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April 30th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Colin Charles notes the government of Malaysia has progressed in its path to OpenOffice and ODF adoption in his post “ and ODF adoption in Malaysia – thumbs up!

“MAMPU, the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit, decided that they were going to go and go ODF, and dump Microsoft Office by year-end 2008.”

The story gets even better, as many of Malaysia’s federal and state government agencies have already migrated to OpenOffice over the past few years, and more are planning to do so this year.

Colin Charles writes, “Now, you can hold them to their word, as they update a Wiki page, informing you about how many agencies are moving to Big wins, once all of the Malaysian government related agencies are on (open source software in general). Again, read and ODF Adoption!”

Note the links in the above paragraph all point to the same location, but it’s well worth a visit to see the list of agencies that have rolled out OOo to hundreds or even thousands of their employees across the country.

OOo Extensions: Wiki Publisher

April 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Extensions ecosystem continues to grow. In fact, the OOo development team has adopted a strategy of providing some core functions as extensions, in order to keep the code base smaller but allow users to selectively adopt features useful to them.

While I have not tested it yet, I just discovered the Sun Wiki Publisher extension, which sounds like a great tool to get more people using company intranet wikis, among other uses.

FOSS in Geneva Schools: Followup

April 28th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Recently, I came across an article about Geneva schools migrating to open source.

Now, more information emerges by way of IDABC in “Geneva Schools Completely Switch to Open Source.” It turns out this migration will include a population of 70,000 students and 7,000 teachers, and will occur gradually over the next three years.

From the article: “The migration to Open Source will begin after the next summer holiday with three projects. One school, the Candolle College in Geneva, will try out a complete Open Source desktop, using the GNU/Linux distribution Ubuntu. Next, OpenOffice will be installed on the 9,000 PCs in the school district that are used by teachers, replacing Microsoft Office. A third project is the migration to OpenOffice on the PCs used by the boards of all primary school.”

“Replacing Microsoft Office by OpenOffice saves the state some 300,000 SFr (about 186,000 euro) per year, says Grandjean. “Moving to a complete Open Source system will cut the IT costs by a third.”

South Africa Chooses ODF as National Standard

April 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Many countries are likely to follow its path, as South Africa has chosen ODF for its national document standard.

However, a national standard does not automatically mean the government will migrate all its data to the format: “While Jolliffe points out that ODF has been made a national standard and not yet a government standard, he says the DST is trying to initiate the conversion process in government. “As far as possible, we should ensure that file format standards used in government are national standards.””

Migrating to ODF for data storage does not necessarily require a shift in software that government employees use day-to-day. (Although a separate, yet sometimes overlapping, group of open source advocates does make the case that open source software is a better tool for governments to use.)

“Jolliffe has challenged Microsoft to stand by its interoperability strategy and provide support in its own products for ODF. “We would like to see Microsoft interoperate with ODF.””

(There is a third-party plugin to let MS Office users read and write ODF documents.)

Ubuntu 8.04 Released Today

April 24th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Ubuntu 8.04, Long-Term Support, was released today.

The press release accompanying it announces: “Ubuntu 8.04 Long Term Support (LTS) provides a stable platform for software and hardware vendors, developers and users. With three years of support and maintenance on the desktop, 8.04 LTS is a great choice for large-scale deployment… This is the eighth desktop release of Ubuntu. Ubuntu’s track record in delivering – on a precise schedule every six months – a commercial operating system that is free, stable, secure and fully supported, remains unique.”

The BBC also reports on the Ubuntu “Hardy Heron” release, and interviews founder Mark Shuttleworth about the Linux dividend: “Mr Shuttleworth said ordinary consumers were beginning to turn to Ubuntu, and to Linux more generally, to improve their daily computing experience.”

With the improved features and ease-of-use in Ubuntu 8.04, this trend should continue to accelerate.

Collanos Workplace

April 23rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Collanos Workplace is a really interesting peer-to-peer application for creating ad-hoc project workspaces to store files, notes and other shared data. You can invite other users into your workspaces and maintain a common repository of documents.

Collanos is built on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform and is thus inherently cross-platform, like most teams today. Apple even featured Collanos in its list of OS X applications yesterday.

Sad to say, Collanos is not open source, but it is free of charge and promises to remain so forever.

OpenOffice’s Strength in Europe

April 22nd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Italo Vignoli, member of the project and a PR professional from Italy, estimates that OpenOffice is competing very strongly in Germany, France and Italy.

As always, measuring users of OpenOffice or any open source program is very difficult, if not impossible. Vignoli carefully reviews some information that is known, and extrapolates to the conclusion that OOo is a very strong competitor in a number of European countries:

“If we look at, the three markets where the open source office suite is competing most successfully with Microsoft Office are probably Germany, France and Italy, followed by other European markets like Spain and the Netherlands. In Italy, where I have the updated numbers, we are hitting today [April 18] – maybe while I’m writing this post – one million downloads since January 1st, 2008 (over 350,000 since the announcement of OOo 2.4 in late March). Although we don’t have Microsoft figures for Office 2007, we estimate a maximum of 1.8 million licenses sold in 2008.”

Based on the daily activities of local communities, Vignoli estimates that Germany and France are downloading and migrating to OOo even more quickly than Italy.

He has a message for Microsoft and its marketing propaganda team: “Please, be realistic. We’re eating your pie, quickly. We’re hungry.”

Mac Aqua Port: State of the Union

April 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Philipp Lohmann writes a status report on the Mac Aqua port:

“Roughly a year ago Sun joined the Macport community. The goal we – meaning the macporter team which Sun was now part of – set ourselves was that the Aquaport should be on par with the other platforms by the time of OOo 3.0 beta -which is now almost upon us.”

He announces the goal has largely been met, barring a few bugs. In fact, I have been testing an alpha version of the Mac Aqua port for a few weeks now and have been extremely impressed with it. at FISL 9.0

April 18th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Louis Suarez-Potts, Community Manager for, writes about at FISL 9.0, which is happening right now in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

It sounds like a wonderful event, and I hope to attend one someday.

Louis introduces the event and its importance, writing, “It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about fisl, or to expand the acronym, the 9th Fórum International Software Livre, held each year in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In part, my enthusiasm stems from the energy and commitment to free software shown by the government; and in part, from the warmth and friendship demonstrated by the Brazilians.”

Brazil is known as a major center for open source software, and the government has been a strong supporter for a very long time, recognizing the key role FOSS can play in enhancing economic and human development. Brazil has been a role model for many other developing countries to follow, and FISL is one of the key events that helps expand the FOSS community in Brazil each year.

Solveig Haugland on Extensions

April 17th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Solveig Haugland has another great article at K-12 Open Technologies. This one’s “The World of Extensions,” covering the fast-growing ecosystem of extensions you can install to add functionality to your installation of OpenOffice.

OpenOffice extensions were inspired by Firefox’s success with them, and became available in recent versions of OOo (2.3, I think, and then were beefed up in 2.4). They are an easy way for programmers and companies to participate in the community, to introduce their products to OpenOffice users, and to customize OOo to better suit specific niche market needs.

Solveig’s article explains how to install extensions and then lists some of her favorites, such as Pagination, the Sun Report Builder, GoogleDocs integration, eFax, templates and clipart from OxygenOffice, and more.

It’s a great starting point for learning about and using the wealth of extensions out there.