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OOo

Open Standards, Move Over

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Back in 2003, over 800 blog posts ago, I decided to launch something I called the Standards Blog. Not surprisingly, it focused mostly on the development, implementation and importance of open standards. But I also wrote about other areas of open collaboration, such as open data, open research, and of course, open source software. Over time, there were more and more stories about open source worth writing, as well as pieces on the sometimes tricky intersection of open standards and open source.

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Document Freedom Day, World Standards Day 2016

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  • Happy Document Freedom Day

    Today is Document Freedom Day. As in the past 8 years we celebrate DFD on the last Wednesday of March all around the world. While the date is recommended this year DFD is being celebrated from March 16th to April 5th so far (we’ re still getting new registration as of this writing) .

  • Celebrate Document Freedom Day on March 30

    The FSFE has handed over Document Freedom Day to us earlier this year and while it took us a bit of time to get familiar with the way the current DFD website handles the events registration we have been steadily gathering more and more locations all over the world. So Document Freedom Day is happening on the last Wednesday of March, which is March 30th this year and Latin America seems very active in promoting Open Standards. We are very happy to meet new people thanks to the effort and will also celebrate our local DFD in Phnom Penh but slightly later on April 5th. If you are in the area please drop by, and if not please check the Document Freedom Day website for an event in your area. Happy DFD!

  • Paper Competition Announced for U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day 2016

    World Standards Day is celebrated annually around the world to increase awareness of the role that standards play in the global economy. To help celebrate the importance of standards, SES - The Society for Standards Professionals and the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day Planning Committee co-sponsor an annual paper competition for individuals in the U.S. standards community. The 2016 paper competition winners will be announced and given their awards at the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, which will be held this year on October 27, 2016, at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Does the Open Document Format still matter?

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One of the core topics of this blog -at least one of the main reasons it came to existence- was open standards: their benefits, their advantages, and their value as a fundamental component for digital innovation and ultimately software freedom. This is still the case of course, but today I will try to show how one open standard in particular, ODF, has failed in its approach until now and could very well make a remarkable comeback.

This is not to say that ODF is a bad idea or that it is not a good standard; it is all this and much more. However I have realized with the hindsight of several years since it became an official ISO standard that the expectations about its adoption and its development have been defined the wrong way. Hence the title of this post.

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ODF - the state of play - The future of ODF under OASIS, now that the standards war is won.

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ODF - open document format - is an open, XML-based rich document format that has been adopted as the standard for exchanging information in documents (spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents), by many governments and other organisations (see, for example, here), including the UK Government. This is despite strong opposition by Microsoft; but I have seen Microsoft's proposed "open XML" standard and, frankly, it is huge and horrid (in the word of standards, these go together). If I remember correctly, the early draft I saw even incorporated recognition of early Excel leap-year bugs into the standard.

ODF is now a pukka ISO standard, maintained by OASIS, under the proud banner: "The future is interoperability".

My personal thoughts, below, are prompted by an ODF session at ApacheCon Core titled "Beyond OpenOffice: The State of the ODF Ecosystem" held by Louis Suárez-Potts (community strategist for Age of Peers, his own consultancy, and the Community Manager for OpenOffice.org, from 2000 to 2011), and attended by very few delegates - perhaps a sign of current level of interest in ODF within the Apache community. Nevertheless, and I am talking about the ODF standard here, not Apache Open Office (which is currently my office software of choice) or its Libre Office fork (which seems to be where the excitement, such as it is, is, for now), the standards battle, or one battle, has been won; we have a useful Open Document Format, standardised by a recognised and mature standards organisation, and even Microsoft Office supports it. That's good.

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Editable version UK’s ODF guidance

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A free software advocate has created an editable version of the UK government’s Open Document Format manuals, the “ODF Guidance”. Making the texts available on the Github software development repository facilitates others to edit, update and translate the texts, explains Paolo Dongilli, uploaded the documents to Github on 28 October.

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Announcing Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

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28 October 2015 - The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of OpenOffice 4.1.2. You can download it from the official website http://www.openoffice.org/download

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 brings stability fixes, bug fixes and enhancements. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

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Sharing Work Is Easier With An Open Document Format

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The Open Document Format (ODF) is one such format. ODF was specified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), an industry consortium which aims to produce standards for e-business.

