Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

As I mentioned in my article ‘Save $1,285 per Computer and Still Remain Business-ready,’ I’ve been a long-time user of Open Office, and I really like it. However, there are a few drawbacks that have been bothering me lately. Then again, if you add the price of Microsoft Office into the equation, the choice becomes more complex. Sure, hands down, Microsoft Office is more powerful (even though it has several ‘features’ I’d rather be without).

Until recently, I haven’t found any features that Open Office lacks that I really need. However, lately I’ve been doing a lot of statistics, and within this field Open Office does lack some features that Microsoft Office comes with. There is a set of macros called ‘OOoStat’ which make Open Office a better tool for statistics, but it still doesn’t beat Microsoft Office.

Open Office lacks native support in Mac OS X. Since I switched to Mac, this is something that really has been bothering me. Sure, you can still run Open Office using X11, but it comes with some drawbacks such as long startup-times, low performance, and issues with the clipboard (cut and paste). I know the Open Office team is working on a native-version right now, but no stable release is available. At this time, the only workaround as I know of is NeoOffice, which is a Java-based ‘native’ OpenOffice. I was running this for a while, but went back to the X11-version due to NeoOffice’s low performance and high memory-usage.

Open Office is clean, neat and you know what it is doing. Being open source, you potentially have full control of the software. You also know exactly what information is being sent away from your computer (even though tools like Little Snitch can solve this for other softwares). Another benefit with this is that it is much more likely to be secure. So far I’ve never heard of any macro virus targeting Open Office. Sure, part of the explanation for this is the fact that the number of users is lower, but the code is also more well-written.

Open Office also supports export to PDF, Microsoft Office-files and most other common file-formats. Microsoft’s Office on the other hand only support their own formats. If you want export to PDF-files in Windows using Microsoft Office, you need to purchase Adobe Acrobat (or a similar product). I should probably add that if you’re running Mac OS X, you have the built in PDF-exporter, so this doesn’t apply.

To wrap up, Open Office is a great piece of software, but it comes with some drawbacks such as no native support in Mac OS X, and some lack of features. But still, if I were to choose between paying $400-some dollars for a license of Microsoft Office or live with the drawbacks of Open Office, the choice is quite simple. In my honest opinion, Microsoft Office is far too over-priced and the cost is certainly not justified. If you’re working with regular spread-sheets and text-documents, Open Office is enough. Also, if you’re running windows, Open Office runs natively, so you don’t need X11.

Open Office 2.0.4 running in X11 on Mac OS X.

Microsoft Office 2004 running on Mac OS X.
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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

A while back I decided to use Mambo as CMS for a company that I was given the responsibility to develop a ‘website with webshop.’ As you might have read in the article Choosing a CMS – Part 1, I recommended Joomla!, but yet I went for Mambo myself. The reason for this is that I wrote the article after I developed the website. In my initial research, I thought Mambo was the better choice, but after using it for a while, I became quite disappointed. For instance, the Mambo-team released a major update release as stable, and two days later withdrew the release, and changed it to unstable. This is quite unacceptable. Sure, they’re just humans, and working for free. But still, it’s really not professional behavior. This caused many sysadmins/webdevelopers (including myself) to spend numerous hours to first upgrade (which was a mess) and then downgrade back to the prior stable release.

I was now in a position where I had a fully working CMS running on Mambo with a webshop full with inventory, and plenty of documents in the CMS. However, I had lost my faith in Mambo, and wanted to switch away from it. Luckily, this turned out to be quite simple.

As the topic reveals, I decided to switch to Joomla!, which is basically just a modified Mambo. The good thing is that many things (such as the config-file) are very similar. Because of this the migration process was quite painless.

At this point I was running Mambo 4.5.4 with the latest service packs. I also had numerous components/modules installed, including VirtueMart. Because of this, my biggest concern was that something would happen with VirtueMart and its inventory.

