Category Archives: LibreOffice

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 – A major desktop milestone

So many of you have probably seen that RHEL 7.2 is out today. There are many important updates in this release, some of them detailed in the official RHEL 7.2 press release.

One thing however which you would only discover if you start digging into the 7.2 update is that its the first time in RHEL history that we are doing a full scale desktop update in a point release. We shipped RHEL 7.0 with GNOME 3.8 and in RHEL 7.2 we are updating it to GNOME 3.14. This brings in a lot of new major features into RHEL, like the work we did on improved HiDPI support, improved touch and gesture support, it brings GNOME Software to RHEL, the improved system status area and so on. We plan on updating the desktop further in later RHEL 7.x point releases.

This change of policy is of course important to the many RHEL Workstation customers we have, but I also hope it will make RHEL Workstation and also the CentOS Workstation more attractive options to those in the community who have been looking for a LTS version of Fedora. This policy change gives you the rock solid foundation of RHEL and the RHEL kernel and combines it with a very well tested yet fairly new desktop release. So if you feel Fedora is moving to quickly, yet have felt that RHEL on the other hand has been moving to slowly, we hope that with this change to RHEL we have found a sweet compromise.

We will of course also keep doing regular applications updates in RHEL 7.x, just like we started with in RHEL 6.x. Giving you up to date versions of things like LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird and more.

Fedora Workstation 23 and LibreOffice

Another major piece of engineering that I have covered that we did for Fedora Workstation 23 is the GTK3 port of LibreOffice. Those of you who follow Caolán McNamaras blog are probably aware of the details. The motivation for the port wasn’t improved look and feel integration, there was easier ways to achieve that, but to help us have LibreOffice deal well with a range of new technologies we are supporting in Fedora Workstation namely: Touch support, Wayland support and HiDPI.

That ongoing work is now available in Fedora Workstation 23 if you install the ‘libreoffice-gtk3’ package. You have to install this using a terminal and dnf as this is a early adopter technology, but we would love as many as possible for you to try and report any issues you have either to the upstream LibreOffice bugzilla or the Fedora bugzilla against the LibreOffice component. Testing of how it works under X and how it works under Wayland are both more than welcome. Be aware that it is ‘tech preview’ technology so you might want to remove the libreoffice-gtk3 package again if you find that it hinders your effective use of LibreOffice. For instance there is a quite bad titlebar bug you would exprience under Wayland that we hope to fix with an update.

If you specifically want to test out the touch support there are two features implemented so far, both in Impress. One is to allow you to switch slides in Impress by a swiping gesture and the second is long press, you can bring up the impress slide context menu with it and switch to e.g. drawing mode. We would love feedback on what gestures you would like to see supported in various LibreOffice applications, so don’t be shy about filing enhancement bug reports with your suggestions.

HiDPI it wasn’t a primary focus of the porting effort it has to be said, but we do expect that it should also make improving the HiDPI support in LibreOffice further easier. Another nice little bonus of the port is that the GTK Inspector can now be used with LibreOffice.

A big thanks to Caolán for this work.

An Open Letter to Apache Foundation and Apache OpenOffice team

A couple of weeks I visited my mother back home in Norway. She had gotten a new laptop some time ago that my brother-in-law had set up for her. As usual when I come for a visit I was asked to look at some technical issues my mother was experiencing with her computer. Anyway, one thing I discovered while looking at these issues was that my brother-in-law had installed OpenOffice on her computer. So knowing that the OpenOffice project is all but dead upstream since IBM pulled their developers of the project almost a year ago and has significantly fallen behind feature wise, I of course installed LibreOffice on the system instead, knowing it has a strong and vibrant community standing behind it and is going from strength to strength.

And this is why I am writing this open letter. Because while a lot of us who comes from technical backgrounds have already caught on to the need to migrate from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, there are still many non-technical users out there who are still defaulting to installing OpenOffice when they are looking for an open source Office Suite, because that is the one they came across 5 years ago. And I believe that the Apache Foundation, being an organization dedicated to open source software, care about the general quality and perception of open source software and thus would share my interest in making sure that all users of open source software gets the best experience possible, even if the project in question isn’t using their code license of preference.

