? It certainly was not helpful and probably delayed development by a year. LibreOffice took up the slack. Why would the FLOSS community turn back to a less Free licence?
  • Then there’s the Java thing. How much has the world invested in Java only to have Oracle make life very difficult by stifling development? They even sued Google over using the API in Android… Is Oracle mad? Shouldn’t the world flee in fear of a company pushing an open standard and then suing people who use it?
  • Then there’s MySQL. Both Oracle and Mariadb are somewhat restrictive about documentation. Oracle does not permit more than one copy for personal use and Mariadb mostly provides a website. That’a business-plan. I get that. Mariadb is frankly better at least for 5.5. Perhaps 5.6 is superior from Oracle but I don’t give credit to a supplier of FLOSS who is so miserable in other areas. Personally, I think it is quite possible that in the future Oracle will eliminate the FLOSS version of MySQL. Mariadb will be the only game in town then. Is that paranoia? Did I imagine Oracle is out to get us (OpenOffice.org, Java)? Why would they not mess arond with MySQL? I have a PostgreSQL database running just to be ready and I’m already running MariaDB.

See Shuttleworth says Ubuntu is sticking with MySQL.

  • Feb 24 / 2014
  • 0
technology

Yes, You Can Run (most of) a Winery On GNU/Linux

The crazies who come to my blog keep saying one must have that other OS everywhere on full thick clients. Here’s another anecdote of doing the obvious, running GNU/Linux thin clients almost everywhere with all kinds of benefits: “Our original GT shipped with an early 2.x Gnome release. This had more to do with my general lack of skills with package management and live image building than by design. Since the distro I was using at the time shipped Gnome by default – I went along with it. Since then, we’ve migrated to KDE 3.5, back to Gnome 2.8 and finally to KDE 4.9 which we’ve just completed the rollout for, and which now makes up approximately three quarters of our 250+ desktop fleet.
The key to all smooth migrations we’ve found is Desktop Environment consistency. Keep the major applications cross-platform where we can (browsers, office suites, assorted tools). Keep the icons where people are expecting them (they’re in the same spot on our Windows desktops too).”

Amen! Give the users a little consideration and better performance at lower cost and you’re well on your way to software Freedom. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux and XFCE4 but whatever you choose will work for you and your organization.

See KDE Software Down Under.

  • Feb 23 / 2014
  • 0
technology

FLOSS Office Suites

There are a bunch of FLOSS office suites but two of them are the big dogs: LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. “October 29th, someone downloaded the 75,000,000th copy of  Apache OpenOffice™.   The 75 million downloads have occurred in the less than 18th months since the first release of Apache OpenOffice on May 8th, 2012. 
Apache OpenOffice (formerly called OpenOffice.org) is the leading free and open source office application suite for Windows, Mac and Linux. “
The Apache organization has just published some statistics on their downloads. The claim that their stuff is leading is debatable since most distros include LibreOffice and not Apache OpenOffice.

Nevertheless their numbers are interesting. They show 75million downloads for the last several versions, perhaps 30million users in total. That’s similar to the number of users of LibreOffice. I would bet. They do have one thing right. Since distros don’t include OpenOffice much, the downloads probably are comparable between users of those other operating systems and GNU/Linux. That suggests that GNU/Linux and OpenOffice represents at least a few percent of usage on PCs out there. Similarly, LibreOffice reported 15 million unique IP addresses for downloads back in 2012 on top of the installations from distros and estimated 60million users and they haven’t stood still… That’s consistent with web page-view counts. Between the two of them they must have about 100 million users and about 50million of those are on GNU/Linux.

This is all good news. The world can and does make good software independently of M$ and “partners”. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux and LibreOffice.

See Apache OpenOffice.

  • Feb 09 / 2014
  • 10
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

A Bunch Of Reasons Why I Use The GNU/Linux Operating System

I just read a trollish/clickbaitish article, you know, one of those “umpteen reasons to use that other OS…” things. It was sickening. All the usual arguments evanglists of M$ use wrapped in a “user-friendliness” package with a ribbon were there. I won’t even link to it. It was just too far gone. I will write my own such article based on real experiences in the real world.

