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Video Clip of Tamil Nadu’s 40,000 PC Migration to FOSS

July 18th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Finding cost savings of 25% to 90%, ELCOT, the government corporation to support and develop IT infrastructure in Tamil Nadu (India), migrated its desktops to SUSE Linux, Thunderbird,, and an entire open source workflow stack.

40,000 PCs were migrated!

YouTube hosts a video created by ELCOT discussing this upgrade. The dramatic beginning and occasional narration are funny, but the interviews with ELCOT employees are really interesting and a great source of information direct from those in the middle of the project.

Firefox Reaches Nearly 28% in Europe

July 17th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Reports yesterday indicate that Firefox continues to increase its marketshare in every region of the globe.

Mozilla Links analyzes the data in Europe, where Firefox’s share grew from 23% in March 2007, to nearly 28% by July 2007. Within Europe, Finland and Slovenia are the champs with over 45% Firefox marketshare each.

They also take a peek at the worldwide status, reporting, “At the global level, all continents show a notable increase with South America taking the largest growth to reach 15.5% from 11.9% in the latest report. Oceania keeps the lead at 28.9%.” Surprisingly, Asia lags behind the world with slightly less than 15% marketshare.

Also, Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker estimates that Firefox has 100 million regular users and “accounts for about 20% of U.S. Internet usage,” according to a post at Tech Trader Daily of Barron’s Online.

Edit: XiTiMonitor’s detailed report includes beautiful maps and charts illustrating the above data.

More News on Italy’s Parliamentary Migration to Linux

July 16th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

On Friday I linked to an article about Italy’s Parliament making a large migration to open source Linux desktops.

Today I’ve found Erwin Tenhumberg’s helpful post linking to articles in French, German and Italian newspapers covering the story. He also adds that Italy expects to save 3 million euros with the move, and speculates on the impact this will have for ODF: “Considering that Linux typically comes with ODF implementations like and KOffice, it’s quite likely that this move also includes the adoption of and/or ODF.”

Italian Parliament Migrating to Linux

July 13th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The Inquirer chronicles a 3,500-computer migration to Linux and open source for the Italian Parliament in Italian parliament bets house on SuSE Linux:

ITALY’S parliament is about to undertake Europe’s largest governmental migration yet to open sauce.

“The IT department of the Italian parliament presented plans on Wednesday to begin migrating some 3,500 desktop PCs, including those of its 630 MPs, away from Windows to SuSE Linux starting this September. The Camera dei deputati will also run SuSE on all of its two hundred servers.

“This makes it the second and largest parliament in Europe to choose open sauce. The French parliament, with 577 seats, voted last year to have open sauce installed on all of its 1145 PCs. France decided on Ubuntu this February and the migration in the Parliament should be underway.”

The MP who initiated the project, Pietro Folena, “estimates the switch makes PCs some 90 per cent cheaper and he expects larger savings to be realized on the servers… “The savings are important, but the primary motive for this decision is to gain freedom. Freedom from single technology, freedom from a single software owner and a single contractor, freedom to develop our own applications and freedom from viruses.”

Well spoken, indeed.

An Open Source Raj is Rising

July 12th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

According to, India continues its relentless move toward open source on government desktops.

In India ‘Opens’ to Open Source, author Abhinna Shreshtha asks, “Kerala signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Red Hat; the president of India sees open source as the way of bringing Information Technology (IT) benefits to the masses; the Government of Maharashtra plans to develop all new applications in Linux – is open source set to topple the rule of proprietary software in India?”

Sidenote: Maharashtra, population 97 million, is the second most-populous state in India, and more populous than any European country except Russia.

The article concludes with a quick survey of other Indian states (and other governments around the world) adopting FOSS: “With third world countries around the globe taking a healthy interest in open-source software, the news that Red Hat wants to create a strong presence in India comes as no surprise. Linux is already the preferred operating system in Kerala, Maharashtra, Bengal, and Tamil Nadu. Red Hat is planning to undertake such initiatives with other state governments in the future. Given the increasing importance being attached to OSS, proprietary software owners’ supremacy in the Indian market may have taken a severe dent.”

