February 27th, 2011 Benjamin Horst
The iPad and forthcoming tablets from Android (and perhaps WebOS) are likely to displace PCs, at least in the developing world where the installed base of either is currently very low. The first country to watch is China, while India and much of Southeast Asia won’t be far behind. Since Android is open source, it will probably become the largest platform, but iOS devices are likely to take the prestige/luxury niche.
James Allworth discusses much the same idea on his blog post “The Fall of Wintel and the Rise of Armdroid.” Reporting on the Consumer Electronics Show, he writes,
The iPad and its many clones were not really the main story of the show. The main story — which almost nobody covered — was that this year’s CES marks the beginning of the end for Microsoft and Intel.
This transition has been a long time coming in the PC industry. Ironically enough, both of these two big players have seen the writing on the wall for almost a decade. But as is so often the case, incumbents find it immensely hard to disrupt themselves.
Allworth predicts tablets will undermine the sale of PCs to the point of extinction, and points out major milestones that have already occurred on that path:
At CES, for the first time, almost all of Microsoft’s OEM partners abandoned Microsoft exclusivity; and Microsoft’s next-generation operating system has abandoned Intel exclusively for the first time. There’s no reason to believe that either of the two companies are going to be able to turn this around. On one hand, ARM processors are perfect for powering these handheld devices. Manufacturers can customize to their heart’s content. And Android is on track to dominate the operating system space (though maybe not profitably). Both ARM and Android — Armdroid — are providing everything that tablet manufacturers need, and doing it more effectively and at a lower cost than Microsoft and Intel are able to.
We will be able to look back and say that this was the CES that saw Wintel fall and Armdroid rise up.
This outcome seems likely, though I don’t imagine PCs and laptops will disappear from offices and homes in developed countries for quite some time. However, in the developing world, this will become another case of technological leapfrogging–just as China jumped over landline phones directly to mobile phones, I think they’ll jump over PCs to arrive at tablets. The same for India and other countries in their rapid-growth phases.
As a participant in the LibreOffice project, then, I cannot sufficiently emphasize the importance of developing ODF editors for these upcoming platforms!
January 30th, 2011 Benjamin Horst
Recent encouraging news comes from OSOR by way of Freiburg, Germany and Helsinki, Finland.
Freiburg has found that migrating to OpenOffice.org for its standard office software package reduced its cost by 75% compared to the cost of a proprietary office suite.
In “DE: Freiburg: open source office three to four times cheaper,” OSOR reports:
Rüdiger Czieschla, head of IT at Freiburg, presented on the city’s use of OpenOffice on 1 December, at a conference in Badajoz organised by Osepa, a project to increase awareness on the advantages of free and open source software. According to him, using OpenOffice cost the city 200,000 Euro. The proprietary alternative would have cost between 600,000 for just a text editor and 800,000 Euro for the proprietary office suite.
ODF compatibility and powerful features like PDF-export also weighed heavily in the city’s decision to adopt OpenOffice.org in 2007, where it is now installed on 2,300 desktops.
Next, the city council of Helsinki in Finland has determined to undertake a pilot project to implement open source software within the city administration. OSOR’s article titled “FI: City of Helsinki to start open source desktop pilot” explains how the city council voted to initiate the project:
[Johanna Sumuvuori]’s resolution, that tells the city to start a pilot, got the support of sixty council members. “We want the city to get some experience with open source and to find out if we can use it, for instance, to save money. The city is wasting more money every year on proprietary software licenses.”
In the resolution, the council members refer to other public administrations in Finland that are using open source. According to the council members, the ministry of Defence has been using Linux and other open source software for years to develop some of its critical applications. They also point to the Finnish judicial system that has switched to using open source office applications. “Many schools have already switched and in the city of Lappeenranta they estimate this will help to save some 70 percent on the schools’ IT budget.”
With 20,000 desktop computers in Helsinki’s system, adopting open source software could have a significant financial benefit for the city.
January 8th, 2011 Benjamin Horst
I’ve made a major update to the LibreOffice Paper Plane design, which you can download here: LibreOffice Paper Plane 2 (ODG) or PDF.
The folding instructions are now included within the ODG file on a second page, and I’ve included photos of each step in the folding process. This should help clarify some of the more tricky steps, and show what the final result is intended to look like!
This file is sized for US Letter, but stretching it to print on A4 should work equally well. Further, the lines run right to the edge of the paper, which many printers cannot accommodate; however, on all test printers only a small amount of non-essential information has been lost, which does not harm the plane creation.
Feedback and custom variations are welcome! (This file is licensed CC-BY-SA. Please link to this blog post if you share derivations online.)
October 11th, 2010 Benjamin Horst
LibreOffice was announced a few short weeks ago, and time has flown by since then, as community members work feverishly to build out the project infrastructure for the future.
Late last week, Florian Effenberger sent the following email summarizing some of the successes of the first week:
Strong support for the first week of The Document Foundation
The Internet, October 6, 2010 – One full week has gone by since the
announcement of The Document Foundation, and we would like to share some
numbers with the people who have decided to follow us since the first
The beta of LibreOffice has been downloaded over 80,000 times. The
infrastructure has expanded dramatically from 25 to 45 working mirrors
in 25 countries (in every continent), including islands in the Pacific
Ocean. This number is close to half the mirrors achieved by
OpenOffice.org during ten years of history of the project.
