Monday, March 30, 2009

Preserving electronic data with office suites

Anyone trying to open a document created by Microsoft (MS) Office will find that they need to upgrade to support the .docx, .pptx and .xlsx. This is understandable since they are newer formats. Same goes for those opening ODF1.2 would be better off with (OOo) 3.

But for those who have been archiving documents in MS Word for Windows 1.x and 2.x will now find that MS Word 2007 cannot open such files. Yup, you wont be able to open such files as mentioned in MS website. Yup reality, one of the mainstream and widely used software provider just showed that they can indeed drop support of their own document support. Below is what you can find at their website.

Fortunately, OOo3 can be used to open such files if needed.

Data arvhiving for the Future
How to preserve such data? Best practices (none found documented) from experience, two copies need to be saved. An editable and non-editable.

  1. Non editable files, save as PDF or PS (postscript).
  2. Editable word processor files (why the need to edit archives?), save as RTF (ruch text format) or ODF (open document format).
  3. Editable spreadsheet files, save as ODF (open document format). This preserves the formulas among other complexities.
  4. Editable presentation files, save as ODF (open document format).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Improving OpenOffice.org3 performance (basic) (OOo) can be improved based on how it is used by the user. This means there is no single solution. Recently, during a demo my OOo froze! So I needed to find the fault.

Here I take it that you are a normal user with 1GB RAM PC and having Internet access. In the beginning
soffice.bin -> 17,724K memory, 55,044K shared memory.

  1. Start Writer. In the menu choose Tools ->Options -> ->Memory.
  2. The Undo, Number of Steps should be reduce to your normal figure. Over the last 2 weeks, I have been compiling the number of undos and I have not used more that 15 undos at one time. Multiply this by 2 and I set it now to 30.
  3. Graphics cache, "Use for" ->128Mb. Cause I have 1GB RAM.
  4. Graphics cache, "Memory per Object" ->20MB. This is the charts and graphics I create in documents.
  5. Graphics cache, "Cache for inserted object" ->20 objects. I have only used most objects in the Impress documents.

After the above alterations, my memory usage was averaged as below.
soffice.bin -> 16,956K memory, 53,224K shared memory.

Not much but its a start. You will get the idea, work on the average number of documents that you will open at one time. In Kubuntu, only one process is created for however many OOo applications that are opened. Which I have tested for upto 30 documents opened at a time. I have not tested OOo3 behaviour on MS Windows at this moment. Will be looking for feedback on this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Development on KDE4 with Solid

After using KDE 4.2 it really looks like there are lots of positive opportunities for Kubuntu. This use the QT 4.4.3 library. Below is how my desktop looks at the moment.

For developers, the first thing to do is to understand about Solid. This is a library introduced since 2006 to discover hardware independent of hardware architecture. There is an increase awareness on mobility features. Can you imagine how much effort is being taken? Just look at the seriousness of the Start menu development. A brief description of KDE Solid can be found at the URL

The C++ tutorial on Solid can be found at for the eager developers.

The KDE Goals seems to indicate a radical approach. This will break lots of stuff. Many older application and library will need to be rewritten and lots of people will be kept waiting. However, this barrier needs to be taken, else revolutionary changes can't take place. Supporting Solid is the Phonon library, that is expected to provide an independant multimedia framework to be used in gstreamer, xine and DirectX/DirectSound. Even the user interface will undergo a systematic development with the introduction of the Human Interface Guideline (HIG).

Look forward to KDE4!

Using CentOS 5 testing repositories

CentOS does make a good Linux distro. Still users will want stuff that is still in the pipeline or testing.

One good example is that CentOS 5.2 comes with PHP 5.1. However many web developers have moved to PHP 5.2 and this is available in the testing repo. Below is one command to upgrade the existing PHP.

Step 1: Switch to root.

Step 2: Add the testing repo
# cd /etc/yum.repos.d
# wget

This will containg the following:
name=CentOS-5 Testing

Step 3: Update PHP.
yum --en=c5-testing update php*

CentOS graphics

Development of CentOS is partly using the custom graphics. Below is a link to the graphics used in CentOS.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Playing movies on CentOS 5

One of the attractions in a presentation is having interesting movies being played. On CentOS 5.2, you can install VLC from the Dag repository.

