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Libya Joins One Laptop Per Child Project

October 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

NY Times reports on Libya committing to the One Laptop Per Child project:

“The government of Libya reached an agreement on Tuesday with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit United States group developing an inexpensive, educational laptop computer, with the goal of supplying machines to all 1.2 million Libyan schoolchildren by June 2008…

To date, Mr. Negroponte, the brother of the United States intelligence director, John D. Negroponte, has reached tentative purchase agreements with Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria and Thailand, and has struck a manufacturing deal with Quanta Computer Inc., a Taiwanese computer maker.”

The deal with Libya should bring the total quantity up to the threshold required to begin manufacture.

What a fine example of the power of Linux and open source! And with this project, we should see a pivotal change in the global marketshare of Linux as well.

iTWire: “Why Office 2007 Won’t Sell”

October 16th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Stan Beer of iTWire writes Why Office 2007 won’t sell.

“When users upgrade to a new computer, it will come pre-installed with Vista so they have no choice there. However, new computers don’t come pre-loaded with Office 2007 and users will happily stick with Office 2003…

After spending money on a new computer and almost as much again on Vista, users will have a choice of spending hundreds more on a fancy revamped version of the Office they already had, which has a substantial learning curve attached to it. Or they can opt to install a compatible free open source version such as 2.0”

Choice in the software marketplace–it’s a new paradigm!

Beer concludes: “The point is there are now real alternatives to paying for an expensive upgrade to Office 2007 and the open source desktop office offering Open is probably the most viable. Until now, the open source crowd have not been as vocal as they could be. The question is can they get the message out to businesses and the consumer that they no longer have to pay for office productivity software? If they can, Office 2007 is going to be a hard sell.”

Illinois Central College Adopts OpenOffice

October 15th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Another college has made the move to adopt OpenOffice. In East Peoria, Illinois Central College has installed OOo on all of its computer lab machines, and sells installation CDs to students, faculty, staff and administrators for just $2.00.

The most complete listing of major OpenOffice deployments is the Major Deployments wiki page.

OpenOffice 2.0.4 Released Today

October 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Today is the 6th birthday of the project, and to celebrate, 2.0.4 was released.

One of the most exciting features, as has been discussed already, is the new extensions mechanism.

Click the link above to start downloading now!

Alfresco Announces Support for OpenDocument Format

October 11th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

An Alfresco company press release proclaims Alfresco Announces Support for OpenDocument Format:

“LONDON—July 26, 2006—Alfresco Software Inc., the first provider of an open source enterprise content management solution, today announced full OpenDocument Format (ODF) support through its ODF Virtual File System. ODF is an open, XML-based file standard suitable for office applications and designed for managing features in text, spreadsheet, charts and graphical documents.

Alfresco’s ODF Virtual File System offers a simple shared drive interface to any office application. Microsoft Office and OpenOffice users alike can save or drag content into intelligent drop-zones, where rules and actions transparently convert incoming content into the ODF vendor-neutral format. Documents can automatically be sent through a controlled review and approval process and also have records management rules applied to them.”

300 Linux Systems in Maryland Libraries

October 10th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Tina Gasperson from writes Library system migrates from Linux – to more Linux.

“The six branches of the Howard County Library system in Maryland provide 300 computers to their clients. This week, every computer has been upgraded from a “homegrown” Linux kernel, to Groovix, an Ubuntu Linux derivative.”

“Ubuntu Essentials”

October 9th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

This is old news by now, but still a handy reference. Mark Pilgrim has listed his most-valued applications for Ubuntu Linux.

Pilgrim was a Mac developer and blogger until he decided to switch fulltime to Ubuntu. (Not sure if he stuck with it or not, though.)

I plan to remain dual-platform, focusing on both Mac OS X and Linux (Ubuntu, in particular). I use Windows when required, but never by choice. Aside from the occasional (and ever more rare) application only written for it, Windows has no advantages and some major disadvantages when compared to Linux and Mac. (Viruses, high price, awkward UI, etc.)

In any case, the list of applications Pilgrim prefers is informative and very interesting (and many of them are cross-platform).

GullFOSS on OOo Learning from Firefox

October 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

GullFOSS is a new Sun group blog for engineers. Only a few months old, I’ve already found numerous postings of great interest. The development team is doing a good job of describing their technical and programming work in a straightforward way for an audience containing many non-programmers like me.

A recent post discusses “What can learn from Firefox?

In discussing two issues (the perceived light-and-fast Firefox vs. the “bloated” Mozilla, and the value of Firefox’ extensions), Mathias Bauer reaches a very valuable conclusion. Technical analysis of speed, and the ability to create extensions, are not as relevant as getting the right information (framed in the right way) to the marketplace.

Marketing, not an order-of-magnitude technical advance, is what seems to have launched Firefox to its current success, and marketing of its existing capabilities is what OpenOffice needs to make a similar jump.

The GullFOSS blog itself is one of the major tools to help achieve this marketing and communications success. A direct line from the actual developers to the press and end-users will cut through a lot of perceptual chaos and portray OOo in a new, more positive and also more accurate light.

Nevertheless, in my experience the above really only affects the savvy technical user. Normal end users to whom I have introduced OpenOffice have not had any complaints about speed or OOo extensions. Instead, they have been delighted by its free cost, familiar interface, compatibility with MSO file formats, and its unique features (particularly PDF export).

Open Source in Dutch Schools

October 5th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Despite efforts to encourage widespread adoption of open source software in Dutch schools, the process is moving slowly, writes Herman in his post “Open source software usage in Dutch schools.”

“The big problem is of a chicken-egg nature. The educational book publishers make software which support their books with exercises on the computer, etc. You can’t swap this software out because then it doesn’t fit with the books they bought for the children. This software is only available for Windows.”

“Another factor is that schools basically get Windows for free. A Windows 2003 terminal server costs less then 40 euros a year, the CALs are free. Because of this the regular cost savings of running Linux are limited to maintenance.”

From what I have discovered, American schools don’t seem to be getting such a deal on Microsoft software. I wonder if Microsoft feels the US market is under its control, so it doesn’t need to compete for it? However, it certainly gives open source advocates a strong argument for US schools, which I think is starting to capture administrators’ attention.

Croatian Government Adopts Open Source Policy

October 4th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Newsforge writes, “Croatian Government Adopts Open Source Policy.”

This summer, “the Croatian government adopted an open source software policy and issued guidelines for developing and using open source software in the government institutions. The Croatian government is concerned that proprietary software leads to too much dependence on the software suppliers. Open source software will make the government’s work more transparent, according to the government’s document, entitled “Open Source Software Policy.”

The European Union has been moving more and more toward open source, and Croatia’s harmonization with EU policies and structure (as part of its forthcoming membership) will help to encourage and support its move to open source as well. “The European Commission Action Plan 2000 had already established a set of goals for the development of a European information society. Stimulating the use of open source software in the public sector and the development of an electronic government administration were the two main goals.”