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OpenOffice Tide Keeps Surging

January 21st, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Continuing its recent momentum of press coverage and mindshare and marketshare growth, a recent Slashdot questioner asks, Is it Time for OpenOffice?

The discussion that follows reveals many small businesses have already implemented OpenOffice, while others are planning to with the impending release of Microsoft’s competing product.

From one responder:

“One thing I know for sure: it’s going to be one cold day in hell before I purchase another MSO:mac license for any of my personal macs. There is no reason for a home user to be shelling out for MSO:mac just to write letters and make spreadsheets when both OOo and NeoOffice are completely capable, easy to use and completely free.”

And another:

“I’m one of a couple of devs in my office using Ubuntu as my desktop. I use OpenOffice and can open all docs that people send to me: Powerpoint, Excel, Word docs. They all work fine. Plus I can export as PDF’s and a variety of other formats. The only time I have run into a problem is when people are saving in a very old format like Word97. But then, even Microsoft Office users have the same problem and do the same thing I do… ask the user to resend in a more recent format.”

A third writes:

“Well, I do use OpenOffice in the workplace for about 60 users. They’re factory users using terminals connecting to MS server 2003 terminal servers. Installing OOo was the cheapest way for the supervisors who needed to modify a couple of excel and word docs to legally do so. We had one file that wouldn’t print correctly, so we installed excel viewer so the user could print that file. Other than that it’s worked pretty well… People working in the offices still have MS Office installed, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.”

Just as PCs slowly infiltrated offices and then suddenly became ubiquitous, it seems that OOo is in the infiltration phase right now. People are using it because it gets an immediate job done. Once this strong foothold in offices is fully developed, the rational move for businesses will be to consolidate on the cheaper, more practical option––and the tipping point will have come.

EU’s FOSS Study on Boing Boing

January 19th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The famous study of open source software just published by the EU has made its rounds to all the major tech sites. Even Boing Boing picks it up.

I’ll quote their summary:

Rishab Ayer Gosh has led an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers through an enormous study of Free/Open Source Software. The paper, called “Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU,” runs to 287 pages. It exhaustively documents the way that Free/Open technologies dominate information technology and describes who actually writes Free/Open software. It also talks about what it would cost to replicate the benefits of Free/Open software through proprietary development (EU12 billion!), how many person years that would take (131,000!), and projects the total size of the Free/Open market in the years to come.”

This study may be a watershed in the digital tipping point toward open source software that we all know is coming.

Edit: InformationWeek reports on the study, and pulls this valuable quote:

“Gorman insists the open source software makes economic sense. “It’s a very good business model for entering large, existing markets and taking significant share, and creating significant customer and investor value,” he said. “If you’re an incumbent competing with a new company that’s an open source company, it’s very difficult to adjust or change your business model to be competitive. Usually by the time they end up adjusting, it’s too late.”

Kerala, India to Adopt FOSS, and Docvert

January 19th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Rounding up a few interesting news items today:

Recently, Tamil Nadu, a high technology state in India, announced its move to FOSS for 99% of government computing infrastructure.

Now its neighbor, Kerala, is also moving to FOSS. Combined, these states have a population of nearly 95 million people–more than Germany–and both are key states in India’s IT economy.
Item 2 is an update to Docvert, an LGPL web service for converting documents like MS Word “.doc” files to the ODF standard or other XML-based formats. Anyone can install it on their own web server to convert documents, or use it as a base on which to build further software projects.

3monkeys on “ODT Opened Up”

January 18th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The 3monkeys blog takes a look at the guts of the ODF standard.

This is the second part of his multi-part article. The first compared ODF file sizes to MS .doc file sizes.

OpenDocument is really starting to take off in products and as a focal point of developer interest. It seems the same type of creativity that is exhibited around the HTML and CSS standards is now taking an interest in ODF, which means we can expect a lot of interesting inventions and innovations to come.

More on the new Maemo

January 17th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Engadget posts a photo gallery of the new Nokia N800, the successor to Nokia’s 770 Debian-based internet tablet.

Also, ThoughtFix continues his coverage of the N800 with an interview with Ari Jaaksi of Nokia and plenty more.

Many good points come from the interview. One of the most interesting is this (paraphrased) quote from Dr Jaaksi: “Linux, Gnome, gstreamer, and other open-source choices were a BIG contribution to the success of this device.”

