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October 1st, 2010

Friday Foss Week in Review: Vive le OpenOffice Libre!

There’s certainly not a lack of things to report on this week. As usual, some is good, some is not-so-good and some is enough to make you downright paranoid.

We’ll start with some good news:

LibreOffice Off and Running

Last week we got the news that many if not most of the development folks at OpenOffice.org have decided not to wait to see what Oracle will do, but have exercised their rights under to GPL to create LibreOffice. The new organization running the show is The Document Foundation.


Although they’re insisting that LibreOffice, based on the OpenOffice.org code, isn’t a fork, at least not yet, the waiting game has begun. Oracle, OpenOffice’s new keeper-of-the-code, has been invited to be a part of the LibreOffice team, and we’re all waiting with baited breath to see if they’ll sign-up.

My guess is that they’ll not only not sign-on to be part of the project, but that they’ll ignore it completely for the time being. In the meantime, Red Hat and Ubuntu have both indicated that we can expect to see LibreOffice, and not OpenOffice, in it’s distros as soon as there’s a ready-for-prime-time release, which should happen by the end of the year. A beta version is available now for Linux, Mac and Windows.

This can be nothing but good news for everyone who uses the office productivity suite. For years, under Sun’s management, developers have complained about the frustratingly slow pace of development of the project. Freed from Sun, and now Oracle, maybe we can get on a “release early, release often” schedule.

Firefox Nixes iPhone

On Tuesday the folks at Mozilla pretty much ended any speculation on when the Firefox browser might be available for the iPhone. According to a blog on the Mozilla web site the answer is never, although development will continue on Firefox Home, a cloud-based app that enables users to access Firefox data from the iPhone.

“…People have asked about adding more browser-like features to Firefox Home, but there are technical and logistical restrictions that make it difficult, if not impossible, to build the full Firefox browser for the iPhone…”

No news about what this means about Fennec, the Firefox mobile browser that’s planned to run on Android and other mobile platforms.

Developers Prefer Android Over Apple iOS

There’s more good news on the Linux mobile front. Developers are increasingly expressing a preference for Android over the iPhone, according to a survey from application developer tools and services provider Appcelerator and IDC.

An article published yesterday on EnterpriseMobileDay said:

“The September survey found that 58.6 percent of the more than 2,300 mobile app developers queried believe Android has a better long-term outlook compared to 34.9 percent for Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS platform.

“More concerning for Apple fans, this divergence of opinion has grown considerably since the last time developers were polled in June when 54 percent of developers favored Google’s mobile OS compared to 40.4 percent for iOS.

“Seventy-two percent of developers surveyed said they believe Android is ‘best positioned to power a large number and variety of connected devices in the future,’ compared to just 35 percent of developers who think Apple iOS is better positioned in the fast-growing mobile device and application market.”

This probably isn’t news to many in the FOSS world.

Android Apps Caught “Stealing” Data

It wasn’t all good news for Android this week, however. It seems that some Android applications have been detected sending private data home to mama, according to a study conducted by Duke University, Penn State University, and Intel Labs:

“They used TaintDroid to test 30 popular free Android applications selected at random from the Android market and found that half were sending private information to advertising servers, including the user’s location and phone number. In some cases, they found that applications were relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as frequently as every 30 seconds, even when not displaying advertisements. These findings raise concern about the extent to which mobile platforms can insulate users from unwanted invasions of privacy.”

Although these instances, upon investigation, seem to pretty much mimic what happens through cookies on desktops, it does raise a few security and privacy concerns.

Stay tuned…

Microsoft Turning Bloggers over to WordPress

If you’re blogging on Microsoft’s Live Spaces service, you’ve evidently got six months to migrate your blog to WordPress.com, according to the folks at The H Open:

“Microsoft is to close down its Live Spaces blogging service (launched six-years ago as MSN Spaces). Space’s (according to Microsoft) 30 million users are to be ‘upgraded’ to WordPress’ free blogging software.”

Microsoft “will integrate a piece of Microsoft software to enable users to inform contacts of new blog entries through Windows Live Messenger.”

I seriously doubt that this will affect many visitors to FOSS Force. Not many of us use MS products unless we absolutely have to, is my guess.

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That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you Monday. Until then, may the FOSS be with you…

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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