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Article from Issue 209/2018

In the news: LibreOffice 6.0 released; Red Hat acquires CoreOS; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 beta out; Torvalds Is not happy with Intel’s patch, calls it garbage; and more than 2,000 WordPress sites infected by malware. 

LibreOffice 6.0 Released

The Document Foundation announced the release of LibreOffice 6.0, the biggest release of the fully open source office suite since LibreOffice 5.x was released in 2016.

One of the biggest improvements in LibreOffice 6.0 is the introduction of Notebook Bar, a ribbon interface that makes it easier to perform many tasks without having to dig through menus. You can enable the feature from the Advanced settings. The new release offers many different modes that users can choose for their own workflows, including a sidebar and a minimalistic single toolbar.

LibreOffice 6.0 claims to offer better file compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. The release also offers the ability to export documents as ePub, an ebook format. "OOXML interoperability has been improved in several areas: import of SmartArt and import/export of ActiveX controls, support of embedded text documents and spreadsheets, export of embedded videos to PPTX, export of cross-references to DOCX, export of MailMerge fields to DOCX, and improvements to the PPTX filter to prevent the creation of broken files," said Italo Vignoli, one of the cofounders of the Document Foundation.

There is still no release of LibreOffice for mobile platforms that competes with Microsoft Office and Google Docs. LibreOffice Viewer has largely been an app to view documents on mobile devices. But The Document Foundation promises that the upcoming release of LibreOffice Viewer for Android will be able to create new documents. "It will offer a tab-based toolbar with formatting options and will let users add pictures either from the camera or from a file stored locally or in the cloud," said Vignoli.

LibreOffice is available for the cloud through Collabora. LibreOffice 6.x will bring more capabilities to LibreOffice Online. "New features introduced with LibreOffice 6.0 aim to align the functionality of the desktop and cloud versions, especially in areas where users expect similar behavior," said Vignoli.

Collabora offers Collabora Online Developer Edition (CODE), a free of cost solution that's based on the latest version of LibreOffice. Users can run it on their own servers with other open source solutions, like Nextcloud for storage. Collabora also offers a paid version of LibreOffice Online as part of its Collabora Cloudsuite.

LibreOffice 6.0 is available for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows (https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/).

Red Hat Acquires CoreOS

Red Hat has acquired CoreOS, one of the most innovative players in the Kubernetes and container space, for $250 million. The acquisition was completed in January 2018, making it the first acquisition of Red Hat in 2018.

Red Hat and CoreOS are among the top contributors of the Kubernetes project. The developers of the two companies have already been working together, and now they will work under the same umbrella.

The flagship product of CoreOS is Tectonic, a fully upstream distribution of Kubernetes that automates operational tasks, enables platform portability, and supports multicluster management. Red Hat already has a container application platform called OpenShift that brings Docker and Kubernetes to enterprise customers for orchestration and management of containers.

Tectonic, along with other CoreOS open source projects, will strengthen Red Hat's container technologies. More importantly, Red Hat now employs some of the brightest people in the Kubernetes world. CoreOS has been a very disruptive company in the distributed systems space. CoreOS introduced Container Linux, a Linux distribution designed for containerized workloads. Red Hat responded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host (RHEL Atomic Host), a variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (RHEL Server) designed and optimized to run Linux Containers. Now Red Hat has become the owner of Container Linux, just the way they own CentOS, an open source project that once competed with Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the server space.

CoreOS has been instrumental in the creation of container image and run-time specification. They came out with rkt, a competitor of Docker Engine to solve security-related concerns around Docker Engine. Docker later addressed these concerns by creating containerd and donating it to CNCF as an open source project. CoreOS also created etcd, a distributed key-value store for a distributed system's most critical data.

Another widely used product from CoreOS is Clair, an open source project for the static analysis of vulnerabilities in application containers (currently including appc and Docker). All of these are fully open source projects that are used widely by the companies in the container space.

CoreOS joins the growing list of companies that Red Hat has acquired in the last couple of years to bring cloud native technologies to the company. In 2017, Red Hat acquired Codenvy, a provider of cloud-native development tools, and Permabit Technology Corporation, a provider of software for data deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Beta Out

Red Hat has announced the beta of RHEL 7.5, which supports alternative architectures, with variants available for IBM Power, IBM z System, and ARM deployments, as well as x86.

Security is certainly the key highlight of this release. Red Hat said in a press release that RHEL 7.5 beta comes with security improvements and usability enhancements for cloud and remotely hosted systems that can more securely unlock Network Bound Disk Encrypted devices at boot time, designed to eliminate the need for manual intervention in an often inconveniently timed boot process.

This release also integrates Red Hat Ansible Automation with OpenSCAP, which enhances the ease of automating the remediation of compliance issues and enables administrators to scale policies across their environment more efficiently.

RHEL 7.5 beta also improves compliance for accurate timestamping and synchronization needs with the addition of failover with bonding interfaces for Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and Network Time Protocol (NTP).

RHEL 7.5 Beta enhances usability for Linux administrators, Windows administrators new to the platform, and developers seeking self-service capabilities along with an easier-to-use cockpit administrator console. The console is designed to simplify the interface for managing storage, networking, containers, services, and more for individual systems.

Sys admins will love the automated creation of a "known-good" bootable snapshot to help speed recovery and rollback after patching, helping IT teams feel more confident that their systems are in working order.

Users can download the beta for testing (https://access.redhat.com/downloads/).

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