free software

  • Joint release of LibreOffice versions 24.2.2 & 7.6.6

    Yesterday the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the simultaneous release of two versions – 23.2.2 and 7.6.6 respectively of the LibreOffice productivity suite. Both releases bugs and regressions to improve quality and interoperability for individual productivity.

    LibreOffice 24.2 banner

    As usual LibreOffice 7.6.6 is an update to a release not at the project’s cutting edge, but is designed for more conservative users who don’t necessarily want – or need – the suite’s latest features.

    Both versions are now available for download. All LibreOffice users are encouraged to update their current version as soon as possible to take advantage of the improvements and bug fixes in the new releases. For those using proprietary operating systems, the minimum requirements are Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and Apple MacOS 10.15.

    For business use, TDF strongly recommends the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications from its partners with a wide range of dedicated value-added features and other benefits such as SLAs. Details here.

    LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support the work of The Document Foundation by making a donation to it.

  • Today is Document Freedom Day

    Today, 27th March is Document Freedom Day, which every year publicises and raises awareness of how open standards and open document formats enable us to read and write as we so wish.

    Document Freedom Day graphic

    Was there ever a time you were sent an important file that the software onyour computer couldn’t read properly? Do you remember having to purchase or download a new application just so you could open an attachment you needed for your work? The same thing happens tens of thousands of times every day. Can you imagine how much knowledge sharing doesn’t happen just because the sender and receiver – either intentionally or unintentionally – use different file formats? Incompatibilities like these are typically caused by secret (“closed”) and privately held (“proprietary”) file formats.

    Document Freedom Day is a chance to inform the world about open standards, which are crucial for the exchange of information, independence from software suppliers like the Beast of Redmond and to ensure long-term access to our data. LibreOffice – the office suite used and recommended by your ‘umble scribe – is a fine example of how to use open standards such as Open Document Format (ODF).

  • New user guides for LibreOffice Writer and Calc

    Last week The Document Foundation blog revealed that new guides have been produced for the latest 24.2 versions of Writer and Calc, LibreOffice‘s word processor and spreadsheet programs respectively.

    Graphic showing covers of new Writer and Calc guides

    The new guides are in essence updates of the guides produced for the preceding LibreOffice 7.6 guides.

    The Writer guide has been reviewed and updated by Jean Weber and has changed from being a single page document to a full-sized book. The latest Writer guide includes all these updates:

    • Comments can now use styles;
    • New features in the Navigator;
    • Save with password dialog now has a password strength meter;
    • Insert Special Characters dropdown now shows a character description;
    • Improved support for multi-page floating tables;
    • “Legal” ordered list numbering: make a given list level use Arabic numbering for all its numeric portions;
    • Miscellaneous changes in the names of some fields and buttons;
    • See the release notes for more changes.

    The Calc guide has been revised by Steve Fanning; it contains a description of the new features of Calc 24.2, the spreadsheet program of LibreOffice:

    • Live font preview when using the Font Name menus on the Properties deck of the Sidebar and on the Formatting toolbar;
    • Interactions to switch between sheets operate cyclically;
    • Option to view or hide column/row highlighting;
    • Additional metadata fields on the Description tab of the Properties dialog;
    • On Windows platforms, support for Alt+NumPad codes covering full Unicode range;
    • Text description of highlighted character on drop-down from Insert Special Characters toolbar icon;
    • Password strength meters for several dialogs;
    • Search field on Functions deck of Sidebar;
    • Support for FTP protocol removed from Hyperlink dialog;
    • Changes to auto-recovery and backup options;
    • Search function on Tools – Options dialogs;
    • Security warnings converted from dialogs to information bars;
    • Modify button renamed Assign on Customise dialog;
    • Language Settings menu of Tools – Options dialogs renamed to Languages and Locales.

    Besides those mentioned above, LibreOffice 24.2 also contains the following improvements:

    • New password-based ODF encryption that hides metadata better and is more resistant to tampering;
    • Clarification of macro security options to make it clear exactly what is allowed and what is not;
    • Accessibility improvements: and
    • Improvements in interoperability with Microsoft’s proprietary file formats.

    The Guides are available in PDF and ODF formats from the Libre Office bookshelf web page as well as print versions.

  • If you can’t contribute, donate!

    Yesterday the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German non-profit organisation behind LibreOffice, published a post detailing how donations received during 2023 were used to continue development of the software and running the TDF and events

    The post included a handy graphic displaying the disbursement of funds visually, which is shown below.

