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Venezuela Ubuntu Deployment

March 19th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Cool news from Venezuela this morning: Rolando Blanco announces on his blog that a Venezuelan government agency migrated 850 desktops and 16 servers to Ubuntu.

Blanco’s post includes a number of snapshots of the new desktops in action. They look great!

Sam Hiser on Migrating Away from Windows and MS Office

March 16th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Anyone familiar enough with using Microsoft Windows and Office knows that moving years of data and habits to a new platform is not easy.

That difficulty–created through decades of strategic decisions at Microsoft–is exactly why it is so important to migrate away. Microsoft’s strategy is to make it ever harder to work on any other platform, and to keep increasing their revenues by squeezing those who remain locked in to Microsoft’s products. They seem to be redoubling their efforts at monopoly control right now, in particular by tying their desktop monopoly products to new server products coming out, but right now is also a chance to escape.

An opportunity exists to switch to Open Source (whether it’s just Firefox and OpenOffice on existing Windows boxes for now, or whether it’s an OS migration to Linux) because of faltering sales of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, providing a rare chance for individuals and organizations to make a shift and get off the expensive treadmill of Microsoft’s stream of costly updates.

Sam Hiser provides a high level guide to “leaving Windows and Office.”

At the very heart of this opportunity is ODF, the OpenDocument Format, which does for typical office documents what HTML did for the web: standardizes it and gives every person and every program equal access to the real value, the data stored within.

Adopting ODF is the key to escaping Microsoft’s dungeon, and breaking down that barrier then opens up an unprecedented range of flexibility in a competitive marketplace. Hiser discusses several ways to accomplish this in his post, and has collected thoughtful comments from notable industry veterans in response (and in affirmation of his points).

Groklaw: “ISO will put Open XML on fast track unchanged”

March 15th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Groklaw covers the recent move to put MS OOXML onto the fast track process.

After the initial indignation (there were dozens of complaints about MSOOXML not being fit as an international standard), many comments seemed to arrive at the same conclusion: MSOOXML is being put on the fast track so that in five months’ time it can be voted down and be done with. The regular track of deliberations and addressing issues just would not have been worthwhile, with so many problems in the application, and Microsoft’s refusal to compromise in any of them.

Let’s hope this turns out to be true, and that MSOOXML as a “standard” can be quickly and cleanly dispatched.

French Parliament Moving Toward Ubuntu

March 14th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Up on the Ubuntu Fridge is a post about the French Parliament getting ready to adopt Ubuntu:

“The French Parliament looks to be the next big Ubuntu switcher according to reports. Recently the Parliament produced an official government report that recommended the use of free software over proprietary software. The switch to free software is expected to provide a substantial savings to the tax-payers according to the government study.

Following this recommendation two companies, Linagora and Unilog, have been selected to provide the members of the Parliament as well as their assistants new computers containing free software. This will amount to 1,154 new computers running Ubuntu prior to the start of the next session which occurs in June 2007.”

Opportunity Knocks: It’s “VHS Versus Betamax All Over”

March 13th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Walt Hucks of Opportunity Knocks analyzes the classic battle now taking place between ODF and MSOOXML in MSFT: Let’s Do VHS Versus Betamax All Over.

As usual, I can’t help but quote from the very end of the article. That doesn’t mean you should avoid reading it, since it’s got a lot of good points that I won’t summarize here, and some links to a number of other interesting pieces covering the issues. (Including the broader-and-broader realization that MSOOXML is going to lose this battle…)

Hucks concludes with, “A word of advice to anyone who is considering the purchase of Microsoft Office 2007: Until this file format competition resolves itself, you are the one with something to lose. Your best bet is to hold off for at least 18 months, until we see whether the OOXML format is even still in use at that time. In the mean time, you can download (OOo) and use the .doc, .xls, and .ppt formats that you are used to using.”

Sound advice! Let the billionaires take the risks, and keep your money in your pocket until you know it can be spent wisely. Issues an Invitation to Dell

March 12th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The project has issued a press release inviting Dell to pre-install OpenOffice on its computers:

“In an open letter released today, the community invites Michael Dell to work with them to pre-install 2 office software on Dell computers. Dell’s own IdeaStorm website has recorded an overwhelming customer demand for this feature, currently showing over 70,000 requests for 2.”

This would be an extremely great move, benefiting both Dell and in significant ways. The only possible drawback would be retribution from Microsoft, however, there is little chance the company could get away with that in today’s environment of close scrutiny of their misbehavior.

IBM’s Open Source Portal

March 12th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

IBM’s adoption of open source as it has transformed into a services company is a model for others in the industry. Recently, IBM has created a new Open Source Portal to present its activities to the world in one easy-to-find location.

OpenOffice in Hebrew

March 11th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

I am just back from a week in Israel, where the topic of in Hebrew came up.

A number of coworkers had been stymied from migrating in the past because they need to work with both English and Hebrew words in a single document. My understanding was that this problem had been fixed some time ago, so I showed my friend the Hebrew project page, some of which he translated for me.

He was surprised to note that the government of Israel has helped sponsor OpenOffice localization into Hebrew. And the web page also announced that the problems he had worried about were fixed, but we did not get to download the latest version to verify for ourselves. Maybe that can be next week’s project…

South Korean Robots

March 10th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The New York Times reports on South Korea’s current national project: a robot in every home.

“By 2007, networked robots that, say, relay messages to parents, teach children English and sing and dance for them when they are bored, are scheduled to enter mass production. Outside the home, they are expected to guide customers at post offices or patrol public areas, searching for intruders and transmitting images to monitoring centers.

If all goes according to plan, robots will be in every South Korean household between 2015 and 2020.”

Freiburg, Germany, Adopts OpenOffice

March 10th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Now that the avalanche is picking up speed, it’s interesting to observe the manner in which different countries’ governments migrate toward open source software. (At least, from the articles I read in the press. Certainly there must be many exceptions and smaller implementations that don’t make it to the international headlines.)

In France, a strongly-centralized government is adopting and other FOSS programs in its central government agencies (well over 300,000 systems have been migrated to OpenOffice already, for example).

On the other hand, a much more federalist country, Germany, is moving city-by-city and state-by-state. In this we have some news for today: Erwin Tenhumberg announces that Freiburg, Germany, will upgrade 2,000 municipal computers to, and save €500,000 over the next two years compared to what moving to MSO 2007 would cost. (He also provides a link to the original article in German.)

The USA is also moving in a federalist manner. Four states have so far made commitments or begun legal proceedings to migrate to ODF (though not explicitly to OpenOffice yet): Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, and California, in that chronological order.