Thursday, November 27, 2008

Installing the go-oo variant of into Fedora 9 and 10

Go-oo is an "enhanced" version of the stock suite from Sun Microsystems. I blogged about the differences a little while back.

To install go-oo on Fedora 9 and 10, as root do the following:

  1. Make sure your current version of OO.o is removed, to avoid any conflicts.
  2. Download and install this RPM
  3. For Fedora 9, edit your /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora.repo and /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora-updates-newkey.repo files, then add this statement exclude= openoffice* at the bottom of [fedora] and [updates-newkey] sections repectively.
  4. For Fedora 10, edit your /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora.repo and /etc/yum.repo.d/fedora-updates.repo files, then add the statement exclude= openoffice* at the bottom of [fedora] and [updates] sections repectively.
  5. yum install openoffice.org3 openoffice.org3.0-redhat-menus* openoffice.org3-writer* openoffice.org3-calc* openoffice.org3-impress* openoffice.org3-base* openoffice.org3-base* openoffice.org3-en-US*
Note : Due to some reason openoffice.org3-en-US* is required for starting up go-oo. A patch is in the works. If you are like me uses British English, you may add openoffice.org3-en-GB* to the list. Also I tested this on a 32-bit machine, so I am unsure whether the procedure for 64-bit is exactly the same as above.

Log off and on. And the items should appear in the menu, else reboot.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The most evil distro in the world?

I love Ubuntu. There I have said it. So excuse me while I put on a flame-retardant suit...ok...bring it on!!!

It puzzles me that there is so much hate and disgust towards arguably the most popular and visible Linux distro of the last few years. Dell in the US and Europe has started to bundle Ubuntu into selected ranges of desktops and portable and the Inspiron Mini 9 will be preloaded with Ubuntu as well. So isn't that great? Linux has finally gotten the recognition it deserves from "mainstream" vendors.

Alas, there are those who seem to be less than enthusiastic about this. Adam Williamson of Mandriva in his piece on why he hates Canonical accuses Canonical of dive-bombing the Linux industry and insinuating that Ubuntu seems to be nothing more than a rich man's whim; interestingly he refers to Red Hat rather than Mandriva when making a point of a "real" Linux company. Jono Bacon, The Ubuntu Community Manager offers his take on this.

Yes, Ubuntu is not perfect. Then again which distro is? Fedora is a great platform for testers, developers and those who like living on the edge. OpenSUSE is just simply, smooth and slick and strikes a good balance between bleeding edge and stability. Mandriva is a great distro too; I started with Mandrake and even joined their Club so it will always be special.

Each distro has it pluses and minuses, one that is "perfect" for Joe 31337 might be toxic to a noob like Bob.

I happen to like Ubuntu so what? It's not like if you don't use Distro X you are a total nutjob or something.

I often hear other Linux users calling Ubuntu developers merely a bunch of packager and the forums are just full of "normal" users, sponsored by a billionaire who has too much money to spare. Yeah guess what? This bunch of packagers and "normal" users kicked the butt of the more established distros for the past few years. So, one man's US$10 million contribution somehow makes it a super popular? How much did Novell or Red Hat made last year?

You think Windows got to where it is now because of its technical merit? It's because Microsoft made it easy for people to use and manage their systems and that's empowering and made people feel good about themselves. Ubuntu makes it simple for users. Suddenly people find a usable alternative to Windows. "Hey this Linux thing isn't so bad!" Of course, giving free CDs away won't hurt its popularity as well!

So the next time someone says Ubuntu users and devels are just lame cause they package stuff from other projects. Well, remind them that their distro developers do not write every single package. So every distro essentially packages stuff from other distros and projects. Doesn't ppen source allows the using of other open source stuff with proper credits due and fulfilment of certain licensing criteria?

Get over it. If you think your distro is so leet and package A, B, C is developed by your project should not be used by other distros or other distros are just lame coz they took them and integrate those, perhaps you should consider a career with Microsoft.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is go-oo?

