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64,000 FOSS CDs in France

August 13th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

In the first of what could be several major free software CD distribution projects in France, 64,000 packages of FOSS CDs containing OpenOffice, Firefox, GIMP, and Linux will be given to students in the Auvergne region.

“The project, which has been funded by the local government, will see 64,000 packs of CDs distributed to school pupils, according to Linux Arverne, a Linux user group involved in the initiative. The project aims to get students and their families more interested in free software.

Every student between the ages of 15 and 19 attending a school in Auvergne will be given a pack containing two CDs. The first CD contains free software for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, including the office productivity application, the Firefox browser and the GIMP image editing application. The second CD is a Linux Live CD, allowing pupils to try the open source operating system without installing it. The Live CD is based on Kaella, a French derivative of Knoppix.”

NeoOffice Gets $25,000

August 12th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

According to the NeoOffice website, an apparently anonymous individual has donated $25,000 to the project.

“A very generous individual has stepped forward and given a US$25,000 donation to NeoOffice/J. This much needed donation plus the many small donations received over the last few months provides enough funds for me to work full time on upgrading NeoOffice/J to use Java 1.4.

Upgrading NeoOffice/J to Java 1.4 is one of the critical tasks that must be done in order for NeoOffice/J to run on Apple’s upcoming Intel-based machines. With this donation, one of the three critical tasks for creating a Mac Intel verison of NeoOffice/J is now fully funded.

Not only do I want to thank our generous donor, but I would also like to thank the hundreds of people who have donated to NeoOffice/J. The many small donations that NeoOffice/J has received are important and, without them, working full time on NeoOffice/J would not be possible.”

Indiana Schools: 300,000 New Linux Boxes

August 11th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Great news comes from the State of Indiana this week. Linspire and a local hardware partner have been selected by the state to provide 300,000 Linux computers to the educational system, allowing each high school student his or her own.

Linspire covers the story in a press release, which is also copy-pasted by as well as InformationWeek.

In summary, “Indiana schools aren’t just talking about desktop Linux – students and teachers are actually using it every day,” said Kevin Carmony, president and CEO of Linspire, Inc. “We’re thrilled that a desktop Linux solution is being evaluated in Indiana with such success, and we’re confident that other school systems will look to this deployment as an example for their own classrooms. This is a way educators can give every student quality, well-equipped computers at a price the schools can afford.”

What Education Can Learn From Open Source

August 10th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Great piece by Alec Couros entitled, “What Education Can Learn From Open Source.”

Couros writes, “Being involved with open source programming, for most, is not a 9-5 job. It’s a passion, and the ideals of which extend well beyond the act of programming. Whether you are involved in open source programming, involved as a developer of open content or participate in other open publishing activities (e.g., blogging), it’s likely that values involved in such acts extend into your everyday life. Values expressed through sharing, cooperation and lifelong learning are sometimes characteristic of those that develop or publish shared content, and such values often extend into the ‘real’ lives of such individuals.”

Jimbo Wales Guest Writes on

August 9th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Jimbo Wales, creator of the Wikipedia, proposes a wiki-curriculum for K-12 and university schooling.

“The second thing that will be free is a complete curriculum (in all languages) from Kindergarten through the University level. There are several projects underway to make this a reality, including our own Wikibooks project, but of course this is a much bigger job than the encyclopedia, and it will take much longer.

In the long run, it will be very difficult for proprietary textbook publishers to compete with freely licensed alternatives. An open project with dozens of professors adapting and refining a textbook on a particular subject will be a very difficult thing for a proprietary publisher to compete with. The point is: there are a huge number of people who are qualified to write these books, and the tools are being created to leave them to do that.”

A Computerworld Philippines Opinion on OSS

August 7th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Roberto Verzola describes How the Government Can Save Millions of Pesos in an opinion piece published by Computerworld in the Philippines.

Making the transition is not so difficult:
“As University of the Philippines president Dodong Nemenzo said when he decided to shift the whole UP system to free/open software, the shift from DOS to Windows and from WordStar to WordPerfect and then to MS-Word was, in fact, much more difficult for him than the shift he made from MS-Office to OpenOffice.”

And, Verzola plays hardball:
“Of course, in offices where the decision-maker is corrupt, it is easy to see why he would prefer commercial software. The more expensive the software, the higher the commission. Free software means no commission.”

Whether a country is a developing country, or already wealthy, spending money recklessly cannot be justified. Verzola concludes:
“It is criminal, in fact, for government officials to spend millions of pesos of public funds for software procurement, when a free or low-cost alternative exists.”

Sharing files between and Microsoft Office

August 7th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield continues his series of very useful OpenOffice columns at Newsforge with Sharing files between and Microsoft Office.

“In version 2.0, importing and exporting Microsoft Office files is much easier than in earlier versions. However, many features of OOo are completely or partly unsupported in Microsoft Office. Many of these unsupported features are simply dropped when a file is converted. Your success in exchanging files depends largely on knowing which features are supported.”

Also, the majority of issues he discusses will still be a problem if you move a document from MS Office on one machine to MS Office on another, so this information will be helpful for those circumstances as well.

Freedom Toaster

August 3rd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Mark Shuttleworth has launched the Freedom Toaster project:

“The Freedom Toaster is a conveniently located, self-contained ‘Bring ‘n Burn’ facility, where users bring their own blank discs and make copies of the open source software they require.”

“Using a Freedom Toaster could not be easier. Using the touch-screen on the Toaster, you choose which software you want. On-screen information tells you more about the software you have selected, including how many CDs you will need. The Freedom Toasters also contain a host of on-screen information to teach people a little more about the world of Free and Open software. Touch the screen, browse and explore!”

Once again, he’s created something unique that will benefit South Africa as well as the world. Newsletter – July 2005

August 2nd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The July 2005 Newsletter is now online.

Among the news items:

  • A Hindi version of OpenOffice is being distributed with Linux for You magazine in India.
  • Vienna, Austria, has begun migrating its 16,000 municipal computers to open source, starting by identifying 7,500 to receive OpenOffice.
  • OpenOffice activities including conferences, migrations and press mentions continue to increase.