Monthly Archives: November 2015

  • The Document Foundation seeks boost to LibreOffice developer numbers

    The Document Foundation has announced a new drive to increase its developer community beyond the level of 1,000 reached in October 2015.

    The growth of the LibreOffice developer community has been extraordinary, with a monthly average of over 16 new hackers contributing to the code since September 2010. This is due in the main to mentoring by the project’s founders. After five years and 1,000 new developers, though, the complexity has changed, and the project needs to invest on mentoring a new generation of coders.

    LibreOffice has always been available on multiple operating systems – Linux, Mac OSX and Windows – and is now on the verge of being available on multiple platforms: desktop, mobile and cloud. Consequently, the project needs a wider range of developer skills, which can be achieved only with a renewed effort targeted to attract new contributors.

    graph showing growth in LibreOffice developer numbers

    “When LibreOffice started, the codebase we inherited was known for being extremely hard to contribute to, for both technical reasons and a lack of mentors reaching out to new hackers,” says Bjoern Michaelsen, a member of LibreOffice engineering steering committee and a director of The Document Foundation. “Today, the LibreOffice project is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and for the fun. We strive to continue on this path for the next 1,000 code contributors.”

  • Tidy BS5 exclusive: Hell will freeze over before BCC tackles fly-tipping

    Yesterday, feeling frustrated with Bristol City Council’s ineptitude at tackling fly-tipping and litter in the city’s Easton and Lawrence Hill wards, despite 18 months’ vigorous campaigning by local residents and ward councillors, I decided to take advantage of Twitter’s poll facility.

    The results of the poll are shown below.

    screenshot of Twitter poll tweet

    That’s right! 90% of respondents believe Hell will freeze over before the local authority gets a grip on fly-tipping.

    If anyone spots Satan shopping for ice skates in Broadmead, the Galleries, Cabot Circus, Cribb’s Causeway or any other retail centre in the Bristol area, please provide details using the comments form below. 🙂

  • LibreOffice wins two awards has announced that LibreOffice, the leading open source office productivity suite, has won 2 prizes in its 2015 awards for free software applications.

    essential for companies free software awardgreatest potential award

    The 2 categories in which LibreOffice won were:

    1. Esencial para empresas (essential for companies), because it covers all enterprise office automation needs without adding licensing costs;
    2. Mayor potencial de crecimiento (best growth potential); this was awarded because LibreOffice is regularly updated and is open to new features and applications.

    Other winners included GNU Health (most revolutionary), WordPress (essential for communication) and CyanogenMod (best for mobile).

    Congratulations to LibreOffice, The Document Foundation and all the other winners.

  • A World Without Linux – episode 4

    The Linux Foundation has released episode 4 of its A World Without Linux video series.

    Called “Avatar Reimagined”, this latest video sees characters Sam and Annie going to the pictures (as we used to call them when I was a lad. Ed.) to watch a film with really bad special effects to make the point that the effects in many blockbuster movies are made on Linux supercomputers.

    The Linux Foundation commissioned six episodes for the series, leaving one left before the final episode featuring Mr Linux Kernel himself, Linus Torvalds.

  • A seasonal post

    bare treeIt’s now that grim time of year between the end of British Summer Time (BST) in October and the winter solstice in December when periods of daylight are short, deciduous trees lose their leaves and the weather deteriorates. Indeed the United Kingdom is presently experiencing a succession of autumn storms and two evenings ago the Avonmouth area of Bristol experienced the strongest wind in the country with a blast of 79 mph as Storm Barney battered the country. In short, it’s the middle of November.

    The Victorian poet Thomas Hood (23rd May 1799 – 3rd May 1845) caught the mood of the time of year beautifully in his 1844 poem November.

    No sun – no moon!
    No morn – no noon –
    No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member –
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –

  • Trusty Tahr brought down by cat

    Ubuntu logoLinux distribution bug reports are not a place one expects to find stuff to make one smile: they’re normally places where the faults and failings of software are described in normally boring detail.

    However, today proved an exception to the rule, courtesy of one filed a short while ago for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, codenamed “Trusty Tahr, which has just come to prominence.

    14.04, locked screen to go to lunch, upon return from lunch cat was sitting on keyboard, login screen was frozen & unresponsive.

    To replicate: In unity hit ctrl-alt-l, place keyboard on chair. Sit on keyboard.

    Resolution: Switched to virtual terminal, restarted lightdm, lost all open windows in X session.

    What should have happened: lightdm not becoming unresponsive.

    Ubuntu fans are now trying to reproduce this bug, including some who want to try and reproduce it with other pets, as per the latest comment on the bug report page reproduced below.

    will it also work with a small dog, please some one with a small size dogs test it!

    LightDM is the display manager running in Ubuntu. According to the Ubuntu Wiki, it starts the X servers, user sessions and greeter (login screen).

    What’s a tahr? Wikipedia informs us that tahrs form a family of three species of large Asian ungulates related to the wild goat. The three species are the Himalayan tahr, Nilgiri tahr and Arabian tahr.