Go-oo is a free (as in cost and freedom) variant (some might call it a fork) of the popular cross-platform open source productivity suite

Is go-oo any different from the stock from Sun?

Not really. They are essentially the one and same, with the slight difference that the go-oo variant has some additional patches applied and feature-sets added. For instance, better VBA interoperability, built-in Quickstarter etc, a bunch of stuff that Sun did not want to integrate into the stock

In fact there are those who accuse Sun of intentionally ignoring contributions from the community or breaking because Sun wants to preserve the right to offer those extra goodies via StarOffice and even sell the development to the proprietary software market, like Lotus Symphony, from IBM.

There are improvements to the latest 3.0 from Sun that addresses some of the lack of features in 2.x i.e. faster startup, multi-page views etc, but it is odd that while the Windows version of 3.0 has the Quickstarter feature, the Linux versions do not have that option.

StarOffice is essentially souped-up with some of the extensions installed and a "proper" escalation point. In a way, go-oo is more similar to the paid-for StarOffice than the stock is.

Michael Meeks of Novell offers his opinion between go-oo and Sun here.

In short, try out go-oo. I am running it on my Fedora machines and have it installed on my wife's XP notebook. So far, everything is good. If you are running Ubuntu, your version of is already of the go-oo variant.

Personal note - Sun is not the big bad. In fact Sun is one of the biggest contributors to the Open Source world. Though there seem to be some friction between the community and the suits at Sun about, it is nevertheless noteworthy that if Sun did not release, the adoption of Linux or any Free OS will be severely reduced. is indeed one of the killer apps of the Open Source desktop.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Boycot Novell?

Seriously why do people spend so much time and energy on boycotting and hating a company? Just because they struck some deal with Microsoft? People who consider Microsoft to be the Great Satan must realise that in the real world, deals are made between companies all the time. Also in the real world people need to make money so that they can buy food and pay bills.

I believe in software freedom. I hold sacred the idea that there must be a choice. So if you don't agree with what Novell is doing, don't use their stuff. Don't buy SLED/SLES or use OpenSUSE, but don't prevent others from doing so. If you do then you are just infringing on their rights and freedom. And yeah by the way, if you are using Ubuntu or Gentoo, you can stop using the bundled OO.o as it is sourced from the go-oo project and the majority of developers for that project are from Novell.

I don't think what Microsoft is ever going to be benevolent towards OSS companies. However, I do believe that Novell is not evil either. Well known hackers like Greg Kroah-Hartman and Michael Meeks work for Novell. These people would have left Novell in droves if there was something seriously wrong.

Has Novell suddenly stopped contributing to the OSS ecosystem? Yeah they support OOXML but so what? Don't OO.o 2x and 3x support MS Office 2003 documents as well? Doesn't in some way Abiword supports MS Word 2000 documents and Gnumeric supports Excel files as well? Should we boycott Abiword and Gnumeric as well?

Microsoft owns the desktop space. And in Malaysia especially, on the server stacks as well. So, if any platform who would even want to see the light of day should have better interoperability with stuff like Active Directory, SMB and MS Office. Novell has an obligation to its shareholders. How many of those who criticised Novell actually bought themselves a box of SUSE Linux or OpenSUSE?

Oh no, it should remain Free of Charge because if they try to make a buck means they are evil right?

I do not work for Novell nor have I received any payments or rewards from them. I just happen to feel sorry for us in the OSS world. We rather be tearing ourselves to bits rather than adopt a united front against stuff like patents and proprietary formats.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

German Foreign Ministry Moving to OSS

The German Foreign Ministry is moving all its desktops to Linux and OSS. Rolf Schuster, a diplomat at the German Embassy in Madrid and the former head of IT at the Foreign Ministry said that this migration will cost the Ministry about 1000 Euros per PC annually to maintain as opposed to 3000 Euros in other ministries.

Full report here.