Home of The Tiny Guide to

Penguin Day

March 31st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

I just learned about Penguin Day, which is a great idea for helping get non-profit organizations and FOSS groups to work together.

A number of cities have held Penguin Days, including Philadelphia, New York, Seattle, Toronto, London and others.

“Penguin Day brings together nonprofit staff, tech providers, geeks, consultants, and open source software developers for a day of learning and conversation. Together, we’ll demystify open source for nonprofits, frankly address the challenges of developing open source tools, and learn about specific promising open source applications for nonprofits.”

Maemo Applications Catalog

March 30th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Want to keep track of all the cool new programs being written for Maemo, the platform that powers the Nokia 770?

Here’s the Maemo Wiki’s Maemo Applications Catalog.

Peter Quinn on FOSS Adoption

March 29th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Matthew Overington and Steven Deare write ‘Sandal and Ponytail Set’ Cramping Linux Adoption? for CNet

In the article, Peter Quinn discusses the effect of FOSS developers’ typically-casual dress code on their reputation among business users. However, he also says that FOSS and open standards like ODF are being investigated at almost every state IT shop in the US:

“I think there’s something going on in every agency in every (U.S) state,” he said. “Whether the CIO knows it or not, that’s a different thing. I think almost everybody, they say, ‘It’s not happening at my shop, I promise you,’ but when you (go) to their shop, it’s happening. So I think it’s happening everywhere, but there’s varying degrees.”

IT folks must keep quiet for fear of reprisal from the well-monied and entrenched corporate lobbyists. “When you think about the lobbying power and the cash that’s available for opponents of open source and opponents of OpenDocument, there is a significant amount of money and resource that people can and will bring to bear,” says Quinn.

Two Million Linux & FOSS PCs in Brazil

March 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Again, it’s a shame I cannot speak or read Portuguese! However, it looks like Brazil’s “Computers for All” initiative has resulted in the sale of over 1,000,000 Linux-based computers to members of the Brazilian public in 2005.

At the same time, MIT’s One Laptop per Child project will deliver another 1,000,000 Linux-based “$100 laptops” to school kids in Brazil.

The Computers for All initiative’s website reports both of these victories.

In yesterday’s post about Microsoft, I read that officially, there are 330 million computers in the world running Windows. If that number is correct, then these two Brazilian projects will shift more than 0.6% of total global marketshare to Linux.

Microsoft Stumbling, Says Forbes

March 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

I had the impression, perhaps unfounded, that Forbes was a big fan of Microsoft. A business magazine, a highly profitable business–what not to love? If that was the case, it seems to be no longer.

Daniel Lyons writes an opinion piece, Microsoft Vista: Not ‘People Ready’, in which he skewers the company for delaying (again) Windows Vista and MS Office, for producing enormously complex software to fill needs that no one seems to have, and for releasing half-baked products.

Lyons concludes with an endorsement of open source and Apple: “Microsoft can’t afford to screw up like this. There are free alternatives to everything Microsoft sells, like the Linux operating system and the OpenOffice application suite. Rivals like Novell, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and, yes, IBM are pushing those programs big time.

Given Microsoft’s delays I can’t believe open-source stuff still hasn’t caught on for desktop computers. It’s amazing, but people will wait months and months for products that are so complicated that no ordinary person can figure out how to use them.

Why not at least switch to an Apple Computer Mac? Apple’s new operating system is stable, reliable and easy to use. The applications are simple, gorgeous and work well together. And they’re here. Today. Steve Jobs must be waking up a happy man this morning.”

It’s not just Forbes. The International Herald Tribune joins in with Burden of the Years Weighs on Windows, in which authors Steve Lohr and John Markoff discuss the complexity of Microsoft’s software products as the cause of slower and less effective development.

After cataloging and analyzing Microsoft’s symptoms, they nevertheless arrive at the conclusion, “They did the right thing in deciding that the Longhorn code was a tangled, hopeless mess, and starting over,” Cusumano of MIT said. “But Vista is still an enormous, complex structure.”

Microsoft’s troubles are not going to end with the shipping of Vista and MS Office 2007. It looks to me like that is when they will really begin.

MS Trying to Sabotage ODF?

March 24th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

It wouldn’t be a surprise if it’s true: reports that Microsoft may be trying to sabotage ODF to make it irrelevant by delaying its ISO recognition until MS’ format reaches the finish line.

Groklaw also analyzes the issue:

PJ writes, “I hope I’m not giving them ideas, but all they would have to do to slow ODF down, I’m thinking, is ensure lots of discussion, review, documentation, exploration, etc. to arrange that ISO can’t ratify ODF until ECMA is ready to submit their competing XML.

