Monthly Archives: July 2018

Three Graphical Clients for Git on Linux |

Those that develop on Linux are likely familiar with Git. With good reason. Git is one of the most widely used and recognized version control systems on the planet. And for most, Git use tends to lean heavily on the terminal. After all, much of your development probably occurs at the command line, so why not interact with Git in the same manner?

In some instances, however, having a GUI tool to work with can make your workflow slightly more efficient (at least for those that tend to depend upon a GUI). To that end, what options do you have for Git GUI tools? Fortunately, we found some that are worthy of your time and (in some cases) money. I want to highlight three such Git clients that run on the Linux operating system. Out of these three, you should be able to find one that meets all of your needs.
I am going to assume you understand how Git and repositories like GitHub function, which I covered previously, so I won’t be taking the time for any how-tos with these tools. Instead, this will be an introduction, so you (the developer) know these tools are available for your development tasks.

A word of warning: Not all of these tools are free, and some are released under proprietary licenses. However, they all work quite well on the Linux platform and make interacting with GitHub a breeze.

With that said, let’s look at some outstanding Git GUIs.


SmartGit is a proprietary tool that’s free for non-commercial usage. If you plan on employing SmartGit in a commercial environment, the license cost is $99 USD per year for one license or $5.99 per month. There are other upgrades (such as Distributed Reviews and SmartSynchronize), which are both $15 USD per licence. You can download either the source or a .deb package for installation. I tested SmartGit on Ubuntu 18.04 and it worked without issue.

But why would you want to use SmartGit? There are plenty of reasons. First and foremost, SmartGit makes it incredibly easy to integrate with the likes of GitHub and Subversion servers. Instead of spending your valuable time attempting to configure the GUI to work with your remote accounts, SmartGit takes the pain out of that task. The SmartGit GUI (Figure 1) is also very well designed to be uncluttered and intuitive.

After installing SmartGit, I had it connected with my personal GitHub account in seconds. The default toolbar makes working with a repository, incredibly simple. Push, pull, check out, merge, add branches, cherry pick, revert, rebase, reset — all of Git’s most popular features are there to use. Outside of supporting most of the standard Git and GitHub functions/features, SmartGit is very stable. At least when using the tool on the Ubuntu desktop, you feel like you’re working with an application that was specifically designed and built for Linux.

SmartGit is probably one of the best tools that makes working with even advanced Git features easy enough for any level of user. To learn more about SmartGit, take a look at the extensive documentation.


GitKraken is another proprietary GUI tool that makes working with both Git and GitHub an experience you won’t regret. Where SmartGit has a very simplified UI, GitKraken has a beautifully designed interface that offers a bit more feature-wise at the ready. There is a free version of GitKraken available (and you can test the full-blown paid version with a 15 day trial period). After the the trial period ends, you can continue using the free version, but for non-commercial use only.

For those who want to get the most out of their development workflow, GitKraken might be the tool to choose. This particular take on the Git GUI features the likes of visual interactions, resizable commit graphs, drag and drop, seamless integration (with GitHub, GitLab, and BitBucket), easy in-app tasks, in-app merge tools, fuzzy finder, gitflow support, 1-click undo & redo, keyboard shortcuts, file history & blame, submodules, light & dark themes, git hooks support, git LFS, and much more. But the one feature that many users will appreciate the most is the incredibly well-designed interface (Figure 2).

Outside of the amazing interface, one of the things that sets GitKraken above the rest of the competition is how easy it makes working with multiple remote repositories and multiple profiles. The one caveat to using GitKraken (besides it being proprietary) is the cost. If you’re looking at using GitKraken for commercial use, the license costs are:

  • $49 per user per year for individual

  • $39 per user per year for 10+ users

  • $29 per user per year for 100+ users

The Pro accounts allow you to use both the Git Client and the Glo Boards (which is the GitKraken project management tool) commercially. The Glo Boards are an especially interesting feature as they allow you to sync your Glo Board to GitHub Issues. Glo Boards are sharable and include search & filters, issue tracking, markdown support, file attachments, @mentions, card checklists, and more. All of this can be accessed from within the GitKraken GUI.
GitKraken is available for Linux as either an installable .deb file, or source.

