February 27th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
s5h.net assembles a collection of links to support its article OpenOffice.org More Popular Than Realised, Even in Education.
The roundup links to seven articles covering the widespread use of OOo in education, the number of downloads achieved by OOo 2.0 (old news now), comparisons between OOo and MSO for new users, the cost advantage of OOo and how its continued growth will impact Microsoft revenues, and also info on NeoOffice and RedOffice.
In response to the title, it is truly a difficult task to estimate OOo (or Linux) usage share. Recent estimates range as high as 200 million OOo users globally and rising fast, but there is no central record-keeping and there are numerous ways to share the code.
Eventually the mainstream media will catch on and report the large number of OOo users, which will cause even more people to switch, but until then all I can say is that when I send ODF files to colleagues, I almost never hear complaints. (Are they not reading my documents? Are they opening them in Google Docs? Or do they use OOo?)
February 26th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
In the past few months the parent company sponsoring OpenProj was bought by Serena Software (for their hosted project planning application), while OpenProj continues to be developed as a standalone open source application.
Recently, Serena announced OpenProj reached the milestone of one million downloads, writing:
OpenProj has quickly become the most popular open source application for project management.
“OpenProj fills an important gap in the desktop market, as a key component in the Office family of products now has a replacement available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows. We are excited to celebrate the 1 Million download milestone.” noted Marc O’Brien, vice president of SaaS Projects and PPM Solutions at Serena Software.
February 25th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
As I have been watching the rumors to see how explicitly the Obama Administration supports, promotes and uses open source software (I’ve posted on this thrice so far: 1, 2, 3.), naturally their choice to deploy Drupal for the Recovery.gov site is quite exciting!
Indeed, Recovery.gov is designed for transparency in multiple ways. First and foremost, its entire purpose is to make the details of federal government spending on the stimulus package visible to anyone and everyone, which should set a strong precedent of fiscal accountability that has been lacking for too long.
Second, to those geeks interested in infrastructure, the choice of running on an open source software stack is another vote on behalf of transparency. The software has a community of users and developers and has earned trust and respect through its open design and development process. This is subtle, but important, because it shows the depth of commitment to the ideal of transparency, when an organization chooses transparent, openly-designed tools because they are honestly committed to the concept.
More thoughts on the issue can be found at TechPresident in Why the White House’s Embrace of Drupal Matters. Author Nancy Scola also points out the well-known fact that open source software means no licensing fees were spent in implementing the software, further saving scarce dollars for other investments.
February 24th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
As part of its ongoing work to improve the way people experience the web, Mozilla Labs promotes its Concept Series, in which anyone can develop and submit user experience concepts for future versions of Firefox.
Mozilla Labs defines its mission as:
Laboratories are where science and creativity meet to develop, research, and explore new ideas. Mozilla Labs embraces this great tradition – a virtual lab where people come together to create, experiment, and play with new Web innovations and technologies.
The Concept Series aims to provoke thought, facilitate discussion, and inspire future design directions for Firefox, the Mozilla project, and the Web as a whole.
Though still a new project, I expect the Concept Series to generate many ideas over time, keeping Firefox and other Mozilla projects at the forefront of the open web and software user experience and user interface design.
February 23rd, 2009 Benjamin Horst
As part of its marketing, outreach, and community support efforts, OpenOffice.org community members are forming groups on various social networking sites to create more communication between existing users and to promote OOo to potential new users.
The latest, as promoted this week by Alexandro Colorado, has been on Identi.ca, an open source competitor to Twitter. I believe you must be logged in before you can see the Identi.ca OpenOffice.org group, but it should grow into a useful real-time place to follow OOo news, so it’s worth signing in (it allows OpenID, so you have no excuse not to do it).
I know there are Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other social network OpenOffice groups out there, so I’ll post them here when I get a chance to catch up (or add a comment yourself, please).
February 20th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
Canadian company Userful and Brazilian company ThinNetworks have partnered to deliver 356,800 Linux-based desktop systems to Brazilian schools, according to a their recent press release, Userful and ThinNetworks Announce the World’s Largest Desktop Virtualization Deployment – 356,800 Green Workstations.
Userful’s key innovation is to harness the excess power of current PC hardware and the multi-user nature of Linux operating systems. Multiple monitors, keyboards and mice are connected to one computer, giving each user separate but complete simultaneous access to his or her computing environment.
In the exuberant style of press releases, the two companies announce:
It is a historical achievement, being: the world’s largest ever virtual desktop deployment; the world’s largest ever desktop Linux deployment, and a new record low-cost for PCs with the PC sharing hardware and software costing less than $50 per seat. The decision to deploy Userful and ThinNetworks’ low-cost and environmentally friendly desktop virtualization solution establishes the Brazilian Ministry of Education as a global leader in computer education and provides other governments and institutions worldwide with a proven model for improving student to computer ratios while rolling out large numbers of desktops with minimal cost and environmental impact.
