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Smashing Apps’ 19 Most-Essential Open Source Applications

August 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Smashing Apps publishes “19 Most Essential Open Source Applications That You Probably Want To Know.”

As the site’s audience is largely graphic design professionals, this should help promote open source programs to a new cadre of possible users.

The majority of applications in this collection are web apps, but a few desktop programs make the list, including and Mozilla Seamonkey. (Not Firefox, though. They must feel that everyone already knows it.)

OpenOffice Extensions: Fast Mail Merge

August 28th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Mail merge has been a pain for some friends of mine using within their university administrative department, so I’ve been on the hunt for ways to make it easier. Solveig covers OpenOffice 2.x mail merge in an article from 2006 (which I’ve mentioned before), but they still have a few problems with editing the results of the merge before printing labels.

A new extension, Fast Mail Merge, was created to simplify some aspects of creating a mail merge, but I can’t really test it out since it’s not available for OOo 3.0 on Mac OS X (Linux and Windows versions are available). Nonetheless, this extension should prove useful to many OOo users out there.


August 27th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

O3Spaces is a companion tool for users in need of collaboration space.

Offering document management and collaboration, it competes with programs like Alfresco and Sharepoint. O3Spaces focuses on interoperability with as well as Microsoft Office and StarOffice, but has focused on OOo first and foremost.

Free community versions of O3Spaces are available. (Packaged product versions, and support subscriptions are also available, as revenue sources which provide the company’s business model.)

Elgg 1.0 Arrives

August 22nd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Social networking sites and tools are one of the most fascinating areas online these days. But sharing my information with a company whose goals and intentions I just don’t know makes me somewhat nervous, hence my interest in open source social networking applications and protocols. One of the fastest-growing and best-known, Elgg, has just reached 1.0.

Elgg has already been implemented by several universities and online communities around the world, has a Packt book, and should grow even faster with the 1.0 stamp on its codebase.

See Elgg’s homepage and download the code to get started!

InformationWeek Predicts Linux’s Future

August 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

InformationWeek tries to guess what Linux will look like in another four years in “What Linux Will Look Like In 2012.”

The most interesting and important issue will be continued efforts, and successes, in simplifying Linux for use by regular people who don’t care that much about computers.

IW emphasizes this first in its piece: “The single biggest change you’ll see is the way Linux evolves to meet the growing market of users who are not themselves Linux-savvy, but are looking for a low-cost alternative to Microsoft (or even the Mac). That alone will stimulate enormous changes across the board, but there are many other things coming down the pike in the next four years, all well worth looking forward to.”

The growing wave of ultra-mobile PCs (or “netbooks”), inspired by the OLPC XO and led by Asus’ Eee PC, may prove to be the first foothold Linux makes in its assault on the end-user space. “By 2012, it’ll be a brand name unto itself, thanks to the exploding netbook market, where Linux has proven itself to be a solid way to build an inexpensive computing platform. By that time, many first-tier manufacturers like Dell ought to be offering such devices — and those that already do (like HP) will probably be looking seriously at offering more Linux-based gear.”

(Ubuntu also sees the potential of netbooks, and has launched “Ubuntu Netbook Remix” to address this market.)

In conlusion, IW sees Linux increasing its technical strengths, consolidating its current markets, and successfully branching out to new areas. Better usability and pricing will ensure it rapid and sustainable growth.

Poland’s Ministry of Education Recommends Open Source

August 20th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Metamorphosis, based in Macedonia, announces that Poland’s Ministry of Education recommends open source software for the country’s schools. As one of the more populous members of the EU with over 40 million people, this could have a big impact!

In addition to general support of open source, the Ministry also specifically recommended

“The Ministry recommended in a statement that schools and universities use OpenOffice. The application suite is sufficiently mature and advanced to be used for teaching and for office use in education and science institutes. “OpenOffice can successfully substitute proprietary applications and will result in significant savings on licenses.”

This recommendation is the culmination of a 10-month project in which 99 schools and over 4,500 students were introduced to FOSS by volunteer members of the Free and Open Software in Schools campaign.

“About 30 percent of the schools visited by the Wioo w Szkole [Free and Open Software in Schools] campaign have switched at least partly to Open Source. Most of these schools configured their PCs to run a GNU/Linux distribution such as Ubuntu, Suse or Mandriva, alongside Windows.”

More information is available at the Open Source Observatory website.

Tom’s Guide Offers OpenOffice Tips

August 19th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Tom’s Guide offers a visual tip collection for OpenOffice 2 and 3.

They noticed something we have long been keeping an eye out for: the early mainstream beginning to adopt OOo.

“We’ve talked up OpenOffice before in other articles, but the software is worth a closer look since more and more companies are beginning to dole it out to employees.”

The premise of the article is to support new OOo users: “Here, we’ll show you some simple tips and tricks so that you can use OpenOffice in the easiest and most efficient way possible. All the information that we’ve included works just as well on OpenOffice 2 as it does on the new beta 3 version. It’s straightforward and easy — we promise.”

Using 20 screenshots and a short descriptive text for each, Tom’s Guide covers lots of basic functionality and helps new users get accustomed to the software. It will make a good reference to help the coming waves of new users get comfortable on their new suite.

On KDE 4.1

August 14th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

KDE 4.0 was designed to be a watershed rethink of the technologies providing the graphical user interface, and now KDE 4.1 will help to finish the transition to the new paradigm. North Davis Road describes some of the details in the post “Reimagining the Desktop.”

“Disruptive change comes from the unlikeliest of sources at times.  It rarely, if ever, comes from established players in a space particularly commercial ones.”

The writing is a bit ill-organized, but the information in the article and the saga of KDE 4.x remain quite interesting.

Malaysian State of Pahang Adopts

August 13th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Open Malaysia Blog announces a major OpenOffice migration: the Malaysian state of Pahang will move all its computers to OpenOffice.

“The driving force for this migration seems to be cost of proprietary software and the fear of unlicensed software. is the obvious solution to these two pressing problems (thanks, BSA!) What is good is that they have chosen ODF by default, and they are not changing the file format to the binary proprietary ones.

“What is interesting is that the public sector in Malaysia is moving towards FOSS independently from any government directive or mandate, so no amount of whining would derail our government from choosing and making their choice. Its a simple business decision, and the market has decided.”

Nowhere could I find how many computers will be involved or other details, but this is yet another promising development in Malaysia, which seems to be growing into an open source stronghold year by year. Interviews gOS Founder David Liu

August 12th, 2008 Benjamin Horst interviews David Liu, founder of the gOS distribution, which is focused on simple end-user needs and can be found pre-installed on machines like the gPC and Cloudbook from Everex.

gOS is an operating system, but it’s also the name of the company that develops it, which is already profitable.