Linux

The S key, German special characters and a Linux keyboard

Occasionally in recent weeks, this blog has provided information on keyboard shortcuts for unusual characters (unusual for English that is. Ed.) on a Linux keyboard.

The last of these took the umlaut (diaresis) as its subject (posts passim).

German road sign for Schloßstraße in Erfurt

German road sign for Schloßstraße in Erfurt

Today, attention turns once again to German and the s key, which can produce two characters, depending upon the combination of keystrokes.

Depressing the AltGr key and s produces “ß“, the German sharp s or esszett, usually transcribed in English as ss.

The other character that can be produced is “§“, which can be produced with the AltGr, Shift and s keys.

It is believed to originate from the Latin signum sectionis, meaning section sign and usually turns up in with reference to legal documents.

Where more than one section of a legal text is involved, the sign is repeated, i.e §§.

Easy umlauts on a Linux keyboard

Some weeks ago, I blogged about the keyboard shortcut for guillemets – French quotation marks – on a Linux keyboard (posts passim).

My attention in this post is on the German umlaut, also known as diaresis (or in French as a trema. Ed.) the two dots placed over a vowel modifying its pronunciation.

Once again, one could always use the character map to insert a specific vowel with an umlaut.

KCharselect with an upper case A umlaut selected

KCharselect with an upper case A umlaut selected

However, the keyboard shortcut is much quicker.

To produce the letter a with an umlaut – “ä“, follow these steps.

Depress AltGr key and the left-hand square bracket “[” followed by “a“.

The AltGr and left-hand bracket symbol plus the vowel of your choice will give you that character plus an umlaut.

For the upper case version, I find the easiest way to avoid knotting your fingers is to turn on the CapsLock key before the AltGr key and the left-hand square bracket “[” plus vowel sequence.

LibreOffice 6.2 released

Yesterday The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the release of LibreOffice 6.2, a significant major release of the free and open source office suite which features a radical new approach to the user interface – based on the MUFFIN concept – and provides user experience options to meet all users’ preferences.

LibreOffice 6.2 banner

The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual versions. Each one has a different approach to the menu layout and complements the traditional Toolbars and Sidebar. The Tabbed variant aims to provide a familiar interface for users coming from suites such as MS Office and is supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar, while the Grouped one allows to access “first-level” functions with one click and “second-level” functions with a maximum of two clicks.

The design community has also made substantial changes and improvements to icon themes, in particular Elementary and Karasa Jaga.

LibreOffice 6.2 new and improved features

  • The help system offers faster filtering of index keywords, highlighting search terms as they are typed and displaying results based on the selected module.
  • Context menus have been tidied up, to be more consistent across the different components in the suite.
  • Change tracking performances have been dramatically improved, especially in large documents.
  • In Writer, it is now possible to copy spreadsheet data into tables instead of just inserting them as objects.
  • In Calc it is now possible to do multivariate regression analysis using the regression tool. In addition, many more statistical measures are now available in the analysis output and the new REGEX function has been added, to match text against a regular expression and optionally replace it.
  • In Impress and Draw the motion path of animations can now be modified by dragging its control points. In addition, a couple of text-related drawing styles have been added, as well as a Format Table submenu in Draw.
  • LibreOffice Online, the cloud-based version of the suite, includes many improvements too. On mobile devices, the user interface has been simplified, with better responsiveness and updates to the on-screen keyboard.

As with every major and minor release of LibreOffice, interoperability with proprietary file formats has also been improved for better compatibility with Office documents, including old versions which have been dropped by Microsoft. The focus has been on charts, animations and document security features. To assist with interoperability, LibreOffice 6.2 is built with document conversion libraries from the Document Liberation Project.

LibreOffice 6.2’s new features have been developed by a large community of contributors: 74% of commits are from developers employed by companies on the TDF’s the Advisory Board, such as Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other contributors such as the City of Munich. Individual volunteers account for 26% of commits.

In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking care of quality assurance, software localization, user interface design and user experience, editing the help pages and documentation.

LibreOffice 6.1.5 for commercial deployments

The Document Foundation has also released LibreOffice 6.1.5, a more mature version which includes some months of back-ported fixes and is better suited for commercial deployments, where features are less important as individual productivity is the main objective.

Companies wishing to deploy LibreOffice are advised to seek assistance for such matters as software support, migrations and training from qualified professionals.

Download LibreOffice 6.2 or LibreOffice 6.1.5

LibreOffice 6.2 and LibreOffice 6.1.5 are now available for immediate download. Builds of the latest LibreOffice Online source code are also available, released as Docker images.

LibreOffice Online is fundamentally a server service and should be installed and configured by adding cloud storage and an SSL certificate. It might be considered an enabling technology for the cloud services offered by ISPs or the private cloud of enterprises and large organisations.

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members are encouraged to support The Document Foundation with a donation.

Guillemets (French quotation marks) on a Linux keyboard

My first experiences of computing took place before the widespread use of graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Consequently, I use a lot of keyboard* shortcuts.