Step 1: Add the Dag repository.
$ vi /etc/yum.repos.d/dag.repo

name=Dag RPM Repository for Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Step 2: Install VideoLan
$ yum install vlc

Installing for dependencies:
SDL_image i386 1.2.5-1.el5.rf dag 84 k
a52dec i386 0.7.4-8.el5.rf dag 78 k
aalib i386 1.4.0-5.el5.rf dag 167 k
arts i386 8:1.5.4-1 base 1.1 M
cppunit i386 1.12.0-3.el5.rf dag 811 k
dirac i386 1.0.2-1.el5.rf dag 2.9 M
faac i386 1.26-1.el5.rf dag 151 k
faad2 i386 2.6.1-1.el5.rf dag 329 k
ffmpeg i386 0.4.9-0.9.20070530.el5.rf dag 5.3 M
ffmpeg-libpostproc i386 0.4.9-0.9.20070530.el5.rf dag 42 k
freeglut i386 2.4.0-7.1.el5 base 142 k
fribidi i386 0.10.7-5.1 base 52 k
giflib i386 4.1.3-7.1.el5.1 base 39 k
gsm i386 1.0.12-1.el5.rf dag 63 k
imlib2 i386 1.4.0-1.el5.rf dag 947 k
lame i386 3.98.2-1.el5.rf dag 569 k
libXvMC i386 1.0.2-2.1 base 18 k
libcaca i386 0.99-0.1.beta11.el5.rf dag 236 k
libcddb i386 1.3.0-1.el5.rf dag 112 k
libcdio i386 0.77-1.el5.rf dag 514 k
libdca i386 0.0.5-1.el5.rf dag 136 k
libdvbpsi i386 0.1.5-2.el5.rf dag 66 k
libdvdcss i386 1.2.10-1.el5.rf dag 64 k
libdvdnav i386 0.1.10-3.el5.rf dag 212 k
libdvdread i386 0.9.7-1.el5.rf dag 126 k
libebml i386 0.7.8-1.el5.rf dag 297 k
libid3tag i386 0.15.1b-3.el5.rf dag 75 k
libmad i386 0.15.1b-4.el5.rf dag 82 k
libmatroska i386 0.8.1-1.el5.rf dag 701 k
libmodplug i386 0.7-1.2.el5.rf dag 299 k
libmpcdec i386 1.2.6-1.el5.rf dag 52 k
libshout i386 2.2.2-1.el5.rf dag 115 k
libsndfile i386 1.0.17-1.el5.rf dag 476 k
libupnp i386 1.6.6-1.el5.rf dag 297 k
lirc i386 0.6.6-4.el5.rf dag 241 k
mpeg2dec i386 0.4.1-2.el5.rf dag 190 k
opencv i386 1.0.0-1.el5.rf dag 4.3 M
qt4 i386 4.2.1-1 base 7.2 M
svgalib i386 1.9.25-1.el5.rf dag 809 k
taglib i386 1.5-1.el5.rf dag 978 k
twolame i386 0.3.12-1.el5.rf dag 131 k
x264 i386 0.0.0-0.4.20070529.el5.rf dag 789 k
xosd i386 2.2.14-1.el5.rf dag 60 k
xvidcore i386 1.1.3-1.el5.rf dag 531 k
zvbi i386 0.2.33-1.el5.rf dag 925 k

Step 3: Start VLC
In the Desktop Panel, choose the menu Applications ->Sound and Video ->VLC Media Player

Wow ! a total of 46 packages needed to be installed on my fresh CentOS 5.2 installation. Only problem was the package zvbi that failed to be downloaded. So, I manually installed that and restarted the vlc installation.

If this don't work, then the VLC can be manually downloaded and installed from

Caveat, you need to install all dependencies manually.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The programming IDE called Eclipse

Programming on Linux can be done by editing file at the text editors, then going to the prompt to compile and execute. There are Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that can help reduce the pain programming. Eclipse is one such example, supporting a diverse number of programming language.

Installation guide.
Step 1: From the desktop panel choose Kmenu ->Applications ->Add/Remove Software. Enter the root password. Choose the Sources, then ensure that the universe repository is selected.