Key players in OASIS include the tech giants Sun Microsystems (now part of the Oracle) and IBM. Sun has been one of the main drivers of the format as it grew out of the format used by its free OpenOffice application. In 2006 the Open Document Format was approved jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as an international standard for office software.

Sun promised not to enforce any of its patents against implementations using the OpenDocument standard, although there can be much uncertainty associated with patents.

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Happy Birthday, OpenOffice.org!

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15 years ago the original OpenOffice.org source code was published by Sun Microsystems, on Friday, October 13, 2000, a Full Moon day. The source code that changed the Free Software office suite world and laid the basis for LibreOffice.

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Apache OpenOffice Coming

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  • Next Version of Apache OpenOffice Coming Soon

    There is a new version of OpenOffice on the way. The suite of productivity tools has a long and stories history, and the Apache Software Foundation is now the steward of it. According to an announcement, development of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 is almost complete and the release is coming shortly.

    The new version is slated to bring better Microsoft Office interoperability (including Sharepoint compatibility), as well as multiple improvements to all individual applications, including Writer, Impress, Draw, Calc, and Base.

  • Apache Is Going To Release A New Version Of OpenOffice

    Five years ago today marked the fork of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice and coincidentally the Apache Software Foundation put out news this weekend that a new version of OpenOffice is coming.

Coming soon... Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

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A new OpenOffice update, version 4.1.2, has been in preparation for a while. Born as a simple bugfix release, it became an occasion for some deep restructuring in the project: several processes have now been streamlined (and some are still in the works), new people are on board and infrastructure has been improved.

Now the wait is almost over, and we are approaching the final phases before the 4.1.2 release. But we still need help with some non-development tasks, like QA and final preparations (press release, release notes and their translation).

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More in Tux Machines

Games for GNU/Linux

  • Stardew Valley is now in beta for Linux
    The Stardew Valley developer tweeted out a password for a beta, but after discussing it with them on their forum I was able to show them that we can't actually access it yet. While what I was telling them may not have been entirely correct (SteamDB is confusing), the main point I made was correct. Normal keys are not able to access the beta yet, but beta/developer keys can, as it's not currently set for Linux/Mac as a platform for us.
  • Physics-based 3D puzzler Human: Fall Flat released on Steam for Linux
    Human: Fall Flat is an open-ended physics puzzler with an optional local co-op mode, developed by No Brakes Games, and available now on Steam for Linux.
  • 7 Mages brings a touch more of traditional dungeon crawling to Linux
    Controlling a party of adventurers, exploring dungeons and fighting weird magical creatures is an RPG tradition as old as the genre. Expect all that and more in this modern iteration of the classical dungeon crawler.