These can also be used to create individual characters and, if known, represent an alternative such as using a visual character map, such as KCharSelect, the character map on the KDE desktop environment on my Linux machines.

KCharselect with the left-hand guillemet selected

KCharselect with the left-hand guillemet selected

So what’s the keyboard shortcut alternative for French quotation marks?

On Linux, most special characters can be inserted into a text editor or office package using the AltGr key plus one or two other keystrokes. If you have the patience to learn them, they can save a lot of time.

For the left guillemet, AltGr+z produces «.

For the right guillemet, AltGr+x produces ».

As you can see, it’s a lot quicker than using a GUI-based alternative.

* = I’ve always used a standard EN-GB keyboard layout.

April 27th is the first LibreOffice 6.1 bug hunting session

The first bug hunting session for the forthcoming LibreOffice 6.1 release will be held on Friday, 27th April, The Document Foundation blog has announced.

Bug Hunt banner

LibreOffice 6.1, the next point release of the free and open source office suite which emphasises the use of open standards, such as the Open Document Format (ODF), is due to be made available in August this year.

To help ready the software for its release date, the LibreOffice Quality Assurance community is organising an initial bug hunting session this Friday to find, report and triage bugs. Details of the event can be found on the dedicated wiki page.

This first Bug Hunting Session will involve the first Alpha version of LibreOffice 6.1, which will be available on the pre-releases server on the day of the event. Builds will be available for Linux (DEB and RPM package formats), macOS and Windows. Users will be able to run the Alpha release in parallel with their production version – thus enabling testing without affecting users’ existing stable installations.

Mentors will be available on April 27th 2018 from 8.00 a.m. UTC to 8.00 p.m. UTC for questions or help in the IRC channel: #libreoffice-qa (connect via webchat) and its Telegram bridge. During the day there will be 2 dedicated sessions focussed on two of the tenders implemented in LibreOffice 6.1: the first between 10.00 a.m. UTC and 12.00 a.m. UTC to test improvements in image handling; and the second to test the HSQLDB import filter for firebird between 2.00 p.m. UTC and 4.00 p.m. UTC.

According to the release plan, the LibreOffice 6.1 office suite will enter beta stages of development at the end May, with a second beta planned for mid-June. After that, there should be about three RCs released between the first week of July and the first week of August with the final release being available in mid-August.

LibreOffice 6.0.3 release announced

On Thursday, The Document Foundation (TDF), the organisation behind the free and open source Libreoffice productivity suite, announced the release of LibreOffice 6.0.3, the third minor release of the LibreOffice 6 family.

Compared to the previous release, LibreOffice 6.0.3 around 70 bug and regression fixes.

LibreOffice 6.0.3 represents the bleeding edge in terms of features and as such is targeted at early adopters, tech-savvy and power users, while LibreOffice 5.4.6 – provided as an alternative download option – is targeted at more conservative mainstream users and enterprise deployments.

LibreOffice 6 splash screen

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 6.0.3 is immediately available for download for all major platforms – Linux, Mac OSX and Windows – at the following link: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/.

As per usual, technical details about LibreOffice 6.0.3 bug and regression fixes can be found in the change logs for RC1 and RC2.

Professional support

TDF advises mainstream users and companies to deploy LibreOffice with the support of certified developers, migrators and trainers.

Several companies on TDF’s Advisory Board provide either value-added LTS versions of LibreOffice or consultancy services for migration and training.

Donate to help LibreOffice development

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation. Donations help TDF to maintain its infrastructure, share knowledge and fund attendance at events like LibreOffice Conference, which this year takes place in Tirana.

Mad dogs – an Englishman speaks

During my first visits to France in my teens one frequently saw blue-enamelled signs mounted on gates and walls and bearing the words “Chien méchant“, the French equivalent of “Beware of the dog“. However, we used to translate it literally and, as the only other creature we’d come across which could also be described as “méchant” (= naughty*) was children, we settled on “naughty dog” as the accepted definition or translation and had a good chuckle. However, as time progressed and language studies reached higher levels, one gradually came to realise that literal translation is often unreliable, as exemplified by our French four-legged friends.

The classic French "Chien méchant" sign from yesteryear

The classic French “Chien méchant” sign from yesteryear

Yesterday afternoon in Sainte Marine when out walking with my sister we came across the sign below.

sign with French wording mad dog

The alleged four-legged friend to which the sign refers is clearly a canine which has strayed well beyond being merely “méchant“, is clearly mentally unstable and would – if human and resident in England and Wales – be admitted to hospital against its will under the Mental Health Act.

However, for we open source enthusiasts, “mad dog” – or in this case “maddog” – has other connotations. “Maddog” is the nickname of programmer Jon Hall, the Executive Director of Linux International, a non-profit organisation established by computer professionals with the aim of supporting and promoting Linux-based operating systems.