  1. I guess this goes without even mentioning, but make sure you have at least one set of backups of both the files and the database. I know it’s a hassle making backups if you only have ftp-access, but believe me, it’s worth the effort if something happens.
  2. Download the latest version of Joomla! (which is 1.0.11 when writing this). Download the ‘full’ version and nothing else.
  3. Make sure to inform everyone who needs to know (other admins etc.) that you will be performing an upgrade, so they won’t be accessing the server at the same time.
  4. Log into the admin-interface on Mambo and set the site as offline.
  5. Double check your backups.
  6. (if you only have FTP-access), extract the Joomla! files locally
  7. Upload/overwrite all the files you just extracted to your Mambo-directory on the server
  8. Run the SQL-commands in ‘migrate_Mambo4523_to_Joomla_100.sql’ which you’ll find in the installation/sql directory in you Joomla! directory.
  9. Go to your administration-interface and set the site as online again.
  10. Look through all your components/modules to make sure they’re working properly.

If everything works, be happy. It did for me. If not, you might want to take a look at your configuration.php-file (which was not overwritten by the upgrade). In particular, you want to look at ‘$mosConfig_absolute_path’ to make sure you don’t have any slash at the end, as well as the ‘$mosConfig_lang’ to make sure your language is specified as ‘english’ and not ‘EN’.

Before I upgraded I did quite a bit of research on the Mambo/Joomla forums to see what people said about the migration. Some migration guides were really complex, while other people just overwrote the files and ran the sql-commands (as described above). The guide I wrote above might not be a perfect solution, but rather a ‘quick and dirty’-solution to migrate.

The downside with this guide is that you might end up with files that are no longer used by Joomla!, and then will just take up space on your server, and make your folders look very unorganized. There might also be components/modules that will malfunction after such update. In my migration however, I had no problems with any of my components/modules after the upgrade.

If you followed this guide, please post a comment about your experience (both good and bad).

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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OpenHuman is a page where you can open source yourself, kind of. It sounds crazy but the author says this is good because “openness is always good”. I think us humans have a strange future ahead of us.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

This weird and annoying problem I’ve spent quite some time on to solve today. The problem occurred on one of the websites that I administrate. The webshop on the site refused to go through with purchases from users accessing the website from, but worked fine for users accessing it from

Don’t get me started on why the host doesn’t support mod_rewrite, but that was something that I didn’t have any power over, so I had to come up with some workaround.

If mod_rewrite had been supported, the problem would have been easy to solve. Then all I would have to do would have been to add the following lines to the .htaccess-file (I tried this and ended up with a 500-error):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R,L]

So how did I solve this?
The solution is really ugly, and I’m not very proud of it, but it works for now. What I did was that I created an index.html-file (which didn’t exist, since the site is using PHP) like the one below:

Example-file (since the blog is restricted, and I cannot write html here). Right-click and save it. If you left-click on it, you will be redirected (duh!).

The next thing I did was a simple .htaccess-hack. Since my server loaded index.php before index.html, I added the following line to .htaccess:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

(Apache looks for the files in the order they’re listed)

This took care of the entire problem. I never said it was a nice solution, au contraire, it’s really ugly, but it gets the job done.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve/solve this differently, please let me know.

Update 1: We describe a method to do this for a server over which you have full control in this article.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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Ok we admit it, we love Open Source. Both Alex and I have been using Open Source-products for almost decade. I first installed Linux about 10 years ago, and have been a user ever since.

In this manner, I bring you the software of the day: RoundCube WebMail Project.

For a long time, I’ve been looking for a webmail that both looks good, is easy to set up, and have grown out of the alpha-status. RoundCube Webmail is the best looking and coolest webmail I’ve seen so far (check out these screenshots). RoundCube comes with Web 2.0 and AJAX support and the whole shebang. I particularly like the ability to drag you e-mails between different folders.

When I set up RoundCube for the first time, I was surprised how easy it was. You need a mySQL database as backend, and a webserver that supports PHP (I prefer Apache). If you have all of this running, the you just import the sql-file that comes with the package, and edit the config file, and you’re set. The entire installation takes less then 10 Minutes.

Even though the current release of RoundCube webmail is v0.1-beta2, it really runs fine. I’ve been using it for one of the companies I administrate now for about two months or so by now, and haven’t had any problem at all. I think this is the next big webmail, and I’m sure you will hear much about this project in the future.

I want to add a piece of advice to all of you guys before you run and install this software. Please use SSL for you webmail. If not, it’s really easy for other people to sniff your password and read your e-mail.

By the way, do I need to mention that RoundCube is our choice of WebMail for the company?

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