Monthly Archives: February 2016

  • LibreOffice 5.1 released

    The Document Foundation has announced the release today of LibreOffice 5.1, a full featured open source office suite with superior interoperability features, for all major platforms – Linux, Mac OSX and Windows.

    Compared with previous releases, LibreOffice 5.1 offers a completely overhauled user interface and several improved features targeted at enterprise deployments, e.g. better support for ODF 1.2, interoperability with proprietary document formats and file management on remote servers.

    LibreOffice has been downloaded 120 million times since its launch in January 2011 and is now being deployed by large organisations around the world, the latest addition being for Italian defence staff with over 100,000 desktops (posts passim).

    LibreOffice 5.1 Highlights

    User Interface: LibreOffice 5.1’s user interface has been completely reorganised to provide faster, more convenient access to its most used features. A new menu has been added to each of the applications: Style (Writer), Sheet (Calc) and Slide (Impress and Draw). In addition, several icons and menu commands have been repositioned based on user preferences.

    Interoperability: Compatibility with proprietary document formats – principally MS Office formats – has been improved as a part of continuing efforts for better interoperability with other office packages. The latest interoperability changes include the addition of filters for Apple Keynote 6, Microsoft Write and Gnumeric files.

    Spreadsheet Functions: Calc’s formula engine has been improved with features addressing restrictions in table structured references and sticky column/row anchors, interoperability with OOXML spreadsheets and compatibility with ODF 1.2

    File Access on Remote Servers: Files stored in the cloud on remote servers such as Sharepoint, Google Drive and Alfresco can now be accessed from the File menu, with read and write options and without the need of a dialog window.

    The LibreOffice website has a complete list of the most significant new features of LibreOffice 5.1.

    LibreOffice 5.1 has also been improved “under the hood,” thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers. Their work has produced an open source office suite that’s easier to develop, maintain and debug. Although this is not visible to users, it is extremely important for enterprise deployments.

    “LibreOffice 5.1 is another step forward to fulfilling our vision of an office suite tailored on user needs and preferences”, says Bjoern Michaelsen, a Director at The Document Foundation (TDF) and a leading LibreOffice developer. “Since 2010, we have gone through different development cycles to clean up the code and make it more responsive. We are now at a stage where we are close to providing a better user interface.”

    Availability and enterprise deployments

    LibreOffice 5.1 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites and is targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users.

    For enterprise class deployments, TDF maintains the more mature 5.0.x branch (soon at 5.0.5). In any case, TDF suggests deploying or migrating to LibreOffice with the backing of certified professionals providing Level 3 support, migration consultancy or trainings according to recognized best practices (

    LibreOffice 5.1 is available for immediate download. LibreOffice users, free software advocates and all community members can also support The Document Foundation with a donation.

  • France: 10 words whose spelling will change at the start of the school year

    upper and lower case a with circumflexSince 1990 the spelling reform approved by the Académie Française has never really been pursued. “Oignon” without an “i“, the removal of some circumflex accents: at the start of the next academic year, teachers should finally implement this reform, TF1 reports. A total of 2,400 words are going to be changed; here are 10 examples.

    The word “nénuphar” will henceforth be able to be written as “nénufar“. The spelling reform of 6th December 1990 that was approved by the Académie Française is finally going to be applied at the start of the next school year by the publishers of school textbooks and thus by teachers.

    One of the new features is that circumflex accents are going to disappear gradually. The verb “s’entraîner” will therefore be able to be spelt with a simple “i” and thus minus the circumflex accent. This part of the reform should make learning spelling easier for children.

    Special National Education Official Bulletin no. 11 of 26 Novembre 2015 gives a reminder that the spelling reform to be applied to the schooling of a child is that of 1990. Spelling and grammar textbooks will therefore carry the wording “New spelling” from the start of the next academic year.

    Another brain-teaser

    Only 45% of French people were proficient in the rules of spelling in 2015. What will happen when students have to learn to spell the same word in two different ways? Teachers are already reticent about this question.

    The change in French spelling has not been accepted by the world of work and business for 26 years. The 2,400 words involved in this reform could therefore be regarded as errors by prospective employers although the 2 spellings will be accepted.

    10 words which will change at the start of the school year

    Oignon to ognon (onion)
    Nénuphar to nénufar (water lilly)
    S’entraîner to s’entrainer (to train oneself)
    Maîtresse to maitresse (mistress)
    Coût to cout (cost)
    Paraître to paraitre (to appear)
    Week-end to weekend
    Mille-pattes to millepattes (millipede)
    Porte-monnaie to portemonnaie (purse)
    Des après-midi to des après-midis (afternoons)

    Online opposition

    However, The Guardian reports that the changes to French spelling have not met with universal approval. There have been complaints that the Socialist government is dumbing down the language of Molière.

    On Twitter, opposition to the reform gave rise a #JeSuisCirconflexe campaign, along the lines of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag in the wake of the atrocity at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (posts passim).

  • Unicef promotes open source in fight against poverty

    Unicef logoUNICEF, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund, has launched a US $9 mn. fund to promote technology start-ups.

    The conditions for the programme include the following:

    • The project must be able to improve the living conditions of young people;
    • There must must a working prototype of the technology available;
    • Everything must be made available under an open source licence.

    In addition, the start-ups must be registered in a country with an active UNICEF programme. This therefore excludes start-ups based in developed economies in North America and Europe.

    The sponsorship is being targeted from the outset solely at smaller companies and the maximum capital injection will usually amount to a maximum US $100,000 per company. UNICEF has no intention of taking a stake in the successful start-ups in return for its funding; the fact that the technology will be open source will be sufficient reward for UNICEF. Networking possibilities and technical support are also promised in addition to funding.

    The projects should focus on new possibilities for training and social participation, optimising management by making real-time data available or improving infrastructure in the fields of transport, network access or finance. Everything is possible from blockchain applications to drone hardware via 3D printing. Candidates for funding must apply by 26th February.

    See UNICEF’s website for more details of the Innovation Fund.

    First posted on Bristol Wireless.

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