    Finally, there are millions of pictures of cats and kittens all over the internet. Indeed, there’s even a Firefox add-on called Kitten Block that steps in whenever the user who has it installed attempts to access the right-wing Daily Mail and Daily Express websites. However, there are far fewer pictures of tahrs. Let’s remedy that with a fine picture of a male Himalayan tahr courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    male Himalayan tahr

    Hat tip: Softpedia

  • “Open source can liberate local authorities being held to ransom,” says Dutch MP

    Open source software is a good option for local authorities who are dissatisfied with the price and quality of their software, says Dutch Labour MP Astrid Oosenbrug. This former sysadmin believes open source and open standards can liberate local authorities from their current suppliers, who she maintains can have too much power over their customers.

    Situation “has been going on for years”

    It recently became apparent from an investigation by NRC and Reporter Radio that many local authorities feel they are being held hostage by their software suppliers who are making the most of a dysfunctional market with price increases. According to Oosenbrug, the situation “has been going on for years”. She has been campaigning for a long time for open standards and open source solutions, her greatest success being a parliamentary motion passed in April according to which the government would be obliged to give preference to open source in invitations to tender.

    More opportunity for open source

    From their dissatisfaction, Oosenbrug perceives that local authorities are seeking alternatives to their current software. Oosenbrug states: “The opportunities for open source are increasing and definitely now the government is giving it preference. Amongst local authorities we do find those where the councillors won’t interfere (with procurement choices. Ed.), but I’ve also sat in the council chamber myself. Not every intervention from The Hague is in itself bad or negative, but is on the contrary supportive.

    Open source good option for local authorities

    Astrid OosenbrugIn open source software the software’s source code is published and freely available to the public. The software can therefore be freely copied, adapted and distributed. Software standards between applications that work, services, systems and networks that work with each other can be inspected with open standards.”

    Oosenbrug views open source and open standards as a good choice for local authorities. “Software companies have a hold on them with their products. If there’s no agreement with price rises, they stop providing the services and local authorities get into quite a bit of trouble. With open source local authorities can be freed from the stranglehold. With open source, anyone can examine the software used and inspect the source code. In this way security holes and clumsy coding are quickly traced.” Users with expertise are also looking everywhere, on account of which the software remains up to date and inexpensive solutions can often be found,” declares Oosenbrug. “There is a safe environment in which ethical hackers for example can play a major role.”

    Open standards

    Local authority websites are regularly attacked and are sometimes as leaky as a sieve. Consequently, Oosenbrug is also advocating open standards in addition to open source. “Of the 360 local authorities, only thirty comply with accessibility standards. You can overcome these sorts of problems with open source and open standards.” Oosenbrug believes there should be a template for websites with which local authorities can comply with all standards. “The remainder of a website can then be completed according to the local authority’s own preferences.”

    Investment repays itself

    Open source and open standards mean a considerable investment, but Oosenbrug believes it’s one that is repaid. “The bid that works best wins invitations to tender. Everything is checked for price and quality by the users themselves. Local authorities are currently in the land of the blind where the one-eyed man is king and they must always pay more. Software is becoming safer and cheaper with open source. The government must not view open source as a punishment, but as an opportunity.”

    Municipality of Ede

    Several local authorities have made progress with open source. In this way the Municipality of Ede has been able to make appreciable savings. After the changeover, it has been spending ten times less for software licences than comparable local authorities. On account of this, total ICT expenditure has been one quarter less than previous years.

    Original Dutch source article:

    Originally posted on Bristol Wireless.

  • Windows NT 3.1 software crash brings Orly airport to standstill

    Last Saturday, Orly airport‘s air traffic was severely disrupted, leaving thousands of passengers stranded on the ground, Le Monde Informatique reports. The cause: a computer failure of the weather data management system running on Microsoft’s antediluvian Windows NT 3.1 operating system.

    Orly airport viewed from the airComputer system failures in the aeronautical world are nothing exceptional, but always have a far-reaching effect, stranding thousands of passengers on the ground. This is exactly what happened last Saturday at Orly which had to halt of all its inbound and outbound air traffic for more than half an hour. Besides the inconvenience caused, it’s above all the origin of the failure that is somewhat surprising. According to the French satirical paper Le Canard EnchaĂ®nĂ©, it was a failure linked to the Decor (Diffusion des donnĂ©es d’Environnement de ContrĂ´le d’Orly et de Roissy = Orly & Roissy Environmental Control data distribution) system managing data provided by MĂ©tĂ©o France that was the culprit.

    The surprising fact was this software is running on the Windows NT 3.1 operating system released by Microsoft 22 years ago, i.e. an operating system no longer supported at all by Redmond, with all the risks this involves in security terms, especially as it is connected to MĂ©tĂ©o France’s computer systems.

    “The traffic was not particularly heavy on Saturday morning. But imagine during the Paris Climate Change Conference, the manoeuvring of heads of state disrupted by a piece of software dating from prehistoric times. What will that look like?”, stated an engineer quoted by Le Canard EnchaĂ®nĂ©. When contacted by the satirical paper, the Transport Ministry gave an assurance that “equipment modernisation is planned for 2017” (no need to rush, then! Ed.).

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