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WordPerfect to Support ODF

November 30th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg’s blog mentions that WordPerfect will support ODF.

And the original Corel Press Release.

Tom’s Hardware also chips in.

Here’s what Corel says: “Supporting both ODF and OOXML places Corel in a unique format-neutral position, independent of Microsoft, Adobe and other vendors’ efforts to propagate their respective standards. This format-neutral approach allows Corel to focus directly on addressing the needs of customers, whose adoption choices will determine which formats will become most relevant. Corel is the only vendor to take such an approach.

“Corel is and will continue to be a strong supporter of open standards. The XML format roadmap for Corel WordPerfect Office reflects our clear focus on responding to the needs of our customers, especially those in government who are making significant efforts to adopt open standards,” said Richard Carriere, General Manager of Office Productivity at Corel. “Because it is free, truly open and certified as an ISO standard, many customers see ODF as the most promising format for the future of office productivity. Yet upon the debut of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft OOXML will immediately experience broad dissemination. Corel’s unique format-neutral approach ideally positions WordPerfect Office to address demand for both formats, giving us the ability to serve customers in a way other vendors can’t.”

Still unanswered is what WordPerfect’s default format will be.

One Laptop Per Child News Site

November 29th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

One Laptop Per Child News is a blog that bills itself as “Your independent source for news, information, commentary, and discussion of One Laptop Per Child’s computer, the OLPC Children’s Machine XO, developed by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte.”

It’s got plenty of great information on the state of the project, along with some fun stuff, too.

French MPs Dump Windows for Linux

November 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Silicon.com reports on the latest major market shift coming from France: 1,154 French parliamentary workstations will be moved to OpenOffice, Firefox and a Linux OS.

“After the gendarmes and the Ministry of Culture, it’s the French MPs’ turn to switch to open source. From June 2007, PCs in French députés’ offices will be equipped with a Linux operating system and open source productivity software.”

Whereas Birmingham, England is moving backward, French migrations started by adopting OpenOffice and Firefox, and now are taking steps further forward: “This will be the first case of a French public institution switching its PCs onto a Linux operating system. Previous open source initiatives concerned servers, as was the case with the Ministry of Agriculture, or OpenOffice and Firefox, which were brought into use by France’s gendarmerie.”

The great momentum behind France’s governmental adoption of open source is astounding. It just keeps steamrolling forward, without the petty difficulties that seem to have emerged in Birmingham. The two cases couldn’t be more different!

What’s most important is the size of the French rollout, and the central position France plays in Europe, which means that numerous other countries (and the EU itself) are probably going to follow France’s lead next.

Birmingham’s Linux Project

November 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ZDNet UK writes Criticism mounts over Birmingham’s Linux project.

The top brass pulled out and the project seems to have failed. Onlookers can’t figure out how so much money was wasted, when similar Linux migrations in Europe and elsewhere have shown vastly better results.

“The council planned to roll out Linux software and applications on 1,500 desktops in libraries across the city, but in the end it got no further than a 200-desktop project. Several industry watchers have voiced their concerns about the project, particularly around the number of PCs rolled out. Birmingham’s expenditure averaged over £2,500 per PC.”

Wow! This sounds like a classic case of pork barrel spending. I wonder where the money really went?

“Mark Taylor, whose Open Source Consortium also exited the project in the early stages, said: “I have no idea how anyone could spend half a million pounds on 200 desktops, running free software”.

Asked by ZDNet UK whether he was surprised that an XP upgrade was calculated as cheaper than the Linux project, Taylor said, “If it’s done properly, that can’t happen. It’s amazing that anyone can spend that much on [Linux] project management.” Taylor added that there are plenty of open-source skills in the Birmingham area which could have been utilised.”

While Birmingham may have chickened out from the full Linux migration, the move to OpenOffice is continuing, according to some responses to the original article. This is a good way to distract those who are trying to derail the effort. They’ll think they have succeeded in blocking a Linux migration, but meanwhile, all the office suites will have been replaced with OpenOffice, and that is no small accomplishment!

