Ubuntu Help

Fixing the Form Wizard, by....

1) Replacing your Java Run Time Engine

and then, 2), Replacing the Ubuntu version of Open Office.

I am very new to Linux, but not new to computers.

Are you just getting started with Linux too? I hope Google will bring you here if I can help, but not waste your time if what's here isn't what you need.

Are you using the excellent database in Open Office, ooBase? Great, isn't it? But! Have you encountered problems with the Forms Wizard? If so, I may have an answer for you.

Even if you haven't hit the Forms Wizard problem, maybe you, like me, would rather use the full, "official", OpenOffice, from OpenOffice.org? And the Java RTE supplied by Sun?

As I said, I'm an Ubuntu novice, but I THINK that the OpenOffice and Java you get with the standard Ubuntu distro is NOT the full version of either.

Now... there may be reasons for this! But I hope they are mostly to do with the Ubuntu people having to avoid licensing fights, and not to do with things working well. Do, please, let me know if what follows doesn't work well for you.

After following the steps below in early October 2008, I was left with an OpenOffice version 2.4 installation... an upgrade from the 2.2 that came with my Ubuntu, installed about a year ago. If you launch any of the OpenOffice applications and click "Tools | Options", open the "OpenOffice.org branch of the tree (if it isn't already open) and click on the "Java" note, THEN, after a little delay, on my system, you would have seen "Vendor: Free Software Foundation, version 1.4.2." before the steps described below, and "Vendor: Sun...; version" after doing them.

Bad news... I really, really DO think you need to do BOTH upgrades. Sorry. I, too, prefer to do things stepwise.

Do you REALLY need to do things my way, the hard way? Well... I think you did at the time I did it. Otherwise (?) you get the versions of the JRE and OpenOffice that are in the Ubuntu repositories. This may not be a bad thing, in some ways, but may limit you in others. With such mainstream packages as the JRE and OpenOffice, I would rather have the "official" (from Sun and OpenOffice.org) versions, and pray that Ubuntu can cope, or will catch up, than have versions that have been tinkered with by the Ubuntu team. Of course that tinkering may have been necessary to fix technical issues, not just to reduce the package to something that is legal worldwide. (Some "Ubuntu version" packages are slimmed down to exclude things that can't be included because of regional or licensing issues.)

So, going back to "Do you REALLY need to do things my way?". It may be, by the time you read this, you can download the JRE and OpenOffice via Ubuntu's built in "Add/ Remove Applications". I allowed my system to "update" itself to 7.10. That was a mistake, maybe. Huge download. "Things" done to my system. Some of the Open Office things I'd installed by what is set out below disappeared! (ooDraw, ooImpress) The form wizard did still work, though! Sigh. "Whom the fates would have mad, they send a computer..."

This page will tell you how to make some changes to a "standard" Ubuntu installation. It was written by someone who started this work with a Ubuntu 7.04 system with the Ubuntu version of Open Office 2.2. Rumors exist that at 10/08, a fresh install of a Ubuntu system, using Hardy Heron (ver 8), gives you working a working ooBase Forms wizard. (If so- hurrah!)

Specifically, we are going to fix the OpenOffice/ Java installation so that the Forms Wizard in ooBase works.

More generally, the techniques may be of interest to Linux newbies... the page assumes very, very little expertise.

I would like to say "thank you" to....


... for giving me what I needed to accomplish the following. If you have difficulty understanding what I've written, visit that page... it may clear up whatever is making you puzzled. The site is a cornucopia of Ubuntu tips and procedures.

Three caveats before we start...

a) While I'm an experience Windows user, I am very new to Linux

b) To do what follows, you need access to a user account with Administrator privileges. You do not need to log in as the user "root". (If you can add or remove programs with the standard "Applications | Add/Remove", then you have the power you need.)

c) What I describe below didn't seem to cause any problems for my Ubuntu installation, However, the result hasn't been tested thoroughly at 5 October 2008. I will try to remember to come back and edit this material, if problems arise in the future!

In a nutshell: What we'll do is replace the default Java run time engine/environment with Sun's ver 1.5.0_11, and replace the installed OpenOffice with version 2.4 for Linux (Debian) from OpenOffice.org.

