23 December 2017

LibreOffice, Linux, Nvidia and OpenGL - A Combination from Hell.

A quick note in the hope that it may save somebody else a little time, stress and trouble.

If you're a LibreOffice user, and you run it under one or other GNU/Linux distribution, and you use the Nvidia Graphics Drivers (rather than some default generic driver), you might be tempted to enable OpenGL rendering for LibreOffice.


For reasons that remain largely occult to me, this particular combination of circumstances causes LibreOffice to crash during startup. (For the C/C++ programmer who might care: It seems that there is a method pointer in the Nvidia driver that is null, so when LibreOffice calls this method during startup,... crashity, crashity, segfault, whump.)

The solution is simple: don't enable OpenGL rendering in LibreOffice. The option is there in among the LibreOffice options: Tools >> Options >> View >> Graphics Output >> Use OpenGL. Leave it well alone.

But what if you have already done that and your LibreOffice instance now refuses to run?

I guess there is some configuration file among LibreOffice's many (to be found in $HOME/.config/libreoffice and depths below) that would allow one to delve in with one's favourite text-editor (i.e. anything but nano) and fix it. I could not find it. In the end I simply removed the entire LibreOffice configuration tree and let it create a new one on the next startup (which was entirely and predictably successful, don'cherknow). After all, I tend to keep customisation as lightweight as I can, so it only takes a couple of minutes to put things back the way I like them, and not much harm done. It takes a fair while to discover all this, though...

Hope this helps someone out there. If you found a better way to fix this issue, I'd love to hear about it!

BTW: This seems to be quite independent of Linux distribution. The most help I found in searching for a fix came from the Mint and Arch communities. I use Kubuntu.

02 January 2017

Viewing the Ad-Driven Internet as a Commons

Here's a thought... 

The Ad-revenue-driven Internet is (yet another example of a) Tragedy of the Commons

The ad-funded website derives some (small, perhaps, but measurable) benefit from placing ads, drives clicks through them with least-cost clickbait, makes some money. The Commons of the Internet, "We, the Readers" carry the cost. Not only the cost of our attention, the time of our lives, but literally the cost of delivery; we pay for the bandwidth and infrastructure needed to get those ads in front of us. So the benefactors of this scheme, the ad-funded websites, the Facebooks and Googles and Twitters and Instagrams, are simply more examples of Exploiters of The Commons, driven to maximise the exploitation in ever-increasing ways (because "if we don't catch those fish, someone else will, so we'd best get there first and fish them the hardest.")

BUT. We all know what happens in every other Race To Eat The Commons... Sooner or later the Commons collapses. The fish get fished out; the grassy pasture becomes the Sahara, the air becomes unbreathable.

It's not the ad-blockers those sites have to fear. Ad-blockers are clearly just a form of immune response, just like the [fish] that keep getting smaller and smaller. They should bless and welcome the rise of the ad-blockers, because the nett effect of those is merely to prolong the life of the Commons.

No, what the ad-revenue sites ought to fear is the ultimate and inevitable Collapse of the Commons. It is hard to see what form that is likely to take, as is the timing. All we can confidently predict is that the end of the ad-driven Internet model is a certainty.

It can't come soon enough.
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