Google, FSF, SUSE and Red Hat Joins The LibreOffice Advisory Board

A couple of days ago, The Document Foundation announced the formation of the LibreOffice Advisory Board. The function of the LibreOffice Advisory Board will be to provide The Document Foundation with advice, guidance and proposals. The board will also have a say in the future developments and projects of The Document Foundation.

When Oracle gave away to the Apache Foundation, I wrote that it did not matter as LibreOffice is where all the action is at. Well, that view has been reaffirmed by four big names joining the LibreOffice Advisory Board Google, FSF, Red Hat and SUSE.

This is what Jeremy Allison, member of Google’s Open Source Programs Office, said about Google joining the Advisory board:

The creation of The Document Foundation’s Advisory board is a great step forward for the organization. Google is pleased to be a supporter of The Document Foundation, and to provide funding and advice to advance their work.

The backing of SUSE and Red Hat, the companies behind major Linux distributions such as SUSE, openSUSE, Red Hat and Fedora, means that LibreOffice will continue to be the favored office suite for these Linux distributions. Although, Canonical did not join the board, they too have pledged their support for LibreOffice.

The fact that LibreOffice has got the support of the Free Software Foundation is a big advantage for LibreOffice over Recently the FSF has gone on record saying that users should use LibreOffice over This is what John Sullivan, Executive Director of the FSF said:

The Free Software Foundation is pleased to offer its advise to The Document Foundation. We applaud TDF’s demonstrated commitment to user freedom, and will do our best to help it achieve its free software goals going forward.

The other members of the LibreOffice Advisory Board are Freies Office Deutschland e.V. and Software in the Public Interest. Each of the members of the advisory board will have one representative and will serve for a term of one year.

Ambiance And Radiance Themes Ported To GTK3; Available For Ubuntu 11.10

Remember when I said that the default theme in Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 1 looks like that in Windows 95? Well, it no longer does not. The Ambiance and Radiance themes that comes by default in Ubuntu has been ported to GTK3 now and they have landed in the development version of Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”.

Overall this is just a port of the theme in GTK2 to GTK3 and, so, it does not have any new features. However, there are some minor differences:

  • The entire navigation bar in Nautilus has been removed and replaced by just the back and forward buttons.
  • The status bar in Nautilus has been replaced by a new “on-demand” status bar.

To get the newly ported themes, open the Terminal and update your system.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

There is still no easy application to change the theme yet. (GNOME 3 no longer have the Appearance application.) So you have to do it manually using the dconf-editor.

$ sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

After the installation, launch dconf-editor by pressing ALT+F2 and entering “dconf-editor” (without quotes).

Then go to org > gnome > desktop > interface > gtk-theme. Change “Adwaita” to either “Radiance” or “Ambiance” (again without quotes) and click on Set To Default.


Firefox 5.0 Available For Ubuntu In The Mozilla PPA

Note: Users of Ubuntu 11.04 no longer need to do the steps mentioned here. Please refer to this article for details if you are using Ubuntu 11.04.

A couple of days back, we reported that Firefox 5.0 was available ahead of its scheduled release date in Mozilla’s FTP server. Well, today it has landed in the firefox-next PPA that Mozilla maintains for early adopters. The firefox-next PPA was created by Mozilla recently for the beta releases of Firefox.

Those who have been using Firefox 5 Beta from the PPA can simply update their system to get the final version of Firefox 5.0. Unlike the version of Firefox available from Mozilla directly, the one from the PPA does not have auto-update. So, you have to do it manually from the Terminal.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

If you are still using Firefox 4, you need to add the firefox-next PPA first.

Note: With the following steps you will be adding a PPA generally used for unstable builds of Firefox. Remove the PPA after installation or wait for Firefox 5 to arrive at the main PPA if you do want to face any potential problems.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Although, Firefox 5.0 for Linux is also available from the Mozilla FTP server, it is recommended that you install it from the PPA if you are on Ubuntu. The version available in the PPA has been built for Ubuntu and supports Ubuntu specific features such as the application menu.

Firefox 5.0 looks pretty much the same as Firefox 4. Most of the changes are under the hood and performance related improvements. One important addition to Firefox 5.0 is the Do-Not-Track feature. In the Ubuntu build, you can activate it from Edit > Preferences > Privacy.

Here is a screenshot of Firefox 5 in Ubuntu:

Ubuntu To Be Distributed As A Hybrid Image

Fedora does it; OpenSUSE does it and now Ubuntu will also be distributed as a hybrid ISO. Many RPM distributions have been releasing their ISOs in the hybrid format for quite sometime now. Colin Watson of Canonical has announced yesterday that all the amd64 and i386 ISO for Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelotwill be distributed in the hybrid format starting today.

What is a hybrid image?

Ubuntu users must be aware that whenever a new version of Ubuntu is released, it is made available as an ISO file. That file can be burned to a CD directly and the CD can be used to boot into an Ubuntu live environment and to install Ubuntu to the hard disk if the user desires. However if users wanted to install using a USB flash drive, they had to rely on a special application the Start-up Disk Creator.

