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Open Source Desktops Have Lowest Maintenance Cost

October 31st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

That open source is more cost effective in initial deployment and ongoing maintenance is not surprising to anyone who uses open source software, despite the premise being attacked by Microsoft (and some people apparently do believe MS’ marketing).

The experience of the German Foreign Ministry is that open source desktops cost less to operate and maintain than Windows and Microsoft Office-based systems, reports Metamorphosis:

“Open Source desktops are far cheaper to maintain than proprietary desktop configurations, says Rolf Schuster, a diplomat at the German Embassy in Madrid and the former head of IT at the Foreign Ministry.”

This is an informed opinion, as the Ministry has been working with open source since 2001, and is currently midway through a complete migration to FOSS.

“The Foreign Ministry is migrating all of its 11,000 desktops to GNU/Linux and other open source applications. According to Schuster, this has drastically reduced maintenance costs in comparison with other ministries. “The Foreign Ministry is running desktops in many far away and some very difficult locations. Yet we spend only one thousand euros per desktop per year. That is far lower than other ministries, that on average spend more than 3,000 euros per desktop per year.

“The ministry has so far migrated almost four thousand of its desktops to GNU/Linux and expects to complete the move by the summer of 2009, Schuster said. About half of all the 230 embassies and consulates have now been switched over. “It is not without problems. It took a while to find a developer in Japan to help us with some font issues we had in OpenOffice.”

The groundwork of the past few years is beginning to pay off for a large number of first-movers around the world. I expect the migration trend will continue to accelerate as more and more case studies help to sway the slower adopters.

Case Study on Non-Adoption of Open Source

October 30th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The following study has been making the rounds lately, but it’s also worth keeping track of here, for future reference.

Living in a world where most companies and small businesses I know are comfortable with open source and most already use it to a greater or lesser extent, it’s even more important to understand those who don’t use it and the smaller set of those who deliberately decide not to adopt open source yet. This knowledge will hone our development and promotion efforts to address those users’ needs in future revisions.

An academic paper written by Huysmans, Ven, and Verelst entitled Reasons for the Non-Adoption of in a Data-Intensive Public Administration is an informative resource for this purpose.

The paper’s abstract reads:

“Several academic studies have already been conducted to investigate the reasons influencing the adoption of open source desktop software such as Linux and However, few studies have been devoted to determine the reasons for not adopting open source desktop software. In order to address this issue, we present a case study on the Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy which considered the use of, but eventually decided not to adopt as their primary office suite. This decision was to a large degree influenced by the fact that a large number of users within the FPS Economy perform data–intensive tasks such as statistical data analysis and reporting on a daily basis. Notwithstanding the fact that several reasons were actually in favor of the migration, we have identified several barriers that may discourage the use of in similar environments.”

The entire paper is available online at the link above for a detailed reading.

All Russian Schools to Use Free Software

October 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

For ComputerWorld UK, Glyn Moody writes, “All Russian Schools to Use Free Software.”

“It began with a few pilot projects, and apparently these have been so successful that the Russian government has now decided to make it the standard for *all* schools.”

Most of Moody’s links lead to articles in Russian, so I cannot glean anything from them. However, when he runs them through software translation, Moody discovers that Russia plans to have one million computers in schools by 2010, and their default software platform will be locally-customized open source applications (presumably including Linux, OpenOffice, etc). After a three-year period, schools will be permitted to switch back to proprietary programs, but they’ll have to pay the licensing fees on their own. I do not expect many will be interested by that option. Conference 2008 in Beijing

October 28th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

This year the annual Conference will be held in Beijing.

“Since Redflag 2000 and IBM officially joined in 2007, Beijing has become the second hot-spot for the development of and several derived products. The contributions to OOo from China are steadily growing. It’s an exciting time: China’s software developers and users are able to look at office software with fresh minds, untainted by years of exposure to Microsoft products.”

The conference starts on November 5. News updates should be frequent during the run-up to the conference and there are many interesting sessions planned for the conference itself. I’m especially excited by the case studies of major national-scale adoptions happening around the world, specifically Malaysia, Cambodia, Spain and Brazil.

Getting Started with OOo 3.0 Guide Arrives

October 27th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

An email from Jean of the OOoAuthors project announces, “Friends of OpenDocument Inc has just published the printed edition of Getting Started with OOo3, here:

“In addition to the paperback book (US$17.95), a free download of the PDF of the book is also available from that link. The interior pages are in black & white. It is formatted for approx. 6×9-inch pages (the size of the printed book), which should print fine on A4 or US-letter paper if someone wants to print it. If you are paying for your own ink/toner and paper, buying a printed copy is probably cheaper than printing it yourself.”