Before we set about fixing the Forms Wizard (and, who knows, other things!) Are there other options? What are the symptoms of a broken one? Why is it broken? What will fixing the Form Wizard break?

- Other Options: Even when my Form Wizard was broken, I could create forms in the design view. This is the way "real men" do their work, anyway, and is worth learning to do. If the Reports Wizard is also broken, I don't know a way to do all that it does in the reports design view. However, if you can install Sun's excellent Report Builder, you won't need the Reports Wizard anymore. (1600 downloads this week, at the time I checked). See fdb1rbintro.htm my page about reports for more details. (The Sun page suggests that it doesn't matter what operating system you are using. I'd love to hear from anyone with a "standard" Ubuntu/ OpenOffice setup. Did the Reports Builder install and work okay for you? (I'll test installing it in the modified Ubuntu that is the subject of the page you are reading when I'm sure what I've already done is stable.)

- Symptoms of a broken Forms Wizard: Either the Forms Wizard just won't start, or it starts, and "works"... right up to the point where you've done everything and are ready to click "Finish". And when you do, nothing happens. (You can close the window with the red x at the upper right.)

- Why is it broken? As I said, I'm a Ubuntu newbie. I do know that the Open Office you get with Ubuntu, or via the standard Applications | Add/Remove is not the same as what you get if you collect your Open Office direct from OpenOffice.org.

a) The version in the Ubuntu repository may be older that the one current at OpenOffice.org

b) Even when the repository version is current, what you get from it may not be the same as that from OpenOffice.org. Why? Two candidates. One or both may apply.

i) All of the applications in the Ubuntu "supported" catalog meet very high standards in respect of permissions from copyright owners, etc. That's not to say that everything else is dodgy... just that the permissions, etc, situation isn't as simple as the Ubuntu repository masters would wish. Some of the things in the repository are cut down, to give you the bulk of the experience, but with some gaps. The dysfunctional Forms Wizard in ooBase smacks exactly of a "cutting down" along these lines.

ii) All of the "supported" applications are guaranteed to "play nicely" together. If you tweak things to take your system outside of the carefully considered world prepared for you by the nice people at Ubuntu, you can't be too surprised if unexpected consequences arise, can you? Having said that, especially in the case of mainstream products like OpenOffice and the Java run time, I'd rather be getting my software from "the horse's mouth", than use something that has been tinkered with. If Ubuntu won't run a standard OpenOffice, a standard Java run time, then I'm putting energy and time into the wrong product.... but I don't (yet) think that I am. Will there be rough edges? Perhaps. But that's going the happen either way- whether you stay in the world as circumscribed by the Ubuntu team, or stray beyond it. I believe the Ubuntu people will always be working to expand their world.

- What will fixing the Form Wizard break? Who knows? But please don't blame everything that happens on your machine forevermore on the things you did to it, even if it is true that this page encouraged you. Maybe they would have happened anyway? Not long after I made the changes I describe here, I installed the gVim editor. I used the standard Applications | Add/Remove program. It installed... but no entry for it arrived in my Applications menu. Concerned, I then installed TuxMath (a fun way to exercise your numeric keypad data entry skills, by the way!). Whew! Installed fine, put an entry in the Games group just fine. Maybe I can waste tomorrow on figuring out how to start gVim! Sigh. (Ah! Good old Google... AND it appears Firefox is still working anyway. To open something with gVim, browse to it with Nautilus (the file browser, the thing that opens if you use "Places" from the taskbar), and right click on the file you want to open. "Open with gVim" should be present as an option. (I couldn't get syntax highlighting to work for an .html file but THAT I really am leaving for tomorrow!! (Oh dear... fell to temptation. You need to change gvimrc. See one of the discussions at ubuntuforums.org. You need to know how to change a file in a protected folder, though. By the way: ARGHH... I can't, yet, "Switch user" on my machine. Crashes. Needs power cycle. BUT! Having crashed it once (shame on me), I then accidentally crashed it again... BUT BUT: With my nice Ubuntu box this wasn't ten minutes wasted, as it would have been with the Other OS. *A*R*G*H! And then I did it AGAIN. (I keep hitting "Switch User" instead of "Log Out", which lets you change to another login, but doesn't maintain the session you are leaving.))

