Home of The Tiny Guide to

Open Source Continues to Thrive in Brazil and South Africa

June 13th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The BBC reports on Brazil’s further progress toward open source software adoption in governmental bodies. The Ministry for Cities has already migrated to Linux, while other ministries and state-run enterprises are quickly following. “Overall, the government reckons it could save around $120m a year by switching from Windows to open-source alternatives.” That money can have a big impact on improving the lives of Brazilians.

Meanwhile, Tectonic reports on similar happenings in South Africa. “Volunteers of the Schools Linux User Group (SLUG) will this weekend roll out the 100th Linux-based school laboratory at the Hidayatul Islam Primary School in the Western Cape. Slug, backed by The Shuttleworth Foundation, installs low-cost refurbished PC networks in schools around the Western Cape using Linux thin-client technology.”

Congratulations and continued success to both efforts!

Microsoft Announces “Open” XML Formats

June 11th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

In what I imagine follows their typical behavior, Microsoft announced the next version of their office suite will use “open” XML file formats by default. (Typically, at the same time a competitor announces a new product that might take sales away from MS, they’ll respond with a vapourware announcement about something much better that will ship in 1-2 years. After deflating their opponent, the Microsoft product usually never comes to fruition. This is called FUD – create Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about your competitor, so users will be too scared to try it.)

Stephen O’Grady discusses the announcement on his blog, tecosystems. Many of the responses to his post are very informative as well.

The Politics of Open Source Adoption

June 9th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The Politics of Open Source Adoption is a wiki site managed by the Social Science Research Council. Its purpose is to investigate and discuss particular political dimensions of the FOSS phenomenon:

“The political success of open source reflects diverse practices of issue entrepreneurship and evangelization: at a basic level by building awareness of open source options, by broadening understanding of the ways in which software choice embeds social and political values, and by framing discussions of cost or security in ways that take into account complex hypotheticals about the future. We want to learn more about the thick social dimensions of this process as F/OSS advocacy develops within commercial, technical, and NGO communities; as it succeeds or fails in building workable alliances; as it founders on or overcomes internal differences; and ultimately as it bridges out to other communities with less stake in the technical values or development process of open source.”

Harvard Business School Models Linux vs. Windows

June 8th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge newsletter publishes “Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win?”

From the abstract:
“Strictly speaking, within our model the only way in which Microsoft can get rid of Linux is by setting the price at zero. But, even if Microsoft did that, the company would still be selling MS Office for a positive price. Thus, we conjecture that even in this case, there would be people developing and using Linux.”

On the other hand, “In addition to cost-related reasons, governments back Linux because having access to the source code allows them to verify that sensitive data is treated securely. Binary code makes it hard to figure out who has access to information flowing in a network. Companies such as IBM, in contrast, back Linux because they see in OSS one way to diminish Microsoft’s dominance. We find that the presence of strategic buyers together with Linux’s sufficiently strong demand-side learning results in Windows being driven out of the market.”

Minor changes to the model can swing the results widely. However, Linux survives in all of the possible outcomes.

Unfortunately, while the title of the article mentions “open source,” it only discusses the Linux OS, and doesn’t analyze OpenOffice’s contribution!

Mac Installed-Base at 16%?

June 7th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

MacDailyNews quotes the Software Publishers’ Association estimate that 16% of computer users use Macs. This number is much higher than is commonly quoted, but it is (somehow) derived from the measured fact that “Macintosh software comprises over 18% of all software sold, according to the Software and Information Industry Association.”

Free Culture Media Links

June 6th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Downhill Battle is a great site for Free Culture music activists. From their page: “Downhill Battle is a non-profit organization working to support participatory culture and build a fairer music industry… Our plan is to explain how the major (labels) really work, develop software to make filesharing stronger, rally public support for a legal p2p compensation system, and connect independent music scenes with the free culture movement.”

The Participatory Culture Foundation is developing and popularizing “open source TV.” They describe their goal: “Anyone will be able to broadcast full-screen video to thousands of people at virtually no cost, using BitTorrent technology. Viewers get intuitive, elegant software to subscribe to channels, watch video, and organize their video library. The project is non-profit, open source, and built on open standards.”

Measuring OpenOffice Marketshare

June 5th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

While this article is terribly written, it is useful for its collection of marketshare estimates from IDC, Jupiter, Gartner and Forrester. (Unfortunately, it has no links to any of their specific reports.)

The first three all estimate OpenOffice’s global marketshare at 10%, while Forrester estimates 15%.

Downloads of OpenOffice, tracked from the project site at, exceed 42 million, while tens of millions of additional copies from CDs, BitTorrent, and network sharing remain uncounted.

Free Software, Free Society Conference in India

June 3rd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Linux Journal covers the recent Free Software, Free Society Conference in Kerala, India. Government representatives and private sector participants attended from Brazil, Italy, Venezuela and India.

From the article: “Arun M,, one of the key organisers of this event, said, ‘The Free Software movement has shown a new way of knowledge creation based on collaboration and social ownership. This conference explores the possibilities of applying the Free Software model in addressing broader questions such as governance, digital inclusion, development and culture.'”

The Conference maintains a website at Newsletter – May 2005

June 2nd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Last month’s regular Newsletter is online.

Among the highlights: OpenDocument has been approved as an OASIS standard, Polish and Azeri native language groups have been launched, as many copies as are needed of StarOffice will be provided to 4,000 Irish schools, many articles have covered the cost savings that OpenOffice produces, The Tiny Guide to is mentioned, server statistics record a lifetime total of 42,000,000 downloads, and much more.

Groklaw: “Why Free Software Really Matters”

June 1st, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Groklaw’s Shawn Boyette writes on why Free Software really matters. He argues that the open source development model is superior to other models because it enables creativity and flexibility by allowing everyone to participate and experiment, including the software’s users themselves.

Boyette discusses the role Free Software plays in making it possible to learn software development from observing what others have done, which makes it possible in turn to participate in the creative process.