Another nail in the MS Office Coffin...
Excellent! Full speed ahead, guys!
LibreOffice, the open source office suite created by disaffected Oracle developers, has signed up Advanced Micro Devices to the free software cause and plans to add the chip company's GPU acceleration system to the code base. The Document Foundation (TDF), which produces LibreOffice, already has Intel on-side for silicon and …
StarOffice/OpenOffice.org/Oracle Open Office/LibreOffice do have Base, but from my experience with LibreOffice 4.0, it does have some quirks that Access doesn't have. I tried setting a compound primary key for a table to establish a many-to-many relationship, and LibreOffice just errored out and didn't allow it. I ended up just prototyping a recent database using the SQLite Manager extension in Firefox.
And to be fair to Access, it can connect to a few database backends as well... but why would you want to? Prototyping forms is about the only reason I can think of and was the only reason I've ever tried that... that, and it was part of a class assignment in university. Access can only handle the more appropriate data types and SQL syntax if you do use something like SQL Server as a backend, anyway.
Access was a superb database for single users (secretaries and admin staff) to replace their god awful Excel 'databases'. In 15 years I have not seen a query builder interface that was better for first time users to manage their data than the QBE grid in Access 97.
That's not Access' fault.
People have been doing that since user applications became capable of doing useful stuff on desktops. One place I worked had umpty-something hundred linked spreadsheets in Lotus 123 v3 doing all the financial reporting and budget modelling.
MS Access allows sophisticated business applications to be developed quickly and easily. Admittedly it's not as easy to use as Excel but it does more and is by far the easiest way to develop a powerful database application. I emphasize ease and power, clearly there are more powerful tools like raw SQL and C++.
The fact is that LibraOffice has nothing for this so does not replace MS Office in all cases.
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Libre Office is still painfully slow, especially to load, so I guess this is good news.
Now the team just has to solve the slight issue of mangling every single .doc/.docx file I've ever attempted to open with it! Before the LO apologists arrive and spew some blah blah and Microsoft not respecting standards etc. etc., I've never encountered a problem doing the same when using the free version of Kingsoft Writer.
"Now the team just has to solve the slight issue of mangling every single .doc/.docx file I've ever attempted to open with it!"
Most of the docx/docs I open work ok in my experience, they tend to be short - two to 20 pages and simple in format.
I have problems with docx files that have tables within tables, bonkers made up headings instead of named styles, and any draw/formula objects &c
The tramp: standards for Office docs please. No tables within tables within tables, use named styles, use a sensible range of fonts!
> Exactly, I write with whatever, but I exchange as PDF with *embedded fonts*.
Lets face it if you send an MS Word doc to another MS word doc and the poor sod hasn't got party-pooper911.ttf loaded up, it will look a dogs breakfast, as well.
I'm sorry but, in the real world, docs are routinely sent around for collaborative editing. LO/OO are not fit for this purpose. I'm not speaking about ridiculously complex documents either. The type of issues I encounter are images in the wrong place within a document and captions missing or incorrectly placed.
...use named styles...
Oh heck. I'd love to have that written on a club for occasional clueage use. You can add Page Breaks to that too.
There's nothing worse than modifying someone else's document, inserting something and having the whole lot turn to catshit, 'cos they've formatted the entire fucking thing with spaces, carriage returns and "Normal + (long list of extras)".
Given how long its been since typewriters were common in offices, I am continually mystified as to why most people treat a word processor as if it were one. Where the hell did they pick up the habit?
> Libre Office is still painfully slow, especially to load, so I guess this is good news.
As compared to msOffice, that's because Windows preloads the Office DLLs at boot. There is a preload app that can emulate that particular Windows feature. On this machine Libre Office takes six seconds to load the first time, after that it loads virtually instantaneously.
> As compared to msOffice, that's because Windows preloads the Office DLLs at boot. There is a preload app that can emulate that particular Windows feature. On this machine Libre Office takes six seconds to load the first time, after that it loads virtually instantaneously.
