Home of The Tiny Guide to

70,000 Ubuntu Linux PC Rollout in France

January 31st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Yahoo News reports that France’s Gendarmerie will migrate its 70,000 computers from Windows to Ubuntu Linux.

The Gendarmerie has been gradually and methodically moving to open source since 2005, when it replaced 70,000 copies of Microsoft Office with In 2006, it adopted Firefox and Thunderbird, and now it plans to complete the migration with Ubuntu Linux.

“The gendarmerie’s 70,000 desktops currently use Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system. But these will progressively change over to the Linux system distributed by Ubuntu, explained Colonel Nicolas Geraud, deputy director of the gendarmerie’s IT department.

“We will introduce Linux every time we have to replace a desktop computer,” he said, “so this year we expect to change 5,000-8,000 to Ubuntu and then 12,000-15,000 over the next four years so that every desktop uses the Linux operating system by 2013-2014.”

Cost is the third in their list of reasons for making the move to open source, but it really does add up. “The move away from licensed products is saving the gendarmerie about seven million euros (10.3 million dollars) a year for all its PCs.”

It’s clear that open source is making rapid progress in Europe, and government investment is starting a virtuous cycle that will increase the pace of its adoption. While Firefox is still the highly visible success story, it can be seen as a proxy for the and Linux adoptions that are following along but are often harder to track.

XiTi Monitor: Firefox Usage Grows Again

January 30th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

XiTi Monitor provides the latest statistics for web browser usage share: Firefox continues to gain in Europe and everywhere else in the world.

While just a slight rise in the past few months, it reverses the slowdown in growth from the previous quarter. It was also enough to add another country to the 40% or higher club, which now includes Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. (Several other countries are close to reaching this plateau as well.)

XiTi reports, “After a period of stabilization from June to September 2007, Mozilla Firefox’s visit share, for the average of European countries of the XiTi perimeter, is again growing at the end of the year. Thus, over a one year vision, it gains 5 points in order to reach 28% in December 2007.”

OpenOffice Marketing Planet

January 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Marketing Project has recently launched a Marketing Blog Planet to follow the varied activities of project members around the world. This should provide a good new focal point for people interested in following the project’s diverse efforts, and encourage more to get involved where they can!

$199-Linux PC Roundup

January 28th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Open source proponents have long theorized that extremely inexpensive PCs running Linux would eventually undercut the lowest possible price for Windows systems. That price may turn out to be $199, as there are now three Linux machines available at that point.

ZDNet discusses the available options in “Five reasons not to fear a $200 Linux PC.”

“At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, small form-factor PC maker Shuttle debuted its $199 KPC… Then last week, Mirus and Linspire collaborated on the Mirus Linux PC, which is now for sale at It’s $299 (although an included $100 rebate brings it to $199), and is preloaded with Freespire 2.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution… But the beginning of the low-cost computer trend actually started last fall. The Everex gPC showed up on the shelves of Wal-Mart for $198.”

ZDNet explains that as more applications go online, the operating system shrinks in importance, and the web browser grows. Thus for normal home computer users, Linux serves just as well as Windows, at a far better price. The current surge in extremely inexpensive Linux PCs is just the start, and we should expect to see many more for sale in the near future.

Ars on Cross-Platform KDE 4.0

January 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Since the KDE 4 Release Event, it’s been a week full of KDE news and reporting, both for me and across the web.

In that vein, Ars Technica provides some news on the KDE 4.0 release as well. They also seem pretty excited about the cross-platform capabilities it introduced.

Author Ryan Paul writes, “The open-source KDE desktop environment is making the jump across platforms with broad support for Windows and Mac OS X. The core KDE desktop programs, the KOffice suite, and the Amarok music player are actively being ported.”

While he encountered minor issues testing KDE applications on Windows, most were just user interface glitches, and Paul is enthusiastic about what a cross-platform KDE will bring to the world:

“Broad support for Windows and Mac OS X is an ambitious goal, but the KDE development community appears to have made a very good start in that direction. Many of the new abstraction layers in KDE 4 are geared towards increasing portability and reducing dependence on platform-specific mechanisms. KDE definitely enriches the Windows and Mac OS X software ecosystems and will likely be welcomed by many.”

For Mac users, Paul provides a few helpful links which I’ll simply quote here: “For additional details about the Mac OS X port, check out this recent blog entry written by Reed. The binaries can be obtained via BitTorrent from the KDE TechBase page for the Mac OS X port.”

KOffice Notes

January 24th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

At the KDE 4.0 Release Event last week, Inge Wallin presented KOffice 2.0, a major forthcoming upgrade to the suite that leverages numerous KDE 4 technologies.

KOffice is the broadest office suite available today, with 11 components at present. It includes project management, vector and raster graphics programs, desktop database, word processor, slideshow and spreadsheet tools, and a handful of others. New components including a mind map tool are also being added.

KOffice adopted ODF even before supported it, and OpenDocument Format has since become KOffice’s native file format.

