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I took over a while back working on the Fedora calibre package and thought I would share some information about the application for those who haven't used it and some thoughts about software release cycles. Read on for more.

I've been into ebooks a fair bit of late. (Mostly reading them on my android phone). One thing that's handy is a way to convert ebooks in the various formats to the one your device needs, or just be able to read something on your laptop if you are not in a place for your regular ebook reader. Calibre is the tool for this.

Calibre is a QT/Python based application, available in I think most any Linux distribution these days. It's very pretty to look at, with lots of professional/nice looking icons and such. The interface is pretty 'busy', but calibre does a lot of things, so it's understandable.

The GUI allows you to manage your ebook collection, change/convert things from one format to another, Send things to devices, rate books, pull books from rss feeds or internet sites and read books. I find a netbook or OLPC works nicely if you want to read ebooks on a linux machine. The android phone formfactor is a bit nicer than those if you are reading in bed due to smaller size.

In addition to the GUI, there are a number of command line tools shipped with calibre, including converters, viewers, and other metadata viewers. I sometimes use some of the command line tools, but much more often I use the GUI.

Calibre is a very active project. Their release cycle is a bit different from many larger projects as well. They release about once a week, but sometimes more often. In each release is a series of bugfixes and a handfull of new minor features. They don't have a stable branch or a development branch, it's all in the same stream. For the most part this works out ok, as the changes they make tend to be minor or just enable new hardware and the like. However, for a Linux distribution this presents a bit of an issue. If you don't want to land new features in a stable release, you would probably never end up updating calibre as it's impossible to separate out the bug fixes from the stable bits. In Fedora I have been taking a middle ground and only updating stable releases when compelling new hardware has been enabled or major bugs fixed. Right now, stable releases are a bit stalled as we need a newer python-cssutils to get the current version working correctly.

Finally, because we don't push every release out to stable Fedora releases, I have setup a temporary (at least until new python-cssutils comes along) repo at: http://repos.fedorapeople.org for new calibre releases (along with new python-cssutils). You can enable this repo in your f12/f13/f14 machine and get the latest version.

Calibre is pretty neat, give it a try today. ;)

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