Linux and Graphics

Security News

  • Security advisories for Monday
  • EU to Give Free Security Audits to Apache HTTP Server and Keepass
    The European Commission announced on Wednesday that its IT engineers would provide a free security audit for the Apache HTTP Server and KeePass projects. The EC selected the two projects following a public survey that took place between June 17 and July 8 and that received 3,282 answers. The survey and security audit are part of the EU-FOSSA (EU-Free and Open Source Software Auditing) project, a test pilot program that received funding of €1 million until the end of the year.
  • What is your browser really doing?
    While Microsoft would prefer you use its Edge browser on Windows 10 as part of its ecosystem, the most popular Windows browser is Google’s Chrome. But there is a downside to Chrome – spying and battery life. It all started when Microsoft recently announced that its Edge browser used less battery power than Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Opera on Windows 10 devices. It also measured telemetry – what the Windows 10 device was doing when using different browsers. What it found was that the other browsers had a significantly higher central processing unit (CPU), and graphics processing unit (GPU) overhead when viewing the same Web pages. It also proved that using Edge resulted in 36-53% more battery life when performing the same tasks as the others. Let’s not get into semantics about which search engine — Google or Bing — is better; this was about simple Web browsing, opening new tabs and watching videos. But it started a discussion as to why CPU and GPU usage was far higher. And it relates to spying and ad serving.
  • Is Computer Security Becoming a Hardware Problem?
    In December of 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people. The cause was determined to be a single 2.5 millimeter defect in a single steel bar—some credit the Mothman for the disaster, but to most it was an avoidable engineering failure and a rebuttal to the design philosophy of substituting high-strength non-redundant building materials for lower-strength albeit layered and redundant materials. A partial failure is much better than a complete failure. [...] In 1996, Kocher co-authored the SSL v3.0 protocol, which would become the basis for the TLS standard. TLS is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and is responsible for much of the security that allows for the modern internet. He argues that, barring some abrupt and unexpected advance in quantum computing or something yet unforeseen, TLS will continue to safeguard the web and do a very good job of it. What he's worried about is hardware: untested linkages in digital bridges.
  • Your Smart Robot Is Coming in Five Years, But It Might Get Hacked and Kill You
    A new report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security forecasts that autonomous artificially intelligent robots are just five to 10 years away from hitting the mainstream—but there’s a catch. The new breed of smart robots will be eminently hackable. To the point that they might be re-programmed to kill you. The study, published in April, attempted to assess which emerging technology trends are most likely to go mainstream, while simultaneously posing serious “cybersecurity” problems. The good news is that the near future is going to see some rapid, revolutionary changes that could dramatically enhance our lives. The bad news is that the technologies pitched to “become successful and transformative” in the next decade or so are extremely vulnerable to all sorts of back-door, front-door, and side-door compromises.
  • Trump, DNC, RNC Flunk Email Security Test
    At issue is a fairly technical proposed standard called DMARC. Short for “domain-based messaging authentication reporting and conformance,” DMARC tries to solve a problem that has plagued email since its inception: It’s surprisingly difficult for email providers and end users alike to tell whether a given email is real – i.e. that it really was sent by the person or organization identified in the “from:” portion of the missive.
  • NIST Prepares to Ban SMS-Based Two-Factor Authentication
    The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the latest draft version of the Digital Authentication Guideline that contains language hinting at a future ban on SMS-based Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). The Digital Authentication Guideline (DAG) is a set of rules used by software makers to build secure services, and by governments and private agencies to assess the security of their services and software. NIST experts are constantly updating the guideline, in an effort to keep pace with the rapid change in the IT sector.
  • 1.6m Clash of Kings forum accounts 'stolen'
    Details about 1.6 million users on the Clash of Kings online forum have been hacked, claims a breach notification site. The user data from the popular mobile game's discussion forum were allegedly targeted by a hacker on 14 July. Tech site ZDNet has reported the leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses and usernames.
  • Hacker steals 1.6 million accounts from top mobile game's forum
    [Ed: vBulletin is proprietary software -- the same crap Canonical used for Ubuntu forums]

The saga continues with Slackware 14.2

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution and has been maintained since its birth by Patrick Volkerding. Slackware has a well deserved reputation for being stable, consistent and conservative. Slackware is released when it is ready, rather than on a set schedule, and fans of the distribution praise its no-frills and no-fuss design. Slackware adheres to a "keep it simple" philosophy similar to Arch Linux, in that the operating system does not do a lot of hand holding or automatic configuration. The user is expected to know what they are doing and the operating system generally stays out of the way. The latest release of Slackware, version 14.2, mostly offers software updates and accompanying hardware support. A few new features offer improved plug-n-play support for removable devices and this release of Slackware ships with the PulseAudio software. PulseAudio has been commonly found in the audio stack of most Linux distributions for several years, but that is a signature of Slackware: adding new features when they are needed, not when they become available. In this case PulseAudio was required as a dependency for another package. Slackware 14.2 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. There is also an ARM build. While the main edition of Slackware is available as an installation disc only, there is a live edition of Slackware where we can explore a Slackware-powered desktop environment without installing the distribution. The live edition can be found on the Alien Base website. Both the live edition and the main installation media are approximately 2.6GB in size. For the purposes of this review I will be focusing on the main, installation-only edition. Booting from the install media brings us to a text screen where we are invited to type in any required kernel parameters. We can press the Enter key to take the default settings or wait two minutes for the media to continue booting. A text prompt then offers to let us load an alternative keyboard layout or use the default "US" layout. We are then brought to a text console where a brief blurb offers us tips for setting up disk partitions and swap space. The helpful text says we can create partitions and then run the system installer by typing "setup". Read more