I used to put up with that other OS when it crashed a dozen times a day. I saved files early and often… When almost every PC on Earth shipped with that, what was the choice? I knew about UNIX but the last time I checked folks wanted $1000 for permission to use it. I had never heard of Minix and I though GNU/Linux was just for computergeeks or huge companies. I had seen a guy attempt to install GNU/Linux just once. It was a disaster and lead to a CLI (commandline interface) that was foreign. I had used DOS a lot but this was different. Nevertheless, I was in the Arctic with five PCs running that other OS, Lose ’95 flavour, and one or another crashed almost hourly. What I had tolerated as an individual user for years was intolerable to me when I was a paid professional teacher in charge of the futures of two dozen real human beings entrusted to me by their parents.

I read that GNU/Linux didn’t crash and I had to have it. It took 10 days of nights and weekends at dial-up speed to get one CD of Caldera e-Desktop. I had never installed an OS before except copying DOS to a hard drive, but I figured it out and the installation was flawless, except I couldn’t get the GUI to run. I needed to look up data for our five different monitors and put the sweep frequencies into a file. So, a day or two later I had five PCs that didn’t crash. They ran six months without a single crash. I was sold.

M$ had been able to sell that crap because they had exclusive deals with OEMs, retailers, ISV’s (not so Independent Software Vendors) and had extended the monopoly granted by IBM to the ends of the Earth. IBM had adopted GNU/Linux a year or so before I discovered it so M$ had to change but GNU/Linux was far ahead in the stability department. I was amazed that a dying application could not lock up the OS. I learned about “Xkill” and carried on. We had an office suite, StarOffice, and a browser, Netscape, that did everything I knew how to do on a PC about education. I and my students were free of M$.

No student complained that GNU/Linux was not that other OS or that some list of applications would not run on it or that other OS was prettier. No one cared. The PCs loved it. The students loved it except for a couple whose parents thought more than 15 minutes per day was excessive use of a PC. My students were getting more than 60 minutes per day. It was like having another teacher in the room. I worked out lessons for students and distributed documents or papers to those PCs and the students took care of the rest. Vocabularies improved. Writing skills improved. I was able to give more attention to the rest of the class. What’s not to love about GNU/Linux?

Since then, the things I was able to get GNU/Linux to do for me multiplied greatly. I learned about file-sharing and printing and X and openSSH so I could control one or a hundred computers as if they were one bringing more computing power to each user as needed. The use of the hardware was only limited by my imagination and the imaginations of students and teachers, not some stupid EULA…

Let me tell you about M$’s EULA (End User Licence Agreement). First off, it’s not an agreement. You are forced to say you agree to it if you want to use your PC. That’s not an agreement. That’s extortion. Pay us if you want to stay in business… Further, the “agreement” is unconscionable. You have to agree not to connect more than X PCs together. Yep. A school with 100 XP machines on a LAN would be in violation if they shared files or ran thin clients. M$ wants you to cripple your PCs so they can sell you a “server” licence with a per-seat charge. Then there’s the thing about not studying the OS. You are not legally able to study M$’s OS and figure out what it’s doing to you. M$ also wants you to agree that M$ should be able to install whatever malware it wants on your computer. M$ wants to use the hardware you own to work for M$. For agreeing to this enslavement, they also charge a fee. That’s insane.

GNU/Linux on the other hand runs on FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) licences. The common theme is that you can run the software any way you want on as many computers as you want making as many copies as you want and you may study the software including source code and/or modify it… Oh… Vive la difference…

That’s Software Freedom, actually freedom for developers and users to make the best use of IT. If you are a developer you will like the fact that you can start a huge project from scratch and reuse and modify all the software you can get legally and without a fee in most cases. That enables anyone to start a huge project that could go far for very little cost. That’s perfect for students, young folk and start-ups as well as individuals and organizations. It doesn’t get any better than that. If you’re a user, you can use your hardware to full advantage with few restrictions, very little cost and no organization can tell you what to do with your hardware. It doesn’t get any better than that.

GNU/Linux largely uses open standards so whatever applications and computers you have can all talk to each other and speak the same languages. That allows you to turn a lab or a school into a super-computer as needed. That allows you to set up as many databases, search engines, web-servers, clients thick (resourceful) and thin (using resources of a server), as you need, want or can afford. Basically, you don’t need a brand new PC to get great performance if you can connect to another powerful computer running the software you need. GNU/Linux lets you do that transparently.