Git Cola

Git Cola is our free, open source entry in the list. Unlike both GitKraken and Smart Git, Git Cola is a pretty bare bones, no-nonsense Git client. Git Cola is written in Python with a GTK interface, so no matter what distribution and desktop combination you use, it should integrate seamlessly. And because it’s open source, you should find it in your distribution’s package manager. So installation is nothing more than a matter of opening your distribution’s app store, searching for “Git Cola” and installing. You can also install from the command line like so:

sudo apt install git-cola


sudo dnf install git-cola

The Git Cola interface is pretty simple (Figure 3). In fact, you won’t find much in the way of too many bells and whistles, as Git Cola is all about the basics.

Because of Git Cola’s return to basics, there will be times when you must interface with the terminal. However, for many Linux users this won’t be a deal breaker (as most are developing within the terminal anyway). Git Cola does include features like:

Although Git Cola does support connecting to remote repositories, the integration to the likes of Github isn’t nearly as intuitive as it is on either GitKraken or SmartGit. But if you’re doing most of your work locally, Git Cola is an outstanding tool that won’t get in between you and Git.

Git Cola also comes with an advanced (Directed Acyclic Graph) DAG visualizer, called Git Dag. This tool allows you to get a visual representation of your branches. You start Git Dag either separately from Git Cola or within Git Cola from the View > DAG menu entry. Git DAG is a very powerful tool, which helps to make Git Cola one of the top open source Git GUIs on the market.

There’s more where that came from

There are plenty more Git GUI tools available. However, from these three tools you can do some serious work. Whether you’re looking for a tool with all the bells and whistles (regardless of license) or if you’re a strict GPL user, one of these should fit the bill.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

VMware vSphere Storage Types

VMware vSphere supports different types of storage architectures, both internally (in this case the controller is crucial, that must be in the HCL) or externally with shared SAS DAS, SAN FC, SAN iSCSI, SAN FCoE, or NFS NAS (in those case the HCL is fundamental for the external storage, the fabric elements, and the host adapters).

For local storage, with vSphere 6.x it’s possible to use USB disks, not only as boot disks, but also to run VMs. But note that USB datastores are just unsupported by VMware.

Storage types at the VM logical level

There are different types of virtual disks depending on the provisioning method, pre- allocated or dynamic. The type of virtual disks are mainly the same since vSphere 4.0:

  • An eager zeroed thick disk has all space allocated and wiped clean of any previous content on the physical media at creation time. Such disks may take a long time during creation compared to other disk formats. The entire disk space is reserved and unavailable for use by other VMs.
  • Thick or lazy zeroed thick VMDK: A thick disk has all space allocated at creation time. This space may contain stale data on the physical media. Before writing to a new block, a zero has to be written, increasing the input/output operation per second (IOPS) on new blocks compared to eager disks. The entire disk space is reserved and unavailable for use by other VMs.
  • Thin VMDK: Space required for the thin-provisioned virtual disk is allocated and zeroed on demand as space is used. Unused space is available for use by other VMs.

You can choose the disk provisioning type during virtual disk creation, but you can change the type using a cold VM migration across two datastores, or using Storage vMotion (if you have at least ESXi Standard edition). Note that you can also change the type of each individual disk, by choosing Configure per disk on the new HTML5 client shown as follows:

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There are also Raw Device Mapping (RDM) disks where a disk at ESXi level is mapped 1:1 to a VM (like a Passthrough mode), with two different types of compatibility (virtual or physical mode). Except for building guest clusters (clusters across VMs on different hosts), there is no need to use these types of disk.

There is no significant difference in performance for sequential I/O between the different types of virtual disks. For random I/O, thin VMDKs have the worst performance and higher latency (for lazy thick, it depends if you have to write a new block).

