Monthly Archives: April 2012

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LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice

Michael Meeks, a Suse developer who is instrumental in the LibreOffice community, has posted a good article on his “Stuff Michael Meeks is doing” blog summarizing the differences between OpenOffice and LibreOffice.  Ok, granted that he’s a LibreOffice guy and it’s a little biased, I think it’s nevertheless a pretty good, factual summary about the history of the two projects, and the differences to the end-user about them.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion out there about this, and sadly a lot of people downloading OpenOffice are not aware of the situation are are downloading something that is way behind technically, and as far as I can see hasn’t got much of a future at this point (though that could change).  The difference is particularly important to Ubuntu users, many of whom may be upgrading in the next few months from 10.04 to 12.04 and (as a result) apparently “switching” to LibreOffice.

Ironically, though, the “OpenOffice” that they’ll be switching from is actually a lot closer to the LibreOffice they’re switching to than anything currently available under the name “OpenOffice”.  You see, before LibreOffice existed, there was a project called Go-OO.  Go-OO was funded primarily by Novell, and essentially consisted of a comprehensive patch set for OpenOffice that added features or fixes which (mainly for licensing reasons) could not be included in the “official” OpenOffice from Sun.

Nearly every major Linux distribution (including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc) shipped Go-OO (in addition to other distro-specific patches) in place of Sun OpenOffice, even as far back as 2.x versions.  For the sake of familiarity (I assume) they packaged it under the name OpenOffice, despite the differences.

When LibreOffice was created, the Go-OO patches were among the first things to be folded into the forked codebase, along with various patches from major Linux distributions (e.g. RedHat, Debian, etc).  The Go-OO development community (including Meeks himself) also mostly threw in their lot with LibreOffice.

Anyhow, take a look at Michael’s post, particularly the nice graphic comparison of the two.  I think it’s pretty clear which one you’ll choose.


Trying out Ubuntu 12.04? My tips

Ubuntu 12.04 is nearly upon us, and probably will be by the time anyone bothers to read this post.  With all the excitement and general hubbub around it, I imagine it will result in a lot of people unfamiliar with Ubuntu or GNU/Linux trying it out for the first (or first-in-a-long-) time.

There is a lot of good general advice out there, but I’m going to give a few specific tips of my own for folks trying it out:


Icaros Desktop 1.4

Amiga 1000 imageThe Amiga.  If you weren’t of computing age during the Bush Sr. administration, you may not have heard of this legend wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a white case.  The Amiga inspired frenzied superlatives from its users (including, notably, pop artist Andy Warhol) in a way that only certain fruity computers do today.  In fact, it’s often repeated that, if not for the business bungling of Commodore (who owned Amiga), we might today be reminiscing on the bygone days of Apple computers instead.

Now, I never owned an Amiga, unfortunately; in fact I despised Amigas and anyone who owned one, purely out of an unreasoning sense of sour grapes (the Amiga was, in some ways, more advanced than any computer I’d own for almost another decade).  But now that time and tide have washed the vinegar from my teeth, I’ve been overcome with a bit of morbid curiosity about this platform of the past.  And when I discovered that some fine folks had developed AROS,  an open source remake of the Amiga OS, designed for standard PC hardware, I had to check it out.


Launching URLs with awesome’s Run command

Following on the heels of my google search hotkey in awesome, I decided to tackle expanding the functionality of the run prompt.  Awesome’s run prompt, by default, is basically a command-launcher; it chokes on any input that doesn’t represent an executable file.

I wanted it to behave more like the run prompt in other desktops, so that typing in a URL would open the URL in an appropriate application.

With help from Alexander Yakushev on the awesome mailing list, I managed to figure it out….