So! Warnings, introductions, etc aside... How To Do It....

First change your Java.....

If you want to know what Java you have, one way is to launch OpenOffice. Probably any module would do. I used ooWriter. Click Tools | Options. If there's a + in front of "OpenOffice.org", click on it, to open that sub-tree. Click on the "Java" entry. After a moment spent searching your machine, you'll get a list of the Java runtime environments (aka engines, aka JRE) known to your OS. On my machine, originally, I had the JRE from Free Software Foundation, ver 1.4.2.

This was easy. I didn't uninstall my old Java first.

I just used "Application | Add/remove applications" tool. Set it for "All Available Applications" (upper right). Set the filter (column of categories at the left) to "Internet" (strange choice... I'd call it System). You should see "Sun Java 5.0 Runtime". There's a note in the description to say that this package is architecture dependant... not sure what that means! (That it won't run except on Intel and AMD chips, I would guess.) (There's also a note saying to see the Java Development Kit for development tools. I've played with (and enjoyed) this on a W*****s machine... but couldn't find it in the Add/Remove lists. Something for the day after tomorrow.)

I was warned that RTE 5.0 was "restricted/unsupported"... I hope I'm right in this case in not being very worried by that. Clicked what was necessary to install JRE 5.0...

Didn't reboot machine after JRE install. (Shame on me)

Started ooBase.

Went back to Tools|Options|Java

... found the old Java "missing", and the new one listed as "version 1.5.0_11". (Note Sun's odd versioning system. "JRE 5.0" is release .5 of JRE "1").

The new Java was PRESENT, but OpenOffice needed to be told to use it. There was no blob in circle at left end of the line. Click on the circle; a blob appears. Shut down ooBase (just to be safe; just to be sure the setting "takes". Restart ooBase. It should "work"... but the Forms Wizard will still be broken.

Whew. That's one half of the job done. The second part is a little more adventurous. Have a cup of coffee, and then start part two.....

==== Replace the default OpenOffice.

Right... now things are going to get a little more "fun".

One bit of good news: You don't need to process the files with "alien" any more. (That gets mentioned in many old posts online about how to install the software.)

First, if you have it, get rid of the OpenOffice installed by Ubuntu...

When I tried to use Applications | Add/Remove... no joy. I got a message telling me to use the Synaptic Package Manager (SPM)... which I didn't know how to do!

Eventually, I found how to launch SPM. It appears under System | Admin.

You'll have to enter the Admin password just after launching SPM... a sensible precaution your PC should be taking.

Note that if you want the helpful "Quick Intro" panel to appear next time you launch SPM, you have to (every time) click the "Show... next time" box.

A word on how SPM works for deleting packages:

You first specify which bits of your system you want to remove. You do this by ticking the box at the start of line(s) in the panel with a "package" column.

THEN you click the "Apply" button at the top of the window.

Not complicated, and sensible, but you need to be aware of the "specify/ confirm" approach expected by SPM.

Another thing to understand: SPM is working at a low level. It is a powerful tool, and misuse will render your OS dead. But it does try to help you!

When you click in an installed module's "remove this" box, you have choices: "Mark for (mere) removal" or "Mark for complete removal". For what we are doing (and in general, I would think) you want "complete removal".

The beauty of "complete removal" is that SPM looks for what depends on the module you are removing. If it finds things, it marks them for removal, too. I'm not sure how clever it is. There may be things that are used by (vs. depend on) the module you are removing. If they are ONLY used by what you are removing, not other things, does SPM mark them for removal, too? We don't "need" and answer to proceed... but I want you to be aware that removing stuff is "prescription medicine", and a quick road to misery if you get things wrong.

ANYWAY, when you mark something for complete removal, remember that the removal doesn't happen immediately. You can say "okay" to the "do you want to mark all these other things too?" without causing a disaster. Prepare a disaster maybe, but it hasn't happened.... yet.

Hmmm... I thought that if I marked something, and then changed my mind I could just click it again, select "unmark". Didn't work. Gasp. But I did find "Unmark all" under the "Edit" menu, and my bacon was saved. Whew.

