Category Archives: Open Source

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Install LibreOffice on Ubuntu and Debian-based Distros

Want to install the new LibreOffice on Ubuntu or a Debian-based distribution? Although the Document Foundation doesn’t yet offer .deb binaries for these distros, you can use the provided .rpm packages to install LibreOffice on a machine running Ubuntu or Debian. To do this, you need to convert .rpm packages to .deb using the alien tool. To install alien on Ubuntu, run the sudo apt-get install alien command. Grab then the latest release of LibreOffice from the project’s Web site, unpack the downloaded .tar.gz archive, rename the resulting directory to libreoffice, and move it into your home directory. Launch the terminal, and switch to the RPMS directory and use alien to convert all .rpm packages in the directory:

cd libreoffice/RPMS/

sudo alien -k *.rpm

Install then the resulting .deb packages using the following command:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

This installs the productivity suite, but it doesn’t provide any desktop integration. Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. Switch to the desktop-integration directory and convert the libreoffice3.3-freedesktop-menus-3.3-9526.noarch.rpm package:

cd desktop-integration/

alien -k libreoffice3.3-freedesktop-menus-3.3-9526.noarch.rpm

Install then the converted package using the sudo dpkg -i libreoffice3.3-freedesktop-menus_3.3-9526_all.deb command. This adds LibreOffice menu entries to the Applications | Office menu and integrates LibreOffice with your desktop.

By Dmitri Popov

Tuxpaint: hook ’em on open source graphics while they’re young

Tuxpaint is an open source graphics program that occupies a special niche: it is designed for children. This makes it a rarity in the software community known for every developer scratching his or her own itch. Thankfully there are developers reaching out of their comfort zone to write applications for those too young to learn Bash and Python on their own — without that effort, kids might not get exposed to free software until they took programming. If you have never looked at it, Tuxpaint deserves some attention, both because it is a great product for kids, and because it may make you rethink the approaches we take to user interfaces. On top of that, there are some intriguing raster graphics functions hidden behind that seemingly simple interface….

by Nathan Willis

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Photography with Open Source / Linux

Photography on the free software desktop has come a long way in recent years. All of the major desktop environments support camera import and provide image management and editing applications, including the all-important raw file conversion. But the desktop defaults are really geared towards casual users, optimized for point-and-shoot cameras and sharing photos online. Don’t be fooled by that, though; open source can and does offer the tools to support professional photographers and high-end enthusiasts.

Rather than drop in a long, bulleted list of applications, though, let’s take a look at what the open source alternatives are, task-by-task, to get a better feel for how the pieces fit together into a normal photographic workflow.

by Nathan Willis

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Say hello to the Web Open Font Format

When Firefox 3.6 was released on January 21, nestled in alongside all of its other new features was support for a new font specification, the Web Open Font Format (WOFF). WOFF is designed to better meet the needs of Web designers as they build sites with typography that outshines what is provided by the same old “Web safe” faces (Helvetica, Arial, Time New Roman, and the like). While CSS3 can link-in fonts in any format, WOFF fonts save considerable space — and thus bandwidth — compared to TrueType and OpenType.

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Generating labels and business cards in

Despite the fact that open source has specialty label-and-business-card programs like gLabels and capable desktop publishing apps like Scribus, most general office users are going to continue to create their documents in the word processor of the office suite they feel the most comfortable in, like Writer. It is certainly a good choice, too; it provides design wizards that simplify creating print-ready documents for standard label templates, and OpenOffice’s mail merge backend is quite powerful.

by Nathan Willis

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Prototyping with Pencil (FireFox add-on)

User interface prototyping is supposed to be a creative discipline, where the tools don’t get in the way, so you can place your ideas on the screen just like you would draw them freehand on the back of a napkin. Up until recently, however, there was not a high quality open source UI prototyper, so designers were left with the less-than-optimal workflow of creating mockups in Inkscape or the Gimp, or else forced to use proprietary web applications that limited storage or added watermarks. Those days are in the past, though, thanks to Pencil.

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Periodic table of the open source graphics and design apps

Are you ever overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of open source software projects produced by the community? Even when looking at just a subset — such as graphics applications — if you are not already familiar with the options, the volume can make it hard to track down the application that fits your needs. The major categories tend to break down the same way, however — just a few major players; the large projects often catering to slightly different design goals, and a second set of smaller projects each of which has a smaller team and a more narrow focus.

Let’s examine each design field in turn. We’ll start by describing the leading program or programs in each, followed by the smaller or younger projects, and end with the special-purpose tools.

by Nathan Willis  Continue reading

Classy Stickers for digiKam Lovers Giveaway (Update)

digiKam Sticker

Using open source software? Then we have something for you. In collaboration with the open source community, we’ve designed some classy stickers you can use to spice up your notebook or netbook and show the world your support for open source software. The stickers are based on some original designs, so you won’t find them anywhere else.

The stickers are printed on high-quality vinyl labels from World Label that are both waterproof and smudge-resistant.

The first set of stickers is designed for digiKam users. If you use this powerful photo management application to process and organize your photos, you have a chance to win 5 sheets (18 stickers each) featuring our original design.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment to this post (don’t forget to include your email address), and we’ll pick a winner on Monday, July 16.

If you don’t win, there is no reason to despair: in the spirit of open source, the sticker design and template [PDF] are also 100 percent open source, so you can print the stickers yourself. And you can buy labels for that from us!


And the winner is…

Well, first of all, thank you all for participating in the giveaway. It’s nice to see that so many people use digiKam for processing and managing photos. The lucky winner of the giveaway is Kanwar Plaha. We will contact you shortly to arrange the shipment. We also decided to give a single sheet to another three participants: Simon Slater, Edney Matias, Thomas Damgaard. Expect an email in your inbox soon. Once
again, thank you all for participating, and check back later for more exciting giveaways!

Become a typeface pro with Fontmatrix

Fontmatrix is a free/libre font explorer for Linux, Windows and Mac

Casual computer users often give little thought to fonts, but once you starting working on design — from your web site to your stationary needs, you soon begin to appreciate the positive effects a good typeface can have on branding and marketing. The trouble comes when you start to collect more fonts on your system than you can keep track of in your head. Worse yet, most operating systems attempt to manage fonts for you in an all-or-nothing fashion, through which large collections can slow down application speed, in addition to being tiresome to scroll through. The solution is a good font manager, like the open source Fontmatrix.

by Nathan Willis

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Using SVG Templates – Design

In this tutorial we will look at application support for creating high-quality designs using Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) templates. SVG offers some unique opportunities over several of the other popular file formats in which templates are found. Most notably, SVG is vector-based, so it scales smoothly to every conceivable resolution — but unlike other vector formats (such as PDF), it is designed to be edited in any image editor, making it a good fit for your office workflow.

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