I've used OpenOffice.org since it was known as Star Office. (That's
been a while.) When it was absorbed into the Sun umbrella, I wasn't
sure what to expect, but Sun seemed to be a pretty good steward of the
project, even creating a plugin to allow Microsoft Office to read and
write Open Document Format (ODF) files. Then Oracle bought Sun. Again
I wasn't sure what to expect. However, all became clear pretty quickly
when Oracle began charging
for the free plugin for MS Office. Things have continued to change
since April and I'm honestly not sure about the current status of the
plugin. It's obvious, however, that Oracle is going to handle these
Now what do I do? Then, I found out about The Document
Foundation. (This is not to be confused with the Open
Document Foundation.) The Document Foundation is to OpenOffice.org
what the Mozilla Foundation was to Netscape. It is a shift to a
vendor-neutral body that is picking up the code of OpenOffice.org and
moving it forward without the entanglements. They are hoping that
Oracle will release the name OpenOffice.org for consistency, but in the
mean time they are going with the name Libre Office. I've installed it
and it works just fine. So far it's dealt with all of my existing
documents and done everything that I expected. I'm having trouble with
one gadget that I use to translate developerWorks submissions from a
Word Processing template into our XML format, but that will get figured
out over time.
What excites me about this is that it's a demonstration of what open
projects are all about. I think it's great when companies take
advantage of Open Source and contribute to projects. But open means
open for everyone. That freedom means that projects can't be hidden or
held back as long as there are people who are interested in using them
and doing the work to keep them going. My hat is off to people like
Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds who helped drive the vision that
you could make things and set them free. It really is working.
If you're nervous about that Oracle stamp on OpenOffice.org, go grab
and check it out. It's in a transitional stage right now, so the logo
is a little chunky for the moment, but all of this will quickly clean
up. You might even consider being a contributor.
Poor, Fragmented Android - Not!
For a while, I've watched with amusement about this phrase
"fragmented" being applied to Android. Since I've been a Linux user
for years, I'm already accustomed to the idea of many contributors and
many options available. I thought that the response by Andy Rubin,
creator of Android, was beautiful and elegant:
| the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo
init -u git://android.
; repo sync ; make"
If you type in the code within the quotes, it will download and
build the android kernel on your system. (There are a few
prerequisites, but if you already compile code you probably have them
installed, especially on Linux.) I tried it and it worked. I'm
running a 32-bit version of Linux right now because I was tired of
wrestling with some applications, so the compile stopped at one point
complaining about my environment, but it was clearly going through.
Again, the point is clear. Anyone can get hold of this. Anyone can do
something with it.
I have an Android phone and I've been very pleased with everything
it does. I especially appreciate the flexibility. I think it would
make a great platform for a tablet or other devices that need a limited
interface. With Linux at its heart it would also be extremely
adaptable to various kinds of integration. Imagine all of your devices
talking easily to each other through open protocols! It would be a
beautiful thing. If what we get with "fragmentation" is easy
integration and easy porting of applications to multiple environments
then I'm all for it. Frag me!
Adding Emblems to Media
I'm a big fan of Creative Commons media. I listen to a lot of it.
I have projects that I do where I need to play music, and I appreciate
having a source of good music that composers have designed to be
shared. However, I have to keep track of which piece of media I can
use for what. I keep lists and usually there is a note somewhere about
the license for that music, but that can be a pain. I try to keep them
separated into folders, but that doesn't always work.
In the Gnome desktop there is something called an "emblem" in the
file browser. It's a little visual tag that you can apply to a file.
I took the common symbols for the various Creative Commons Licenses and
saved them as emblems. Now, I can tag a file with the right emblem and
see at a glance what the license is.
Here are the emblems I created:
And here is an example of these in use:
Your file browser might have a way to add emblems. In mine I went
into Edit, Backgrounds and Emblems, and selected Emblems on the left
side. It showed me existing emblems and allowed me to add my own:
It's a great way to mark my file and make sure that I use the right
media for the right purpose. The emblem is specific to my system, and
would not transfer if I copied the file elsewhere... but maybe someday
there will be a standard for this.