BE CAREFUL: You (probably) DON'T want to delete everything OpenOffice related.

At the moment you may be wondering how to find anything OpenOffice related!

Click on the Search button. Enter "openoffice". Leave the "Look In" set to "Description and Name".

You'll see a LONG list of modules. (781 in my case.) Don't be daunted. That list included things you MIGHT install. I couldn't find a "show installed packages only" filter... but I DID find that I could sort the list on the "Installed" column, the first one, which has a small down pointing triangle as it's legend. Click on that, and all of the installed OpenOffice-related modules will be at one end of the table or the other.

Look though the installed packages. As you select each, you will find a description appears in the lower right hand window of SPM. You DON'T want to remove all installed OpenOffice-related modules... I don't think. I didn't', anyway. For instance, you may find you have language-pack-en-base. It's description says that it is for language support to programs LIKE spell checkers, OpenOffice, etc. Probably NOT a part of the OpenOffice system, and even if it is, something you don't need to remove.


Go through and mark for complete removal all the things that look to be just parts of OpenOffice. Most if not all have package names starting "openoffice"

(By the way: Don't be tempted to install xjed which you may notice, may think you want. If you want a text editor with syntax highlighting, go for gvim, a Ubuntu supported application. Note that you'll have to do some setup to get the syntax highlighting.)

Cross fingers, click the "Apply" button. But only if you are in a mood to survive the disappointment of a trashed machine. And when that's done, restart the machine, whether SPM asks you to or not. (Always a good idea if you've "done things" to a system, Linux or W*****s.

So... you have the old OpenOffice off the system.

Installing the "official" OpenOffice

Now we'll look at putting the "official" one, the one from OpenOffice.org, on your system.

If the "remove old" process went as it should have done, the "Office" section of Applications should no longer speak of the OpenOffice modules.

Use your internet browser to go to OpenOffice.org

Go to the downloads page.

** BE SURE TO..... UNTICK the "Include Java RTE" box ** (You have already fetched and installed your Java RTE. Could you do it all in one process? Maybe. I prefer to split jobs up, do things one at a time.)

Download the Linux DEB version of the OpenOffice installer (It was 145mb on the day I did it) Save it to your machine, don't try to download and install all in one.

What you download will have a name ending "...deb.tar.gz"

This means that a bunch of files have been "squeezed together" into a single, compact, file for ease of transmission over the internet.

Move the file to a sensible folder... I have one called "Downloads-TKB" ("TKB" being my initials, and a set that don't seem to arise other ways.)Put a COPY of the file someplace else... just in case. (I also maintain a textfile there with details of what things are, where they came from.)

Here's a little mystery for you. I found that the file I downloaded... 40 minutes worth of waiting... was somehow corrupted between being used to install OpenOffice on my system and when I went back to it in the course of writing these notes for you. (Details in the names will, of course, change over time. But the ENDS of the file names should stay the same.)

I did what follows once when actually upgrading my system to the official OpenOffice. I made notes at the time. When I came to do parts of it again, in the course of writing this for you, unzipping the tar ball wouldn't work. Hmmm.. So I RE-downloaded "OOo_2.4.1_Linux... deb.tar.gz". I copied (used Nautilus, dragged, with ctrl down ("+" on icon)) it to several places. Then I did what follows on a "spare" copy, not the one in my "Downloads" folder....

Double-click on the ...deb.tar.gz file. File Roller should open (You can check that it is that by clicking the "Help | About" menu item). You'll see "OOH680_m17... in the name column, type "Folder". It should be selected (by you, if the system hasn't done it already). Then click "Extract", say where it should go, and wait while the system does some "magic"... it will take a little while (30 seconds on my not super system); it is a lot of "magic".... unzipping the deb.tar.gz "tar ball" file back into the "things" that went into it. The tar ball was set up to unzip into a single folder.

When the progress bar goes away, wait a moment, just to be safe, then close File Roller. You should find a new folder ("OOH680...") with 3 folders, one file. "DEBS" being one of the folders. I'm pretty sure you can move that folder to someplace of your choosing at this stage, if being where it is doesn't suit. I created a folder called SetupFiles for such things. Do not use spaces in the names of folders you want to access via a terminal session... like this folder.