Of course they were! The 770 reached out to open source developers and gave them a real voice in its development. A community naturally formed around it, Nokia treated the developers as they ought to be treated, and the product became a success. This is a really good example of the way companies and developer communities can work together well.

More on ODF in Massachusetts

January 16th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Last week, Walt Hucks of Opportunity Knocks wrote Mass Plus ODF: A Winning Combination in response to an earlier Mass High Tech article ODF and the benefits of going open source.

From Mass High Tech, the greatest strength of choosing ODF is the transparency of the format’s development:

“The OASIS organization provided the forum and the transparency for interested parties to work on the problem in a manner similar to the open-source collaborative development model. The transparency of the process enabled everyone, including the commonwealth of Massachusetts, to observe the process of creating the specification and to have confidence that their needs were being addressed. As issues were identified, such as accessibility for users with disabilities, there was a forum of participation that allowed people to coordinate their efforts to efficiently find solutions.”

Hucks ties this together with some additional research into the ongoing implementation of the ODF standard by Massachusetts (of which there is little news at the moment), and the attempts by Microsoft to derail this so that their own quasi-standard might stand a chance to replace ODF. (Which would be harmful to the state’s interests, the competitive marketplace for software, and indeed, everyone except Microsoft itself.)

Let’s hope things are progressing well in Massachusetts, and that upon their successful migration to ODF, we see a few other states bravely follow.

Solveig Haugland’s 2 Guide

January 15th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Christian Einfeldt reviews Solveig Haugland’s 520-page 2 Guide. I consider its predecessor to have been the definitive guide to OpenOffice 1.x, and I expect this book will carry on her tradition.

Solveig self-published the book, which can be purchased here.

Several free chapters are available online to get you started.

Erwin Tenhumberg on Open Source in the EU

January 13th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg posted two interesting articles recently:

  1. New EU report about the impact of open source
  2. French Ministry saved 1.2M Euros with

The first article links to a PDF of an EU study on the impact of open source. Erwin chose to highlight a few points of particular interest, which I’ll quote here:

  • According to table 1 on page 31 more than 90% of the surveyed Brazilian government organization and more than 70% of the Indian government organizations are using
  • According to paragraph on page 35 a market share of 8% in German businesses is estimated for
  • Quote from page 102: “Indeed, the group of users was also asked whether as a result of the experimentation they thought they could do with OpenOffice the same amount of work they could do with Microsoft Office. As shown in Figure 46, under 10% of respondents thought they could not, more than 20% thought they definitely could perform as well with OpenOffice, while almost 60% thought they could be as productive with OpenOffice (as confirmed by the time-use analysis) though with some problems. Given their previous lack of experience with OpenOffice the fact that problems were subjectively perceived is unsurprising, but the fact that objectively the productivity of users remained the same and did not reduce is important.”
  • An interesting read is also table 45, “Conclusions from the comparison of the usage of OOo and MSO in the organizations”, on page 244.

Erwin’s second article covers the large migration of French government agencies to The original is in French, but Erwin summarizes:

“According to this French article the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing saved 1.2M Euros with The switch to cost them 1.5M Euros, but the renewal of Microsoft Office licenses would have cost them 2.7M Euros.”

In summary, the early reports from the EU and its member states show how strong the case is for moving to open source and Further, every successful migration makes succeeding ones easier, in a snowball effect. This is the behavior expected by Tipping Point theory, and we should expect to see the pace of migrations continue to increase both in Europe and around the world.

Two Articles on OLPC’s XO Laptop

January 12th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

BBC covers the future availability of One Laptop per Child’s XO computers to purchasers in the developed world.

Linux Today writes A Close Look at the OLPC, a very detailed article on the technical aspects of the XO computer:

“Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, and (most recently) Rwanda are the countries currently signed up for the program. Bletsas indicates that the program will actually be supply rather than demand limited in 2007. The goal is to deliver five million laptops within a year of the summer rollout, a goal he notes will represent a 10% increase in the total worldwide laptop production for the year and will be the largest single deployment of a computing platform ever. The units will be divided up between the program countries rather than concentrating on any one to the exclusion of the others, with countries encouraged to deploy to entire schools rather than cherry-picking students, to avoid envy. The only requirement being placed on the countries is that the laptops must go directly to the children.”

Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Initiative

January 11th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Malaysia has developed a Public Sector Open Source Software Initiative to help government agencies move to open source software in accordance with the national master plan.

A recent seminar focused on Successful Deployment of OpenOffice in the Public Sector and consisted of a number of different presentations by industry, government, and non-profit groups.