Finally, any mention of mad dogs by an Englishman would be incomplete without a passing nod to Noel Coward, so here it is. 😀

* = With enhanced vocabulary knowledge one subsequently became aware of other meanings of “méchant“, such as nasty or spiteful, which although laden with anthropomorphism are particularly pertinent to dogs and their bite. 😀

LibreOffice 5.4.2 released

Yesterday The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the release of LibreOffice 5.4.2, the second minor release of the LibreOffice 5.4 family. LibreOffice 5.4.2 continues to represent the bleeding edge in terms of features and as such is targeted at technology enthusiasts and early adopters.

TDF suggests that more conservative users and businesses deploy LibreOffice 5.3.6 with the support of certified professionals.

LibreOffice 5.4 banner

LibreOffice 5.4.2 includes approximately 100 bug and regression fixes. Technical details about the release can be found in the RC1 (release candidate) and RC2 change logs.

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 5.4.2 is available for download for all major platforms (Linux, MacOS and Windows).

Donate to LibreOffice

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members are invited to support the work of The Document Foundation with a donation. Donations help TDF to maintain its infrastructure, share knowledge, and organise events such as the LibreOffice Conference, with the next one taking place next week in Rome.

LibreOffice wins survey amongst Ubuntu users

LibreOffice was the runaway winner in a survey of Ubuntu Linux users for desktop productivity software with 85.52% of the votes. The closest competitors were Google Docs with 4.29%, WPS Office with 3.22% and Apache OpenOffice with 1.96%, while all other office suites accounted for less than 1% responses.

“Even with Windows shipping Ubuntu/Bash on their desktop, even with Google shipping Chromebooks with Linux+Chrome pre-installed, even with Mac OS running away with a premium segment of the desktop market, even with Android phones and tablets, there are many tens of millions of passionate Ubuntu desktop users who are eager to have their voices heard! And LibreOffice continues to be THE enabler of local office productivity on the Ubuntu Desktop,” says Dustin Kirkland, Vice-President of Product Development for Ubuntu at Canonical.

The results of the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Default Desktop Applications Survey were presented by Dustin Kirkland at the UbuCon Europe conference in Paris in September.

Two point releases for LibreOffice

On the last day of August, The Document Foundation (TDF) announced two point releases for the popular LibreOffice productivity suite: LibreOffice 5.4.1 “Fresh”, the first minor release of the new LibreOffice 5.4 family; and LibreOffice 5.3.6 “Still”, the sixth release of the mature LibreOffice 5.3 family.

LibreOffice 5.4.1 represents the bleeding edge in term of features, and as such is targeted at technology enthusiasts and early adopters, whereas LibreOffice 5.3.6 is targeted at more conservative users and enterprise deployments.

As regards enterprise use, TDF suggests deploying LibreOffice 5.3.6 with support from certified professionals. Furthermore, many companies sitting on TDF’s Advisory Board also provide either value-added Long Term Supported versions of LibreOffice or consultancy services for migration to LibreOffice and training.

LibreOffice 5.4.1 includes approximately 100 bug and regression fixes, along with document compatibility improvements. Technical details about the bug fixes can be found in the RC1 and RC2 change logs.

LibreOffice 5.4.1 screenshot

LibreOffice 5.4.1 (Writer) in action

LibreOffice 5.3.6 includes approximately 50 bug and regression fixes. As with 5.4.1, technical details about the release can be found in the change log.

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 5.4.1 and LibreOffice 5.3.6 are available for immediate download for GNU/Linux, Mac OSX and Windows. Select the version you desire for your preferred operating system.

Please note that if you’re still using Windows XP or Windows Vista, LibreOffice 5.4 will be the last release that will run on those legacy operating systems.

Support LibreOffice

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members are invited to support The Document Foundation with a donation. Donations help TDF to maintain its infrastructure, share knowledge and organise events, such as this year’s LibreOffice Conference, which will be taking place in Rome in October.

LibreOffice 5.3.3 released

Yesterday The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the release of LibreOffice 5.3.3, the latest release of the “fresh” series, which is aimed at early adopters, power users and technology enthusiasts.

For more conservative users and enterprise deployments, TDF suggests LibreOffice 5.2.7, the latest “still” series release, with the backing of professional support by certified professionals.

Compared with its predecessor, LibreOffice 5.3.3 incorporates more than 70 patches, including an update of the Sifr monochrome icon set and several fixes for interoperability with Microsoft Office file formats.

LibreOffice 5.3.3 running on the author's Debian GNU/Linux laptop

LibreOffice 5.3.3 running on the author’s Debian GNU/Linux laptop

As regards those 70 patches mentioned above, users can see which bugs they’ve help to fix in both release candidates, RC1 and RC2 respectively.

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 5.3.3 is immediately available for download for all major platforms – GNU/Linux, Mac OSX and Windows. If your GNU/Linux system can handle Flatpak format, there’s a special link for that.

Support LibreOffice with a donation

As with every release, LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members are invited to support TDF’s work with a donation.

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