Berlin, July 11th, 2012. The Document Foundation today announces the immediate availability of LibreOffice 3.5.5, the current version of the free office suite.
This release fixes a number of bugs and further improves the stability of the software, making it the best version available for corporate and enterprise adoption. Among the changes are improvements in Calc, Impress, in the handling of fonts as well as enhancements with regards to importing and exporting third-party formats. […]
Keep in mind if you are using Ubuntu or Trisquel you need to be using the LibreOffice PPA to upgrade to this version. Make sure you read the LibreOffice notes for Ubuntu if you choose to do this. Remember this is not covered by commercial support.
I took the liberty to categorize the detailed technical change logs, which are available here:
A few years back I started using solid state drives (SSD) whenever I got a new netbook/laptop or when someone asked for hardware upgrade suggestions. The speed increase and shorter boot times on any given system is phenomenal and current GNU/Linux distributions take care of the configuration details. I don’t even take into consideration finer details like bus speed, hybrid disks or other technical features.
I’ll say this just once again, even though the price is high, the speed increase is ridiculous. If your job is in IT or requires using a dedicated computer full-time (some accounting positions or other engineering, graphic design, development, etc.), you may be able to justify the time gain (ie. booting/rebooting/starting apps/loading data) and calculate a short ROI justifying the expense. That’s not my line of expertise but I think I get the point accross.
Back from one week at the hospital after two small but painful operations, I have one month leave to get back on my feet. I also just finished my employment and needed to upgrade my older personal laptop, so I decided to also evaluate how to make my housewife’s netbook a bit faster for occasional use at home – I can’t move much or sit down for extended periods at the home computer / with a big laptop.
Although I know the speed increase will justify the upgrade, I still want to confirm how slow the current disk is, and of course what type of disk it is – if the system is using the older PATA interface, I am not even sure if you can find such SSDs. Confirming the system has a SATA interface will make it easier to shop around and prevent ending up with a hard disk I can’t connect.
Most consumer laptop/netbook systems come with the cheapest hard disk at the time of manufacture, which often means 4200 RPM. The hard disk exact model number can be found easily via command line or graphically, without opening your system.
The following information can also be used after booting from a live CD, if you’re evaluating such a hardware upgrade for a system that doesn’t have a GNU/Linux OS installed. That’s right, no need to find (or buy) and install any vendor-specific disk utilities for the simple checks I am sharing how to do here. Just an Ubuntu live CD.
Using the command line from a terminal you can get such information as follows (assuming your system only has one hard disk, extra information redacted):
magicfab@hermes:~$ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda
ATA device, with non-removable media
Model Number: Hitachi HTS545016B9A300
Serial Number: 090726PB5B03QCH542MH
Firmware Revision: PBBOC66G
Transport: Serial, ATA8-AST, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6; Revision: ATA8-AST T13 Project D1697 Revision 0b
Form Factor: 2.5 inch
Nominal Media Rotation Rate: 5400
Using the graphical environement there is the Disk Utility application that will give you the same information. It’s under System > Administration unless you’re using the Unity interface in Ubuntu.
The above results indicate it’s a 2.5 inch 5400 RPM SATA drive, a perfect candidate for an SSD upgrade. On higher-end laptops you may have a 7200 RPM hard disk which may be fast enough if you optimize your system otherwise (and having cheap, matching SSD-per-GB to 7200 RPM drives is not happening anytime soon).
I also use this method to check the firmware version of newly installed SSD drives, which sometimes needs updating depending on its manufacture time and purchase time – if I am buying a drive that has been on the market for some time, there are high chances its initial firmware as shipped at the factory has a new version available for updating.
If you’re somewhat of an SSD geek like me, take a look at my SSD checklist, it has a few tricks to optimize SSD configuration and some of those tricks can also increase performance on non-SSD systems.
Once you have installed and used your first SSD hard disk, please don’t hurt yourself too much for not having done so before 😉 I still think it’s the best ratio of dollar/performance gain of any hardware upgrade you can simply accomplish on most laptop/netbook systems.
Oh, and don’t forget to sell your older, slower hard disk – or re-purpose it for external storage and backups using an external case!
I’d like to share a few projects and organizations that I’d love to see reaching their goals this time of the year.
I want to stress how important it is to understand that donating even U$25 or U$5 or whatever you can is important. It’s also an easy decision for many people (I am not saying it is the case for everyone), to donate and make a difference, instead of spending that same money having lunch at the restaurant or taking a cab. You can also ask your employer to chip in – just ask! Your employer could donate to these projects, become a corporate member of the associations I mention, or pay your membership as part of mutual benefits (non-profit tax receipt + happy employee) 🙂 Just ask. The worse that can happen is you get a « no, sorry ».
« OpenStreetMap‘s Operations Working Group, who have the important role of keeping core OSM services running smoothly, have planned to invest in a new server which will provide [them] with a database back-up. This improvement is at the very core of the OpenStreetMap infrastructure, giving services greater resilience. It means [they]’ll bounce back quicker and easier in the event of a hardware failure. In time the new server will also bring about some performance improvements. » – you can read more details about the fund drive and donate here. I am donating 50€ to this project.
The Debian Administrator’s Handbook was first written in French (and is a best-seller already) by two Debian developers who are translating it to English and possibly publishing it under a free license. The latter will only happen if the liberation fund reaches 25 K€. A physical book is a big helper when doing advocacy for free software. Imagine if instead of just showing the book to anyone interested, you could also show them how to search it electornically, cite it, use it, modify it, circulate it, share it at will ? I donated 100€ to this project.
Become a member of the Free Software Foundation and/or The Linux Foundation. I don’t always agree with everything that is said and done by the FSF, although I consider myself an active member and advocate – I certainly couldn’t do any of my advocacy work without all I’ve learned from the FSF and other fellow members. My membership at The Linux Foundation is a way to contribute to finance important projects (such as paying Linus Torvals’ salary). If you have a local free software advocacy group (such as FACIL or APELL in Quebec), consider joining as a full member or even making a donation – meeting space, flyers, CDs and food/drinks go a long way when networking locally. Becoming a member also increases the organization’s footprint, if nothing else. Numbers speak! This coming year I am sponsoring a student associate membership at the FSF.
If you’re in Haiti or know anyone near Grand-Goave please let me know, I am here for a week and I’ll be training a few teachers on a new lab we’re putting together thanks to a donation via Micro Recyc Coopération.
The training will focus on free software and its origins / advantages, using LibreOffice, the GNU/Linux desktop and installing Debian, Ubuntu and Trisquel. Oh, and making CAT5e cables 🙂 The goal is to have two full training days next week, Monday and Tuesday. Training is free and open to the public, but you need to contact me or add yourself to the wiki (see next paragraph).
I am also seeking help to work on the Ubuntu Haiti wiki. If you know any organizations using Ubuntu in Haiti, this would be a good time to add them there. I am susbcribed to it so I’ll get any updates as they happen.
Although my current Internet access is spotty, I can be reached by email, check my contact page.
Consultant et conférencier en logiciels libres et GNU/Linux basé à Montréal, Québec (Canada)