Archives de catégorie : Debian

Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?

One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do?

For the full original English version, see here.

Voici un texte de Richard Stallman. La version originale en anglais est ici.

Update: Une traduction en français est disponible sur Framablog.



LibreOffice 3.5.5 released – categorized bug fixes

LibreOffice 3.5.5 has been released:

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:



  • BNC# =
  • FDO# =
  • I# =
  • RHBZ# =
  1. Performance fixes
    • fdo#48932 super slow typing and scrolling in large documents [Caolán McNamara]
    • fdo#47636 Extremely slow display with font fallback [Caolán McNamara]
    • fdo#49582 FILESAVE: Long delays saving in XP .XLS format [Petr Mladek]
  2. Notable usability and UI fixes
    • fdo#49724 update filters for file selector’s file type categories [Alberto Ferreira]
    • fdo#49948 ignore corrupted items in Recent Documents [Stephan Bergmann]
    • fdo#50981 update of German dictionaries (2012.06.10) [Andras Timar]
    • rhbz#799628 related: crash with chewing-IM with g3g [Caolán McNamara]
    • rhbz#678440 opening urls fails with error 403 on picky servers [Fridrich Štrba, Stephan Bergmann]
  3. Functionality fixes
    • bnc#652364 & bnc#750255 column break without columns seems to be a page break [Luboš Luňák]
    • bnc#750255 column break without columns seems to be a page break [Luboš Luňák]
    • bnc#757609 import vmlshape ‘hidden’ style attribute and apply to controls [Noel Power]
    • bnc#762542 don’t rotate calc shapes if twoCellAnchor, partial fix [Noel Power]
    • fdo#35972 toolbarmanager must be aware of changes in SvtMiscOptions [Ivan Timofeev]
    • fdo#38116 fix double hairline border drawing some more: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#40874 make recorded border macros run: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#42379 hide separators before calculating line breaks [Ivan Timofeev]
    • fdo#33634 better drawing support for borders of different width, [Markus Mohrhard]
    • fdo#42405 remove this, nowadays MenuItemAllowed disables menu entries [Ivan Timofeev]
    • fdo#42865 privatized unique empty string symbol: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#43895 related Fixed shortcommings of FileDialogHelper_Impl::verifyPath [Stephan Bergmann]
    • fdo#45592 similar to type for property UNO_NAME_SAVE_FILTER_DATA is wrong [Noel Power]
    • fdo#45987 ensure that number of tabs is correctly set in ScViewData, [Markus Mohrhard]
    • fdo#46074 ignore corrupted items in Recent Documents [Stephan Bergmann]
    • fdo#46112 tweak condition to prevent guessing only… [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#47325 legacy reports: survive absence of Sorting hidden control [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#47473 try to set new order only after field columns are available [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#47520 use the already retrieved row instead of driver row [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#47805 rework handling of 64-bit registry entries [Andras Timar]
    • fdo#48018 legacy reports do not sort by group columns [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#48068 fix parsing of path d-attribute [Chr. Rossmanith]
    • fdo#48345 need to refresh row also when not m_bRowCountFinal [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#48647 fix double hairline border drawing some more: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#49430 fix missing form control, partial fix for [Noel Power]
    • fdo#49438 heuristic pseudo-hack to use hair-lines if width <= 0.5 pixel [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#50139 do not cut first character of field text [Andras Timar]
    • fdo#50141 character count (with spaces) incorrect with numbering on. [Muhammad Haggag]
    • fdo#50144 put full reference text to selection field [Andras Timar]
    • fdo#50676 silence SolarMutex not locked spew [Caolán McNamara]
    • i#110536 legacy reports do not sort by group columns [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • i#116848 revert « Fixed Shapes are at wrong position » [Fridrich Štrba]
    • i#118068 revert « calc69: handle all-hidden case in ScDrawUtil::CalcScale » [Eike Rathke]
    • fdo#30519 Bad transitions if « use hardware acceleration » is enabled [David Tardon]
    • fdo#41556VIEWING: Incomplete font substitution when FontConfig matches italic font [Caolán McNamara]
    • fdo#43967 VIEWING: legacy report designer wizard improperly formats dates [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#51243 Trying to edit a report from new (but awful) Report Builder hangs libreoffice [Lionel Elie Mamane]
  4. Crash fixes
    • fdo#46687 fix Styles and Formatting gtk crasher [Bjoern Michaelsen]