To my knowledge, all of their statements are factually correct, and the news is quite exciting, which makes it easy for me to overlook the typical annoyance of marketing speak.
Skeptics might assume this is vaporware, but in fact the first phase has already been implemented with 18,750 workstations installed and functioning well in rural schools.
The scale of this project and the prior successes of Userful and ThinNetworks are extremely satisfying to see. This is a huge success story for Linux and open source, and with luck it will quickly inspire similar projects in the US, where I might be able to see it with my own eyes (and save my own tax dollars from being wasted on proprietary alternatives).
February 19th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
North-by-South blogs about the recent conference organized by the Open World Forum in Paris, France, in Open World Forum releases the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap:
OWF organized an event in December 2008 which brought together people from across the FLOSS spectrum: programmers, advocates, corporate and small business users, hobbyists, academics and investors. OWF’s focus is the future of information technology within the context of the FLOSS revolution. One significant outcome of the 2008 event was the culmination of strategic, tactical and political discussions in the form of a roadmap through the year 2020.
Comments are welcome on the working version of the roadmap.
Also from the conference, Brazil’s success in adopting open source was highlighted as an example for other governments to follow.
The Public Software Portal of Brazil works to aggregate all the initiatives with FLOSS inside of the Brazillian government. It also connects them with the community in that it’s open to anyone (companies, individuals, etc) who want to contribute or propose a new solution. It’s an important step forward when the citizens of a country can see and contribute to the technology and the source code used by their government to serve them. This is a level of transparency that, without doubt, has become a critical element of modern democracies.
With the cost advantages and the improved government transparency it can provide, it’s high time for the USA to consider forming its own Public Software Portal to share information and best practices between federal agencies, states and local governments.
February 18th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
OpenOffice.org 3.1 is the next upcoming release of OOo, and among the new features it will include is a very visible improvement to graphics, in the form of antialiasing support.
Armin Le Grand describes what to expect in his post Finally: Anti Aliasing is Done for OOo 3.1 for the GullFOSS blog. One of the most obvious improvements is in the display of charts:
Antialiasing an OOo Chart
The improvements that allow this attractive antialiasing also bring along other improvements, including better geometric processing for all vector graphics, with further upgrades planned for the future:
The extended DrawingLayer starting from OOo 3.1 will allow more graphical enhancements in the future. As an example, Full Object Drag as a feature for OOo 3.1 is realized using the new functionalities. You may also have noticed the enhanced selection visualizations in the Applications, also a result of those internal changes.
I make heavy use of Draw to create flowcharts and webpage wireframes, so these graphical enhancements will be a welcome enhancement to my work processes.
February 17th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
OpenOffice.org community member and public relations professional Italo Vignoli posts “The Price of Success” on his blog, in which he reveals that OpenOffice.org is being downloaded at a faster rate than new computers are being sold in Italy.
He suspects the same is true in Germany and France, and if Vignoli is correct, than three out of the four biggest national economies in the EU (UK is the fourth) are in the midst of a massive shift toward OpenOffice.org over competing office software suites:
OpenOffice.org 3.0 has been a huge success, and this has raised the awareness of the open source office suite to an unprecedented level. In Europe, where OOo was already quite popular, especially in France, Germany and Italy, download numbers have reached new records. In Italy, they are now higher than the number of new PCs sold in the country, as they probably are in France and Germany (although I don’t have PC figures for these two countries).
Because of the slippery nature of download statistics as a measure of a software program’s usage share, Vignoli and his team in Italy have developed statistical methods to eliminate false data and better estimate the true impact OOo is having there.
Downloads are a key measurement of OpenOffice.org success, although they represent a trend and can’t be compared with licenses. This means that I am extremely careful in picking numbers when they don’t follow a logical trend (i.e., an increase – not a jump – after the announcement of each new version, and then a slow decrease)… Most of the time, we ignore the numbers that we don’t trust, even if this means that we ignore several “real” downloads.
Even so, generally accepted knowledge indicates the number of OOo users exceeds the number of measured downloads, due to distribution through other methods like peer-to-peer networks, CDs, flash media (thumb or key drives), and others.
February 16th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
Submissions for this year’s upcoming OOoCon 2009 have been received from a number of great teams in cities around the world, and voting is now open for OOo site members to select the host city.
The candidate cities for 2009 and 2010 (both will be simultaneously selected and begin their planning this year, in a change of procedure) are:
I can think of good reasons to choose any, and am impressed by the arguments put forth from each one of the candidates. It will be interesting and exciting to see what the final choice is for hopeful conference attendees.