Category Archives: Fri software

Installing LibreOffice on Debian Squeeze

About 1½ weeks ago or so, LibreOffice was released for Squeeze via Debian Backports. Obviously great news given what has been happening to OpenOffice.org after Oracle’s take-over of Sun. However, when I first tried installing it on my Squeeze-powered workstation, it insisted on installing AbiWord and a couple of other packages as well, which I thought was absurd, and I thought it was a bug in the LibreOffice packages.

Today I decided to dig around a little bit on some mailing lists and I figured out that, the problem was caused by the package gnome-office having abiword or openoffice.org as its dependencies. gnome-office is a meta-package that supplies GNOME with an office suite, either AbiWord/Gnumeric or OpenOffice.org, so when trying to remove OpenOffice.org in favor of LibreOffice, this thing thinks I am removing OpenOffice.org for good, as it is not aware of LibreOffice, so after having removed gnome-office, I could smoothly remove OpenOffice.org and install LibreOffice.

As I wanted LibreOffice to be a drop-in replacement for my current OpenOffice.org configuration I executed the following commands:

apt-get remove gnome-office

apt-get remove openoffice.org openoffice.org-base openoffice.org-base-core openoffice.org-calc openoffice.org-common openoffice.org-core openoffice.org-draw openoffice.org-emailmerge openoffice.org-evolution openoffice.org-filter-binfilter openoffice.org-filter-mobiledev openoffice.org-gcj openoffice.org-gnome openoffice.org-gtk openoffice.org-help-en-gb openoffice.org-help-en-us openoffice.org-impress openoffice.org-java-common openoffice.org-l10n-en-gb openoffice.org-math openoffice.org-officebean openoffice.org-report-builder-bin openoffice.org-style-galaxy openoffice.org-style-tango openoffice.org-thesaurus-en-us openoffice.org-writer

apt-get -t squeeze-backports install libreoffice libreoffice-base libreoffice-base-core libreoffice-calc libreoffice-common libreoffice-core libreoffice-draw libreoffice-emailmerge libreoffice-evolution libreoffice-filter-binfilter libreoffice-filter-mobiledev libreoffice-gcj libreoffice-gnome libreoffice-gtk libreoffice-help-en-gb libreoffice-help-en-us libreoffice-impress libreoffice-java-common libreoffice-l10n-en-gb libreoffice-math libreoffice-officebean libreoffice-report-builder-bin libreoffice-style-galaxy libreoffice-style-tango libreoffice-writer

To install the exact equivalents of the OpenOffice.org packages I had previously installed.

Sun releases OpenSolaris … and I am not very interested!

Sun just announced the launch of their new OpenSolaris operating system distribution, formerly known under the code name of Project Indiana. This is supposedly a new “Way”, as people in Zen Buddhism say, of Solaris, that is meant to reach out to advanced users and developers of GNU/Linux to get them to take a look at OpenSolaris. At least that’s how I understand it.

From the screenshots I have seen, Sun has essentially taken a page out of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE and others’ books of a of a 1-CD installable LiveCD, a new package management system for Solaris and a bunch of other things, and created a version of Solaris based around those ideas.

On paper it all sounds cool, you’ve got ZFS in there, along with D-Trace and other good stuff that Sun has come up with.

BUT, there’s a big but here, I am not very impressed with OpenSolaris at all. I admit I have not tried it, and I don’t really intend to (For reasons that I will explain in a moment), but if you go and take a look at the “License Terms” section of this page: http://www.opensolaris.com/get/index.html
You see this (Emphasis is mine):

License Terms
The contents of the OpenSolaris™ 2008.05 Live Media Image are governed by the Common Development and Distribution License Version 1.0, with the exception of certain portions under other licenses (such as the OpenSolaris Binary License) as provided in the OpenSolaris Live Media License file included with the software and displayed when booting the Live Media Image. The additional software available from the OpenSolaris Package Repository and not included on the Live Media Image is governed by the licenses provided in the OpenSolaris Package Repository License file and/or in the individual software packages.
All of these licenses permit use, copying and redistribution of the software.”

Obviously that means the GPL and other free software licenses like it, since Sun uses GNOME as the desktop, they obviously have GPLed software in there, which is DEFINITELY not CDDL licensed. However, it also means a staggering amount of proprietary drivers and components. Sun has been quite honest about it, and there’s a detailed page, showing what parts are proprietary: http://www.opensolaris.org/os/about/no_source/
However, what makes the hairs on my neck rise is stuff like this:

“uata driver (B) IDE HBA driver
rtls driver (B) Realtek Fast Ethernet device driver
sbpro driver Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audio device driver”