With a hybrid image, users do not need the Start-up Disk Creator. If they want to boot using a USB flash drive, they can simply copy the contents of the image file into the USB drive. Of course, hybrid image can still be burned directly to a CD.

Why was Ubuntu so late in adopting hybrid image?

As mentioned above, many other Linux distributions have been releasing hybrid ISOs for quite a while now. Ubuntu could not switch over to the hybrid images because, like Debian, Ubuntu was using jigdo downloads. Switching to a hybrid image will break jigdo.

Debian switched over from jigdo to xorisso in January because xorisso works with hybrid images. And now Ubuntu too has decided to switch over to xorisso and distribute hybrid images after all Ubuntu is a Debian derivative.

What does this mean for users?

For those who uses the image files by burning it to a CD, this means absolutely nothing for them. Everything will work as it has always worked.

For those who prefers USB flash drives to CDs, this means that the Ubuntu Start-up Creator is no longer needed. All that is needed to make a bootable USB drive is the dd command. Here is the syntax for the command:

dd if=<image_name> of=/dev/sdX

<image_name> is the name of the hybrid image you have downloaded and sdX is your USB drive.

Right now I do not think that there is no GUI application to do this. But before the release of Ubuntu 11.10, I expect to see one.

Adobe Drops Support for AIR on Linux Desktop

Today Adobe has announced that they will no longer support AIR on the Linux desktop. They will now focus their resource on developing AIR for iOS and Linux on mobile devices particularly Android.

According to Netmarketshare, the growth of Linux on the desktop has stagnated at around 1% and Adobe says that the download share for AIR on the Linux desktop hovers around at just 0.5%. So, it no longer make sense for Adobe to devote their resource for developing AIR on the Linux desktop.

Recently, Adobe released AIR 2.7 but they did not update their Linux client and SDK. Today’s announcement from Adobe means that AIR 2.7 for Linux will never arrive.

So, with the 2.7 release of AIR, we made a decision to prioritize our resources towards a Linux porting kit for AIR, which our Open Screen Project partners can use to complete implementations of AIR for Linux-based platforms. As such, we will be focusing on supporting partner implementations and will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux.

During the same time that growth on desktop Linux has been stagnating, the growth of Linux on mobile device has exploded mostly because of Android. According to the IDC report from March 2011, the Android market share for mobile OS is expected to reach 46% by 2015. Another mobile platform, iOS has also growing rapidly and by 2015, it is expected to have a market share of 15%.

So, it no longer is in Adobe’s interest to focus on the Linux desktop. Instead, they want to focus their development effort on the rapidly expanding mobile platforms like Android and iOS.

Do you use AIR on your Linux desktop? I do not use it and I sure will not miss it.

[via Phoronix]


Apache Traffic Server Announces v3.0.0 with Vast Performance Improvements

Apache Traffic Server is one of the most admired services to have come under the Apache Server Foundation project. Traffic Server is essentially a caching and load balancing server that manages your traffic in an effective manner. It has been used for a variety of caching purposes and serves as an effective CDN.


Traffic Server project is a long running project and after nearly a year of development, it reached the status of an Apache Top Level Project or TLP on April last year. Just a few days afterwards in May, it reached version 2.0 and this transition to version 3.0.0 has taken merely a year.

The ASF page on Traffic Server says this.

Apache Traffic Serverâ„¢ is fast, scalable and extensible HTTP/1.1 compliant caching proxy server. Formerly a commercial product, Yahoo! donated it to the Apache Foundation, and it is now an Apache TLP.

At Yahoo, Traffic Server claims to have handled 400TB of data per day and this ensures that it has a very high tolerance.

The Wikipedia page on Traffic Server further says,

In the context of cloud computing, TS would sit conceptually at the edge of the cloud, routing requests as they come in. It could be described as a highway into and out of the cloud. In Yahoo!, it is used for the edge services shown in thegraphic distributed at the 2009 Cloud Computing Expo depicting Yahoo!’s private cloud architecture. In practical terms, a typical server configuration might use TS to serve static content, such as images and JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files, and route requests for dynamic content to a web server such as Apache HTTP Server.

However, some lesser-known facts about the capabilities of the new release are that it can withstand 200,000 requests per second, which is a 277% improvement on the earlier v2.0. Visit their FAQ page to learn more about Apache Traffic Server.

Mark Shuttleworth: “Real Possibility of Google Chrome Replacing Firefox In Future Ubuntu Release”

During the Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric, we reported that there were discussions about Chrome (or rather, its open source version, Chromium) replacing Firefox as the default browser in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. That did not happen and Firefox remained as the default browser for Oneiric.

In an interview with Network World, Mark Shuttleworth confirmed that Canonical is looking to replace Firefox with Chrome in Ubuntu. Shuttleworth said that he is a big fan of the browser from Google and confirmed that there was discussion on the feasibility of Chrome (or Chromium) replacing Firefox in Ubuntu 11.10. That did not happen and the switch will, in all  probability,  not happen in Ubuntu 12.04 as well because it is a Long term Support (LTS) Release.