India, a rising economic superpower, is another front in the global struggle between proprietary, monopolist software and open source software supporting open formats. The success of open source and formats there will have a significant impact around the world.

Poland May Choose ODF

July 11th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The government of Poland appears ready to require ODF as its default data file format. Its definition of an open standard is derived from an EU framework:

  • “The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.).
  • The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee.
  • The intellectual property – i.e. patents possibly present – of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.
  • There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.”

This is good news from what is, to me, a new FOSS website: Polish

25% of German Schools Plan to Adopt OOo

July 11th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

I cannot find a translation of the original German article, but Erwin Tenhumberg summarizes that 25% of German schools plan to switch from Microsoft Office to, according to a recent survey of 1,200 schools.

Heise on Sun’s ODF Plugin

July 10th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Sun recently released a plugin that lets Microsoft Office users read and write the industry-standard ODF file format, which I covered last week.

The suggested Sun download link requires you to register before you can get the plugin, which is annoying. Fortunately, Heise provides their own download mirror of the ODF Plugin (click “Zur Download-Seite” when you get there), as well as a brief, and partially inaccurate, article describing it.

(Here’s Heise’s incomprehensible sentence which seems to confuse “ODF” with “OpenOffice,” a common, but obvious, error: “The extension allows users of MS Office to read and create text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the free OpenOffice suite and its commercial version called StarOffice.”)

Here is how I would rewrite that sentence: “The extension allows users of MS Office to read and create text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the industry-standard OpenDocument Format, widely known through its use by the free OpenOffice suite and its commercial version called StarOffice.”

Year of the Linux Desktop (Again)

July 9th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The Year of the Linux Desktop has been predicted by somebody every year since the late 1990s. And each time, it is closer to being right–the number of Linux desktop, laptop, and mobile device users does grow healthily each year.

But since the prediction is not clearly defined (do the authors mean that Linux will gain majority marketshare, or do they just think the rate of growth will increase, and are they talking about the USA, Europe, developing world or globally, and which hardware platforms are they considering?), we’ll never see a year in which everyone’s interpretation of this phrase’s meaning is satisfactorily met. But that doesn’t matter, since Linux’s presence is felt more and more strongly all the time. And as new markets are invented, it starts with a stronger presence in each one (consider web tablets, where Nokia’s Maemo platform is setting the pace, and where the Microsoft-backed UMPC effort simply failed).

Maximum PC has published 2008: Year of the Linux Desktop, which covers some important points. Two in particular stand out as major milestones:

“Dell has consistently made headlines with its new Ubuntu-powered PC line. Now four models strong and selling for $50 less than their Windows-equipped counterparts, these PCs come preloaded with all necessary drivers, and offer consumers the same assurances of usability and support that they could reasonably expect from a Windows machine…”

“Outside of North America, we find even more dramatic signs of a coming shift in the userbase. Just this week, yet another state in India declared that it would no longer buy Windows systems, but would switch to Linux instead, spelling vast potential savings for the government and touting potential benefits to education for the populus.”

The tipping point will be reached at different times in different geographical markets and product spaces. Keep an eye on the margins now, to see what will be bubbling up into the mainstream next. Corporate America will probably be the last to adapt in this area, so what they are doing hardly matters today (if your interest is in predicting future trends).

ODF Plugin for MS Office

July 5th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Some people have to use MS Office, whether because of outdated corporate policy or some other reason. But now, Sun’s ODF plugin for MSO will allow them to use OpenDocument Format from within MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Malte Timmermann discusses the new plugin on his blog.

It’s not the first plugin to do the job, but it is the most thorough and most user-friendly option. For example, it works with Word, Excel and PowerPoint for MS Office 2003, 2000 and XP. None of the others are so broad in their support.

It’s also more deeply integrated, making it much easier and more natural to work with ODF files from within MS Office. Timmermann writes, “It’s just another filter, and when you open some ODF file, you really work with the ODF file, which means you can save your modifications by pressing Ctrl+S. You can even configure Word to make ODF your default file format!”

Downloading the plugin requires registration at Sun’s website, but that is the only negative I have yet found with this tool.