Storage types at the VM physical level

To access a block device, such as virtual disks VMDK, virtual CD/DVD-ROM, or other SCSI devices, each VM uses storage controllers; at least one is added by default when you create a VM.

There are different types of controller available for a VM running on ESXi which are described as follows:

  • BusLogic: This is one of the first emulated SCSI virtual controllers available in VMware ESX. Now it’s a legacy controller used mainly for legacy operating systems. It does not support VMDK larger than 2 TB.
  • LSI Logic Parallel: This was formally known as LSI Logic and was the other SCSI virtual controller available originally in VMware ESX, used for operating systems such as Windows Server 2003.
  • LSI Logic SAS: This was introduced in vSphere 4.0, and is the evolution of the parallel driver, working as a SAS virtual controller and used in Windows Server 2008 or newer.
  • VMware Paravirtual (or PVSCSI): This was introduced in vSphere 4.0, is an SCSI virtual controller designed to support very high throughput with minimal processing cost, working not in emulation mode, but in paravirtual mode (it requires the VMware Tools to be recognized).

Others virtual controllers are also possible in a VM, such as AHCI SATA (introduced in vSphere 5.5), IDE, and also USB controllers, but usually for specific cases (for example SATA or IDE are usually used for virtual DVD drives).

Note: When you create a VM, the default controller is optimized for good performance and compatibility. The controller type depends on the guest operating system (usually its driver is included in the operating system), the device type, and sometimes, the VMs compatibility. But sometimes you can choose a different controller to improve the performance, like the PVSCI (useful for VMFK with high load) or a new type available in vSphere 6.5.

With ESXi 6.5 and VM virtual hardware version 13, you can now also use a virtual NVMe. Virtual NVMe devices have reduced guest I/O processing overheads (over 50% compared to AHCI SATA SCSI device), which allows more VMs per host or more transactions per minute. Each virtual machine supports 4 NVMe controllers and up to 15 devices per controller.

Virtual NVMe controllers are supported on vSphere 6.5 only on the following guest operating systems:

  • Windows 7 and 2008 R2 (hotfix required, refer to
  • Windows 8.1, 2012 R2, 10, 2016
  • RHEL, CentOS, NeoKylin 6.5, and later Oracle Linux 6.5 and later
  • Ubuntu 13.10 and later
  • SLE 11 SP4 and later
  • Solaris 11.3 and later
  • FreeBSD 10.1 and later
  • Mac OS X 10.10.3 and later
  • Debian 8.0 and later

You can add a new NVMEe virtual controller using the vSphere Web Client (from the HTML5 web client is not yet possible) as shown in the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the virtual machine in the inventory and select Edit Settings option
  2. Click the Virtual Hardware tab, and select NVMe Controller from the New device drop-down menu
  3. Click on Add
  4. The controller appears in the Virtual Hardware devices list
  5. Click OK

(Click on image for larger view)

For more information on NVMe, see also KB 2147714—Using Virtual NVMe with ESXi 6.5 and virtual machine Hardware Version 13 (

For more information on PVSCI, see also KB 1010398—Configuring disks to use VMware Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) adapters (

Storage types at the ESXi logical level

At the high level, VMware vSphere will access each storage using datastores—a logical paradigm to abstract all storage types, like a common operating system uses letters or mount points to access a filesystem.

VMware vSphere 6.x has the following four main types of datastore:

  • VMware FileSystem (VMFS) datastores: All block-based storage must be first formatted with VMFS to transform a block service to a file and folder oriented services
  • Network FileSystem (NFS) datastores: This is for NAS storage
  • VVol: This is introduced in vSphere 6.0 and is a new paradigm to access SAN and NAS storage in a common way and by better integrating and consuming storage array capabilities
  • vSAN datastore: If you are using vSAN solution, all your local storage devices could be polled together in a single shared vSAN datastore

New datastores could be provisioned from the new HTML5 client, starting from a data centre, a cluster, or a host; just right-click on the object, choose storage, and then new datastore:

(Click on image for larger view)

For local disks, if you have configured the right RAID level from the controller (remember that ESXi does not provide software RAID features), you can just format the logical disks with a VMFS datastore.

But before external storage, before adding a new datastore, you must first configure the ESXi host, the fabric, (if present) and the storage itself. This depends on the storage type and vendor and will be discussed later. You cannot directly add a vSAN datastore; the vSAN configuration is quite different, but the final result will be a vSAN datastore with its own format.

Of course, on the same host you can have multiple datastores, also with different types:

(Click on image for larger view)

At the datastore level, there isn’t any difference between DAS or SAN, they are just block- based storage and become VMFS datastores. The functional difference is that a SAN disk could be shared across multiple hosts, not local DAS disks (but there are also shared SAS storages that are formally classified as DAS storage).

Storage types at the ESXi physical level

Excluding vSAN, which has a specific configuration, at the physical level we can have three different main types of storage:

  • Block-based storage acceded by a hardware adapter: This includes DAS storage or a SAN FC storage.
  • Block-based storage acceded by a software adapter: This is like the SAN iSCSI storage when the software initiator is used. In this case, you need first to properly configure the network connectivity. After that, it becomes very similar to the first case.
  • NFS storage: This is where you have to configure first the IP network connectivity to your storage and then connect the NFS datastore.

For the physical storage adapters, VMware ESXi supports several types of protocols and technologies (refer to the hardware compatibility list to check the supported level):

  • Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter (FC HBA): This is the common and historical way to implement an FC-based storage, but using a dedicated full fabric.
  • iSCSI HBA: These are specialized PCIe cards that implement completely in hardware the entire iSCSI stack, reducing the load of the host CPU.
  • CNA adapters for FCoE or iSCSI: These are mostly 10 Gbps (or greater) Ethernet adapters providing hardware (or hardware assisted) FCoE or iSCSI functionality on converged (or also dedicated) networks.
  • RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE): This is a network protocol that allows remote direct memory access (RDMA) over an Ethernet network. Starting with vSphere 6.5, RoCE certified adapters could be used for converged networks. InfiniBand HCA: Mellanox Technologies InfiniBand HCA device drivers are available directly from Mellanox Technologies. Mostly used for the network part instead of the storage part, they could be interesting in converged networks, and also in vSAN implementation.

This tutorial is an excerpt from “Mastering VMware vSphere 6.5” by Andrea Mauro, Paolo Valsecchi & Karel Novak and published by Packt. Get the ebook for just $9 until Aug. 31.

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FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Jul 25, 2018 12:42 PM PT

FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy

FreeOffice 2018 Linux office suite is a high-end product that provides performance and compatibility with Microsoft Office and other office suites.

FreeOffice 2018, released this spring, is a free version that is nearly identical to the features and user interface of Softmaker’s commercial flagship office suite, SoftMaker Office 2018. I recently
reviewed the beta commercial version. The FreeOffice line is distributed under the Mozilla Public License.

The Germany-based software developer offers an impressive and very usable line of open source and commercial products. The FreeOffice 2018/SoftMaker Office 2018 products are Windows/Linux cross-platform applications with integrated modules for word processing (TextMaker), spreadsheets (PlanMaker) and presentations (Presentations).

If you are thinking, “Gee, why not keep the Maker moniker consistent by calling it ‘SlideMaker’?” I totally agree.

Office suite compatibility is one of the major selling/rejecting points when consumers and enterprises consider migrating to the Linux OS. The Linux OS has its share of free lightweight word processors and a few worthy standalone spreadsheet apps. Generally, Linux office suites lack a really solid slide presentation creation tool, however.

Many of the Linux word processing packages are little more than glorified text editors. Graphics compatibility in page design are often their fail point. That trend has been changing for the better with applications such as SoftMaker’s FreeOffice, The Document Foundation’s
LibreOffice and Ascensio System SIA’s recently released free office suite upgrade OnlyOffice Desktop Editors, which I recently

The FreeOffice 2018 suite has much to offer. It is a capable alternative to its commercial upgrade. It poses little trouble reading and writing to other document formats such as .docx, pptx, xlsx and provides very accurate page rendering when importing/exporting file formats. Except for the ability to save as earlier MS Office document formats, all that is missing from the SoftMaker commercial edition are a few dictionary-based and related tools.

