LJ Archive


Legal to Open Word Documents?

Is it legal to open (patented) Microsoft Word documents if I have never bought a Microsoft-related product? Sure, OpenOffice.org will display such a document, but am I allowed to view it?

Richel Bilderbeek

Good question. I'm not a lawyer (not even close), but it seems the problem would come with creating a Word document as opposed to reading it. So my follow-up question would be, is it safe for LibreOffice/OpenOffice to “save as” a Microsoft Word document? If we get any answers from lawyers, Richel, I'll try to follow up with an answer.—Shawn Powers


Regarding Shawn Powers' “Non-Linux FOSS: .NET?” in the April 2015 UpFront section: it is not open source in the way that most people in the Linux world understand the term. A lot of this is similar to Sun's behavior regarding the Java programming language and JVM. Since the community has been burned by Oracle's attempt to reclassify retroactively what is open and what is not, one has to parse Microsoft's licensing terms carefully. In particular, if the .NET patents are transferred to another entity (even a third-party under Microsoft's control), some of the protections implied under the license become invalid. I am not a legal expert myself, but given recent developments with Oracle/Google, I am still wary of .NET. Like you, I think it's encouraging, but not enough to commit a serious project to the technology until it survives its first court challenge.

Daniel Waites

Agreed. I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, but it still gives me the willies. Hopefully my paranoia is unfounded, but I think caution is wise.—Shawn Powers

Thank You

Hello everyone at Linux Journal! I am simply writing to say “Thank You.” I appreciate what you do every day. I'm sure it seems like a thankless job sometimes, but I like to point out when someone does something right. Lord knows, there are enough people in our lives that tell us when we do something wrong.

Don Brown

You rock, Don! Thanks for the encouragement; it's greatly appreciated.—Shawn Powers

Scanning on Linux Distributions

Having recently purchased a multifunction device—printer, copier, scanner and fax machine—I was troubled to find that scanners and connecting to and using them in Linux is really bothersome, if you can get them to work at all!

I realize that many Linux users, and readers of the excellent LJ, are mostly using it for development, exploration and trying esoteric software. That's great, but what about real-world users of the platform? I bought a Xerox 6505 mfd, and printing, (using Ubuntu) is simple, but scanning just does not work at all! I installed SANE, following the instructions on the Ubuntu site, and nothing! Yes, someone will say that Xerox is not on the “supported” list, but not being supported is not very helpful. Fortunately, I have a MacBook laptop, and all works well on MAC OS X. Why can't Linux be as easy to use?

Alan Lewis

Ugh, I feel your pain. While printing has come a long way, you're right, scanning is still painful. I don't have a great answer, other than take comfort in the fact that you're not alone in your frustration (see Alan McConnell's letter below).—Shawn Powers

Pipes and Xargs

Great magazine (even though there is no longer a dead-tree version).

Regarding Shawn Powers' “Pipes and STDs” article in the April 2015 issue, the xargs example: it was a good example, but if I were using find, I think I would also use find's exec instead of xargs:

find / -name "*.mp3' -exec rm '{}' \;


Me too! In fact, when I used it as an example, I had to shake my head a little because like most things in Linux, there's always another way. The -exec flag is a perfect example, and it would have been easier. I was just trying to come up with a simple example that would demonstrate how xargs works. Thank you for mentioning the other option though. It's a much more efficient way to accomplish the task.—Shawn Powers

Canon Support for Scanning

I think it is time that the Linux community rise in its wrath. After trying a bunch of printers, including a couple HPs and Brothers, I finally got a Canon, because the Canon people gave good support to Linux for its printing capability. I had assumed that they would support Linux in their scanning function as well. I was wrong. Take a look at the message below. It is a response to the message I sent to Canon (that message is shown after the Canon reply below):

Dear Alan McConnell:

Thank you for contacting Canon product support. Scanning is not supported using Linux.

Sincerely, Technical Support Representative

And here is the text of my original message to Canon:

I have an MF4770n, bought two weeks ago. It prints fine. Now I need to get its scan function to work.

I am running Linux, Debian Wheezy. I have libsane backends 1.0.24. When I run sane-find-scanner, it returns found USB scanner (vendor=0x04a9, product=0x2774) at libusb:003:004. However, scanimage -L returns: no scanners were identified.

When I run man sane-pixma, I get a list of the models that work with this backend. Among them is imageCLASS MF4770n.

I hope you can tell me what further to do, in order to use this MF4770n as a scanner.

Thank you in advance.

I consider that I have bought this “all in one” printer under false pretenses. I don't know what recourse I have—it is past the deadline to return it—except to publicize this problem and hope that other Linux users can be persuaded to get involved with this issue. Linux is no longer a toy to be brushed aside!

Alan McConnell

Alan, I have nothing to add other than “GRRRRRRRR!” I share your frustration, and wish I had a solution.—Shawn Powers

Teeny Tiny Tablet?

Regarding Shawn Powers' “The Teeny Tiny $20 Tablet” article in the March 2015 issue: thanks for the article about the Boost LG LS620. I own such a device too, and I haven't even rooted the phone yet. All I have to do is download NoRoot Firewall (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.greyshirts.firewall&hl=en), and after each reboot, I have to turn Wi-Fi on and off for one or two seconds and wait for the time-out of the activation. After this, I can turn on Wi-Fi until I have to reboot. I've disabled all preloaded apps that I don't need, and I always have Airplane Mode turned on. So, I don't see why you have tried to remove the cellular radio icon.

This phone even supports 64GB Micro SD cards if you just reformat it with the phone or install an exfat driver (needs a rooted phone).

Why do you use Google Maps for off-line routing? I am using OSMAND (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.osmand&hl=en). You can download ten Open Street Map maps for free or buy OSMAND+ if you need more. There are other apps, but I prefer open-source programs.

Dirk Schwartzkopff

The radio icon thing is nothing more than my OCD driving me nuts. I've never had luck with off-line GPS apps on Android, but I'll give OSMAND a try. Thanks!—Shawn Powers


This is regarding Dave Taylor's article on find|xargs in the January 2015 issue: indeed, it's a combination of two really powerful commands that can do wonders in tandem. However, I wish to point out that find has a mini-xargs built in to it. If you terminate your exec clause with + (instead of ;), it will behave much like xargs.


Dave Taylor replies: I have to admit, I didn't know that handy tip. Thanks, Mayuresh. Is it even documented?

It's definitely in the category of “more fun with Linux”.

Mayuresh replies: Yes Dave. Quoting "man find"

If the list of arguments is terminated by a plus sign (+), then the pathnames for which the primary is evaluated are aggregated into sets, and utility will be invoked once per set, similar to xargs(1).

Indeed, it is in the “more fun with Linux” category.

LJ Archive