Step 2: Install Eclipse and the plugins
sudo apt-get install eclipse

recomended packages:
ant-doc libbsf-java liboro-java libxalan2-java jython libjdepend-java
libgnumail-java libxml-commons-resolver1.1-java libcommons-net-java javacc
dh-make libgcj9-dbg gcj-4.2 junit-doc libbcel-java-doc classpath-doc
libgcj8-dbg libgcj-doc tomcat5.5 libmail-box-perl

The following NEW packages will be installed:
ant ant-gcj ant-optional ant-optional-gcj antlr debhelper ecj ecj-gcj
eclipse eclipse-gcj eclipse-jdt eclipse-jdt-gcj eclipse-pde eclipse-pde-gcj
eclipse-platform eclipse-platform-gcj eclipse-rcp eclipse-rcp-gcj
eclipse-source fastjar gappletviewer-4.3 gcj-4.2-base gcj-4.3 gij-4.2
gij-4.3 gjdoc html2text intltool-debian java-gcj-compat java-gcj-compat-dev
java-gcj-compat-headless junit junit4 libantlr-java libantlr-java-gcj
libbcel-java libcommons-collections-java libcommons-dbcp-java
libcommons-el-java libcommons-launcher-java libcommons-modeler-java
libcommons-pool-java libecj-java libecj-java-gcj libgcj8-1 libgcj8-1-awt
libgcj8-jar libgcj9-0-awt libgcj9-dev libgcj9-src libjsch-java
liblucene-java liblucene-java-doc libmail-sendmail-perl libmozjs0d
libmx4j-java libswt3.2-gtk-gcj libswt3.2-gtk-java libswt3.2-gtk-jni
libsys-hostname-long-perl libtomcat5.5-java libxul-common libxul0d

Step 3: Getting started
Choose the Menu Help to choose
  • Eclipse Help
  • Tips and tricks
  • Cheat Sheets

Step 4: Updating software capabilities of Eclpise.
In the Menubar choose Help ->Software Updates ->Find and Install.
Choose "Search for new features to install".

To start using Eclipse for Java, there is a guide at

Happy programming!

Gwenview plugins and KDE 4.2

Since KDE 4.2 adopts many new features, Gwenview (the graphics viewer) may not have all the correct versions of library and applications to use.

Gwenview uses KDE4 but the kipi-plugins on 8.10 needs a newer libexiv and kipi-plugins. This results in the default Gwenview not having any plugins. Only KDE 4.2 systems (default 8.10 doesnt have this) will be effected.

To install the plugins, add to the repository the followng PPA site. Choose from the panel, Kmenu ->Applications ->Add/Remove Software. Edit the sources ->Third party with the following:

deb intrepid main

This should update itself. If it does not do any updates, then at the command line, run command apt-get update, and install the new kipi-plugins.

sudo apt-get install digikam kipi-plugins kdeprint

The following are installed:
digikam kipi-plugins libkdcraw7 libkexiv2-7 liblensfun-data liblensfun0 libmarble4 libqt4-sql-sqlite marble-data

Suggested packages:
digikam-doc gallery vorbis-tools

Recommended packages:


Thursday, March 12, 2009

UK declares Government Action Plan for OSS

UK Cabinet office website have declared the intent to adopt OSS. This is more towards leveling the playing field for OSS.

In its "Background" it mentions that 50% of its webserver use Apache. Looking up the cabinet office site, it uses Minstrel-httpd as its web server. The website uses MS ASP.NET. Well, the cabinet will need to lead the way by example by adopting more visible OSS solutions.

OSCC MAMPU have already under taken a rather unique approach for the Malaysian government since the year 2004. Among the OSS initiatives include making the government agencies aware, programmes to increase the human capital development and changing the management mind set. There were agency management who continue to seem unaware of the Malaysian Public Sector OSS Master Plan. However, the winds are changing and local government body have started their own campaigns on OSS.

But is UK they ready to accept OSS is not just the software, but whole change in the way the human capital will use systems? Are they ready to have users participating and contributing to the OSS community? The OSS business model will be different and will involve the international community along side the small businesses (including individuals). Unless the UK government adapt speedily, all the grand plans will be a long long struggle for many years to come.

I look forward to more OSS successes from UK.