So I realize that the Apache Foundation took a lot of pride in and has invested a lot of effort trying to create an Apache Licensed Office suite based on the old OpenOffice codebase, but I hope that now that it is clear that this effort has failed that you would be willing to re-direct people who go to the openoffice.org website to the LibreOffice website instead. Letting users believe that OpenOffice is still alive and evolving is only damaging the general reputation of open source Office software among non-technical users and thus I truly believe that it would be in everyones interest to help the remaining OpenOffice users over to LibreOffice.

And to be absolutely clear I am only suggesting this due to the stagnant state of the OpenOffice project, if OpenOffice had managed to build a large active community beyond the resources IBM used to provide then it would have been a very different story, but since that did not happen I don’t see any value to anyone involved to just let users keep downloading an aging releases of a stagnant codebase until the point where bit rot chases them away or they hear about LibreOffice true mainstream media or friends. And as we all know it is not about just needing a developer or two to volunteer here, maintaining and developing something as large as OpenOffice is a huge undertaking and needs a very sizeable and dedicated community to be able to succeed.

So dear Apache developers, for the sake of open source and free software, please recommend people to go and download LibreOffice, the free office suite that is being actively maintained and developed and which has the best chance of giving them a great experience using free software. OpenOffice is an important part of open source history, but that is also what it is at this point in time.

Congratulations to Endless Computer

So the Endless Computer kickstarter just succeeded in their funding goal of 100K USD. A big heartfelt congratulations to the whole team and I am looking forward to receiving my system. For everyone else out there I strongly recommend getting in on their kickstarter, not only do you get a cool looking computer with a really nice Linux desktop, you are helping a company forward that has the potential to take the linux dektop to the next level. And the be aware that the computer is a standard computer (yet very cool looking) at the end of the day, so if you want to install Fedora Workstation on it you can :)

A thank you to Google from Desktop Linux

We sometimes grumble a bit about Google in the community when they do things we feel are not generally helpful to the overall community. But I think we should be equally good at saying thanks when Google do great things. So thanks to our LibreOffice superstar Caolán McNamara I was made aware that Google has released two new open fonts along with Chrome. So what is so exciting about a new font you say?

Well one of them, called Carlito, is metrically compatible with the current MS default font called Calibri. You can get the font here. It is licensed under the OFL 1.1.

So for those wondering what metrically compatible means, I for sure did when I first heard the term, it basically mean that while the individual glyphs in the font doesn’t look like the Calibri font (that would not be legal), each individual letter has the same height and width as their Calibri counterpart. This means that if you import a document using Calibri into LibreOffice and you don’t have Calibri or a metrically compatible font installed, your document layout would change as the font LibreOffice would need to use instead have letters that might in general be slightly wider for instance. So with Carlito installed this will no longer be a problem, the glyphs might look a bit different, but you can be sure that the overall layout stays the same.

And for certain professions that can be crucial, for instance try speaking to the legal team of your company about them using LibreOffice and they are likely to tell you that they will only do that if they can feel certain that when another lawyer sends them a contract, the layout will not change when they view it, as such changes could at least potentially be the cause of a dispute over the meaning of a paragraph. (That worry was probably the main reason the legal profession stayed with Word Perfect for such a long time, when the rest of the world had moved on.)

So we are now going to get this new font packaged for Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux so soon as possible, to make your productivity experience even better :)

So thank you Google, this is much appreciated!

GUADEC, Wayland, Transmageddon and more

So GUADEC is kicking off on Thursday here in Brno. The upcoming event is creating quite a bit of excitement here in the office as many members of the Red Hat team here in Brno has been helping out with the organization of the conference this year, being in the hometown of our biggest engineering office in the world. A series of last minute meetings, calls and arriving banners and packages help create a good buzz ahead of the opening of the conference. We have managed to get a bigger contingent of the Red Hat Desktop team this year than usual, including some members of our X.org/Wayland team, our Spice team and our LibreOffice team, so it will be a great opportunity for our global team to meet face to face in addition to meeting the other members of the community.

One of the items I am looking the most forward to during this GUADEC to is to be able to talk our friends at Intel and figure out how we can effectively work together on Wayland. We have put together a team to accelerate Wayland development inside Red Hat, with the goal of getting it ready for deployment in Fedora. There are of course a lot of things that needs to happen in preparation for this, like getting the GNOME Shell ready to work as a Wayland compositor. We will be looking at a long range of items, but among the more important ones is dealing with input devices in Wayland, like handling multiple mice, touch or Wacom tablets and making sure XWayland works so well that our users will not need to realize they are using Wayland instead of X once we transition over.

