Sunday, 17 October 2010

Oracles OpenOffice commitment

As you might have read, Oracle is committed to OpenOffice.

As a long term follower of Oracles policy, especially its adoption of open standards, I'm pretty convinced that they will push forward OpenOffice development. First thing, Oracle made an announcement. This is definitely a good way to show commitment and support.

If OpenOffice is under the tight grip of the coroners of innovation, is there any hope for an open and free office suite?

My hope rests on LibreOffice.

Friday, 1 October 2010

New layout

How do you like our new layout? After setting up so many blogs for friends and family, I decided to give it a try for myself.

I have neglected this blog for a while. Why?

First, Ubuntu has grown up. It's a stable and solid platform. I still think that OpenOffice should get some attention (which I sincerely hope it does with LibreOffice).

Second, there is enough material available on the net and in magazines specialized in Ubuntu. My input is not required anymore.

Third, I am slightly disappointed with Canonical and the way things develop.

  • Canonical does not take leadership in bringing Linux to the forefront of information technology. 
  • They allow kids to provide code in an uncontrolled and immature way.
  • Error elimination is not carried out in a professional manner.
  • Separation of communities, Launchpad, maintenance and development leads to nonexisting responsibilities.
Ubuntu by far is not ready for prime market. There is a spark but no fire.

Canonical and its leader could put emphasis on a mature and competitive development environment. They can put pressure on the Gnome team to come up with something like pyGTK. They can claim a stable and working office suite.

The window of opportunity is closed now. Microsoft has once again settled its business with Windows 7. Vista is forgotten.

With Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 they have forced their installed base to migrate from older platforms successfully. Visual Studio 2010 is unmet in the computer industry.

All left for open source affictionados is to wait for Microsoft to suffocate on it's own inability to innovate. The rest will be dealt by the big 3 that will challenge themselfs in patent lawsuits.

With all this happening around me I seriously considered changing to the dark side (Mac or Windows).

I shared my experience on Ubuntu with you for the last 3 1/2 years. I hope it helped. I think now is the time to consider moving on to something different.

VMware Workstation 7.1.2 on Meerkat 10.10

You probably have noticed: VMware did it again.

They ship a new version, it offers update, downloads fine, installs with a breeze and
... zilch ...
crashes on restart.

vmmon and vsocks do not compile.

How many time does that have to happen?

Here is a patch:

Download both. Then:
chmod u+x
sudo ./
This script will save the original driver tars, patch them and run the module installation script.

VMware Workstation should start fine.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

iPod Nano 5G on Lucid

My daughter got an Apple iPod nano 5G (with camera) for her birthday. Naturally she wanted to put some music on it right away. We could see the iPod as a USB storage device, even transfer data and music. However, the iPod did not recognize the music and therefore could not play it.

Quick fix

To quickly get the iPod nano 5G to work with Ubuntu 10.04 you can either initalize it on a Windows or Apple PC using iTunes. You only need to copy one piece of music onto the iPod.

After this, the iPods local database for music is initialized.

Use Rhythmbox or gtkpod to transfer music to and from the iPod.

If you don't have a Mac or PC available, go to the store and ask the clerk to initialize the iPod for you (Tell them you don't need iTunes only afterwards ;-))


iPod uses a local SqLite database to store meta information about music. It gets updated when synced by iTunes. Music is stored in a subfolder /iPod_Control/Music/fxx where xx is a number starting from 00. Rhythmbox stores music correctly in the directory but does not get the last part correct (fxx). Only when the iTunedDB is initialized can Rhythmbox store music in any of the prepared directory. The iPod finds the music and is able to play it.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Moving title bar buttons to the left

I always liked the Mac style of the buttons in the window title bar: LEFT.

Gnome (as well as KDE or XFCE) show them on the right of the window title by default.

Historically, Microsoft could not simply copy all of Macitoshs interface so they "invented something new". Buttons to minimize, maximize and close the window are shown on the right of the title bar.