People have started to contribute to the code, suggesting features,
committing patches and filing bugs. In just one week, around 80 code
contributions (patches, and direct commits) have been accepted in
LibreOffice from a total of 27 volunteers, several of them newly-won,
with around 100 developers hanging out on the #libreoffice irc channel
which is buzzing with activity (around 14,000 messages sent).
Turning to the wider community, 2.000 people have subscribed to the list
announce@ to keep up with the latest TDF news, and 300 people to the
discussion list discuss@, where there has been an average of 100
messages per day.
To round up the numbers, there are nearly 600 people following TDF
tweets, over 150 following the identi.ca TDF account, and over 1,000
fans on Facebook. The traffic on the server has been in the region of
In its only official response to the creation of the Foundation, Oracle
has stated: “Oracle is investing substantial resources in
OpenOffice.org. With more than one hundred million users, we believe
OpenOffice.org is the most advanced, most feature rich open source
implementation and will strongly encourage the Open Office community to
continue to contribute through www.openoffice.org.”
The Foundation understands from this that Oracle has no immediate plans
to support the Foundation, or to transfer community assets such as the
OpenOffice.org trademark. However, the Foundation hopes this position
will change as the company sees the volunteer community – an essential
component of OpenOffice’s past success – swing its support behind the
new Foundation. In the meantime, the Foundation will continue software
development under the LibreOffice brand.
March 31st, 2010 Benjamin Horst
Today is Document Freedom Day, a global day to promote awareness of the importance of open document formats and open standards like ODF (OpenDocument Format) and HTML.
To catch up on what’s happening around the world today, see the Document Freedom Blog.
For an OpenOffice.org perspective on Document Freedom Day, see Louis Suarez-Potts’ post titled Document Freedom Day.
February 5th, 2010 Benjamin Horst
ODF support in more applications is always a good thing. It provides further utility to users, expands and strengthens the software ecosystem, and demonstrates the superiority of open data formats.
Along these lines, Bob Sutor asks, “What would ODF support for WordPress look like?”
He points out a Drupal module serving a similar purpose, and collects some good comments from Rob Weir and Walt Hucks helping to further develop the idea.
January 30th, 2010 Benjamin Horst
Danish OpenOffice.org project members pointed out the Danish Parliament’s decision this week to require government data be stored in open formats. They developed a list which explicitly included ODF and excluded MSOOXML.
The original article can be found at: ODF Wins the Document Format War (via Google Translate).
It’s also covered in English at The Register (Danes Ditch Microsoft, Take ODF Road – At Last) and OSOR.EU (DK: Danish state administrations to use ODF).
The Register: “Parliamentary parties decided – after four years of deliberation – to use the Open Document Format in all Danish state office documents.”
OSOR.EU points out:
“The open standard ODF is recognised by many European member states. Next to Denmark it is also a national standard for public administrations in Belgium, Germany, France, Lithuania, Sweden and the Netherlands. ODF is recommended by Norway and it is one of the document standards at NATO.
“ODF is a document standard supported by many office applications, including most open source office software packages. The list of software companies supporting ODF include Sun Microsystems with its StarOffice, Google with Google Docs, IBM with Lotus Domino and Workplace. Microsoft supports ODF in the second edition of its 2007 version of its Office suite. Earlier versions require a plugin made by Sun Microsystems. ODF support is also included in the office suite Hangul, used by many of Korea’s public administrations and the office suite Itchitaro, which is popular in Japan. Open source applications that can handle ODF include OpenOffice, K-Office, Abiword, Gnumeric, Scribus and TextEdit.”
December 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
According to recent reports, the usage share of Firefox, at 45.6%, has surpassed IE (at 44.4%) for the first time, in Germany. “Other” browsers have also reached a record high of 9.5%. See Heise Online for the full story.
Meanwhile, ODF has been selected by Slovakia as its government’s standard data format. Boycott Novell reports this and other news in ODF Wins in Slovakia, Maybe More Countries.
October 14th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
Right about now, OpenOffice.org is celebrating its ninth birthday. (Catch www.openoffice.org for the birthday cake logo before it’s gone!)
The project and the software have achieved much in nine years. Highlights to date include helping launch the OpenDocument Format, creating a complex application that supports all the main computer platforms, distributing hundreds of millions of copies, building a userbase of possibly one hundred million users, and saving governments, businesses, students and home users hundreds of millions of dollars collectively in software licensing fees.
Here’s to the next nine!
September 28th, 2009 Benjamin Horst
Linux Beacon publishes Getting the Most Out of OpenOffice.org Writer, providing a number of tips for users of OpenOffice Writer.
Linux Beacon (formerly known as No Thick Manuals) is a wiki that offers a growing collection of quality hands-on articles and tips to the best open source applications for Linux.
With great detail, the article covers a wide range of tasks in Writer. Very advanced topics, such as “Creating conditional content using sections” and “Inserting data from a data source into a Writer document,” are discussed alongside simpler tasks that will benefit newer users.
Another interesting article on Linux Beacon focuses on creating ODFs, titled “Create ODF documents without OpenOffice.org.”
While you can create and save documents in the OpenDocument format using OpenOffice.org, KWord, or AbiWord, there are other ways to generate ODF files. odtwriter, for example, can help you to quickly convert plain text files formatted using reStructured Text markup into odt (OpenOffice.org Writer-compatible ODF) documents.