For a color PDF of the same document, designed for on-screen viewing, download from

Android Source Code Available

October 23rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Google has released the source code of its Android platform, and coincidentally, I saw my first G1 in the wild yesterday.

“Android is not a single piece of hardware; it’s a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations. Everything is there, from the bootloader all the way up to the applications. And with an Android device already on the market, it has proven that it has what it takes to truly compete in the mobile arena…

“Have a great idea for a new feature? Add it! As an open source project, the best part is that anyone can contribute to Android and influence its direction. And if the platform becomes as ubiquitous as I hope it will, you may end up influencing the future of mobile devices as a whole.”

With the release of Android, the open sourcing of Symbian and the gradual failure of Windows Mobile, it’s clear the mobile market will take a very different direction than the PC market two decades ago. (I expect Apple’s iPhone will flourish alongside the open source platforms as well.)

Without the negative influence of a Microsoft monopoly, mobile devices are going to be much more dynamic and innovative than the PC software industry has been for many years. (Although open source is forcing major changes there now, as well.) This should be interesting!

Ubuntu Netbooks from Dell

October 22nd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The VAR Guy points out that in Dell’s netbook line, they now advertise that some models run Ubuntu:

“It’s one small step for Dell and consumer Linux — and one giant leap for Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux efforts. Specifically, Dell is spending advertising dollars to promote PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. The move has significant implications for the business world as well.”

Potential customers can see the same machine (with almost identical hardware) for sale in two versions: Ubuntu and Windows. And the clear and obvious price difference favors Ubuntu.

In the flyer the author found in his newspaper, in fact, only the Ubuntu version was shown!

As netbooks grow and Linux maintains a strong foothold in the segment, more people will become familiar and comfortable with it. This will lead to its growth in other business markets too, as users will want Linux’s power and usability on their primary work machines as well:

“If Ubuntu can impress consumer Netbook users, that positive first impression could help Canonical’s operating system push deeper into the corporate market.”

Venezuela Adopts ODF as National Standard

October 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

North-by-South points out another country adopting ODF in its article, Venezuela Adopts ODF as National Standard:

Speaking at the Second ODF Workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday, Carlos Gonzalez of the National Center of Information Technologies, announced that the Venezuelan government had formally adopted ODF as a standard for the ‘processing, exchange and storage of documents’.” Venezuela joins a number of other countries who have adopted this open standard, along with Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Belgium — overall, fourteen national and eight provincial governments.”

Many countries, provinces and cities have adopted ODF, because it is about competition on a fair playing field, and just like HTML, it will bring lots of new competitors, ideas, processes and products into a market that has long been stymied by the decadence of a monopoly. Already, ODF is supported by many companies and many products:

“It is currently implemented by office solutions such as OpenOffice, KOffice, Google Docs, Zoho, IBM Lotus Symphony and Corel Wordperfect. In May 2008, Microsoft announced that Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007 would add native support for the Open Document Format.”

With momentum like this, we can expect great things for ODF and its users in the future.

Over 3 Million 3.0 Downloads in One Week

October 20th, 2008 Benjamin Horst 3.0 was released one week ago today. John McCreesh writes:

“From the official announcement on Monday 13th October at 09:00 UTC, to midnight on Sunday 20th October, 3.0 recorded an astonishing three million downloads via the Bouncer. That’s:

  • 221,230 GNU/Linux users (who might be considered obvious users of the world’s leading open-source office suite)
  • an impressive 320,622 Mac OS X users (enjoying with a Mac “look and feel” for the first time), and
  • a staggering 2,449,863 Microsoft Windows users.”

Another of John’s posts provides additional information and analysis.

“If you download from the download page, you will go via the Bouncer, and your download will be logged. These logs are the only figures we are able to quantify accurately, but they are a considerable underestimate of the actual number of downloads…”

So how many people are already using 3.0? No-one knows. We know that the Bouncer figures underestimate the number of downloads. We know the number of downloads is considerably less than the number of installed copies. So five million users already?”

The release of OOo 3.0 is definitely its biggest to date. The userbase is clearly expanding, and now Mac OS X can be a part of that, as in this first week its downloads represent a healthy piece of the total, at almost 11%. Books on Lulu

October 17th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

While it’s tough to find OpenOffice books in your typical physical bookstore, I’ve just discovered the wealth of options available online from self-publisher Lulu.

I’ve long known that the great OOoAuthors handbooks have been sold on Lulu, but only today did I search more broadly and discover a great cache of books self-published by OOo-savvy authors from all over the world.

Among those on my wishlist are:

Dmitri Popov’s Basic Crash Course

OOoAuthors’ 2.x Draw Guide (the 3.x version should arrive soon)

Roberto Benitez’s Database Programming with Base & Basic

And many more.