Wednesday, March 27, 2013

LibreOffice 4.0 Live, Other Projects

Monday night we had a window of opportunity and installed LibreOffice 4.0.1 for all of our users.  The install went cleanly and Tuesday morning we received NO calls with anyone having problems with their documents.  Considering how many users we have and the number of file formats they are opening, that is wonderful news.  Congrats to the developers and QA people!  First launch of LO 4 offered them a custom dialog with new features, and the opportunity to receive a copy of LO for Mac/Windows for home use.    A high number of people requested media, and we're happy that they are are using it on their own.

In the coming days, I'll be adding desktop triggers for Corel Draw, MS Visio and MS Publisher files so that they just open automatically with LO 4.0.  This will at least allow people to view documents that we receive from outside contacts that assume everyone has licenses for such software.  Very often, the files just need to be *viewed* and not edited and this eliminates having to spend money.

I submitted a few feature requests to the LO developers for enterprise users.

We have been working on moving all of our user passwords into LDAP and that is going well.   I have been working on some issues with syncing data between OpenLDAP and Zimbra, and making progress.  I put some code into our support portal software to allow our staff to create new LDAP entries from a LDIF file without having to do so on the command line.  A few clicks now and it's all done and pre-checked for validity and has all of the required attributes for our various downstream needs.

I have been looking at auto provisioning user accounts in Alfresco as part of a pilot program.  Alfresco needs user groups in LDAP which were not required with Zimbra.  So I have started to facilitate this change and make it easy to put users into departmental and divisional groups.  Once done, I'll try and get Alfresco to automatically create all of our users.  We are going to explore using Alfresco in IT, and once we have a work it to the other departments and try and obtain funding for a support contract and possibly adding an employee to be the custodian of the data.

The HP 5745 thin client was discontinued and we ordered the replacement model and it has arrived.  I'll spend some time checking it out and will take pictures and review it here on this blog in the near future.  Never enough hours in the day sadly.

Very happy to see that SuseCon 2013 will be in Orlando again this year.  It's a no brainer that we'll be attending and it will be nice to chat with all of you in person.

Monday, March 04, 2013

LDAP Finished, Zimbra Just About Ready And More

I haven't blogged in a good while, but all projects are advancing nicely.

All records and data have been loaded and are working.  After reviewing Alfresco, Zimbra, WiFi and proxy device, I believe we worked out all of the required information and it's all ready to go.  We always knew this would reduce work, but normally would need a specialized employee to run the infrastructure.  Since we aren't getting more staff, we have to get creative in solving these types of problems; how best to deploy technology that really should have additional IT staff?

LDAP Portal Integration

The solution as I touched upon last blog was to write some code so it's maintained from our Support portal software.  Our Support group enters the information and it's verified and formatted consistently and then required fields are uploaded to OpenLDAP.  In order to have multiple levels of fallback, all information is stored in LDIF files, staged and then uploaded.  If something happens to a user record, we can always recover the data.

The shot below shows the portal screen information is entered and saved in LDIF files, it's then compared against LDAP and allows for update when data has changed.  This code is live and seems to be working. 

With the contact information working, the next step was to make it very simple to grant permissions to various authentication functions.  So under the Licenses tab a small section was added with checkboxes.  Click them and update LDAP and everything else is handled automatically.  Available options are Zimbra, Firefox (Proxy), WiFi and Alfresco.  We are enabling auto-provisioning on the various sub-systems on our network.  No more having to maintain hundreds of user accounts, efficiencies gained.

City Directory

As mentioned in my last blog, the first use of the LDAP/LDIF data was a quick "City Directory" screen that allows users to search by name and job title.  This information was already available in a less user friendly way via Evolution and in Zimbra, but they just aren't locating the data.  The support portal tracks software usage, and this application has been used 678 times already in about 2 months.  This tells me that people were really struggling to find this information and were probably maintaining their own phone number documents.  Very happy to see this much usage for a few hours of coding.

LibreOffice 4.0:  I did not install 4.0.0, and wanted to let others find any major bugs that might exist.  4.0.1 is just a few days away, and I'll install when it's released.  It will be nice to have initial CMIS, and additional document filters.  I don't expect any significant issues.

NX and Mac Clients: We have been struggling with the fact that production NX doesn't have Mac clients for Lion/Mountain Lion.  More and more users are getting this operating system and no user friendly solution is available in the short term.  This issue will be resolved with NX 4, which is still a beta product.  What we are going to do is create a virtual copy of our GNOME server and install the 4.0 beta server piece and use that for Mac users until the product is officially released.  Unfortunate loss of man hours for me having to do this, but Mac usage seems to be increasing all the time for home users and we need to get them working.

Zimbra Email:  800 accounts were created automatically with Auto Provision and LDAP, which is simply wonderful.  Within a few minutes of the connection forming, they were all done.  This would have taken days to do by hand.  We're testing the infrastructure right now with web browsers, phones, tablets and pushing email and everything seems to be working.  We're targeting a mid-April deployment.

Quick Updates: Patches and QA for Java, Firefox, Flash and Adobe Reader.  At least one of these 4 products seem to have a security update every week.   HP discontinued the t5745 thin client and released a new 64bit model, will have to find some time to check it out and look at how to get our code installed.  Never enough hours in the day sadly.