LibreOffice 5.1 released with redesigned user interface

Also in today's open source roundup: The fight for open source software in the Air Force, and a Verge editor's mom falls in love with a Chromebook Pixel

LibreOffice 5.1 released with redesigned user interface

LibreOffice 5.1 released

LibreOffice has long been an important productivity tool for Linux users. And now version 5.1 of LibreOffice is finally available. The new version offers a revised interface and other notable new features that should please any Linux user.

Marius Nestor reports for Softpedia:

After being in development for the last three months or so, LibreOffice 5.1 comes today to a desktop environment near you with some of the most attractive features you've ever seen in an open-source office suite software product, no matter the operating system used. With this new stable release, the LibreOffice office suite becomes the number one free office suite for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows systems.

The release highlights of LibreOffice 5.1 include a redesigned user interface for improved ease of use, better interoperability with OOXML files, support for reading and writing files on cloud servers, enhanced support for the ODF 1.2 file format, as well as additional Spreadsheet functions and features. Of course, there are also a lot of under-the-hood improvements that we've already covered in a previous article.

Taking a closer look at the new features implemented in LibreOffice 5.1, we can notice a completely reorganized graphical user interface that makes it more convenient and faster for users to access the software's commonly used features. There's now a new menu for each of LibreOffice's core components, such as Calc, Impress, Draw, and Writer. Furthermore, many of the menu commands and icons have been repositioned.

Interoperability with proprietary formats is again one of the most requested features for the open-source office suite, and LibreOffice 5.1 promises to add better support for documents created with proprietary office products, including Microsoft Office 2016 and Apple Keynote 6. Sheets created with the open-source Gnumeric spreadsheet editor are also better supported in LibreOffice 5.1.

More at Softpedia

Why one man fought for open source software in the Air Force

These days we tend to take the success and popularity of open source software for granted, but years ago open source software was not welcomed or appreciated by some organizations. One man recently shared the details of his fight for open source software in the Air Force.

John Allison reports for

It is important to understand that at this point in time, open source software was not popular in the U.S. government, and it was often misunderstood by key decision makers. The DoD has a policy that everything purchased must be supportable, which is a good thing. For software, this means there must be a way to fix bugs and other issues—especially in regards to security—in a timely manner. Traditionally, this meant using proprietary software that had expensive annual maintenance contracts. This is the model that I was trying to change.

I wasn't alone. There were several outstanding engineers and program managers at Hanscom who were also attempting to incorporate open source into their programs. It was clear to us that open source was the right way to go. We just didn't like the idea of being locked to a vendor that could charge whatever they wanted in the future, or worse, abandon their product on a whim and leave us without support. Our software was used for critical operations, and we thought the risks of proprietary software were too high given that there were open source alternatives.

I wanted an open source solution and faced a fair amount of resistance from our lawyers, management, users, and proprietary vendors. It was a difficult struggle at times, and it wasn't until the DoD published their first official guidance on the use of open source software that we started to gain traction. Finally, in the middle of all of the drama, the DoD leadership issued a policy update explicitly stating that open source software was acceptable as long as there was support for it, and that the support could come in the form of government programmers, if necessary.

This memo was a game changer, but it took more than just a policy update to get momentum to shift toward open source.

More at

How the mom of an editor at The Verge fell in love with a Chromebook Pixel

Chromebooks have proven to be quite popular among some users. But how well would a Chromebook do with the mom of an editor at The Verge? Apparently quite well indeed, and that's surprising since she has always been a big fan of Apple's products.

Nilay Patel reports for The Verge:

The problem: most of the Chromebooks on the market feel cheap. They're generally marketed as secondary computers, so they're made to be inexpensive, and that means almost all of them are made of cheap-feeling plastic. There's nothing wrong with that, but I needed to pass the sleek test. The only viable option was Google's own Chromebook Pixel, which is an amazingly beautiful machine that's ridiculously expensive by most normal standards, because it's a thousand-dollar computer that just runs Chrome. It sounds insane: most tech products that cost a thousand dollars do many, many more things than simply running a web browser. I spent weeks tossing the idea around every chance I got, just to see if it would ever sound less like I was slowly going crazy.

And then I bought my mom a Pixel. And it was one of the best technology purchasing decisions I've ever made.

First, the Pixel is indeed very sleek. And telling my mom that it was Google's computer, and that vanishingly few people would ever have one, certainly upped the cool factor. Eventually she opened the box, and eventually she started using it.

It's a month later and she loves the thing. It's not fighting her, or asking her to learn anything new, or foisting complicated new products on her. There are no apps to update, and no new versions of the OS to install every year. It's just Chrome, doing its thing. And because it's still a thousand-dollar laptop, it's incredibly fast. (Apparently the secret to making Chrome run really well is to totally dedicate a 2.2GHz Core i5 and 8GB of RAM to it.)

More at The Verge

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