OK, it's different, but on second thought, it is stupid as well. On a Mac (as on my Linux box) everything having to do with commands is in the top left corner (general menus, window menues, etc.). So why move the mouse to the far left of a page to manpulate window controls?

Cut a long monologue short: How to get the buttons from right to left?
Search for the key:
Replace the colon right to menu with a comma and place the colon at the end of the line. You can place the colon any place you want to separate left from right buttons.

I have done this on my machines and the theme now looks perfect.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Could Canonical care less?

Happy new year,

I ask myself, is it happy really? After installing 9.10 on most of my machines last year, I run into every little error that one can imagine:
  • Left mouse button constantly not recognized (requires restart of GNOME)
  • Fan operates at full speed (acpi reports hot components even though machine is quite cool)
  • Suspend to RAM takes for ages (3 minutes fan runs on full speed, machines does ... what exactly does it?)
  • Resume from suspend brings the machine to sleep (have to wake it up again) every second sleep
  • scanning with xsane does not work (scanner still not recognized)
  • printing large documents sends garbage to the printer (large documents being 1 page documents with one picture on it) which terminates with CRC errors
  • CUPS does not allow canceling and restart of print jobs. Requeue does not work either
  • burning CD images is not possible. Brasero eats raw CDs
  • OpenOffice does not honor screen settings (like font size). Every other launch, my menus and fonts are microscopic
  • OpenOffice screen updates provide spurious artefacts (some lines are drawn only half in height, tables are squeezed, images are cut in half). Page down and up usually resolves this
  • Launchpad does not accept errors being reported the conventional way. It requires to send error reports from the help menu
  • Evolution terminates when sending mails to distribution lists that contain members with quotation marks and without in the same list (no kidding you). Distribution lists cannot be edited if there are similar entries in the address book.
  • SD cards are not recognized or automounted on most notebooks
  • Screen resolution cannot be changed on notebook screens. External connectors do not allow to choose between screen duplication or extension any more
  • Battery charge lasts for less than two hours on my major notebook. The same notebook with an 8.10 image reports 4h36 minutes on a full power pack
What annoys me most is that all these issues used to work in previous versions. Some stopped working as early as 6.10, sime as late as 9.10.

Were they reported? YES

Were they fixed? NO

Linux a franchise system

In a franchise system you have an idea about a business. You buy into it, get the proceedings, marketing material and the right to pretend to be part of something bigger. Franchise systems are more or less stringent. In the end, you save on preparing the market and can start the business right away.

A Linux distribution is similar. You decide which distribution you want, install it and live with whatever you got. Take SuSE, get a green GUI and KDE as the engine. You get a load of applications, need it or not. Take Fedore, you get blue and can choose between desktop engine and apps. Take Ubuntu and you can be sure to end up in the brown.

Initially Ubuntu claimed to provide well selected best in breed applications.

I'm not sure this is the case anymore. Telepathy follows Pidgin, PiTiVi follows GIMP, ...

Does Canonical care?

I have read about initiatives at Canonical to reduce the number of open errors. At the time, I was delighted.

Today, I look back at times when errors where treated as what they are: ERRORS.

All of the above mentioned errors (name it issues, problems, shortcomings, what ever) where not there in previous releases. They were introduced as part of system upgrades.

I reported these errors only to have them change from new error to either incomplete (at best), triaged (whatever that means, usually an acronym for: we wont fix it), fixed (interesting, no new version issued), wishlist (printing is more a requirement than a wish for some of us) or next release (which usually comes with recomendations to install e.g. 10.4 pre-alpha).

Frankly: I do not think that Canonical cares any more.
Frankly: I think Canonical lost focus
Frankly: I think we should seriously evaluate alternatives

Could Canonical care less?

I don't think they could care less than they do right now. I wished some executives had the insight that this is neither going to help the open source community nor Linux nor Ubuntu nor Canonical in the long run.