One of KDE 4.0’s biggest additions is the ability to run on Mac OS X and Windows, as well as Linux. Thus, KOffice 2.0 will be available on Linux, Mac and Windows when it’s released. (Alphas are already available for testing users now.)

Some other cool features coming with KOffice 2.0 include:

  • Integrated into KDE; can be embedded in Konqueror browser.
  • Each application is scriptable. The codebase is modular, allow for extensions to be built as complementary pieces to the core KOffice code.
  • Sophisticated color management supports CMYK color space, and mixing colors in different color spaces (not for 2.0, but soon afterward).
  • Like other KDE 4 applications, KOffice 2.0 offers more features with a smaller footprint in terms of system resources needed.

It’s great to see the explosion of ODF-capable suites hitting the marketplace. Soon, users will be able to choose between, KOffice, and IBM Lotus Symphony on any one of the big three OS platforms. All of these suites have strong feature sets, and all are free of cost or open source.

These new contenders are going to bring major changes to a market that has been stagnant far too long!

More News on Lotus Symphony

January 23rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Lotus Symphony, IBM’s new derivative of OpenOffice built on Eclipse technology and first released as a beta in September, has been updated with support for 24 languages.

The press release announces: “Downloaded for use in English by more than 400,000 individuals at work and at home, IBM’s Lotus Symphony suite ( of desktop office software is now available in 24 languages serving major markets worldwide.”

For a beta that’s only 4 months old, these are impressive download numbers. I expect that Symphony, with its native use of ODF, will help to grow the overall market of ODF-capable applications more than it will cannibalize OOo’s marketshare. (I believe Symphony is not open source, so many users will want to stick with OOo. But Symphony is free of cost, and has a very attractive UI, which will entice many others to adopt it.)

Not only is Symphony designed for a global market, but it’s also engineered as a global product: “IBM has employed innovative development techniques in the development and translation of Lotus Symphony. Lotus Symphony was developed by a global network of IBM laboratories led by a core team in Beijing, China using agile development techniques that allow work to continue seamlessly and in parallel on components of the product at all times.”

If I were IBM, my strategy to spread Symphony now would be to leverage OEM bundling. Clearly there’s a lot of interest from end users who are downloading it, but to really impact the market, IBM should enlist their old friends at Lenovo to install Symphony on every computer they ship. Leverage that to encourage other PC makers to follow suit, and then marketshare will climb extremely fast! IBM, and all users of ODF, will benefit. Marketing Blog

January 22nd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

To help keep track of marketing project activities, Florian has recently launched the new Marketing Blog. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow into a central space for OOo marketing news; I think it will be a valuable resource. And you just might see the occasional post from me appear there, as well!

OpenProj Surpasses 200,000 Downloads

January 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

A formal press release should be coming soon to announce that OpenProj has surpassed 200,000 downloads.

The preview I’ve seen announces, “Projity Hits 200,000 Download Milestone with OpenProj”.

This “Open Source replacement of Microsoft Project has been downloaded over 200,000 times and is now being used in over 132 countries. OpenProj is rapidly becoming a standard on Linux, Unix, Mac and Windows environments.”

OpenProj is the most mature open source project management tool I’ve seen on the market, and makes a good complement to for individuals and offices that are starting to realize the wisdom of open source programs on the desktop.

Projity CEO Marc O’Brien has begun to measure the influence OpenProj has already had on the market’s incumbent players: “The 200,000+ downloads are just part of the story, many organizations are deploying hundreds and even thousands of OpenProj copies from their initial downloads. Projity is having a highly disruptive effect on Microsoft and other proprietary vendors while benefiting worldwide users.”

KDE 4.0 Release Party at Google

January 18th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Today at the Googleplex in Silicon Valley is the largest day of presentations and meetings for the KDE 4.0 Release Party.

We flew in from New York to participate in the conference sessions, invited to help cement the collaboration efforts between many projects around the ODF standard. (Used by OpenOffice and KOffice, among many others, ODF provides a shared meeting ground for many open source communities, as well as corporate entities.)

Aaron Seigo’s presentation gave us an overview of the new additions to KDE. One of the features that I was most interested in learning about is the cross-platform capability of KDE 4.0 applications. With 4.0, Mac and Windows users will be able to run KDE applications natively on their platforms. Demos of Marble, KStar and a few other apps really impressed me–and I’m very much looking forward to using KOffice on my MacBook in the near future.

Memory footprint is also much more efficient in KDE 4.0. The Eee PC, with 512 MB of RAM and a 1 Ghz processor, can run KDE 4.0 with all the visual extras turned on. Aaron said many applications will run with 30-40% less RAM using KDE 4 than they did with KDE 3.

KDE 4.0 is targeted primarily at early adopters, distributions, testers and developers. KDE 4.1, scheduled for the middle of this year, will focus on end users and is clearly going to be a watershed in the global move to open source.