So, it may take one year for Chrome to replace Firefox, but Shuttleworth said that it is a real possibility that we may see Firefox being replaced in Ubuntu 12.10. However with the pace of Chrome’s development and Mozilla adopting an accelerated development cycle for Firefox recently, thing could change a lot in a year.

Shuttleworth said that one of the best thing to have happened for Chrome on Linux has been Chrome OS. Because Chrome OS is basically Chrome running on a Linux, Google has invested a lot in optimizing the performance of Chrome on Linux. That has resulted in Chrome on Linux outperforming the other platforms Mac and Windows.

Whatever the default browser is, users are free to install the browser that suits their need, just like Chrome users do today. So, in essence choosing Chrome/Chromium as the default browser will not affect anything. It will simply be an acknowledgement of the progress that Google Chrome (or Chromium) has made in the last two years.

Which browser do you prefer? Firefox or Chrome/Chromium?

[image credit]

Canonical Builds A 42-Core Ubuntu ARM Build Machine

With the low power ARM processors becoming very popular because of smartphones and tablets, Canonical is trying to expand the architectures which Ubuntu supports by including ARM as well. Technically, Ubuntu can be run on ARM machines as well but the Canonical servers does not build ARM packages. So, anyone who wants to use Ubuntu on ARM have to manually build them.

With Ubuntu planning to officially support ARM, they need to build packages for the ARM architecture as well. The job of building an Ubuntu ARM build machine was given to David Mandalla.

The ARM cluster server that Mandalla is building makes use of the relatively cheap PandaBoard. Each PandaBoard software development platform has a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processors running at 1GHz and a low power 1 GB DDR2 RAM.

The ARM build machine that Mandalla is developing has 21 PandaBoards with each board connected to a 300GB hard drive. This brings final specifications of the machine to 42-core ARM processor, 42 GB DDR2 RAM and 6.3 TB of storage.

Out of the 21 boards, 20 will be used to build Ubuntu packages. One board will be used as the master board to allocate the build requests received from users to the other 20 boards.

Mandalla is documenting the build on his blog. You can read more at his blog.



Linus Torvalds and Greg Kroah-Hartman Talks About 20 Years Of Linux at LinuxCon 2011

From the dorm room of a geeky Finnish Computer Science student 20 years ago to powering a majority of all the web servers and more than 90% of the fastest supercomputers today, Linux has come a very long way.

This year marks the start of the third decade of Linux development and to mark the third decade, Linux 3.0 is coming in about seven weeks. At the LinuxCon 2011, which took place in Japan, Linus Torvalds and Greg Kroah-Hartman sat down to talk about Linux how much it has achieved in the last two decades, the kernel development process, Linux on desktop etc.

Linus Torvalds is the person who started Linux 20 years ago and Greg Kroah-Hartman is the developer who currently maintains the stable branch of the Linux kernel.

At 47 minutes, the video is a bit long but it is certainly worth watching for any Linux enthusiasts. (Click here if the embedded video does not work.)

Here are some interesting things Linus Torvalds said:

We are doing really well on the low-end and we are doing very well on the high-end. The desktop is … we have all the applications now. It is just a difficult market to get into.

– Linus Torvalds on Linux on desktop

2.6 has been there for eight years and it’s become kind of meaningless.

– Linus Torvalds on why he ended Linux 2.6

It speeded up enormously. We’ve had 40% performance increase. That is unheard of. But there is no new feature. There is no new interface for users. There is nothing new going on. It is doing the same old thing that everybody does millions of time a second.

– Linus Torvalds on his favorite feature (file system management)

How To Upgrade To KDE SC 4.6.4 In Kubuntu 11.04

kubuntu_logotype_black On June 10, the fourth maintenance release of the KDE Software compilation was released to the users. Being a maintenance release, KDE SC 4.6.4 does not bring any new features but has a lot of bug fixes from KDE 4.6.3.

What has changed in KDE SC 4.6.4?

Before we get on to the how-to-upgrade part, let us take a look at some of the important changes in KDE SC 4.6.4:

  • Do not allow invalid file names while renaming a file using Dolphin.
  • Better password handling for accessing remote servers using Dolphin.
  • The Folderview Plasmoid works correctly when dragging a file from Ark.
  • The KDE music player JuK has also received a number of bugfixes including better tag editor, better handling of the column width etc.
  • A bug which causes the notification window to slide out of screen instead of creating a new one has been fixed.

For all the bugs fixed in KDE SC 4.6.4, you can take a look at the changelog.

Upgrade To KDE SC 4.6.4

KDE Software Compilation 4.6.4 is now available for Kubuntu users. It is a safe upgrade for anyone using KDE SC 4.6.x and it is recommended that users upgrade their KDE installation to this version.

Right now it is available only for Natty (Kubuntu 11.04) users. So, Natty users can upgrade to KDE SC 4.6.4 by following the steps given below.

Open the Konsole and add the Kubuntu Updates PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/ppa

Then update the software list and upgrade your system.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade