Open Source Software Technical Articles

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Nine essential LibreOffice extensions


Early in its development, made a policy of encouraging extensions to augment the funtionality of the office suite. Today has morphed into LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, but users can still enhance the software's basic functionality with add-ons. LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice maintain separate sites for extensions, but the two suites have diverged so little that the majority of extensions continue to work with both.

Toward a more colorful LibreOffice


Recently, I was working on an Impress presentation, and I needed more colors than LibreOffice provides with its standard color picker. Specifically, I needed several light colors, but the standard color list includes only a few light blue possibilities. I could have defined my own colors manually using the Color Picker, but "mixing" colors by specifying RGB or CMYK numbers is a cumbersome, hit-or-miss process. LibreOffice also lets users load predefined color libraries, but none of the ones I found suited me. Instead, by working with web-standard colors plus a little bit of awk scripting, I managed to create my own color list, providing well-organized colors, grouped in families, with as many color variations as I wanted.

Image annotation in GIMP, Dia, and OpenOffice Draw


The GIMP is a wonderful image editor, but it might be overkill if all you want to do is annotate an image. If you want to highlight a part of an image, so that for example the audience for your presentation can focus on a particular aspect, you'll probably find it easier and more intuitive to do that in a program such as Dia or OpenOffice Draw. Let's see how to annotate an image in all three programs.

Getting Started with Mercurial


The version control system (VCS) debate is one of the less heated "holy wars" in the Linux/Unix world. Most of the conversation revolves around Git vs. Subversion vs. CVS, but other systems may be a better fit for your needs. For instance, Mercurial is written in Python and C, which makes it easily hackable if you need some functionality the project doesn't offer already. It's also fast. And it has other advantages that make it the choice of popular open source projects such as Mozilla,, Dovecot and Vim.

LibreOffice vs. Showdown for Best Open Source Office Suite


With the release of a new version of LibreOffice this month, it's a good time to look at the two major open source office suites, LibreOffice and, to see what advantages each offers, and which is a better bet for end users.

How To Create an Ebook with


Do you want to see your name on the front page of a book? It's easier than you might think. First, write the book. Next, follow these simple steps to prepare an ebook using the free desktop publishing application.

Creating FOSS Allies Through Volunteerism


We know that free and open source software (FOSS) is bigger than the code. It's a powerful movement, with the potential to change the world in profound ways. Cooperation. Collaboration. The best minds working toward the best solutions they can imagine and making those ideas available to all, regardless of cash flow — these ingredients make for quite a heady stew. For those of us already sold on the advantages of FOSS it can be hard to imagine why anyone would hesitate to jump in, but the reluctance to embrace open source can be summarized with just two words: human nature. There are a lot of people out there who simply have no idea. Who are even suspicious of all this free and open stuff. The words alone can impart to the uninitiated an uncomfortable feeling. They'll be made to pay in some form or another — they just don't know how, yet. We know that the price can only be measured in willingness to change. To some, that sounds pretty steep.

What Does Oracle's Buyout of Sun Mean to Open Source?


There's been a lot of commotion around Oracle's recent bid for Sun Microsystems. Oracle is in the process of purchasing Sun for $7.4 billion, which includes Sun's $1.8 billion in debt. With this acquisition Oracle will purchase Java, Solaris, and a bunch of hardware and virtualization tools, which together will help Oracle realize a projected increase of $1.5 billion in revenue in the first year and over $2 billion in the second year.

Open Source Alternatives for the Office


Microsoft Office has been one of the most popular (and profitable) business software suites for many years, but Office is no longer the only game in town when it comes to basic business applications. OpenOffice has emerged as the leading open source software alternative for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Indeed, in the first eight weeks after the release of version 3.0 there were nearly 32 million direct downloads from the site, with 92% of those downloads being for the Windows platform. And for email, contact management, and basic accounting — Office functions not covered by OpenOffice — other open source alternatives are now available.

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