    • fdo#50169 band-aid another crash in GraphiteLayout::expandOrCondense: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#50173 fix Styles and Formatting gtk crasher [Bjoern Michaelsen]
    • fdo#50372 crash when refresh of last already-known row unexpectedly fails [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#50868 fix potential further crashes like the one in [Fridrich Štrba]
    • fdo#51249 Crash while saving a document with track-changes enabled [Pierre-Eric Pelloux-Prayer]
    • fdo#51619 [CRASH] legacy reports: asks for parameters, then for empty parameters list then CRASH [Lionel Elie Mamane]
    • fdo#50178 reading Visio file causes crash [Julien Nabet]
    • fdo#50988 Draw crashes on loading MS Logical Design Diagram example visio file. [Julien Nabet]
  5. Update/installer fixes
    • fdo#50603 Unable to update LibreOffice without resetting user profile [Stephan Bergmann]
    • fdo#43989 let unopkg.exe run with elevated privileges during install [Andras Timar]
    • fdo#48914 uninstall process should remove .pyc files from install directory [Andras Timar]
    • fdo#51270 On UNINSTALLING, LibreOffice leaves dirt behind [Andras Timar]
  6. GNU/Linux fixes
    • fdo#34638 and fdo#50415 Fix Shortcut names which are not localized on Linux [Thomas Arnhold]
    • i#86306 revert fix for « prepare against really broken CUPS installations… » [Stephan Bergmann]
  7. Mac/PPC fixes
    • fdo#47035 fix loading of jpeg files on Mac/PPC [Christian Lohmaier]
    • i#81127 revert « sw34bf03: patch by pmladek: linux/ppc: remove -fsigned-char » [Caolán McNamara, Rene Engelhard]
    • rhbz#820554 & rhbz#826609 fix smoketest on ppc[64] and s390 [Caolán McNamara]
    • i#86306 revert fix for « prepare against really broken CUPS installations… » [Stephan Bergmann]
  8. Windows fixes
    • fdo#47044 adapt to different Windows versions’ InternetQueryOption behavior [Stephan Bergmann]
    • fdo#50509 MSI: UI language selection from command line (e.g. silent install) [Andras Timar]
  9. .doc/.docx/.xslx/Visio import fixes
    • bnc#747461 implement relativeHeight (z-order) in .docx import (part of [Luboš Luňák]
    • bnc#750838 .docx wrap values mean different things than in LO, map them [Luboš Luňák]
    • bnc#751077 handle recursive <w:p> because of shapes [Luboš Luňák]
    • i#17200 & bnc#757118 fix horizontal rule width in .doc documents [Luboš Luňák]
    • bnc#757910 fix WW8 import of textboxes with thin border/inner margin [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#43249 WW8: fix double border import: [Michael Stahl]
    • fdo#50178 reading Visio file causes crash [Julien Nabet]
    • fdo#50304 fix excel row height export problems ( I hope ) [Noel Power]
    • i#93609, i#94028 better import xlsx heights [Noel Power]
    • fdo#46738 Cell background and border color formatting information of empty cells lost in particular document after FILESAVE as xls and xlsx [Petr Mladek]
    • fdo#48601 FILEOPEN: Open Visio’s file with bitmap’s blocks [Julien Nabet, Fridrich Štrba]
    • fdo#48602 FILEOPEN: The Greek codepage instead the Russian codepage (*.vsd by MS_Visio-2000) [Fridrich Štrba]
    • fdo#49582 FILESAVE: Long delays saving in XP .XLS format [Petr Mladek]
    • fdo#50988 Draw crashes on loading MS Logical Design Diagram example visio file. [Julien Nabet]
    • fdo#51601 Cannot open xlsx file [Eike Rathke]
  10. RTF import fixes
    • fdo#44174 RTF_TITLEPG when title page has no header [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#45190 import of RTF_LI should reset inherited RTF_FI [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#45522 fix crash on RTF export of sub-tables during copy&paste [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#49968 speed up RTF import of repeated character/paragraph properties [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#50539 fix RTF import of automatic character background color [Miklos Vajna]
    • rhbz#825548 speed up RTF import of repeated character/paragraph properties [Miklos Vajna]
    • fdo#49178 CRASH when FILEOPEN particular RTF [Julien Nabet]

Is it worth it to upgrade my netbook/laptop hard disk to SSD?

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.

Having picnic while waiting for the email indexing to finish
From the archives: having picnic while waiting for the email indexing to finish. License: CC-BY, source: Moon Stars and Paper

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!


Holidays spending – JUST DO IT!

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.

Do you have any other ideas on where to donate cold, hard cash to further free, open technologies and software ? I’d love to hear them.

Update: I am helping putting together an accordingly « freedom geek » buying guide here, if anyone wants to peek or get inspiration for it.


Ubuntu in Haiti

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.