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September 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

darcusblog” is an interesting resource for XML, metadata, citations, OOo and ODF. The author is co-project lead of the OpenOffice Bibliographic project (OOoBib), which will provide very advanced bibliographic and reference data management capabilities to OpenOffice starting in 2007.

France to Migrate 400,000 More PCs to OpenOffice

September 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

In 2007, France will follow up the successful move of 80,000 Gendarmerie computers to with another 400,000 migrations:

“By 2007, over 400,000 computer workstations in the French central administration will be using the OpenOffice2 office suite. This massive migration towards an OpenDocument Format (ODF) is being supported by a wide range of training activities for administrative personnel… The move towards ODF by the French public administration echoes recent initiatives in Belgium and Denmark signalling the official adoption of ODF.”

And in French, a government website reports further details.

More FOSS for Kerala, India

September 26th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Ars Technica writes Fewer Windows in Kerala schools:

“Kerala, a state in India best known for its high literacy rates, relatively liberal politics, and disdain for big business, is pushing Linux into the classroom in order to promote choice and diminish the influence of Microsoft. Citing concerns about the long-term consequences of perpetuating Microsoft’s high level of dominance in the desktop software market, Kerala’s Education Minister M.A. Baby affirmed his support for free and open source software, saying: “ideologically I support Linux and Free and Open Operating Systems for IT enabled-education in schools.”

Linux Booming in Indiana (USA) Schools

September 25th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

VAR Business writes, “Hoosier Daddy? In Indiana Schools, It’s Linux.”

“Mike Huffman, special assistant for technology at the Indiana Department of Education, said schools in the state have added Linux workstations for 22,000 students over the past year under the Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student (ACCESS) program. And that could expand quickly with several new updated Linux distributions, such as Novell SUSE, Red Hat and Ubuntu.

This year, Huffman expects Linux desktop deployments to grow from 24 high schools to 80 high schools, driven by lower costs, higher functionality and early successes…

“We have a million kids in the state of Indiana,” he continued. “If we were to pay $100 for software on each machine, each year, that’s $100 million for software. That’s well beyond our ability. That’s why open source is so attractive. We can cut those costs down to $5 [on each computer] per year.”

For students and teachers, it doesn’t matter which platform they are using. They’re learning a curriculum, not an OS and software stack.

In education, open source can do the same job with equal effectiveness as Microsoft’s products, at (using the numbers from above) only 5% of the cost! That’s more than just saving money, that’s making possible things that otherwise could only be imagined.

Improvements Coming to OOo Charts

September 25th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield writes about upcoming improvements to’s charting functions.

The current charting engine is considered one of OOo’s last major weaknesses. Version 2 should put that problem to rest.

12,000 FOSS PCs for Schools in the Philippines

September 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Schools in the Philippines are about to receive over 12,000 Linux and PCs:

“The largest deployment to date is the third phase of the government’s PCs for Public Schools Program launched last month, which is deploying some 12,000 personal computers worth P600 million to 1,200 public high schools, Lallana said.

Unlike the first two phases of the program that used the proprietary Windows operating system and Microsoft Office, the computers in phase 3 will be bundled with free and open source Fedora Linux and OpenOffice.” and Thunderbird; Art Contest with Prizes

September 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

OpenOffice to include Thunderbird and Sunbird?

On his blog, Charles H. Schulz writes about what is planned next for OOo development, including inclusion of Thunderbird as its default mail client and Sunbird as its default calendar application.

It makes sense to have some semi-official mail and calendar application, since that is frequently requested by potential users. But why not just package them up together for an easy download, while keeping separate downloads available for those who’d prefer that option? (Maybe this is the plan; it’s not detailed too thoroughly anywhere yet.)

I would also consider Chandler as an option for bundling. Though it is a year or more away from final release of a version 1.0, it has some very clever ideas that will simplify a lot of user workflows.

There are hints at other interesting news tidbits in Schulz’ post, such as the plan for 3.0, and the improvements to be made in OOo’s extensions development capabilities to come in 2.0.4.

Template and clip art contest with prizes!

The Documentation Project is running a contest for templates and clip art to be included in the default OOo installation:

“Here then is the challenge: Create and submit templates and clipart as part of the competition and be eligible for a share of the cash and other awards totaling over USD $5000. (You are always welcome to send in works outside the contest as well.) Winners will be given the opportunity of including their templates in the installation sets.”

Encryption and Anonymity

September 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Hacktivismo announces the release of Torpark, a secure and anonymous web browser.

The press release reads, in part, “Hacktivismo, an international group of computer security experts and human rights workers, just released Torpark, an anonymous, fully portable Web browser based on Mozilla Firefox. Torpark comes pre-configured, requires no installation, can run off a USB memory stick, and leaves no tracks behind in the browser or computer. Torpark is a highly modified variant of Portable Firefox, that uses the TOR (The Onion Router) network to anonymize the connection between the user and the website that is being visited.”

Earlier this year, Hacktivismo also released a secure and anonymous instant messaging client based on GAIM, called ScatterChat.

These are intended as tools for democracy and free speech: “ScatterChat is a secure instant messaging client designed for non-technical users who require secure and anonymous communications. Our typical end-users include human rights and democracy advocates operating in hostile territory. ScatterChat is also a valuable tool for anyone requiring secure communications.”

I cannot think of a higher purpose for encryption and anonymity than this.

Two from the Standards Blog

September 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Two very quick and self-explanatory links from Andy Updegrove’s Standards Blog, while they’re still relatively fresh:

The Emerging ODF Environment, Part V: Spotlight on IBM Workplace

OASIS Launches OpenDocument

ODF Support in Apple’s TextEdit

September 19th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The “Impulsive Highlighters” blog has a preview copy of Mac OS X Leopard, and has discovered TextEdit will include support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

From searching around online, no one yet seems to know how deep OpenDocument support will be in Mac OS X Leopard, but the screenshots at the link above showing TextEdit’s ODF support are a promising start.