Hmmm... The third time I did this, second attempt during "write tutorial", things went as I would expect. The deb.tar.gz files unzipped okay, etc. Just "one of those things", I suppose. Sigh.


Doing the setup from the setup files.

You now have the setup files for the official Open Office on your system.. but you still have to do the setup.

The Nice People at Ubuntu have set up many, many things for you... including a version of OpenOffice for you so that you can install it very, very easily. But for other things, like the "official" version of Open Office, you have to learn to more than click "this one: Install".

My first thought was to use the Synaptic Program Manager on the setup files. I had various difficulties with doing that, and in the end, I think I re-installed the Ubuntu tweaked version of Open Office.

I think that "all" I did to do the setup is as follows. I would be very grateful if any readers could write to me and tell me if what follows WORKS. (I'm afraid I'm not going to risk my now-working system by Doing Things... i.e. trying the steps below again... that might upset it.)

The next thing you need to do is open a terminal window. That's "a window for the terminal", "terminal" being a noun, not "open a window that will be the last you ever use", "terminal an adjective!

To open a terminal window: Applications | Accessories | Terminal.

You should get a new window with a flashing cursor. Type "help" (without the quotes) and press enter... you should get a flood of stuff, ending with lines such as "true..., typeset..., variables...", and leaving you with a new flashing cursor.

Hang onto your hat. We're now "inside" your Ubuntu. Take care.

Type dir. (From now on, whatever is in bold is what you type, and press the enter key after each thing. So the "help" we did a moment ago is going to be shown as "type help".)

You should see the names of the folders in your home folder.

Type cd SetupFiles, using the name of the folder you chose to put your setup files in. Note that the command is case sensitive, e.g. you can't say sETUPfILES, or setupfiles, if you named the folder SetupFiles.

Type dir again.

Now you should see then names of the folders in your SetupFiles folder.

If only one of them begins with "O" (a capital "oh"), then you can do...

Type cd O* to move into that folder.

Type dir again.

You should see DEBS in the list of folders. That derives for "Debian", one of the Linux "flavors".

Type cd DEBS to move into that folder.

Whew! What a pain working in the terminal can be. This is the so called "command line" mode of operation.

At last we're ready for the big magic.... And for this next section, my particular thanks, again, to Bob Nelson for his http://www.stchman.com/install_oo.html excellent page which is how I learned to do all of this...

Type sudo dpkg -i *.deb

That will unleash a flurry of "stuff", I think. Don't be alarmed!

When things settle down, you've installed your Open Office... but you won't (yet) be able to launch it the way you are used to launching things.

Populating the quick links menu

The heart of the following is lifted, almost verbatim, from Bob Nelson's excellent page. The "non-heart" stuff is me. Sorry, if it is over-explained.

Next, install the Debian menu .deb package in the desktop-integration folder,

Before you set out to do that, close the terminal window. Whew.

Use Nautilus, or any other file browser to navigate your way back to the DEBS folder. (You get into Nautilus with "Places" from the taskbar.)

Inside the DEBS folder, there are a bunch of files, and just one folder- "desktop-integration".

Double-click on it, to go into it. In it you should find just one file, "openoffice.org-debian-menus....deb". There should only be one .deb file in this folder.

Double-click on that. This should install the icons in the menu. You don't need to reboot (I don't think!)...

And now you can use the Forms Wizard!! Whee!

Seriously: I suspect it is more than just the Forms Wizard at stake here.

Be sure in any forum discussions to make it clear that you are working with the "official" OpenOffice, when posting questions, as that is how we will all find out what differences arise.

Bob Nelson finished his guide with "This was not so bad." Well.... yes and no. It DOES get worse when you're working on computers... but all I really wanted to do was USE my computers for things, not spend hours and hours diagnosing faults, trying fixes, waiting for downloads and reboots. This essay was initially written during some very dark days when half the time I was waiting for another reboot of an XP system that I was having to rebuild (said rebuild going badly!), and struggling with the above on my Ubuntu box, around which I, a Linux novice, am still groping, almost in the dark. Not least: I will (someday) train my fingers not to be W******s lazy about the case of file and folder names, but it is going to take a while!

May all of your computers run flawlessly and fast!

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