Home of The Tiny Guide to for the US Federal Government?

December 9th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Suggestions have appeared that the United States Federal Government could save enormous amounts of money by abandoning the purchase of licenses for several major desktop software applications.

As the single largest customer of Microsoft’s Windows, MS Office, and other programs, the feds are clearly spending a lot on software licenses. In this time of unprecedented budget difficulties, no stone should be left unturned in the quest for saving costs and cutting back. Thus, the suggestion that US federal offices migrate from Microsoft Office to

PC World calls this “your second economic stimulus check.”

Phil Shapiro writes:

One of Obama’s first executive acts may be to standardize all Federal offices to

OpenOffice is free, robust, stable and more than sufficient for 99 percent of government work. If any particular government office requires Microsoft Office, they’ll be able to purchase it — after explaining in a few sentences why OpenOffice is insufficient for their needs.

What do you get when all Federal offices standardize on OpenOffice? The effect of this is a second economic stimulus check. You get increased productivity at lower cost. Scratch that. You get increased productivity at no-cost.

Does Shapiro have any evidence this might happen? Not that I am aware of, but it makes for a good thought experiment, nonetheless. And maybe saving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars doesn’t look like much in this age of $700 billion bailouts, but on the other hand, every small act counts.

Other countries have taken this step already, increasing the necessity of adapting to remain competitive: “100 million students in Brazil will have several years more experience using free software than students in the United States.”

Focus on’s Education Project

December 8th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Eric Bachard has been capably leading the rebirth of the Education Project, signing up universities in North America and Europe to teach programming and project collaboration by participating directly in OpenOffice itself. His most recent success has been to bring Ecole Centrale Nantes onboard.

Becoming an integral part of university curricula is a sure way to guarantee OOo development over the longest timeframe. In addition to contributing directly to development, universities are a good place for further adoption of the software. As they participate more, the code will evolve to better serve their needs, while the profile of OpenOffice will increase within the universities, and they’ll naturally begin to use it in departments across campus. Students will become comfortable with it, and bring it into the workplace after they graduate.

Strategically, this effort is of the utmost importance, and we wish Eric and the Education Project team great success! 3.0 for PPC Macs

December 4th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

So far, 3.0 for Mac has been limited to Intel machines only. However, plenty of Mac users are still running PPC machines and would like to use the latest OOo on their computers as well.

Fortunately, Nakata Maho has been working on builds for PPC Macs, and with a little help from other developers, has overcome several issues in delivering a PPC version of OpenOffice 3.0.

Current versions available for download are developer builds, so you may encounter lots of bugs. And new versions may be released superseding those linked here. Try this page and look for the latest directory to see if newer builds are available. (As of this writing, the most recent is “Dev_DEV300_m36“).

Songbird 1.0 Released

December 3rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Songbird is the audio player sibling to Firefox and Miro, providing innovative new features that connect music with other media and web community content. It’s a highly user-friendly open source program that lets its users discover, share and listen to music in new and unique ways.

Yesterday, Songbird 1.0 was released to the world.

What is Songbird exactly? In the project’s own words, “Songbird is an open-source customizable music player that’s under active development. We’re working on creating a non-proprietary, cross platform, extensible tool that will help enable new ways to playback, manage, and discover music.”

Many new features have been implemented in this latest release, and there are many more planned for the next phases of development. Now is a great time to check it out, provide feedback, and even get involved to participate in its ongoing growth.

NeoOffice Resources Roundup

December 2nd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Recently, I’ve been in contact with an Ohio school district through an educational technology mailing list. The district has migrated to NeoOffice on all its computers (Macs, of course), but did not implement training or documentation for the new users. Thus, they have had some frustrations with the migration.

I sent the following in an email to give them the resources they need to get comfortable with their new software, and I’m posting it here in case it is useful for others in a similar situation:

I’m happy to help you find the NeoOffice (and related OpenOffice) online communities. Without participating in these, or without any training to accompany the switch, I can see why you and your colleagues would be frustrated! I hope I can help you all cross over the transition period to smooth sailing beyond.

For manuals, I suggest Solveig Haugland’s and the OOoAuthors Project’s manuals.

Solveig’s blog offers useful tips every day:
Her book is called “ 2 Guidebook” and is the definitive reference on the software:

OOoAuthors is a group of volunteers who have written a plethora of great books on the OpenOffice component applications. You can download any of them free as PDFs, or you can purchase the printed books from for a reasonable price. Links to all of these can be found on the site’s homepage:

For online resources, NeoOffice maintains a user forum and a wiki where you can ask specific questions of the many users and volunteers who participate there.

NeoOffice Forums:
NeoOffice Wiki:

OpenOffice has its own official forum as well. Since the two programs are very similar in most functionality, you can also ask questions of the site users there:

In reviewing it just now, I came across the following thread that should be particularly useful for you:

The books above should provide the step-by-step instructions for specific tasks. If you need more, then any book about OpenOffice should suffice, and you can also look into The INGOTS online training and certification program, at, for online training materials (accredited in the UK, but quite useful here in the USA too).

Good luck, and let me know if you have further questions!

“9 Must-Have OpenOffice Extensions”

December 1st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

OpenOffice’s Extensions are getting a lot of attention lately. Several articles in the latest Linux Identity special issue describe extensions, including my own (The Top OOo Extensions, second from last in the list).

In addition to these,’s Damien Oh writes 9 Must-Have OpenOffice Extensions, which offers another take on some of the best. Among his favorites are the Sun PDF Import Extension, Professional Template Pack II, OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs, Writer’s Tools, LanguageTool, and several more.