Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

A first look at Gnumeric 1.0

Wow! Is the best spreadsheet on any platform Gnumeric?

(LinuxWorld) -- There are two types of projects in the collaborative world of free software and open source: those that need excuses for their performance and/or behavior and those that don't. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about one that does. My inbox afterwards provided DNA evidence of that fact.

This week I'm writing about the other kind. A project that has no need of excuses for anything. A project that recently released its 1.0 version, and one that may very well be jousting for the Best of Breed title for its genre in the future. And not just in the free/open source world. The application is a spreadsheet. The project is Gnumeric.

Miguel de Icaza began the Gnumeric project in 1998. Although he is no longer a part of the development team, he is very proud of its recent 1.0 release. de Icaza told me recently, "I have always been proud of Gnumeric, because it was probably the best code I had written and it was written with maintainability and clarity of the code in mind."

From the beginning, de Icaza has held to the notion that free software should be more than cool, more than cult-like. He wants it to be accessible to the rest of the world, not just ubergeeks: to students, to business people, to anyone who has need of it.

One way to make Linux more accessible to more people is to provide Linux users the tools they need for their day-to-day work. Like a full-featured spreadsheet, for example. de Icaza said, "Since the very early days I decided that Gnumeric should clone Excel: the idea was to attract Excel users to it, rather than using Gnumeric as a research tool."

And clone Excel it slowly has, copying feature for feature, function for function. That hasn't made the project less innovative. As de Icaza noted, "We did use Gnumeric to deploy a bunch of new technologies in Gnome... Gnumeric was the first to use the Gnome Canvas (indeed, it was built around it), Gnome Print, and eventually Bonobo. It also was the test bed for Gnome Basic for a long time."

When de Icaza and Nat Friedman formed Ximian, Inc. (originally called Helix Code) a couple of years ago, it was driven by that same idea: free software should be accessible to the masses. Suddenly the ultra cool GNOME environment was available to all. No more long and twisting road for installation. No more chants and magic spells required when doing maintenance. However, Ximian also began to take more of De Icaza's time. When the Mono project came up, he decided it was time to pass the baton for Gnumeric on to somebody else.

That's where Jody Goldberg and Morten Welinder come in. de Icaza credits them with the successful 1.0 launch. Goldberg picked up responsibility as the lead hacker for Gnumeric as de Icaza moved on to other things. Welinder has continued to one of the project's major contributors. The change in leadership wasn't an overnight thing. Goldberg explained, "One of the beauties of open source development is that a transition like this can be done very smoothly. I eased into maintainership over a span of 9-12 months."

According to one project insider, Goldberg took over when the project was "at the level of don't breathe hard on it, or it will crash." Now that 1.0 is finally out the door, I asked Goldberg what he thought of it.

I would really like to emphasize its stability. There are those that will be put off by the 1.0 label. Gnumeric is not your average proprietary program is not really be stable until v3.1. Nor is it a quick project that pops up on freshmeat with a nifty Web site and releases v0.9 after a few weeks. This is 3.5 years of work, approximately 80 releases, with several months of testing and a large regression suite.

Of course, the king of Spreadsheet Hill is still Microsoft Excel. I asked Goldberg how Gnumeric 1.0 compares. He said, "The main Gnumeric developers are all serious spreadsheet users looking for a way to get their work done. Several of us work in finance with MS Excel, which is tremendously powerful as long as it doesn't break. When it does, you are up a creek. Our goal with 1.0 was to produce enough functionality that day-to-day users can get their work done, while developing a solid framework for future use. I think we've succeeded."

I had problems installing Gnumeric 1.0 on my Mandrake 8.1 system. Ditto on Debian Potato. I know that others have successfully installed it on both those distributions, but for whatever reasons, I failed to do so. I did get it to install on Red Hat 7.2 quickly and easily, however. Here is how I did it.

From a fresh 7.2 installation, I updated the distribution with all the latest security and bug fixes via the Red Hat Network. Next, I installed the Ximian desktop via their free download. With an upgrade to the Ximian Red Carpet premium service, I grabbed the latest offerings for the Ximian GNOME desktop and installed them. By the way, the premium service really provides nice bandwidth. I was seeing 240 kilobytes per second -- about the max I can get on RoadRunner cable -- versus the roughly 16 kilobytes per second I normally get from Ximian.

That left me with Gnumeric .7x installed. I went to the RpmFind site (the URL is given in Resources below) and searched for gnumeric, finding a Red Hat Rawhide rpm for version 1.0.1. It downloaded and installed without a single complaint. The graphing function still didn't want to work, however. A quick look at the Gnumeric manual told me that I needed a later version of Guppi, the GNOME framework for graphing and interactive data analysis. Back to RpmFind, where I found and downloaded another Red Hat Rawhide rpm of the required level.

When I attempted to install the new Guppi, rpm complained that Gnucash (the cool Linux Quickcash substitute) depended on the older version. Since I haven't yet started using Gnucash, I forced the issue by telling rpm --nodeps and installed the newer version. As you can see from the chart below, showing predicted desktop market shares, graphing works!

Gnumeric 1.0.1

If you are intimidated by installing Gnumeric 1.0 on your own, that's ok. All the major distributions will be including it in future releases, and it will be folded into the Ximian GNOME desktop shortly. Version 1.0.1 came out shortly after the 1.0 release to fix a bug that caused it to crash. Early reports on the 1.0.1 version are that it is hard to crash, it is faster than Star Office, faster than Kspread, but still slower than Excel. Finally, its users tell me it scales well and provides most functionality required for heavy-duty spreadsheet work.

According to Goldberg, there is still a lot of work to do: porting to GNOME 2.0, rewriting portions for clarity and speed, and adding new functionality. He says the big four on the improvement list are auto-filters, pivot tables, graph export for XLS files, and the selection of a scripting language. Given the maturity, experience, and both the financial and coding expertise of the Gnumeric team, it's only a matter of time until I report that the best spreadsheet available anywhere is not Excel, but a free software project called Gnumeric.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.