Let me give you an example. I like the application, GNUmeric, for doing spreadsheets. It makes the lovely graphs I display on my blog. They are SVG so they scale nicely no matter what size your screen. They take just a few seconds for me to set up from templates and they are infinitely customisable. The latest version of GNUmeric does not run directly on the version of GNU/Linux I have on my main PC, Beast. It wants the latest version of GNU/Linux. So, I set up another PC, a virtual one, that runs on Beast, installed the latest version of GNU/Linux from the Debian organization, and interact with it as if it were installed on Beast in the usual way by creating an icon that runs this simple command, ssh -Y jessie “gnumeric”. The “ssh” part runs a remote secure shell on the other computer, jessie. The “gnumeric” part runs GNUmeric for me on the other PC and the -Y part connect the application to my PC in a transparent fashion, a window automatically appears in front of me and I’m off. I also share the directories where I download and keep my documents so the apparent file-structure on Jessie is identical to my normal one. It’s all transparent to me, the user. I basically get to use two PCs as if they were one. If necessary, I could make Jessie some powerful super-computer and get better performance, or I could run more applications simultaneously by having more RAM on two systems than I could on one or… See? It’s only limited by my imagination, not some crazy EULA designed to sell more licences to remove crippling. The city of Largo in Florida does this for all their major applications. There are a bunch of powerful servers running their pet application for hundreds of users who access the application from small cheap computers on their desks. This is the lowest cost and the highest performing system you can have. Essentially, you don’t need a noisy, bulky heat-source in your working environment. It can be cool and quiet and serene thanks to GNU/Linux. M$? They charge extra for that and you still have all the other problems of that other OS: malware, re-re-reboots and the damned EULA.

So, we’ve covered reliability and flexibility and freedom. What about the actual design of the software? GNU/Linux has many parts. The GNU part is an ancient imitation of the UNIX OS from the olden days. The Linux part is a kernel that knows just about every bit of hardware you can connect to a PC and a benevolent dictator, Linus Torvalds, herds the Linux developers/cats in good directions, keeping things from breaking as much as possible and always trying to improve performance and security. On the other hand, M$ is anxious to sell as many licences as possible by every trick in the book including breaking things so a new licence will fix things until M$ needs more money, inviting malware in so computers slow down or “fail” and they are not above installing stuff that slows down your computer so you constantly feel the need to buy a new one, hoping faster hardware would save you from M$. M$ is run by salesmen. GNU/Linux is a product of the world which can and does make its own software to work for us not against us.

Have I missed anything? Probably. I will finish with some of the fabulous software I use in my home doing the computing that I do. There’s no lack of valuable software available from the Debian GNU/Linux repositories and I can install any of it in a few minutes by typing simple commands or clicking a mouse a few times.

  • Gnumeric, which I have described above,
  • LibreOffice, a general office suite which does almost everything perfectly for me except huge documents and the graphs in spreadsheets,
  • Lyx is what I like to create huge documents like books. It allows the writer to concentrate on content rather than formatting,
  • Inkscape is a programme designed to create and modify SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) images,
  • FireFox web browser,
  • ImageMagick, a toolbox for handling image files,
  • Gimp, a complex image editor, capable of almost anything for images used on the web or computer screen,
  • VLC, a video viewer/streamer/convertor,
  • Mplayer, a video player,
  • OpenShot video editor,
  • SoX, audio toolbox,
  • Audacity, audio editor,
  • Apache web server,
  • MySQL/MariaDB database,
  • PostgreSQL database,
  • Swish-e search engine,
  • Recoll search engine,
  • AutoKey, which inserts various strings in my texts by typing simple “hot keys”,
  • APT software packaging system,
  • and thousand of others

Notice that several of these are usually found on servers, not PCs, like Apache or MySQL. That’s OK. GNU/Linux doesn’t limit your freedom to run whatever you want wherever you want. Remember? Some trolls might mention that most of these can run on that other OS but if I don’t have to sell my soul to use my PC, why should I run that other OS? I don’t owe M$ a living. I don’t own M$ anything. If anything, I should send M$ a bill for the thousands of re-re-reboots they inflicted on me over the years.

There, I’m done. There are no good reasons for me to run that other OS and plenty for me to run Debian GNU/Linux. You should too unless you’re a slave and want to remain a slave.

