Monday, November 28, 2005

» First speakers disclosed for FOSDEM 2006

Hey Michael (who's a fellow blogger aggregated on Planet SUSE), nice to have you at our event ;)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

» Comparison between ODF and MS-XML

As already pointed out by Ruurd, there's an excellent article on Groklaw that compares the OpenDocument Format (ODF) with MS-XML (Microsoft's new "XML" format for MS Office documents (note the "")). At work, I have architected, esigned and implemented (with the help of two coworkers) an application that generates a reference guide from the configuration data of our platform. It generates both XHTML and OpenOffice XML (will most probably be ported to ODF soon, but the format is almost identical anyway) with pluggable backends, which means I've been digging into the OOo XML format since quite some time and it's a nice format to work with. Not perfect from a parsing point of view, but nice nevertheless (e.g. DocBook XML would have been even better, as it's hierarchical for section elements whereas OOo is not):


<section title="one">
  <section title="two">


<text:h text:style-name="Heading 1" text:level="1">One</text:h>
<text:h text:style-name="Heading 2" text:level="2">Two</text:h>
<text:p text:style-name="Text body">...</text:p>
Still magnitudes better than MS-XML. For those who had the dubious luck of looking at the HTML that is generated by MS Frontpage, you might see the same parallel as I do with MS-XML. Non-mixed content is awful and not even near (X)HTML. Well, what would we have to expect from Microsoft anyway...

Friday, November 25, 2005

» Today's php4 online update is broken

The Yast Online Update for php4 that came in this morning is broken: it makes Apache httpd processes segfault. My guess is that both php4 and apache2-mod_php4 were updated but not the other php4-* packages (such as php4-gettext, which I'm using extensively, and I'm pretty sure that's the one that triggered the segfault). After the online update, I had php4 = 4.4.0-6.2 and apache2-mod_php4 = 4.4.0-6.2 installed but all the other php4-* packages were still at 4.4.0-6. Solution: I downgraded those two packages back to 4.4.0-6 and now it works again:
smart install php4=4.4.0-6 apache2-mod_php4=4.4.0-6
Posted on the opensuse-packaging list (follow the thread here) and sent to SUSE's php4 package maintainer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

» Microsoft to open its office format.. yeah, right...

Microsoft announced that they will "open" their "MS-XML" office document format (for Word, Excel and Powerpoint - Access and others are not mentioned) and submitted to ECMA (and later to ISO, at least so they say). Unfortunately, ECMA and ISO don't require to give away the right to use the patents that apply to the formats, and Microsoft doesn't mention what will happen with the numerous patents they already filed on their MS-XML format (and crap like "an office document in a single xml file"). Until Microsoft makes clear that they also grant everyone the free use of their patents that apply to their "open" office document format, that announcement and the ECMA/ISO submissions are worth nothing. If they do, if they really open up their formats, it certainly would be a hurdle for ODF acceptance. But on the other hand, it would also enable, KOffice and Abiword to proprely implement 99% compatibility with those formats. If they don't, then ODF still remains the only really open office document format. What's also weird is the question whether ECMA and ISO would accept two open office document formats, as ODF is already in the queue and should be standardized by those bodies before the MS-XML format. Now, if you think that Microsoft is going to win again as always, don't forget OpenDocument (ODF) has a strong fellowship of industry leaders in its back. MS Office is Microsoft's cash printing machine, as it accounts for a very large part of its profits (almost all the other departments, except Windows, actually make loss)... but that's also where they can be hurt really bad. More links: » interesting comments about the announcement by Andy Updegrove, who's very closely following the ODF process » Microsoft's announcement » an eWeek article about the announcement » Groklaw article about it