And the next time a Linux move is attempted, it will be much easier to complete, with some of the groundwork already taken care of.

One Laptop per Child Photos, ODF Support

November 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

As the One Laptop per Child project continues to progress, they’ve recently uploaded a photo gallery of the first unit to leave the factory.

And ODF, the OpenDocument Format, plays an important role in the OLPC computers:

“An OpenDocument Viewer is important – it will allow kids to read electronic documents (such as educational books) in the OpenDocument format (ODF). This format is usable in AbiWord which is being adapted to work on the OLPC.

Obviously, since the whole point of the project is education, giving kids the tools they need to read electronic books in various formats is critical. The OpenDocument format (ODF) has properties that are especially valuable for OLPC electronic books, compared to HTML, PDF, or other formats.”

Ubuntu Developer Summit Report

November 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Ubuntu Developer Summit in Mountainview, California, concluded recently. Ubuntu developers the world over converged to discuss their projects, collaborate and plan for future growth.

Linux.com provides a summary report of the event. Video interviews with Mark Shuttleworth, Jono Bacon, and others are included in the article, along with discussions of Jokosher, Gnome and KDE in Ubuntu, and Telepathy, a framework providing unified access to IRC, instant messaging, VoIP, and video chat.

Northglenn, Colorado, Moves to Open Source

November 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The city of Northglenn, Colorado, migrated its municipal computer systems to OpenOffice.org, Linux thin terminals, and other open source applications. In some instances, budget line items of $350,000 were reduced to $100,000, allowing savings to be used in migrating to state-of-the-art systems for the city.

Anthony Fortenberry explains that it’s about more than saving money. Modernization and service improvement are other significant reasons to choose open source: “By using extensible, low-cost open source software, local governments can move toward e-government and other advanced services much more quickly than under current conditions.”

The interview contains many details about the benefits Northglenn received from its investment in open source infrastructure. There’s a lot for others to learn from this example.

Appleseed Project is Back!

November 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Appleseed Project, the coolest social networking site I’ve seen, has just released a major update to its open source code.

Appleseed servers can federate with each other, like an email server or Jabber IM server, so that you can run your own. Users on one can befriend and interact users on others. This works around the bottleneck existing sites run into, with 100 million users trying to work off one cluster. Scalability like that is hard, and site downtown affects every user. The email model is more robust, and it is a natural fit for open source social networking.

Download the code from Sourceforge, set up your own server, and help out!

Groklaw on China’s New File Format

November 15th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Why not just work with ODF? Creating competing open formats for the same thing does not make sense!

Groklaw reports that China is developing an open document format of its own. The good news is that it should be relatively similar to, and compatible with, ODF. The bad news is that there isn’t any good reason to fracture the market behind alternative open standards.

The most important task right now is to marginalize Microsoft’s proposed new format before it gains traction. If open format supporters do not rally behind one standard, the chance of blocking MS’ formats is greatly diminished. And if an open format does not win, competition and technical innovation will continue to be severely curtailed, as they have been under the MS Office hegemony.

OOo Takes Several Linux Journal Editors’ Choice Awards

November 14th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

In Linux Journal’s Editors’ Choice 2006, OpenOffice took home the Office Suite, Spreadsheet, and Presentation Software awards.

Here’s their analysis:

“OpenOffice.org delivers just the right combination of openness, power and similarity to Microsoft Office that it provides the features and familiarity people want in an office suite without the drawbacks of proprietary document format or proprietary code. It may not always import Microsoft Office files perfectly, but it does so without the crashes that sometimes plague suites like EIOffice when importing large, complex Microsoft Office files. Overall, OpenOffice.org has a way to go before it reaches its potential, but it still provides the best combination of features and compatibility, along with the distinct advantage of being an open-source project.”