  • Jan 30 / 2014
  • 0
technology

POPCON and LibreOffice

Debian has a package called popcon which monitors the popularity of Debian packages during and after installation. Popcon is an optional package. The one who installs can choose to install it or not. It reports the results for those who choose to install it. Here are the first few lines of a summary:

“#rank name inst vote old recent no-files
1 Not in sid 1665828 148914 375580 36427 1104907
2 libreoffice 1390305 648388 281491 271496 188930″

LibreOffice is the most popular package by far and about half the installations use LibreOffice regularly. Further, the sum of all package-installations comes to 121 million. That’s a pretty good sample so the conclusion that LibreOffice is very popular is solid. Further, the popularity shows that the next packages in the list are the system’s utilities, stuff like sysvinit… The next in line desktop application after LibreOffice is vlc, back an order of magnitude lower popularity at row 71…
“71 vlc 223879 63544 75546 19766 65023″ vlc is one of the most popular applications on PCs in any OS. vlc 2.0.x had over 100 million downloads (mostly Windows versions) back in 2012. This suggests LibreOffice is at least working on that scale of global usage, not insignificant at all. TDF has published estimates in the range of 40-60 million installations based on unique IP addresses for downloads. This is confirmation. LibreOffice is real.

See Popularity Contest Report.

See also SJVN – Bigger, better, faster: LibreOffice 4.2

  • Jan 30 / 2014
  • 1
technology

LibreOffice Keeps Improving

I’ve been using LibreOffice for years and the only problems I’ve encountered have been with my “wishlist”. It keeps improving one way or another and the team at The Document Foundation has just released LibreOffice4.2 with a long list of improvements, including code-quality.

See 4.2 Features or just download it and run it. It’s available for GNU/Linux, that other OS and Mac OS. My Beast runs Debian GNU/Linux on AMD64. This is the 4.2.0 release which has many changes and may still be buggy but if you like the latest bells and whistles, go for it.

  • Jan 29 / 2014
  • 0
technology

UK Government Defines TCO

“Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft. Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant’s Office suite alone since 2010. But the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to software which can produce open-source files in the "open document format" (ODF), such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.”Rather than taking M$’s office suite as the default and paying forever whatever M$ wants, the government of the UK is thinking that (really) open standards and FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) is the right way to do IT. With thinking like that it’s only a matter of time before M$’s client OS gets the chop.

See UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source.

  • Jan 16 / 2014
  • 11
technology

Migration To LibreOffice For The Textbooks

Munich migrated a bunch of things to GNU/Linux from that other OS but the office suite was the biggest/most universal bit of lock-in. The Umbrian region of Italy has documented their migration to LibreOffice which definitely was to save money, lots of money.
“The cost of the migration is calculated to be around €56,000 per thousand workstations while the price of the same number of Microsoft Office licences would amount to €284,490. "That’s what we would have to have paid had we decided to upgrade our licences which, for budget reasons, were stuck on the 2010 version of Office: so it’s roughly a saving of €228,000,"”

This reinforces the argument I have made many times, that whatever the effort required to migrate to FLOSS, it’s worth it because the cost of M$’s licences one time may pay for the migration and the Wintel treadmill goes on forever. Forever multiplied by whatever price M$ wants to charge is far more than the one-time cost of migrating. The biggest migration I ever did broke even on the first day because we were able to buy twice as much equipment with the savings on software licences.

Another quote, documenting the obvious software-bloat in M$’s products: “We found out that most of our users exploit just 15 percent of their productivity suite, but you paying for the other 85 percent as well. It’s just like if you owned a Ferrari and only used it to drive at 30km per hour through the middle of town”

It’s a variation on the “80:20″ rule. If you have a few people who actually use M$’s stuff reasonably effectively, it is much cheaper to migrate the rest or retrain those few than to keep everyone using M$’s stuff. I have never known anyone, in my entire career, that used that other OS effectively. I hardly ever saw a user of M$’s office suite that used “full justification”, for instance, because that feature, while available was not the default. It wasn’t even on the menu often. LibreOffice has it a click away. It always seemed bizarre to me that an office suite held to be state-of-the-art so resembled a typewriter. I remember typewriters and I know why the world moved past them.

See 'Like driving a Ferrari at 20mph': Why one region ditched Microsoft Office for LibreOffice.

See also, Regione Umbria awarded for the migration to LibreOffice

See also, LibreUmbria

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