Über basic hardware that have free software drivers in every other free (Read: liberty) OS out there such as GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD etc. Yet they are proprietary in “Open”Solaris. They ought to call this thing something like “semi-Open_Solaris”, because that’s what the thing is.
I’m sure some Sun fanboy is gonna accuse med of zealotry or whatever, because I want a completely free software operating system (A few exceptions can be made, but not with drivers), and tell me to write my own drivers. However let me rebuff you right now! Sun’s goal with OpenSolaris is to get GNU/Linux guys to use Solaris, which would create a bigger potential customer base for their supported Solaris, and increase chances, by a very small margin, that people buy a computer from Sun. Fair enough, that’s more or less what Red Hat and Novell does, that’s all fine. However, a GNU/Linux distribution such as Fedora gives me a very very good OS, with no proprietary drivers, or major proprietary components, and a freaking huge amount of supported hardware. ZFS is very cool, and I do have some real uses for it, but a file system is worthless without an operating system, and proprietary software is simple not an option for me, and even more so with supposedly free (Read: liberty) systems that one would need to use a proprietary driver in to be able to use it at all on one’s machine …. if it was supported!

That’s another thing about Solaris, AFAIK, the amount of well supported hardware is miniscule compared to that of GNU/Linux. Hell, even OpenBSD, supports more hardware than Solaris does, and they have absolutely N O proprietary drivers, hell, when people write songs (http://www.openbsd.org/lyrics.html#39) about why proprietary drivers (blobs) are bad, you really start thinking “Man, these guys are either really weird, or very serious!” and I am of the opinion of the latter, that they are really serious!

Also, I don’t have any bias towards Solaris, I would really like to give it a serious, real-world try for some storage stuff, but I only use operating systems that are fully free, and OpenSolaris, as it is today, is just right out inadequate, to be frank and honest. Anybody who values software freedom to such a degree that he or she, either uses no proprietary software at all, or minimizes their use of proprietary software to very minimal things, would be wasting their time messing with OpenSolaris in my opinion, they ought to go grab Fedora 9 (When it comes out in 8 days! YAY!) or OpenBSD (A truly free operating system).

Fedora coming clean on issue of the proprietary media codecs

One of the features of Fedora 8, was the introduction of CodecBuddy/Codeina, as a way to tell users new to GNU/Linux, who tries to play a multimedia file in an encumbered format, where he or she can get codec support for those, as Fedora cannot include them for legal reasons (Hint: The completely stupid, and utterly broken patent system of the United States of America). The problem is though, that the codecs that is being recommended to the user are proprietary software from Fluendo. As a staunch free software guy, that left a fairly bad taste in my mouth after Fedora 8 was released, as it’s widely known that Fedora’s commitment to free software is extremely high, and this new feature seemed to contradict that commitment. Reading Fedora Planet last night, I was happy to notice that this problem has been discussed, and they plan to do something about it. The solution being the removal of the recommendations of proprietary codecs for MPEG-4, Windows Media etc. etc.
Some guy thought that was Fedora making life difficult for the user, while Seth Vidal said the following on his blog:

We think codeina is very useful. As long as it is distributing only open source software then it is fine. It has not been doing that and we are all worried and concerned about it. We discussed it and decided an easy solution was to patch out the closed-source items that are advertised/offered in the xml file that ships with codeina.

I cannot think of a tenet more central to fedora than ONLY AND ALWAYS FREE SOFTWARE. I think the decision of the board is consistent with that tenet.

Which I could not agree more with!

Ubuntu being the superstar in the open source world these days, does, in my opinion, next to nothing to stand up for free software, and the ideals of it. It’s nice to know that somebody does. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it! Go Fedora!!

4.0, the start of a new generation!

“The KDE Community is thrilled to announce the immediate availability of KDE 4.0. This significant release marks both the end of the long and intensive development cycle leading up to KDE 4.0 and the beginning of the KDE 4 era.”
Source: KDE 4.0 Released.

And so it has begun! …. KDE 4, a new generation of what is, in my opinion, one of the most kick-ass desktop computing environments in history, has begun with the release of KDE 4.0!

Congratulations to the KDE developers! You guys do an awesome job keep it up! Don’t listen to the crackpots that don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! Do what’s right, because we in the community know that it is right.

Deconstructing Xbox 360 Security

Video recordings of the various presentations from the 24th Chaos Communication Congress are now available on the Internet. I immediately went and pulled down Why Silicon-Based Security is still that hard: Deconstructing Xbox 360 Security by Michael Steil and Felix Domke. In this presentation the Xbox 360’s security system is explained in details, plus various hacks against it. Using some of these hacks, Debian GNU/Linux is shown being run on the console. It was really amusing (Which the crowd attested to by cheering, laughing and applauding) when the Linux kernel boot-up messages first appeared on the big projector screen. I’ll admit, I was like “YEAH!!!!!” as well! Beautiful! And then at the end were that little Wii hack demonstration, which I talked about on new year’s eve (Wii homebrew … coming soon! 😀), which is always nice.

If you’re interested in security, console hacking or hacking in general, I highly recommend you go take a look at this presentation, which you can find, among many others, over on the CCC wiki: http://events.ccc.de/congress/2007/Conference_Recordings.
Both torrents and direct downloads are available, I’d recommend saving people some bandwidth and using the torrents. Great stuff! 😀