Ubuntu 9.04: Fix OpenClipArt Gallery for OpenOffice.org

If you don’t know, Ubuntu and OpenOffice.org make it very easy to install the artwork from OpenClipArt.org as a built-in gallery within OpenOffice. It’s slick: while in OpenOffice Writer go to TOOLS > GALLERY and a little panel shows up, displaying categorized clipart, ready to be dropped into your document. Very cool.


Unfortunately, after Ubuntu migrated to installing OpenOffice.org 3.0 as default, the simple process of installing this excellent feature has been broken. You can still choose to install the OpenClipArt with Ubuntu’s simple application installer, but after the install is done the gallery remains unavailable in OpenOffice. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

Why is it not working?

It isn’t working because OpenOffice.org 3.0 saves its resources in a slightly different location than the previous versions. Meanwhile, the OpenClipArt gallery installer is still installing it in the previous location. Somebody forgot to tell them about the change.

How do I correct the problem?

It’s fairly simple, really. Here’s how it works:

  1. The OpenClipArt image files are all saved in a shared folder for all system users to access. This saves disc space, since every user on the system doesn’t need their own copy of the image files.
  2. OpenOffice galleries are represented by single files that keep a list of all of the images and where the image files are saved on the system. These list-files allow the OpenOffice galleries to be very responsive and quickly searched.
  3. To fix our problem we need to copy the OpenOffice gallery list-files from the old location to the new OpenOffice.org 3.0 location.

This solution could work for any operating system, but the following instructions will be specific to Ubuntu.

  1. Since these are system files, you will need to start Nautilus (the file browser program in Gnome) with Super User administration rights. Go to the Main Menu > Applications > Accessories > Terminal. Once the Terminal window appears, enter the following:
    sudo nautilus This will allow you to use Nautilus as though you are the System Administrator. Be very cautious with these administrative rights. If you move or delete an important file you could damage your system.
  2. Once the new Super User Nautilus window displays click on ‘File System’ in the Nautilus shortcuts bar and navigate to the following: /usr/lib/openoffice/share/gallery This is the old resource location.
  3. From the Nautilus menu create a new window: File > New Window
  4. In the new window click on ‘File System’ in the Nautilus shortcuts bar and navigate to the following: /usr/lib/openoffice/basis3.0/share/gallery This is the new OpenOffice.org 3.0 resource location.
  5. Go back to the first window with the old resource location. Select all of the documents in that location and drag them to the second window with the new resource location.
  6. Once the transfer is complete, close both Nautilus windows and then close the Terminal window.
  7. Start OpenOffice and activate the gallery Tools > Gallery. You should see folders for different categories that contain a lot of clip art from OpenClipArt.org!

I hope this was helpful and gives you access to this excellent free clip art library once again.

1997 Ford Escort: Varying Idle and Stalling

My wife’s 1997 Ford Escort suddenly started having idling problems today. Basically, whenever the car was fully stopped or in park it would idle up and down, hovering over stalling and eventually doing just that. However, it would have no problems restarting after the stall.

Initially I thought the problem was related to the status of motor oil… but that’s another issue. Topping off the motor oil to the appropriate level did nothing to correct the idling problem.

After that disappointment I started noticing a hissing, or air-sucking noise coming from somewhere around the engine. This turned out to be the key.

I found a small hole in the L-bend of the PCV hose, which sits along the top-back of the engine on this particular Escort model. I put my finger over the hole and the engine suddenly returned to normal idle. The L-bend piece was actually caved-in around the hole, so proper repair would mean replacing the PCV hose or PCV hose and valve, depending on how Ford sells the parts. However, with one day left in the work week I temporarily repaired the L-bend with an abundant wrapping of black electric tape. This seems to work and will hopefully keep the car running properly until I can replace the PCV part or parts on Saturday.

You can read more about the interesting history and functionality of the PCV valve at Wikipedia.