FreeOffice 2018 settings panel

The FreeOffice 2018 suite lets you configure many aspects of each modules’ operation with a detailed settings panel.

Switching Gears

I switched to LibreOffice years ago when
The Document Foundation forked OpenOffice. Each major release closed the gap as a reliable Microsoft Office replacement. I rarely had difficulties with exchanging files among users of Microsoft Word. The user satisfaction got even better with FreeOffice, to a point.

I began using earlier versions of FreeOffice two years ago on several of my computers, which allowed me to settle in with long-term compatibility testing. I would create files in LibreOffice or FreeOffice. Depending on which computer I used, for subsequent editing sessions I would work on the file in either LibreOffice or FreeOffice. Rarely would I see page layout or formatting glitches in how FreeOffice rendered the display or printed the page.

I tested FreeOffice 2018 using the same process. Since some of the documents I create or edit require printed copies by a client using Microsoft Word, I also routinely check for compatibility between FreeOffice and LibreOffice outputs. Results are usually more than adequate. Sometimes, a bit of tweaking resolves display issues. I almost never have issues with the way FreeOffice 2018 prints documents.

This latest release of FreeOffice proved itself to be very adept at opening, displaying and saving documents with a high degree of fidelity — that is, as long as I wanted to use the latest Microsoft file format, as in .docx.

Was it flawless? Not always.

Compatibility Without Compromises – Not Quite

SoftMaker claims that you not only can open but also can save documents in the Microsoft file formats docx, xlsx and pptx. The company also boasts that users can share files directly with Microsoft Office users without first having to export them. That is true, but with a catch.

That catch can be a mild inconvenience or a deal breaker, depending on your file interoperability needs. Depending on the module involved, you can *only* save documents as docx, xlsx or pptx files.

If you want to save files in the older MS Office formats, you must buy the commercial version of FreeOffice. For instance, in TextMaker You have options for the .txt and SoftMaker-specific .tmdx and generic .rft formats along with a few other formats.

However, there is no support for the Open Document Text (odt) format used in LibreOffice and other open source applications. This can cause difficulties in exchanging documents with those who use these cross-standard formats.

Potential Problems

If your office suite needs are limited to working with documents only you create and print out, or deliver as attached files, then go for it. Typical real-world document usage goes far beyond being limited to just the latest Microsoft Office file format, though. Many small businesses and even large enterprises work in the realm of .doc /.xls /.ppt formats.

For example, in the case of one client, in-house copy exchanges are done in .txt format filed on the company’s servers. I must save blogs and article submissions I provide to other publishers in a preferred file format of the editor involved.

In most cases, editors, publishers and my freelance clients care less what application I use to create or edit the documents we exchange. They only care if they can not open the document or its rendering is messed up when displayed on their screens or printed output.

On the other hand, the majority of press releases and slide presentations I receive or edit and return are done in .doc or .ppt file format, not .docx or pptx format. I have not found that situation to be much different outside my publications world, either. Personal correspondence from lawyers and government agencies, for instance, usually are in the older .doc/.xls/.ppt formats.

Ribbon vs. Traditional Interface

As good as LibreOffice is now with its series, its developers have been slow to implement the popular ribbon interface first introduced in Microsoft Office. SoftMaker’s FreeOffice 2018 has a very workable ribbon interface option along with the traditional toolbar-style menu. Switching between the two user interfaces is easy.

That is important. The ribbon interface requires adjusting to navigating around the options in each of the office modules. It is sometimes more convenient to use the traditional dropdown menus from the fully populated toolbar.

FreeOffice 2018 TextWriter ribbon interface

The ribbon interface includes a toolbar-style menu. Switching between the two user interfaces is easy.

The ribbon interface uses a tab line at the top line of the application’s window to open menu categories. The actual options in each category display in the second row.