Libre Office has always been notoriously slow to start and other office suites, such as the aforementioned Kingsoft, which are not preloaded, do not have this problem.
Suppose I have a complex spreadsheet in Calc (e.g summing a 2000+ term trigonometric series with arguments that are polynomial in time up to 5th degree, and a 256 by 256 array of these)
What do I have to do to take advantage of a GPU?
Will LO detect the presence of an AMD GPU automatically?
Will it share the GPU that is actually putting pixels on the screen or do I need an extra one?
Will nvidia support LO?
I would guess that this is in preparation for mobile/thin devices. Some APU optimisations perhaps?
For mobile, offloading ops to the number-crunching bit of the APU is likely to be a gain. It also cuts into intel's value proposition advantage in single-thread performance if low power APUs are perfectly capable.
1) Build a thin client,
2) note that it runs linux apps really well locally too.
They haven't said anything about the implementation yet, but they will most likely use OpenCL which is also supported by nVidia cards (although how well is beyond this discussion, nVidia would rather support their own CUDA instead). Note also from their announcement that they are more interested in the APU instead of a dedicated GPU.
Will it share the GPU that is actually putting pixels on the screen or do I need an extra one?
The part that puts the pixels on the screen consumes no resources and in the case of the APU, it is somewhere else (where the connector is). There are many parts in the GPU, one of which is a massive array of parallel cores. When you are not playing games, that array of cores is just sleeping and being useless; so CUDA (nVidia only) and OpenCL (many) provide you with an API that will let you use those sleeping cores for your calculations; be it for physics or AI or graphics processing or spreadsheet calculations. So don't worry, you won't need a separate GPU for this, unless you plan to play games while using a spreadsheet.
The GPU is very good as doing calculations. It's not limited to shoving pixels about, in fact it does not need to do any graphics at all. You can fit two cards to a computer and using SLI use them as a single resource.
The cleaver part is the OpenCL (yes CL not GL) language that AMD Radeon cards have when using the ATI Catalyst suit. They have added this feature to Photoshop 6 which massively speeds up some of the fancy filters.
I expect it will be similar to Photoshop where the GPU is detected but you can go into settings and turn it off to try comparisons.
You will need a AMD Radeon card of at least 4000 series and the current Catalyst suit to get the OpenCL working. Nvidia will probably get in on the act with their CUDA language.
It's worth doing because a GPU is about 200 times faster at sums than a CPU.
These are some great questions :-) so far the work is still in progress - so the answers to your questions are up for grabs; as for sharing the GPU that is putting pixels on the screen: yes of course, and for any openCL graphics card too.
What intrigues me most about your reply is that you seem to have a use-case. We're really trying to collect these; any chance you can send me yours (or at least the outline/shape of it - what type of formulae, what size of data-set etc.) so we can construct a test case & do an analysis of that. We love looking at the shape of big/slow real-world test data for optimisation. Can you mail me at [email protected] ?
Some people must be using some seriously complex spreadsheets if they need the GPU to speed them up in Libreoffice but its still good news that some big names are putting an effort into the project. All it needs now is some big OEM to start offering it pre-installed on their PCs instead of crappy trail versions of MS Office
AFAIK no one is stopping Intel or Nvidia from stepping up to the plate like AMD has. Those other bozos may well step up if the AMD integration goes well... Also it's entirely possible they're using the OpenCL API to tickle the hardware, which potentially would make a port to NV/Intel HW fairly trivial.
Intel's MIC stuff is potentially more flexible. LO would be able to accelerate a lot of stuff that way - a little bit like how folks use DLLs to make Excel dispatch jobs to Platform^WIBM Symphony - except a lot lower latency and with much higher bandwidth.
Glueing distributed applications together has been going on a long time, but we're still short of a system that combines Occam's ability to easily, safely and elegantly compose communicating processes with the ability to manage the whole kaboodle easily and safely at run time.
The old fella has seen it all before, mostly in his Blackthorn fuelled nightmares.
They would not need to be telepathic if they test their own software thoroughly, and had a personal commitment to getting it right. There is far too much "kick and rush" software about, in both the commercial and the free areas.
