Linux Top 3: KDE 4.10, LibreOffice 4 and Secure Boot Loader Shim
The Linux desktop has long been about two key items, the actual desktop environment and the apps that run on it. This past week saw major advances in both fronts.
1) KDE 4.10
KDE 4.10 isn't just another of the regularly released updates from KDE that we've all grown accustomed too. This is not just bug fixes and stability, KDE 4.10 is about a whole new level of stability and performance on the Linux desktop.
The cornerstone usage of Qt Quick for Plasma is at the heart of KDE 4.10. KDE has always relied on Qt, but the progression to Qt Quick opens up new modularity for the platform.
"The expanded use of Qt Quick provides substantial benefits for developers," the KDE 4.10 release announcement states. "Many components have been updated to use Qt Quick exclusively in their user interfaces."
2) LibreOffice 4
Just as KDE has made a name for itself among loyal users for regular incremental updates, so too had LibreOffice.
LibreOffice 4.0 is also very much like KDE 4.10 in that it is an evolutionary step forward at a deep architectural level. As opposed to extending the legacy of the OpenOffice.org project that it was forked from, LibreOffice has carved its own path. It's a path that involved a tremendous amount of code refactoring and cleanup in order to make LibreOffice quicker and more stable.
Going on its own path, LibreOffice 4 introduces CMIS support, enabling a degree of collaboration with other tools including Sharepoint, Alfresco, OpenText among others. Secure boot
"LibreOffice 4.0 is a milestone in interoperability and an excellent foundation for our continued work to improve the User Interface," Florian Effenberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors at The Document Foundation said in a statement. "Our project is not only capable of attracting new developers on a regular basis, but it also creates a transparent platform for cooperation based on a strong Free Software ethos, where corporate sponsored and volunteer developers work to attain the same objective."
3) Linux Foundation Solves Secure Boot
The Linux Foundation this past week released its solution for the Microsoft Secure Boot issue. There a few differences between the Linux Foundation's approach and the Shim approach first advocated by Matthew Garrett
"One of the primary functional differences between Shim and the LF loader is that the LF loader is based around cryptographic hashes rather than signing keys," Garrett blogged. "This means that the user has to explicitly add a hash to the list of permitted binaries whenever a distribution updates their bootloader or kernel. Doing that involves being physically present at the machine, so it's kind of a pain."
As it turns out there is some potential synergy between the Shim and LF loader approaches. Linux kernel developer James Bottomley who lead the development of the Linux Foundation's Loader noted that the foundation is currently investigating merging the two approaches.
"The main sticking point is the validity of the security override protocol," Bottomley commented. "I released this version to see if it worked for everyone or if there was a reported problem with it."