Saturday, November 19, 2005

» Script to refresh YaST2 installation sources

Since SUSE Linux 10.0, YaST2 has the ability to automatically refresh installation sources (package repositories) when they're marked as "autorefresh". Nevertheless, in some situations it might be interesting to periodically refresh the repository metadata, e.g. using a cron job. I quickly hacked a very simple shell script that does so, using y2pmsh (just install the "y2pmsh" package, comes with SUSE Linux):
y2pmsh source -s | grep -E '^[0-9]+:' | cut -f 1 -d : | while read n; do
        y2pmsh source --update "$n"
It's pretty simple and straightforward, but might be interesting for someone who's not accustomed to shell scripting. If you want the sources to be refreshed every hour, just save the snippet above as /etc/cron.hourly/yast2-refresh Don't forget to make it executable: chmod +x /etc/cron.hourly/yast2-refresh) Obviously, you have to do both steps as root. Update: darix (Marcus Rueckert) came up with a nice script that uses python-expect. It's slightly different, as it just starts the y2pmsh shell and waits for the prompt, then quits:
import pexpect
s = pexpect.spawn("y2pmsh")
s.expect ('.*y2pm.*\>')
s.sendline ('quit')
This way, you only refresh the repositories that are marked as "auto-refresh". Thanks for the tip Marcus :) To use python-expect, first install my python-pexpect package (or use YaST2/smart/apt/yum if you have my repository configured in one of those).

Monday, November 14, 2005

» FOSDEM: Devrooms call for presence

Here we go again, we've launched the call for presence for Devrooms at FOSDEM 2006 - let the fire spread ;) Already booked: Clustering (aggregate),, openSUSE, GNU Classpath (aggregate, includes Kaffe, GNU Classpath, GCJ, others), CALIBRE. A few booths/stands as well: Debian, GnomeMeeting, openWengo, Free Knowledge Foundation.

» Microsoft to trigger IT economic war between USA and Europe

Microsoft wants the US government to be involved in the issue they're facing with the EU, as reported by the Financial Times (and relayed by Heise (in german)). Now we're going to see whether the current US administration still has a few remainings of ethics or whether it's just economics and big businesses after all (like many of us if Europe are pretty much convinced of). Let me guess... the US government is going to pressure the EU. Is it even worth a bet ? ;) And I don't even think the title of this blog entry deserves a question mark. It's going to happen, for sure. After all, all the money Microsoft has pumped into Bush's presidential campaign has to pay off (once more), doesn't it ? (can't find links to those numbers any more, I knew I should have bookmarked that, I suppose the CIA has wiped those sites off the net ;)).

Friday, November 11, 2005

» SUSE vs GNOME vs KDE clarified once for all

At last, a statement from Novell that clarifies all this mess we've been going through the past few days. First read this and then go back and read the comments we had on the various websites that relayed the FUD. Isn't that fun ? :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

» Jeffrey, don't spread the fire

I second Stephan Binner's comment on Jeffrey Stedfast's blog entry about KDE being unprofessional, childish, etc... Jeffrey, are you trying to start a flamewar or something ? How clueless is it to transpose some stupid posts of mentally 12-year old KDE users on slashdot (what else to expect on /. ?) to the KDE project and its developers ? Because that's actually what you're doing. You're (not even in a subtle manner) writing that because your dad and you found anti-GNOME/Ximian posts on a few websites (not, BTW) that KDE sucks, that it's unprofessional. Further on, "pro-GNOME commenters rarely stoop to such low levels of flaming KDE and it's developers, but rather stay positive".. err.. are you kidding ? You must be.. What makes me sick is this permanent "ignoring-the-other-side" and not getting together between GNOME and KDE. Why can't you guys have a single, common sound daemon ? Having two large projects like that in the FOSS community is supposed to emulate and create synergies, not bashing.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

» SUSE death FUD spreads

Some article on seems to already spread its wings of FUD. Already seen it on some dutch IT newssite (don't remember the URL) and Granted, the latter is known for being anti-Linux and anything but a reliable source of information but nevertheless... Kurt Pfeifle just wrote some of his speculations on, without any link to a source of information, official statement or anything. I'd say Kurt is upset because a KDE developer has been laid off by Novell. Kurt, you just qualified for some ass-kicking here. Not very professional from linuxtoday either to just publish rubbish like that. No proof, no official statement, no double check, nothing. Marcus Meissner has commented on to clarify the situation: read his post here.