That can’t be the plan, I’m sure. That would be mean and anticompetitive.

It’s rare that there would be no comments needing resolution. And if there is a comment, it has to be sent around to everyone, and then there has to be a response, and then consensus has to be reached. You get the picture. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s XML is whizzing through ECMA’s special fast track process.”

Of course, Microsoft Office 2007 has just been delayed again

Chandler on Maemo (Nokia 770)

March 23rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

One of my favorite software products under development is the Open Source Application Foundation’s Chandler. One of my favorite hardware products recently released is the Linux-powered Nokia 770 web tablet. Running Chandler on the Nokia 770 would be a really exciting combination of the two!

It looks like the first steps are being taken, since wxWidgets and wxPython are being ported to the Maemo platform now.

“MS Office to Fall to Open Source”

March 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ITWire, in Australia, reports: Analyst Says MS Office to Fall to Open Source

“Noted IT industry analyst, Dr Kevin McIsaac, predicts that Microsoft Office will give way to open source products as governments and other large organisations move to open standards for storing documents.”

In my opinion, this eventual result is clear as day. Tying MS Office into server products will surely extend its life in corporate environments (that already invested heavily in MS), but home, education, non-profit, governments and small businesses will not stay with the slow and expensive MS Office for very much longer.

I expect to see major inroads being made globally throughout 2006. (As we have already seen in some countries in 2005.)

MA First, Now FOSS in Cali?

March 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Our good friends at Mad Penguin (Christian Einfeldt in particular) landed an interview with several of the IT leads at the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

Einfeldt writes, “[The ARB] is using FOSS primarily in the back office, just like so many other governmental agencies and businesses. But if you dig just a little deeper, as shown in this Mad Penguin™ interview of the ARB staffers responsible for moving ARB toward a more FOSSy future, you can see that the seeds of more profound change gradually developing.”

Some more great quotes caught my attention. Here they are, slightly out of context and out of order:

  • “Harry is the equivalent of a skilled surgeon. When he advised that open source and Linux were working for him (CentOS or Red Hat), I had every confidence that it would work. He’s a true IT professional. And he delivered.”
  • “You are seeing a gradual sea change. It’s not radical. But the Massachusetts thing is one more example of how governments are reacting to the high cost of software when lower cost open source alternatives may exist. There are alternatives. Governments don’t want to be locked out of their data. They want some assurance that they will be able to read and own their data into the future. This is the point that Narci made earlier – sovereignty and perpetual access to content. It’s a very good point.”
  • “Obviously, if you can reduce the cost of licensing software, then the overhead of running your shop is going to be less. And because the software is stable, powerful, quite competitive with anything else on the market, when there are budget crises none of our projects are slowed or defunded. We just kept pushing forward.”
  • “We recently put a job notice out for a senior level position, and one of the things that we added to the notice was that we are an open source shop. I got a number of applications in which people said that they were willing to take a pay cut if they could come to us, because of our open source culture. So it helps us attract quality people. There are a lot of people who feel “trapped” in their organizations, and they can’t really experiment and be part of these new changes that are sweeping through the Internet. ARB can give them that opportunity.”
  • “The State CIO has set up a working group to be comprised of nine to twelve individuals, CIOs primarily, and other participants, to assess open source solutions and advise on how open source may be used within State government. The California Performance Review (CPR) had a section called “State Operation Number 10” that basically said state departments should look to open source, and to try open source where feasible, to look for opportunities to test it as an alternative to the standard procurement methods. The CPR didn’t give a preference for open source or proprietary solutions. The goal was simply to get “best value” for the State.”

In summary, Einfeldt has written a great article and found a very mature and balanced decision-making organization that continues to find value in FOSS and adopt ever more key pieces of it into their infrastructure.

Banco do Brasil Adopts OpenOffice

March 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Sadly, my Portuguese is not up to par. However, I think this article — BB troca Office por software livre até o final de 2006 — says that Banco do Brasil has moved from Microsoft Office to on 23,000 computers.

If you know where an English translation can be found, or can supply one yourself, please let me know!

Edit: Erwin Tenhumberg’s blog covers the story, and several commenters provided translations and more info: In addition to the 23,000 computers Banco do Brasil has already migrated to OpenOffice, they will migrate the remaining 80% of their desktops this year, and save $6 million in the process. (Two respondents indicate this will amount to nearly 200,000 computers all told.)

One poster also writes that in addition to Banco do Brasil, another governmental bank (Caixa Econômica Federal), is currently migrating 120,000 of its own computers from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.

I’d really like to see OpenOffice vs. MS Office marketshare figures for Brazil at the end of this process!