    Graphic showing how donations were used in 2023
    Graphic courtesy of The Document Foundation
    Your ‘umble scribe would urge anyone who can to contribute their expertise, whether that’s writing or documentation, or helping to test pre-release versions; and if you can’t manage that, then donate! 😀
  • LibreOffice 24.2 released

    The blog of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German-based organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice suite of productivity software, has today announced the release of LibreOffice 24.2 Community for all major operating systems – Linux. MacOS (Apple and Intel processors) and Windows (Intel, AMD and ARM processors). LibreOffice 24.2 banner

    This is LibreOffice’s first use the new calendar-based numbering scheme (YY.M) for releases, which it hoped will help users in keeping their LibreOffice installations up to date.

    New release highlights – general
    • Save AutoRecovery information is enabled by default, and is always creating backup copies. This reduces the risk of losing content for first-time users who are unfamiliar with LibreOffice settings.
    • Fixed various NotebookBar options, with many menu improvements, better print preview support, proper resetting of customised layout, and enhanced use of radio buttons. This improves the experience for users familiar with the Microsoft Office UI.
    • The Insert Special Character drop-down list now displays a character description for the selected character (and in the tooltip when you hover over it).
    • “Legal” ordered list numbering: make a given list level use Arabic numbering for all its numeric portions.
    • Comments can now use styles, with the Comment paragraph style being the default. This makes it easier to change the formatting of all comments at once, or to visually categorise different types of comments.
    • Improved various aspects of multi-page floating table support: overlap control, borders and footnotes, nesting, wrap on all pages, and related UI improvements.
    • A new search field has been added to the Functions sidebar deck.
    • The scientific number format is now supported and saved in ODF: embedded text (with number format like ###.000E0); lower case for exponent (with number format like ###.000e0); exponent with empty ‘?’ instead of ‘0’ (with number format like 0.00E+?0).
    • Highlight the Row and Column corresponding to the active cell.
    • The handling of small caps has been implemented for Impress.
    • Moved Presenter Console and Remote control settings from Tools > Options > LibreOffice Impress to Slide Show > Slide Show Settings, with improved labelling and dialogue layout.
    • Several improvements and fixes to templates: added and improved placement of various placeholders; fixed order of slides; made fonts and formatting consistent; fixed styles and their hierarchy; improved ODF compliance; made it easier to use templates in languages other than English; fixed use of wrong fonts for CJK and CTL.
    • Several significant improvements to the handling of mouse positions and the presentation of dialogue boxes via the Accessibility APIs, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Improved management of IAccessible2 roles and text/object attributes, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Status bars in dialogue boxes are reported with the correct accessible role so that screen readers can find and report them appropriately, while checkboxes in dialogue boxes can be toggled using the space bar.
    • The Save with Password dialogue box now has a password strength meter. This uses zxcvbn-c to determine the password strength.
    • New password-based ODF encryption that performs better, hides metadata better, and is more resistant to tampering and brute force.
    • Clarification of the text in the options dialogue box around the macro security settings, so that it is clear exactly what is allowed and what is not.

    A full description of all the new features can be found in the release notes.

    Contributors to LibreOffice 24.2 Community

    There are 166 contributors to the new features of LibreOffice 24.2 Community: 57% of code commits come from the 50 developers employed by three companies on the TDF Advisory Board – Collabora, allotropia and Red Hat – or other organisations, 20% from 8 developers at The Document Foundation; the remaining 23% originated from 108 individual volunteers.

    An additional 159 volunteers have committed to localisation in 160 languages, representing hundreds of people providing translations. LibreOffice 24.2 Community is available in 120 languages, more than any other desktop software, making it available to over 5.5 billion people worldwide in their native language. In addition, over 2.4 billion people speak one of these 120 languages as a second language.

    Interoperability with Microsoft Office

    LibreOffice 24.2 offers a number of improvements and new features aimed at users who share documents with or migrate from MS Office A few of the most significant improvements are as follows:

    • Writer: improved first page headers/footers OOXML import by using the first page property in the existing page style instead of creating a new page style just for the first page.
    • Writer: templates optimised for Japanese text added to the Localisation category to improve interoperability with Microsoft Word for Japanese users.
    • Writer: import of “drawing canvas” from DOCX documents, with connectors no longer imported as simple shapes but as true connectors, primitive shapes like ellipses imported as OOXML shapes (text inside the shape can now wrap), and multicolour gradients, theme colours and glow effects for shapes.
    • OOXML: support for the SVG OOXML extension, which imports the SVG image (svgBlip element) instead of the fallback PNG, and exports the SVG image in addition to the fallback PNG image used when the svgBlip element is not supported (older MS Office versions).

