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More Notes on Open Source Netbooks

March 16th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

In the fast-growing world of open source netbooks, Laptop Magazine reports One Third of Dell Inspiron Mini 9s Sold Run Linux, which counters some recent reports that Linux was losing ground to XP.

Dell attributes part of the Linux growth to competitive pricing on the Ubuntu SKUs. “When you look at the sweet spot for this category it is price sensitivity, and Linux enabled us to offer a lower price entry point,” added Dell senior product manager John New.

According to Dell, the return rate of Ubuntu running Mini 9s are comparable to the XP rate, which we are told is “very low.” “Our focus has been making sure that before the order is taken, the customer knows what he is getting,” New added.

On a similar note, Macworld publishes Why Netbooks are Killing Microsoft, which focuses on the changes to the competitive landscape that ultra-low cost netbooks and open source operating systems and software are creating. Specifically, they seem to be affecting Microsoft’s revenues in a very real way:

Microsoft said that its revenue had increased an anemic 1.6 percent in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 compared to the same quarter a year earlier. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Windows took the biggest hit, while systems for servers and related tools had hefty increases in sales. Windows sales were down an eye-popping 8 percent; server and related revenue grew 15 percent.

Microsoft clearly blames netbooks for the drop in Windows sales. Here’s what it said in its statement: “Client revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks.”

With about 30% of netbooks shipping with Linux, and users of even the Windows netbooks unlikely to purchase Microsoft Office (it would cost more than half again the cost of the entire machine), the company is in a difficult situation that is only going to get tougher.

But on the other hand, consumers are benefitting from low cost machines that fill their needs quite well, and that is cause to celebrate.

11 Million US OpenOffice Users?

March 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Matt Asay writes Does OpenOffice have 11 million active U.S. users?

While Microsoft Office is actively used by roughly 50 percent of U.S. Internet users, according to a 2,400-strong survey administered by ClickStream Technologies, 5 percent of U.S. Web users also actively use the open-source productivity suite

Importantly, ClickStream wasn’t measuring installations. It was measuring use. The company actually installed client-side software that tracked which applications the users were running.

Based on the population of the US and the number of internet users, Asay calculates OOo users in the USA to number 11 million, concluding:

An estimated 11 million people interacting with OpenOffice on a daily basis sounds like an incredible beachhead for much broader market penetration.

Miro and Songbird Updates

March 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Miro and Songbird have both received updates in the past week. Both are projects inspired by Firefox (and both are or were built on Firefox’s coding platform XULRunner), and each one takes the open web concept into new territory–Miro to open video, and Songbird to music.

Miro announced it has reached approximately one million users, and Songbird has recorded nearly one million downloads of its latest version.

Miro has also announced its co-sponsorship of the Open Video Conference, to be held in New York City on June 19 and 20 this year. (When I will probably be out of town for a family wedding, alas.)

$200 Netbooks on the Horizon?

March 12th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Wired’s blog reports that Freescale is developing ARM-based netbooks with planned retail prices of about $200:

Freescale is racing to get netbooks out this summer, featuring the company’s chips, that would offer up to eight hours of battery life, be significantly thinner than existing designs and priced under $200.

“We are taking dead aim at the netbook space,” says Glen Burchers, marketing director at Freescale.”The value proposition that Freescale brings is dramatically lower power consumption and even lower prices.”

The price and features should attract great interest from consumers. Even more interesting in terms of computing paradigms is the fact that Windows cannot run on ARM chips, while Linux and Google Android will be perfectly suited for the platform.

Linux is already growing quickly due to pre-installation on netbooks, but Freescale machines will further accelerate its rise, since the temptation to install Windows won’t exist at all due to these technical limitations.

Open Source in India Today

March 11th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Alolita Sharma publishes an overview titled Open Source in India Today on the FOSSBazaar blog.

The current position of FOSS in India is strong:

Over the past decade open source software has become popular with technology users in India. The benefits of open source – affordability, availability of source code and freedom of choice – have made open source a preferred platform for many innovative Indian organizations and individuals…

The government of India has been involved as well, setting up a National Resource Center for Free and Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) in 2005, and the Institute for Open Technologies and Applications (IOTA) in 2007.

IOTA’s mandate is to promote open source software in government and academia. IOTA provides information on open source software and open standards to organizations looking to understand how open source can fit into their IT infrastructure. IOTA also offers training on Linux and OpenOffice.

