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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Mon, 27 Apr 2015

The Latvian-coded ONLYOFFICE adds document server for Linux

The new onlyoffice.org page for the self-hosted version of the software

In my first entry about ONLYOFFICE, which is both a software-as-a-service offering you can purchase for individuals or teams and software you can install on your Linux system via traditional package or Docker containers, a key piece of the puzzle was missing.

That piece was the "document server," which allows users to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations through the web browser in real time.

As of April 20, ONLYOFFICE is offering Document Server 3.0 to make that happen.

And to separate out the hosted service from the community edition, there are now separate web sites at http://onlyoffice.com and http://onlyoffice.org

Also announced that day are Mail Server 1.0, and Community Server 8.5.0.

And according to the blog post, you can get it all in one bundle.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 02 Apr 2015

Have you heard of ONLYOFFICE? It's like Google Docs, only it's not from Google ... and you might be able to run your own instance

How could I have missed ONLYOFFICE? If not for this How to Forge article on installing it, I would have never known that it existed as a hosted alternative to Google Docs/Spreadsheets or that you can self-host the software, though I'm not sure how functional the roll-your-own version is at this point.

The air leaves the balloon when I see this line:

*Online Document Editors aren't included into the Community Server solution and will be available soon as a separate installation, however now you can download the previous version.

Without the "online document editors," what's left?

I certainly want to try ONLYOFFICE on their hosted service. The world is crying out for collaborative tools that aren't controlled by Google/Apple/Microsoft.

At my day job, we've been using Slack to collaborate and mostly cut down on email. Probably half the attraction is that Slack is not part of a massive corporate entity.

Any of the biggies -- Google, Microsoft, Apple -- could have done what Slack is doing. They still could. It's pretty simple. And that's one of the main reasons why Slack is so compelling. I expect Slack to do much more as time goes on. I also expect somebody big to make an offer to buy Slack outright.

Like Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, Slack is a hosted service. It has to stay that way to monetize. Or so it seems.

Companies like mine are happy to use hosted services. We are deep in Google (Docs/Drive/Mail). A large part of the attraction is not having to host, troubleshoot or maintain the software or the servers. Many companies large and small don't think of IT as part of their core business and would rather farm it out to Google, Amazon or Microsoft (and often all three). Or it comes down to cost. The cloud can be cheaper. Or at least those costs are consistent.

But there are other people, entities and companies that desperately want to host and run their own services and keep everything under local control.

Just because it's a cloud world doesn't mean we don't want our own cloud (even if OwnCloud isn't quite the way to do it).

If ONLYOFFICE lives up to the hype, it could be a player for those who want to collaborate using web-based apps while retaining total control over their work.

This just in: There are forums for the hosted ONLYOFFICE and the self-hosted version.

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020: The 2015 edition

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020 has been a battle since forever. It used to be easier.

Back in Fedora 19, it really did just work. Same with older versions of Debian. (Can you tell I've had this printer a long, long time? It was cheap. It is small. It still works.)

But since Fedora 20 (and into Fedora 21, and other Linux distributions, as a trip around the web will confirm), it's been hell to get this printer to work.

That's because HP cheaped out with the LaserJet 1020 and didn't put the necessary firmware on board. You have to load that firmware with every print.

Linux should be able to handle this. Hell, HP's own HPLIP utility should be able to handle it.

No and no.

The printer shows up as a USB device, but neither CUPS nor HPLIP acknowledges its existence.

Every few months or so, I try again. I re-Google and look for clues. I go back and try things again.

Today I came upon Mark911's How to install printer drivers for HP Laserjet 1020 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit without needing access to openprinting.org website and without using buggy hplip drivers. (That title is even longer than my titles ...)

It basically says, "Get rid of HPLIP, don't use the foo2zjs driver with your distro, and instead go to the source, compile it yourself, add the firmware and go to town.

So I did just that. I went to http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/. First I used my favorite Fedora package manager, Yumex, to get rid of HPLIP and foo2zjs (the latter from RPM Fusion, if I'm correct).

During the process, I also had to get rid of system-config-printer-udev to get hot-plugging set up.

I downloaded the foo2zjs source from http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/, followed the instructions for compiling it, getting the HP LaserJet 1020 firmware, configuring hotplugging and restarting the CUPS spooler.

Then I started Fedora's system-config-printer GUI (which you can start from the menu as Administration - Print Settings or at the console with system-config-printer, sent out a test page, which worked (!!!), and the proceeded to print a document out of gedit, which also worked.

The question now is, will this loveliness survive a reboot?

Later: This configuration does survive a reboot. And a suspend/resume.