    Download LibreOffice 24.2.

    Your ‘umble scribe is not using the latest official release, but an as-yet unreleased development version. If you would like to help out with LibreOffice testing and development, visit the pre-release versions server and download a development package for your particular operating system.

  • Mozilla release new version of Firefox, sets up Debian repository

    Firefox logoVersion 122 of the free and open source Firefox web browser was released last week and duly reported by the tech media, including The Register.

    Furthermore, El Reg also notes that Mozilla, the organisation behind the browser, has set up its own deb package repository, the software package format for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and its derivatives such as the Ubuntu family and Linux Mint.

    The installation instructions page on Mozilla’s website now contains specific instructions on how to access the Firefox deb repository, from downloading the repository’s OpenPGP keyring, to adding the repository to one’s own APT list of trusted sources from which to download software.

    Also included are instructions for how to download the version specific to one’s own language, if that just happens not to be EN-US, as well as such vital stuff as importing one’s profile from an old installation to a new, shiny browser from the Mozilla repository.

  • LibreOffice Nepalese Localisation Sprint

    Language localisation is the process of adapting a product’s translation to a specific country or region. It forms the second phase of a larger process of product translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions, cultures or groups) to account for differences in distinct markets, a process known as internationalisation and localisation.

    The Document Foundation blog today reports on the Localisation Sprint held in October and November by the LibreOffice Nepali community in October and November, which bore the tagline “Unlock Native: LibreOffice Speaks Nepali“.

    LibreOffice Nepalese localisation sprint participants
    Image courtesy of The Document Foundation blog.

    The sprint was mentored by localisation expert Saroj Dhakal, Suraj Bhattarai, LibreOffice’s liaison officer and Kathmandu University engineering student Aadarsha Dhakal. Kkey open source community and student clubs from different part of Nepal were invited and the invitation was generously accepted by AskBuddie, Kathmandu University Open Source Community (KUOSC), Birendra Open Source Club (BOSC), and Nepal Open Source Klub (NOSK). Furthermore, many volunteers came forward and expressed their willingness to join in and contribute to the LibreOffice project.

    As many of the volunteers were new to the process, mentors made participants familiar with the localisation process in our tools, with a quick demonstration on how to proceed with strings, checks and different glossary terms.

    Due to major festivities there was a 19 day gap in the sprint, which eventually ended in November (making it the third longest ever Nepalese localisation event. Ed.) after several thousand strings had been localised. Well done all in Nepal!

  • LibreOffice 24.2 alpha released for testing

    According to the release plan, Libre Office 24.2*, the next version of the leading free and open source office suite, will be released at the start of February 2024, according to the LibreOffice QA blog.

    This new version’s development started in the middle of June earlier this year. Since development of 24.2 began, Since then, 4271 commits have been submitted to the code repository and more than 787 bugs had been fixed, according to the release notes.

    Screenshot of LibreOffice 24.2 alpha

    LibreOffice 24.2 Alpha1 can now be downloaded for Linux, macOS and Windows. In addition, it can be installed alongside the standard version. LibreOffice extensions, which increase the functionality of the suite, can also be installed in the new alpha. Your correspondent can report all his favourite extensions installed properly and are working as they should with the new alpha release.

    LibreOffice 24.2 about panel

    The QA blog post advises users who find any bugs to report them in Bugzilla. The only requirement needed to file a bug report is legitimate email address account in order to create a new account.

    As LibreOffice is a volunteer-driven community project all testing is appreciated. Your ‘umble scribe’s testing to date has been uneventful. 😀

    * = The Document Foundation has changed the manner in which it numbers releases; 24.2 will be the first new release under the new year and month numbering system.

  • Free Software video now in 12 languages

    FSFE logoOver the last few weeks the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has been running a fundraising campaign to translate its “What is Free Software” video into more European languages. The FSFE’s Ana Galán writes: “Tanks to your contributions, it is now available in 12 languages! Albanian*, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish! You can find them all at“.

    In the next few months these videos will help the FSFE’s volunteers to reach out to their local candidates for the European Parliament and advocate the adoption of free software, explaining them why it is important and making politicians aware of the benefits of Software Freedom for society.

    * = To be released shortly

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