Open source news roundup for August 1 - 7, 2015

LibreOffice 5, Creative Commons writes the White House, and more news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the release of LibreOffice 5, a personal food computer, Creative Common's open letter the President Obama, and more.

Open source news roundup for August 1 - 7, 2015

LibreOffice 5 released

The Document Foundation announced the release of LibreOffice 5 this week. It's the tenth major release since the launch of the project. Major improvements in this version include the user interface and better interoperability with office suites such as Microsoft Office and Apple iWork. This release will also be the cornerstone of the mobile clients on Android and Ubuntu Touch. And, Serdap Yegulalp tells us on InfoWold that the latest Android client will have minimal editing functionality. Finally, a web version of LibreOffice is still a work in progress and will not be provided as a web service by the Document Foundation itself.

Read the full announcement on the Document Foundation blog, which also lists all of the new features.

A personal food computer

Caleb Harper's "personal food computer" is a two foot long box that plugs into an electricity outlet and water supply to grow food. "It uses shallow water culture and raft hydroponics to spray the plants' airborne roots instead of saturating soil."

Harper also runs the City Farm group, "which looks at innovative ways to grow food in urban areas, at MIT’s Media Lab." He says, "The thing that unites everything is that it’s all open source, the hardware, software and data. I want to give everybody a place to go to share knowledge on a structured platform."

Heather Hansman covers the story on Smithsonian.com.

Creative Commons open letter to the White House

Creative Commons sent an open letter to the Obama administration this week calling for administrative action "to ensure that federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) for the public to freely use, share, and improve." It did so along with a broad coalition of education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations. This coalition is asking for "educational, training, and instructional materials created with federal funds be shared under an open license."

Read more about this public statement on the Creative Commons blog.

FedEx-style system for humanitarian aid

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been providing aid in Syria for a few years now. It provides food and medical supplies, depending on local Syrian organizations for delivery to hospitals and refugee camps. To keep track of all these packages, IRC built its own FedEx-style package tracking system called Commodity Tracking System (CTS).

This week, IRC announced is has open sourced the project, "allowing any humanitarian organization to use CTS for free or to improve upon the software by adding new features." The source code can be found on GitHub.

Read the full story at Wired, or from the press release.

Google Science Fair finalist: ArduOrbitter satellite

The Google Science Fair finalists were announced this week. One of the 20 finalists, 14-year old Matthew Reid from the UK, based his project for an open source satellite called ArduOrbitter on Arduino and off the shelf components. He writes on the project page:

"Once complete, my work will allow others to build upon what I have done, to start their own space missions. Because of the open source nature, all the code, hardware, telemetry and live data will be available to everyone. This will allow people to use my low cost satellite platform for their own space missions."

In other news

Thanks, as always, to Opensource.com staff members and moderators for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar, to see what's happening next week in open source.

About the author

Robin Muilwijk - Former Opensource.com and Open Organization moderator/ambassador. Robin writes and is active on social media to promote and advocate for open source in our businesses and lives.Follow him on Twitter @i_robin or on LinkedIn.