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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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December 2014
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LibreOffice moves up to 4.3 – today, you can’t own a better Office Suite

Two versions of LibreOffice were released in quick succession. You’ll find the latest iteration of the successful 4.2 series announced here, but slightly ahead of that 4.2.6 release, there was also the bump to a new development cycle. I was on a field trip to the US at the time of the 4.3.0 release announcement and was unable to devote time to updating the SlackBuild script and provide packages earlier than today.

The 4.3.0 announcement claims that the new release comes with “a large number of improvements and new features, including: Document interoperability, Comment management and intuitive spreadsheet handling“.

What’s new in LibreOffice?

Here is some more detail about these three major improvements in 4.3.0:

  • Document interoperability: support of OOXML Strict, OOXML graphics improvements (DrawingML, theme fonts, preservation of drawing styles and attributes), embedding OOXML files inside another OOXML file, support of 30 new Excel formulas, support of MS Works spreadsheets and databases, and Mac legacy file formats such as ClarisWorks, ClarisResolve, MacWorks, SuperPaint, and more.
  • Comment management: comments can now be printed in the document margin, formatted in a better way, and imported and exported – including nested comments – in ODF, DOC, OOXML and RTF documents, for improved productivity and better collaboration.
  • Intuitive spreadsheet handling: Calc now allows the performing of several tasks more intuitively, thanks to the smarter highlighting of formulas in cells, the display of the number of selected rows and columns in the status bar, the ability to start editing a cell with the content of the cell above it, and being able to fully select text conversion models by the user.

Equally interesting news is that the developers state the following about the first 4.3 version even though this is a milestone release: LibreOffice “has reached a point of maturity that makes it suitable for every kind of deployment, if backed by value added services by the growing LibreOffice ecosystem“. This is a claim which would be made in the past only after several bug fix iterations had seen the light. To stress this point, the announcement informs us that “the quality of LibreOffice source code has improved dramatically during the last two years, with a reduction of the defect density per 1,000 lines of code from an above the average 1.11 to an industry leading 0.08“. Impressive maturing of a complex piece of software, which tells something about the dedication with which the developer community works on LibreOffice!

If you want to read more about all the new stuff in LibreOffice 4.3.0 there’s also the release notes. Lots of information there!

Note that I upgraded the LibreOffice packages in my Slackware 14.1/current repository from 4.2.5 to 4.3.0, which means that currently there is no 4.2 version to be found anymore (I offer LibreOffice 4.1.6 in the Slackware 14.0 repository). I am assuming that there are no major regressions in the 4.3.0 release but in the case where LibreOffice 4.3.0 proves unworkable, let me know and we’ll work something out with regard to availability of the old 4.2.5 packages. I added a build script for LibreOffice 4.2.6 in the sources directory, in case you want to try building 4.2.6 yourself.

Font compatibility:

With regard to MS Office compatibility, I have another remark. In the 4.2 releases I added copies of two open source TrueType fonts which are metric-compatible with two popular Microsoft fonts. Having these fonts available to LibreOffice means that the layout of MS Office documents when you open them in LibreOffice will be unaltered because the replacement fonts (Carlito for MS Calibri and Caladea for MS Cambria) have the same font metrics as the Microsoft ones. When updating the libreoffice.SlackBuild script I decided that I would rather have these two fonts available to the whole system, not just to LibreOffice. Therefore I created two separate packages for these fonts, and if you do not yet have the (non-free) Microsoft web core fonts installed I advise you strongly to install the open source Carlito and Caladea font packages.

Package availability:

LibreOffice 4.3.0 packages for Slackware 14.1 and -current are ready for download from the usual mirror locations:

A note about KDE integration:

If you are on KDE and simply “upgradepkg” the libreoffice packages, your application may suddenly look very out of style, having switched to a GTK look & feel. All you need to do is “installpkg” the new libreoffice-kde-integration package (I split the KDE support out of the big LO package and into its own separate package for LO 4.2.3, so it’s possible that you already have it).


VLC, the VideoLAN player, in version 2.1.5

largeVLCThe VideoLAN team released version 2.1.5 of their VLC player a while ago. The development of this versatile multimedia player has slowed down quite a bit as the team seems to have more focus on improving the OSX and Android versions (the previous release for Linux was almost half a year ago) so I was not really in a hurry to provide new packages.