Anyway, I hope to share more details on our Wayland plans in the coming weeks and Months, so stay tuned.

I have also been trying to find some spare moments during the last few weeks so that I could celebrate GUADEC here in Brno with a new release of Transmageddon. There are basically three new features I am trying to polish up currently. Handling of files with multiple audiostreams is the most important, with DVD ripping support coming in as a close second and finally being able to tag the language of the audio streams as the third one. As you might imagine the first is also a pre-requisite for the second. I am getting there, although there are still some heavy lifting to do in terms of dealing with multiple audio streams inside Transmageddon in the case where the output doesn’t support multiple audio streams, like in the case of the FLV container format or if you are just stripping off the video to make a mp3 file.

Apart from that I think git master is starting to feel like working code again, I just need to test the hell out of it to catch all regressions my code re-organisation has caused. The new features feel small in some ways, but they took an awful lot of re-factoring as they obliterated some assumptions my code made. I am also quite happy to have managed to hide these new features pretty well for people who don’t need them, so if you are just loading a normal file without multiple audio tracks the UI should look and behave almost exactly as it did before. The same is true if you don’t have a DVD player on your system, you will not get any DVD items in the UI. I still need to make the code check for the availability of the libraries it needs for DVD support since they will not be shipping by default with most distros, and thus I will check for them and only make the DVD handling features available in the UI if they are installed.

So looking forward to seeing you here in Brno in the coming days!!

Brno GUADEC Call for Papers!

I would like to give everyone a friendly reminder that Saturday the 27th of April is the official deadline for the GUADEC 2013 Call for Papers. So make sure to get your proposal submitted.

We hope to have a wide range of talks this year, including talks on related subjects such as Wayland and Multimedia, so don’t automatically assume that you will not get a talk approved because its not ‘pure GNOME’.

GUADEC this year will be in Brno in the Czech Republic, so I hope to see as many of you as possible here.

Taking on a new job at Red Hat

So I assume most of you have read Jonathan Blanfords blog post about leaving Red Hat and me taking over for him as head of the Red Hat desktop team. First of all I would like to thank Jonathan for both his contributions to GNOME and Red Hat, but also for being a good friend for over a decade now. Luckily Linux is also a major piece of his new job, so I am certain we have not seen the last of Jonathan in the community.

For the outside observer I wouldn’t expect any immediate visible changes to happen as part of this transition. My job is to follow up on the many great initiatives that Jonathan started here together with the rest of the team. One major piece I will be tackling is making sure we in the Red Hat desktop team work even closer with the Fedora community to bring forth some great improvements to Fedora and created an even more integrated and seamless experience for those wanting to use the Fedora desktop. This ranges from working with the Fedora team on a new software installer to working on getting Wayland ready for deployment in Fedora. Apart from that we will of course continue to work with the GNOME community on pushing GNOME 3 forward. I strongly recommend following Matthias Clasens blog to get the latest and greatest news on our efforts around GNOME 3.

I hope to post to my blog more frequently going forward to highlight exciting developments the many great projects the Red Hat Desktop team contribute to, like GNOME, LibreOffice, Firefox, Spice, Evolution, X Window/Wayland and more.

LibreOffice coding at Red Hat

At Red Hat we are involved with a lot of cool open source projects. One of these is the popular LibreOffice productivity Suite, where we are putting in a lot of effort to make sure Red Hat customers and the community in general have a dependable and feature rich Office Suite available.

In addition to of course doing work to add features requested by Red Hat customers, the team focuses on helping build the upstream project and making sure we help push desktop integration forward.

In fact the work done by Caolán McNamara, David Tardon, Stephan Bergmann, Michael Stahl and Eike Rathke is making Red Hat a major contributor to LibreOffice. So to celebrate the success of our team so far we wanted to have some nice t-shirts made for this years
LibreOffice conference in Berlin to give the team. It would have added a nice little touch to a conference where Caolan did a talk about his cool widget layout work (*1), Michael did a talk about the migration of LibreOffice to gbuild, Stephan did a talk about API stability and Eike did a talk about collaborative editing.

Unfortunately the t-shirts came back late from the printer and thus missed the conference, but I will be sending them out to the team today so that they have them ready for the next LibreOffice event :)

RedHat LibreOffice team t-shirt

Anyway a big thank you from me to the team, they have been a pleasure working with since I joined Red Hat and I am looking forward to seeing what we will achieve over the next years.