Federal and state goverments are leveraging open source to provide services to their citizens as well as run their offices at a lower cost. Numerous organizations promote open source in India for these gains in efficiency and in the reach of providing government services to a larger part of the population.

Latvia and UK Endorse ODF

March 6th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

According to the latest ODF Alliance Newsletter, the UK and Latvia have made moves in support of OpenDocument Format (ODF).

The CIO’s office in the UK has created a new page called Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan. The ODF Alliance summarizes the UK CIO’s position as follows:

The United Kingdom has joined the growing ranks of governments that have now endorsed the use of ODF. Under the “Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan” the UK government will specify requirements by reference to open standards and require compliance with open standards in solutions where feasible. The government indicated it will support the use of ODF. It will also work to ensure that government information is available in open formats, and it will make this a required standard for government websites.

Earlier, Latvia made its decision to endorse and adopt ODF:

Latvia’s standards body, Latvian Standard (LVS), has officially approved ODF as a national standard. Latvia now joins Sweden, Brazil, Croatia, Italy, South Korea, and South Africa as countries whose national standards bodies have formally approved ODF. Taiwan’s approval of ODF by its Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) was announced 21 January 2009.

Still waiting for something formal to be announced by the US Federal Government, but here’s hoping!

New OpenOffice Planet Aggregator

March 5th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

The project has now launched its own centralized blog aggregationg planet at Planet.

This is in addition to two others I know and read, Planet and

They do seem to overlap considerably, so perhaps this new official entrant can help to consolidate the environment a bit.

DrupalCon DC 2009

March 4th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Today is the first full day of DrupalCon DC, by far the largest DrupalCon to date. Last year’s US conference in Boston had 800 attendees, and this year over 1,300 tickets sold out a month before the event.

This morning Dries gave his keynote on the state of Drupal, including plans for Drupal 7 and how Drupal and its community can contribute to the future of the internet (the “semantic web”, “web 3.0”, the “giant global graph” or whatever else it may be called).

He also reviewed the history of Drupal, which stood out because it illustrated just how quickly the community and the power of the software have grown.

Many many Drupal experts and development companies are in attendance, and all of them seem to be quite busy–converting most of the web to Drupal, it seems!

DrupalCamp in the NY Times

March 3rd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

On Saturday February 28th the New York City Drupal users’ group held its sixth DrupalCamp NYC at NYU Poly in Brooklyn.

I’ve been to four or five so far and each one was great. Following the unconference format of a BarCamp, DrupalCamps always teach me something new and useful, as well as provide an opportunity to enhance the social and business ties of the community.

Unique to this latest camp, a New York Times reporter and photographer wrote a piece on DrupalCamp 6. (Yes, I am visible in the extreme top-left of the photo.) They did a good job understanding what goes on at DrupalCamp and some of the core motivations of the community, pulling some good quotes from interviewees:

Andy Thornton, 36, a programmer from Astoria, Queens, who works at the United Nations, said the egalitarian nature of Drupal was “almost the epitome of what the Web promised at the beginning. This is very much a democracy. It doesn’t have a top-down authority.”

North by South Interviews Claudio Filho of BrOffice

March 2nd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Claudio Filho started and leads, the project to translate and distribute in the Brazilian market. ( is the official Brazilian community of, which had to choose a different name because the trademark for “OpenOffice” in Brazil was already held by another company.)

Last fall (August, 2008), North by South interviewed Filho about the BrOffice project. Already one of the largest native language communities, it has also seen great success with wide government and popular support across the country.

One of the motivations is, of course, cost efficiency in economic development:

It becomes absurd when we compare it with practical matters, like how much this means in soy or oranges, products that generates jobs, income and currency to the country. To have an idea., 1 copy of (M$) Office costs the equivalent to 2 tons of soy, or worse, to 7 tons of oranges, approximately. However, these products generates how many jobs?! And how many families are fed with these jobs?! At this first analyzes we see that solutions like are fundamental to Brazil.

Beyond this, the BrOffice project works toward other important goals that will improve the development of Brazil. Filho predicts that further investment in BrOffice will quickly:

increase the product development, generate jobs inside the community, establishment and expansion of knowledge (know-how) in the country, not to mention things like fighting digital exclusion and evasion of foreign exchange in the country.