The new 2.1.5 version is another maintenance release, mostly “fixes a few decoding bugs, on MP3, MKV” and the remaining changes are not relevant for our Linux based player.

Where to find the new VLC packages:

Rsync access is offered by the mirror server: rsync:// .

For BluRay support, read a previous article for hints about the aacs keys that you’ll need.

Note that I only built packages for Slackware 14.1 & -current. I stopped creating packages for Slackware 14.0 and earlier because of the effort it takes to build 4 packages for every Slackware release.

My usual warning about patents: versions that can not only DEcode but also ENcode mp3 and aac audio can be found in my alternative repository where I keep the packages containing code that might violate stupid US software patents.


New KDE: 4.13.3

The weekend in San Diego was a good time to get rested from my training activities (training a new helpdesk team here) and prepare Slackware packages for KDE’s monthly maintenance release 4.13.3. These packages were built for Slackware -current and have not been tested to work properly on Slackware 14.1. YMMV

I hope that this final 4.13 release will work its way into Slackware-current. After the recent kernel updates in -current and other stability updates and functional enhancements, today saw an awesome upgrade of X.Org and the stage is now set for an upgrade from the rather stale KDE 4.10 to a new super stable and feature-rich KDE 4.13!

Then I can finally move to working on a package set for Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5, both of which got released after I started my US trip (Plasma 5 was released earlier today). The evenings in my hotel give me little opportunity to do the required testing/rebuilding/retesting. And yes, getting loaded with two pints of Stone IPA, the local alcoholic beverage, causes the brain to wander off .-)

News for all you conservative types: when moving to KDE 4.14 in august, I will build a set of KDE 4.13 packages for Slackware 14.1 to please those who prefer a stable Slackware and have no desire to run -current.

What’s new in KDE 4.13.3 ?

This is another maintenance release, so it’s targeting more stability and fixing bugs. The packages I upgraded next to KDE 4.13.3 are kdeconnect-kde (even more cool things to do with your Android phone) and the Calligra office suite (upgraded to the very latest version 2.8.5). Search my older posts on KDE 4.13 if you want to know more about what the highlights of this release cycle are.

How to upgrade to KDE 4.13.3 ?

You will find all the installation/upgrade instructions that you need in the accompanying README file. That README also contains basic information for KDE recompilation using the provided SlackBuild script.

You are strongly advised to read and follow these installation/upgrade instructions!

Where to find packages for KDE 4.13.3 ?

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/4.13.3/ and packages in /current/4.13.2/ subdirectories). Using a mirror is preferred because you get more bandwidth from a mirror and it’s friendlier to the owners of the master server!

Have fun! Eric

Field trip



During the next few weeks, my package and article output will be rather limited. You probably already noticed the relative silence.

I have been preparing for a “field trip”, i.e. a visit to one of my customers. If you are going to watch the Indepencence Day fireworks in San Diego you might just bump into me. I’ll be the gray guy with “Slackware @alien” written on his cap :-)

But seriously, I have no idea what kind of connectivity I will have while traveling. I hope to post a few stories and pics if time and opportunity present themselves.

Let me part with a reminder (not previously announced on this blog but if you follow my RSS feed you’ll have noticed): there are new packages for LibreOffice. The version 4.2.5 was released a little over a week ago and I built this for Slackware 14.1 and -current.

Also updated, but then in the ‘ktown‘ repository of KDE packages (Slackware 14.1 and -current), is kdeconnect-kde. The new 0.7 release fixes a lot of bugs, allows you to use your Android phone as a mousepad for your KDE desktop, and finally there is a working two-way file transfer between your KDE computer and your Android phone (provided they are on the same network).

Take care! Eric

Skype drops support for ALSA

In a Skype blog post yesterday, the announcement was made that the latest version of Skype has dropped support for the ALSA sound system and that Linux users are expected to use PulseAudio exclusively from now on.

Boo Hoo Microsoft, for killing this itsy bit of Linux compatibility in your closed-source product.

I guess for Slackware users it is game over for Skype calls. Time to find out if we can come up with a solution that bundles private libraries for PulseAudio so that we do not have to pollute the system directories with it.