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Linux 3, LibreOffice and Firefox Advance as Adobe Falls Behind

  • June 21, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

If the kernel is the heart of Linux, then key applications like LibreOffice and Firefox are its arms and legs. This week, all parts of the Linux Planet body of work were in motion as development pushed forward on Linux 3.0 and Firefox 5, and LibreOffice announced its advisory board.

1. Linux rc3

In any given Linux kernel release cycle there can be five or more release candidates. For the Linux 3.0 cycle this past week, Linus Torvalds issued rc3, providing a number of driver updates including, one for Radeon graphics cards. There are also updates to the btrfs, nilfs and ceph filesystems.

With any given Linux kernel release candidate there are also a long list of comments about things that don't work or that need fixing. Some of the time, Linus Torvalds agrees, but not always.

For the Linux 3.0 -rc3 release, one commenter noted he had a problem with the new versioning number not correctly parsing the new Linux 3.0 version number. Torvalds wasn't too impressed.

"The projects that care about kernel version are buggy in so many ways that it's not funny," Torvalds wrote.

Torvalds argued that if a project is unable to parse the version number, it should not trigger a fail. Instead, it's preferable to remove a version check entirely, and if that's not possible, adjust the logic so it doesn't trigger a fail for modern versions of Linux.

"In other words: Don't be stupid," Torvalds wrote.

Whoever said that the Linux kernel development process isn't helpful and educational for all?

2. The Document Foundation Names an Advisory Board

The Document Foundation's LibreOffice started off as a fork of the Oracle-led OpenOffice.org effort. This past week, The Document Foundation took solid steps forward to firmly establish its own presence with an advisory board and a new stable release.

The advisory board includes Google, SUSE, Red Hat, Freies Office Deutschland e.V., Software in the Public Interest, and the Free Software Foundation. This is a solid list of big names in the open source and Linux world. It shows that the two biggest enterprise Linux vendors continue to support LibreOffice.

The continued support of Linux vendors and others like Google is critical to the survival of LibreOffice. While Oracle's OpenOffice had more than its fair share of issues, Oracle has since moved the project to Apache. As an Apache project, OpenOffice has already been backed by IBM.

Yet despite the potential Apache renaissance of OpenOffice, LibreOffice pushes forward. Time will tell how the advice of the Linux vendors and others help to grow LibreOffice and keep it a viable and essential part of the Linux landscape.

3. Adobe AIR Gives Up on Linux

While 2011 to date has been a vibrant year for the Linux desktop, with new innovations in the form of GNOME 3 and Unity, not everyone sees the promise of desktop Linux moving forward.

Adobe this past week, threw in the towel on its own supported effort to provide its AIR technology to Linux users. The issue for Adobe wasn't about Linux as a technology though.

The issue for Adobe was about the market adoption of the Linux desktop and, more specifically, adoption of its AIR technology by the market of Linux users.

"Our own desktop Linux releases have accounted for less than 0.5 percent of lifetime AIR downloads," Adobe's Mark Hopper wrote this week.

For its part, Adobe claims it will make a Linux porting kit for AIR available to interested parties who can then choose to make a Linux version of AIR. Adobe's dismissal of Linux likely will serve as yet another call by Linux desktop users to avoid Adobe. Adobe's track record with supporting Linux has never been particularly strong, and this latest incident will serve to caution Linux users about trusting Adobe.

4. LexisNexis Joins Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation has had a banner year so far attracting members. The latest company to join is LexisNexis.

What is particularly interesting about the LexisNexis move is that it is being accompanied by a major open source code donation as well. LexisNexis announced that it is open sourcing its High Performance Computing Cluster (HPCC)

HPCC is a rival technology to Apache Hadoop, which is used by Google, Yahoo and Facebook among others. With HPCC and its Linux Foundation membership, LexisNexis is making a very attractive technology open and available to the open source and Linux communities.

While it's still a bit too early to understand what impact HPCC will have on Hadoop, the bottom line is that choice is always a good thing.

5. Firefox 5

On the desktop, many Linux users spend a lot of their time in a web browser that more often than not is Mozilla Firefox.

Thanks to a new rapid release cycle, Mozilla Firefox 5 will be officially release on June 21st, marking the fastest turnaround between major Mozilla Firefox releases ever. Firefox 4 was just released at the end of March after 12 betas and more than nine months of development.

The new Firefox 5.0 release offers under-the-hood improvements to HTTP handling, CSS, performance and overall stability.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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