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Creating a Book with OpenOffice

January 30th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Newsforge’s Dmitir Popov writes Creating a Book with Writer.

In the comments, a reader discusses a book that he has written (and keeps updated) with OpenOffice: A Guide to Rock Climbs at Bon Echo, 3rd Edition.

And, of course, my own book was written in (Appropriately, since it is The Tiny Guide to

Two Interviews from Groklaw: Lapeyre and Quinn

January 26th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

PJ of Groklaw interviews the CTO of the French Tax Agency, IT Dept, Jean-Marie Lapeyre. It is an excellent article and clearly shows the real world business case for the use of FOSS.

PJ asks Lapeyre how he first learned about FOSS, and his response is powerful: “When in college, I discovered it and quickly became convinced that behind this philosophy, there is a strong model for mutualization of software costs (design, development and, more important, long-term maintainance), much better than the proprietary model. In fact, it is a realization of knowledge propagation and sharing (better to exchange than to hide).”

PJ also lands the first interview with Peter Quinn since he resigned from Massachusetts’ employ.

The article closes with this Quinn quotation, responding to several of PJ’s questions at once: “I think people are beginning to understand how desktops are being used in the Commonwealth which means that the vast majority of folks are content consumers. They require readers, a robust browser, email and maybe calendaring. Given that reality, it seems to be a blatant waste of the taxpayers’ money to continue to buy MS Office when in fact most people use a very small piece of its functionality. And, as a user of OpenOffice myself for both professional and personal use, it certainly does fulfill all my requirements. And I use more of a suite’s functionality than most folks in the Commonwealth.

So given ODF is the accepted standard and the changing face of desktop utilization, I think it has a real chance to prevail. And I would hope that ECMA would force one standard (not likely as noted above). That is not the Commonwealth’s fight but the world benefits with only one standard. And yes, the MS monoculture is and will continue to be a security risk.”

“Corel Pussyfoots on WordPerfect ODF”

January 25th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Linux Watch reports Corel pussyfoots on WordPerfect ODF.

SJVN writes, “In particular, the renewed office suite boasts of its ability to import and export documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format). What it doesn’t have, however, is the ability to import or export to the open-standard ODF (Open Document Format).

This is somewhat surprising, since Greg Wood, communications manager for Corel WordPerfect, recently pointed out that, “Corel is an original member of the OASIS Technical Committee on the OpenDocument format, and one of Corel’s senior developers is among the original four authors of the ODF specification.”

So, I wonder why Corel hasn’t implemented ODF in its new WordPerfect Office X3. Does Microsoft still own a part of Corel? (Remember how Corel Linux was cancelled after MS stepped in…) Or is this just paranoia?

Their official answer is that they haven’t received enough demand from their customers. However, I think this is a strategic decision that Corel should take—there are 50,000 desktops up for grabs in Massachusetts to any company that will implement ODF. There are probably going to be many more organizations making the same decision in the next few years, and Corel could position itself for strong growth, if they’re willing to take this risk! They are sabotaging their chance for greater future success by not supporting ODF now, and it’s a shame.

Announcing Wikipages

January 24th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

I’m excited to announce the launch of, my new wiki yellow pages website.

Everything is under heavy development, but being a wiki, that’s expected! This release is not quite a beta, so maybe we can call it Wikipages Alpha.

For now, New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia are covered. Soon to be added are Los Angeles and Boston.

Please take a look and feel free to add your wisdom and experience to its pages. The whole point is to build a self-sustaining community! Comments and suggestions are very welcome. (bhorst at mac dot com)

Groklaw: “Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD”

January 23rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Groklaw summarizes an EU report in Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD.

PJ writes, “Look at this EU FLOSSpols survey of FLOSS use by 955 European local governments, which found that “FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than non-users FLOSS use appears to reduce administrator workload per PC, and IT departments with high workloads are more likely to want a future increase in FLOSS use.” The survey was done in March of 2005.”

Peter Quinn to Keynote SCALE Workshop

January 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

SCALE 4x will include an OpenDocument Format in Government Workshop, to be keynoted by Peter Quinn!

I’ve been invited to this workshop (cool, a personal invite!), and though it’s on the other side of the country, I would really like to be there. Don’t know yet if I can make it though.

Part of the press release reads,
“Peter Quinn served as Chief Information Officer and Director of the Massachusetts Information Technology division for 4 years. (2002 – 2006). As CIO, Quinn was responsible for setting information technology standards and policy for the state of Massachusetts. Quinn is most well known for initiating Massachusetts’ transition to OpenDocument Format. Mr. Quinn came to public service following a successful career in private sector IT, most recently as the CIO for Boston Financial Data Services.

SCALE’s workshop on OpenDocument format will take place on February 10, 2006. The event will begin at 1 pm with Mr. Quinn’s keynote presentation. Other speakers in the workshop will include:

  • Douglas Heintzman (Director, Technical Strategy – IBM)
  • J David Eiserberg (OpenDocument Fellowship)
  • Gary Edwards (OpenDocument Fellowship)”

HP on Linux and Novell on OpenDocument

January 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

HP signs a deal with Mandriva to preinstall Linux on desktop systems it sells throughout Latin America and Brazil. (Matched with all the support Brazil and its neighboring countries are giving to FOSS, this part of the world is becoming Linux country.)

Novell makes a formal announcement reaffirming its support of the OpenDocument Format and will even increase support for it in the next version of Suse Linux. “In addition, Novell is working to promote ODF along with Sun Microsystems–the company that launched–Google, IBM and Red Hat. And Novell is a member of OASIS technical committee that publishes and governs the ODF standard.”

Portable OpenOffice

January 19th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Yet another example of how distributed development (the open source model) can produce superior software innovation, is They have customized various FOSS applications to be capable of running from a flash disk, without installation on the host computer.

John T. Haller is the force behind this project, so check out his site too.

Among others, Firefox, GAIM, and AbiWord are all represented, but, Portable OpenOffice is perhaps my favorite.

Firefox Marketshare at 20% in Europe?

January 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ZDNet UK reports Firefox ‘Passes 20 Percent Market Share’ in Europe.

From the article:
“Mozilla Firefox has achieved a market share of over 20 percent in Europe, according to the latest figures released by French Web metrics firm XiTi.

XiTi, which based its figures on a sample of 32.5 million Web site visits that took place on Sunday 8 January, said that Finland has the highest proportion of Firefox users, followed by Slovenia and Germany. It found that the open source browser is used by 38, 36 and 30 percent of users in these countries respectively.”

Taiwanese Parliament Votes Against Microsoft

January 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Dan Nystedt of Techworld reports: Taiwanese Parliament Votes Against Microsoft. (Slashdot discusses the article here.)

According to the article:
“Taiwan’s parliament has voted to end its dependence on Microsoft software, demanding that the government reduce purchases from the software giant by 25 percent this year.

The resolution, passed on Friday, is an attempt by the island’s law-making body to end the near monopoly Microsoft has with local government offices, a legislative aide said.”

It’s sound economic policy not to depend on a foreign monopoly supplier for such essential infrastructure! Good for Taiwan, and they can be added to the list of entities moving toward software freedom.