I repeat: it is up to the developers to find bugs, not the users.
I've tried both. Libre is for me marginally better, but bug free it aint.
And its also unusually hard to find simple things, like 'start page numbering here' - that's buried deep in paragraph formatting.
Styles are not always completely applied.
Export to PDF leaves white lines on top of plain coloured backgrounds where images are inserted etc etc.
Tend to use it to prep text and docs up, then if a quality result is needed, use quark or Scribus to do the layout PROPERLY.
Visio replacement? Fear not Linux user. You want yEd. Works great on Linux/Windows/OSX and has much better options to add custom icons than Visio. The learning curve is not trivial, but once you get up and running you'll find it much more powerful and efficient. Also it's 100% free.
"LibreOffice, the open source office suite created by disaffected Oracle developers".
LibreOffice was an OpenOffice fork and one done in direct response to Oracle's take-over of Sun Microsystems. I strongly doubt that the majority of developers were Oracle employees at that time.
I know I'm nitpicking a little bit, but it's stuff like this which helps people forget or even change the actual history.
Because what's next? OpenOffice was developed by Oracle and then sold or given away to Apache?
One of my former employers used them for various tabular documents related to project plans.
I use them personally for:
1. Membership lists; and address labels, mail merge.
2. Accounts of small voluntary groups, and for reconciling my own bank statements with my own records.
3. Occasional serious sums, e.g. sums of mathematical series; and occasional graphs.
In item 1, I count the number of members. Item 2, totals, obviously, and checking whether entries balance. But as you say, really rather few calculations .
"There's still a large OpenOffice user base, but the increasing industry support for LibreOffice has got to be worrying for the original squad."
Well, not really, as the original squad left openoffice.org, due to Oracle basically not saying ANYTHING for a year or so. That, as you so nicely said in your article, is how libreoffice got started.
Come on el'reg, at least be consistant inside the article ;-)
The GPU is required for the forthcoming inclusion of Clippy, Links, Rover and Merlin and not to forget everyones favorite office addin Microsoft Bob.
Which would then become LibreOffice Bob. ( Jokes starts here)
User : LO Bob........
Bob : Well hello to you too, what can I help you with today.
User : I can't find the ribbon bar.
Bob : That's Ok this is Linux we don't use a Ribbon bar.
User : And where are the TIFKAM tiles
Bob : FOAD.
please guys and gals point me to an alternative quick and easy desktop solution that I can join various remote dbs together via odbc etc and link them with adhoc local tables
- and if i really need to transform, load and update data - albeit smaller recordsets maybe up to 100K rows.
good for quick and dirty reporting as well.
I would LOVE an Access replacement for my desktop ideally something cross platform.
Seriously? GPU acceleration for spreadsheets with a few thousand rows? Considering someone wrote a 3D renderer for Excel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeXISSrIaJA) that runs on old hardware, this seems ludicrous.
I disagree that most Linux apps look poor. They did a few years ago, but these days I use Linux apps daily which look at least as good as their Windows counterparts. I also tend to prefer Linux font rendering (I use Linux Mint with Cinnamon and Windows 7 on adjacent monitors at work, and mostly prefer the look of apps on the Linux machine).
LibreOffice 4 looks much better on both Windows and linux than LO/OO 3 ever did, so I think they're improving on that score.
Time to put the entire thing into a proper trim, sweep the cobwebs out. A California remodel of sorts where you leave one wall standing as the rest of the house is rebuilt, then tear down and rebuild that one wall.
But if you're going to all that effort why not just build new?
One of the supposed advantages of Open Software is that you should be able to take the source code, make your own modifications, and recompile.
I have a minor modification that I'd like to make in LibreOffice - when I have Write open, and I click File/Open, I'd like the file picker to default to Text documents instead of All Files. When I do File Open in Calc, I'd like it to default to Spreadsheets.
That seems like a reasonable thing to be able to achieve in an Open Source package, don't you think? But reading the Documentation Foundation Wiki, it's not a task I'm going to complete in any reasonable sort of time.
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