A third row provides a few basic function icons that do not change. These are icons to create a new document, open an existing file, save the current document, and a dropdown list of undo/redo previous typing.

These menu icons also have keyboard shortcuts displayed. You can add/remove additional icons for more toolbar options.

How the Ribbon Menus Display

The first item in this third-row toolbar is a button to open a two-column cascading menu of all options. That list contains the keyboard shortcuts for many of the menu items. This keeps the ribbon interface active while giving you a way to bypass the ribbons without switching to a more traditional menu setting.

FreeOffice 2018 productivity suite

The FreeOffice 2018 productivity suite lets you easily switch between traditional and more modern ribbon menu styles.

The File tab ribbon provides commands to open, close, save/save as/save all, epub export, PDF export, print options and access properties for the file. The Options and Customize buttons display settings panels.

The Home tab ribbon holds all of the file formatting options for font, character, paragraph and style selections. The Insert tab holds page break, table, picture, text frame, comments, hyperlink commands and more.

The Layout tab has the ribbon controls for setting page margins, orientation, chapter markers and other layout and page design controls. The References tab opens the ribbon options for setting attributes for fields, footnotes, and table of contents. The Mailings tab displays ribbon settings for file-specific attributes to automate mailing lists for database output.

The Review tab shows spell check and hyphenation settings, a comments pane, and controls for tracking and working with text changes within the document. The View tab provides ribbon controls for Display Views, Forms, Fields, Grids/Guides/ ruler choices, Zoom and Windows display options.

The Latest Improvements

The FreeOffice 2018 suite for Linux is updated to revision 934. All three office modules have new features that include format painter, the ability to insert comments and footnotes, improved support for encrypted docx documents, and a new tool for reporting errors in the Linux version of the Office suite.

The latest release runs on any PC-based Linux distro, either 32 or 64 bits. The office suite is optimized for touchscreens. You can switch to touch mode with larger icons and increased spacing between user-interface elements. You can do this both with ribbons and with the classic menu-based user interface.

TextMaker combines easy use with a wide range of features. Formatting text is much simpler with the numerous new template catalogs and drop-down elements. Its advanced positioning and text-wrapping options let you create any style layout.

Master pages let you watermark each page and place repeating objects in your document. Character and paragraph styles add a consistent and professional look to your documents. TextMaker supports spell-checking using Hunspell dictionaries. The Assistant feature helps you to create PDF files and EPUB e-books directly from within the application.

PlanMaker lets you create complex calculations, worksheets and charts effortlessly. It includes more than 350 functions and a wide variety of analysis features. Easily insert pictures, drawings, text frames or impressive charts in 2D and 3D.

Choose from a large catalog of attractive cell styles that are compatible with Microsoft Excel 2016. PlanMaker supports large worksheets with up to 1 million rows and 16,384 columns and pivot tables. You can export worksheets as PDF documents or in a specified print format. You can select from five different scaling methods so that it fits on a specified number of pages. You can print 2, 4, 8 or 16 pages on one sheet of paper.

Other PlanMaker features include pivot tables that display data in a targeted way to meet individual specifications, and the ability to create database ranges within worksheets. You also can use an outline view for data grouping, sort by up to 64 columns, and apply auto filter and special filters.

Presentations is a powerful tool for creating impressive slide presentations. It is easy to combine text, images, tables and artwork to make attractive slides. You can apply a range of animations and slide transitions using OpenGL graphics acceleration.

Among its wide variety of design and drawing functions are the ability to Insert images, drawings and text frames, and apply type effects by using the TextArt or numerous other design templates. You also can insert static objects, movies and sound effects into presentations.

Bottom Line

SoftMaker’s FreeOffice 2018 is a high-end productivity suite that is worthy of consideration. The TextMaker word processor module is one of the closest products I have used in Linux to being capable of handling page design and publication functions.

I often use it for design pages instead of
Scribus for desktop publishing tasks. The PlanMaker and Presentation modules are equally adept at rounding out office documents needs.

