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Audio Interview with Jeremy Allison of Samba

Posted in Interview, Samba at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As you probably know, we interviewed Jeremy just after he had left Novell. There is a brand-new audiocast where Jeremy Allison says much more about his departure. Here is a direct link to the audio file, taken from the Linux TechShow.

Opensuse Taken to Task by Ubuntu Linux

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu at 7:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

While many consider Opensuse to be the best distribution out there, others find it difficult and not dependable. There seems to be an increasing number of stories from people whose hardware and habits fail to cope with Opensuse. Then, many of them move to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, which is where plenty of the hype resides and settles nowadays. To present one such story:

Last week, I actually installed Novell’s openSuse 10.2 over Ubuntu. “The grass is greener on the other side” they say. So I thought…boy was I wrong! Not to bad mouth Suse but it failed miserably in speed, stability, and ease of use when compared to Ubuntu. Having tried openSuse and Fedora, I now join the multitude of Linux users in saying that Ubuntu is by far the most user-friendly distribution available.

Here are some more recent stories where Ubuntu beats Opensuse.

With an estimated 8 million users, it seems like somewhat of a bloodbath. Ubuntu had returned to top positions in DistroWatch, but be sure to read our most recent referral to these statistics, which should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Proprietary Open XML Extensions (Already!)

Posted in Apple, Deception, ECMA, Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, VBA at 12:03 am by Shane Coyle

As you are likely aware, Excel 2007 includes a new file format for storing data, well actually it has a few new file formats apparently. And, none of them are OpenDocument, in case you were wondering.

Rob Weir takes Office 2007 for a spin, and has some interesting things to report regarding the file formats being used by Excel 2007.

In addition to the default Open XML file format (.xlsx) that has been added to Office 2007, there is also an additional format called the Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsxm) which contains binary-only data not specified in the ECMA standard. There is also an all-new binary-only format (.xlsb), which Microsoft says provides "optimal performance and backward compatibility" (wasn’t that the point of Open XML?).

The “Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook” option saves as an “xlsxm” extension. It is OOXML plus proprietary Microsoft extensions. These extensions, in the form of binary blob called vbaProject.bin, represent the source code of the macros. This part of the format is not described in the OOXML specification. It does not appear to be a compiled version of the macro. I could reload the document in Excel and restore the original text of my macro, including whitespace and comments. So source code appears to be stored, but in an opaque format that defied my attempts at deciphering it.

(What’s so hard about storing a macro, guys? It’s frickin’ text. How could you you[sic] screw it up? )

This has some interesting consequences. It is effectively a container for source code that not only requires Office to run it, but requires Office to even read it. So you could have your intellectual property in the form of extensive macros that you have written, and if Microsoft one day decides that your copy of Office is not “genuine” you could effectively be locked out of your own source code.

There is also a method to add in additional file formats for saving to, including PDF and Microsoft’s XPS, but there is no native ODF support yet.

Overall, Rob’s experience was a bit buggy, and there was an incident where trying to save to Open XML prompted a message about incompatible features (so much for backward compatibility, hey try the new binary-only format…).

I wonder how Novell OpenOffice.org’s VBA support is going to handle the new binary information in the macro-enabled workbook? Still better than the next MS Office for Mac, I suppose.

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