SELinux trouble?: If SELinux throws an error when you plug in your USB printer, follow the utility's instructions for allowing an exception for your printer.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015

Reddit: Why do developers choose OS X over Linux?

If you're wondering why real-life developers (and I suppose primarily web developers) who happen to hang out on Reddit often choose OS X over Linux for their laptop/desktop operating system, read this lengthy Reddit thread, which Jim Lynch brought to my attention.

Especially due to the large number of comments, it provides a very interesting snapshot of why a given developer chooses one platform or another.

Since you can now embed Reddit comments in your HTML, I'll provide a few samples:

There are 500+ more comments over at Reddit, and the thread is well worth reading.

My $.02

  • I neither need nor can afford the Adobe Creative Suite. I use GIMP, Inkscape, Gthumb, Irfanview under Wine, OpenShot (and I hope to pick up KDEnlive).
  • If I needed Microsoft Office, I could run it under Wine or in a VM. (Now I do most things in Google Docs/Spreadsheets or LibreOffice, if not in a local text editor)
  • I am a Linux hobbyist, and meeting the little challenges required to set up a computer with Linux is something that I enjoy. Yes, I'm probably a glutton for punishment. And things are never as smooth as billed in the "other" OSes (Windows and OS X).
  • There will always be Linux distributions that will work on my hardware and have timely security and bug-fix support. Windows is OK at this, but Apple sucks hard by orphaning hardware with no regrets (on their part, anyway).
  • I love coherent, systemwide package management and vast software repositories.

But

  • If my work required an Adobe-type proprietary application or three, I'd have to run them on OS X or Windows. I would do that if I had to.
  • Even though, as I mention above, I'm a self-proclaimed Linux hobbyist, going months and months on hardware without checking off all of my "it works" boxes can be disheartening.

That said, my laptop price point is ~ $500, and that's well below anything Apple offers.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015

Test your (or any) web site’s availability with Apache’s ab utility

Buried in this blog post is a great tip: Using the Apache web server utility ab to determine web site availability and speed.

Definitely check out the post (which is about hosting static sites on Amazon S3), and if you are interested, install ab, which comes bundled for Debian/Ubuntu-style Linux systems in apache2-utils and for Fedora/RHEL/CentOS-style systems in httpd-tools.

The article linked above gives you the command to install apache2-utils in Ubuntu/Debian, and I could provide a similar yum command for Fedora/CentOS, but you probably already know how to install packages both from the command line and a GUI, right?

(I'm not sure how you'd get the Apache utilities in Mac OS X or Windows -- maybe someone else knows.)

Once you have the appropriate package installed (I already had it and didn't even know it), you just run the ab program from a terminal. This line hits my site with 1,000 requests:

$ ab -n 1000 -c 40 http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog

And the output is:

This is ApacheBench, Version 2.3 <$Revision: 1604373 $>
Copyright 1996 Adam Twiss, Zeus Technology Ltd, http://www.zeustech.net/
Licensed to The Apache Software Foundation, http://www.apache.org/

Benchmarking stevenrosenberg.net (be patient)
Completed 100 requests
Completed 200 requests
Completed 300 requests
Completed 400 requests
Completed 500 requests
Completed 600 requests
Completed 700 requests
Completed 800 requests
Completed 900 requests
Completed 1000 requests
Finished 1000 requests


Server Software:        nginx/1.6.2
Server Hostname:        stevenrosenberg.net
Server Port:            80

Document Path:          /blog
Document Length:        309 bytes

Concurrency Level:      40
Time taken for tests:   4.828 seconds
Complete requests:      1000
Failed requests:        0
Non-2xx responses:      1000
Total transferred:      530000 bytes
HTML transferred:       309000 bytes
Requests per second:    207.14 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       193.109 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       4.828 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          107.21 [Kbytes/sec] received

Connection Times (ms)
              min  mean[+/-sd] median   max
Connect:       71   82  32.9     76    1077
Processing:    76  106  31.6     96     431
Waiting:       76  105  29.9     96     282
Total:        148  188  46.7    182    1157

Percentage of the requests served within a certain time (ms)
  50%    182
  66%    189
  75%    199
  80%    209
  90%    232
  95%    259
  98%    283
  99%    312
 100%   1157 (longest request)

That's a pretty useful utility, am I right?

Note: So how did Ode do in this test? Very well. The site carries Javascript for Disqus and the Twitter and Google Plus counters, so it's not as light as it could be, and the speeds are no slower than for my entirely static sites on this same shared-hosting server.

And it also shows that Ode can easily handle 1,000 simultaneous requests. Not bad at all.