However, FreeOffice 2018 has a few quirks. One of them is the spelling feature. The English language version is supposed to be included by default. It is not in the installed package. As a workaround, I downloaded the Canada English Hunspell dictionary from the Softmaker website. No U.S. English dictionary was available for download.

Another oddity is the right panel that has a show/hide button. In each of the three modules, the right panel displays handy tips on using some of the core features.

At the bottom are media buttons to move forward or backward through a slide-like presentation. Every time you click in the panel, the application automatically switches to a Web browser screen to view upsell details from the SoftMaker website.

A third issue is potentially more troublesome. You can set the auto-save (recovery) interval in the File/Options/Fields of the menu, but there is no auto-save feature. You must remember to save content frequently or you might lose information.

For example, I had saved the updated file as I completed writing section of this review and continued with a new paragraph. About two minutes later I clicked on a menu item. The application crashed. I declined to fill in the pop-up crash report prompt.

The window reported that the application recovered my file. When I reopened the file, however, the most recent additions that I entered after last saving the file were gone.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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Weird Unofficial LibreOffice Version Shows Up i… » Linux Magazine

A unofficial version of LibreOffice shows up in the Windows Store. The app was published by an obscure developer under the name ‘.net’. There is no additional information about the developer. Clicking on the URL takes you to another app by the developer named ‘dress my doll.’

How did this app make it into the store? Given the volume of apps submitted to Microsoft Store, App Store, and Google Play, it’s virtually impossible for these vendors to vet each app manually. They all have an automated process.

Microsoft also has a certification process, “When you finish creating your app’s submission and click “Submit to the Store,” the submission enters the certification step. This process is usually completed within a few hours, though in some cases it may take up to three business days. After your submission passes certification, it can take up to 24 hours for customers to see the app’s listing for a new submission, or for an updated submission with changes to packages. If your update only changes Store listing details, the publishing process will be completed in less than an hour. You’ll be notified when your submission is published, and the app’s status in the dashboard will be In the Store.”

It’s not clear if Microsoft also validates the authenticity of the app. It’s not surprising that an app like LibreOffice would slip through the certification process and be available to users. Since LibreOffice is a fully open source project, anyone can compile it and redistribute the app, as long as they follow the terms of the license.

I reached out to The Document Foundation (TDF), the organization responsible for LibreOffice, and Italo Vignoli, one of the co-founders of TDF told me, “The Document Foundation has been made aware of an unofficial version of LibreOffice on the Windows Store. We are investigating further, but we want to be clear: this is not an official version created by The Document Foundation, so the app’s page is misleading. The only official source of the software (which can be downloaded for free, i.e., without any cost for the end user) is LibreOffice website. Also, the money from the Windows Store version is not collected by The Document Foundation.”

My advice is to not download and install the app from Windows Store as we are not sure if there is any malicious code in it. Microsoft says it checks for malicious code before any app is published, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Canonical Fixes Boot Failure Issues in Ubuntu » Linux Magazine

Canonical has been playing a cat and mouse game with patches and vulnerabilities. Canonical has released an update that fixes boot failures of machines running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS.
Earlier this month Canonica released security updates (USN-3695-1) for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to fix six known vulnerabilities. According to the Ubuntu advisory, “Unfortunately, the fix for CVE-2018-1108 introduced a regression where insufficient early entropy prevented services from starting, leading in some situations to a failure to boot.”
The latest update fixes the regressions. Canonical urges users  to update their systems immediately. If you have installed any third party kernel modules you will have to recompile and reinstall them. 
“Due to an unavoidable ABI change the kernel updates have been given a new version number, which requires you to recompile and reinstall all third party kernel modules you might have installed. Unless you manually uninstalled the standard kernel metapackages
(e.g. linux-generic, linux-generic-lts-RELEASE, linux-virtual, linux-powerpc), a standard system upgrade will automatically perform this as well.”
This is the third time Canonical has released fixes in the last 30 days. In June, Canonical released a patch for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS that lead to boot failure on some machines.

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