Friday, March 6, 2009

No resume image, doing normal boot

During boot up of the Kubuntu 8.10, the progress bar froze at about 1/4 way. Changing to the CLI, it was hanging at the line:

No resume image, doing normal boot

One possibility is that the update of the kernel may have damaged the initramfs on the swap. At boot time, the kernel unpacks that archive into RAM disk, mounts and uses it as initial root file system.

Solution, delete then recreate the swap before updating the initramfs. I identified the SWAP file as /dev/sda5 on the system.

Step 1: Enter into rescue mode
Reboot into rescue mode. In the main menu, choose the option to boot into root user.

Step 2: Delete then recreate the swap file
# swapoff /dev/sda5
# mkswap /dev/sda5

Step 3: Update the initramfs
# update-initramfs -u

Step 4: Restart machine
# reboot

It is booting without the frozen progress bar. But another problem causing the slow boot up. Its during the network configuration. Well, its faster now.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

France Adoption of, Firefox, Thunderbird and OSS

In Europe, movements towards open source software (OSS) have long been a silent battle. France is one of those that started to look into the benefits of OSS in the early 2000.

The French Gendarmerie Nationale (national police) is composed of the police forces and the military police with over 100,000 employees distributed across the country. In 2001, the decision to explore OSS implementation started and by 2005 (OOo) was implemented. Other OSS implementation like Firefox (web browser) and Thunderbird (email & calendaring client) soon followed. Since they have managed to developed their employees with OSS skills, their next plan is for the migration to Linux desktops.

French Gendarmerie goes for Ubuntu

The French Ministry of Agriculture have migrated over 500 servers to Mandriva Linux since 2005. This is mainly to replace its MS Windows NT servers. A total of 15,000 employees is under this Ministry. Plans are underway to have an additional 400 servers on Linux.

French Ministry of Agriculture

The French Parliment moves towards in 2007. Following that Ubuntu Linux will be used as the desktop operating system. This will be over 1,000 PCs running Ubuntu Linux. Which translate to even more opportunities to use the hundreds of OSS available to through the Ubuntu software repository.

French Parliment

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ubuntu list of games

Linux is mainly used for servers and office work. For those who seek entertainment in the form of games, here are some linux programs available for the KDE desktop:

knetwalk - wire puzzle game for KDE 4
kpat - solitaire card games for KDE 4
kolf - miniature golf game for KDE 4
kmahjongg - Mahjongg solitaire game for KDE 4
kjumpingcube - simple tactical game for KDE 4
kgoldrunner - Lode Runner arcade game for KDE 4
katomic - atomix puzzle game for KDE 4
kblackbox - Black Box puzzle game for KDE 4
kiriki - Yahtzee dice game for KDE 4
ksame - SameGame puzzle game for KDE 4
kdiamond - three-in-a-row game for KDE 4
kdiamond - three-in-a-row game for KDE 4
ksquares - Dots and Boxes game for KDE 4
kbreakout - Breakout arcade game for KDE 4
kbounce - Jezzball arcade game for KDE 4
kfourinline - Connect Four game for KDE
kreversi - reversi board game for KDE 4
klines - color lines game for KDE 4
ksudoku - Sudoku puzzle game and solver for KDE 4
kapman - pac-man clone for KDE 4
kblocks - a falling blocks game for KDE
konquest - simple turn-based strategy game for KDE 4
kmines - minesweeper game for KDE 4
kbattleship - battleship board game for KDE 4

Happy trying out the games.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MYSQL GUI Tools for Linux

I was looking for tools to administer MySQL 5 server and noticed today the is not available. Cant figure out why so I didnt get a chance to test the MySQL Workbench.

I am trying this on a Kubuntu 7.10 with kernel 2.6.27-11 and the database as MySQL 5.0.67.

This is a pretty simple tool to use. It connects well.

Install from synaptics or at the command line type
sudo apt-get install kmysqladmin

At the command line type kmysqladmin

This comes with the MySQL database and is simple to use.

Install from synaptics or at the command line type
sudo apt-get install mysql-admin

This will provide two applications.
  1. MySQL Administrator
  2. MySQL Query
To run, choose the KMenu ->Application ->Development ->MySQL Administrator

This really is really useful to manage MySQL servers.

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