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Chandler 1.0 Released

August 11th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

On Friday of last week, Chandler 1.0 was released:

“We are pleased to announce the release of Chandler 1.0, a “Note-to-Self Organizer” designed for personal and small-group task management and calendaring.

“Chandler consists of a desktop application and Chandler Hub, a free sharing service and web application. You can also download and run your own Chandler Server.

“Chandler is open source and standards-based.”

Congratulations to the development team! It’s been a long trip, breaking new ground in software concepts (both development-side and user interface), and they deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve built.

Canonical and Ubuntu at LinuxWorld

August 8th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The VAR Guy has been following Canonical/Ubuntu’s presence at the current LinuxWorld event, and predicts several possible moves for Canonical in the near future.

He sees Canonical developing server-oriented application relationships with vendors like IBM, Alfresco, and others, creating an appliance business, and promoting new Ubuntu netbooks (I’d love to see one that ships with stock Ubuntu, rather than the tweaked Linux versions most are offering now).

“Netbooks and MIDs [Mobile Internet Devices] are both important to Canonical, but company insiders say getting Netbooks into retail stores is a much bigger opportunity—since consumers already understand the sub-notebook market that Netbooks target.”

I see a nicely diversified revenue strategy emerging. Coupled with its current business of support, Canonical should see solid sustainable growth from these new initiatives.

ODF in KDE’s Qt

August 7th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Trolltech Labs Blog announces a new ODF writer module shipping with Qt 4.5. This will make it much easier for applications built on the Qt toolkit to write ODF, as a peer of plain text, HTML and PDF.

Thomas Zander writes, “For end users the biggest advantage of the uptake of ODF is that more and more applications will standardize on this one format and thus applications will be much more interoperable. OpenOffice and KOffice are the early adopters here, I expect that many more applications will start to generate or consume ODF in some form or other. For example to export an abstract dataset to a nicely formatted document ready for printing, or the web.”

Zander also shares the idea that ODF will make a better format for emails than HTML does, since it provides more, and more explicit, layout options. I wonder what email client will first adopt this? It seems natural to first write a plugin for Thunderbird, and then if it gains traction, it could become a core part of that and other email applications.

Back to the heart of the matter, Zander explains what the new Qt module does:

“To speed up ODF recognition, Qt 4.5 will ship with an ODF writer. Qt’s text module turns into a one-stop document generation API where you can use QTextCursor to create your document via a nice API and you can then export the created QTextDocument to ODF, ready to be opened by any opendocument implementation. Naturally exporting to plain text and html are still supported, as is printing to PDF… Support for writing ODF in Qt sets a trend that we believe in the OpenDocument Format and we think its useful to have for our customers, the open source community and all end-users out there.”

Broad-brush conclusion: lots of effort is being put into ways to read and write ODF files, meaning the format continues to build momentum and will become an ever-better solution for communication with people around the world.

IBM Partners With Linux Distros to Deliver Notes, Symphony

August 6th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Wall Street Journal’s online MarketWatch announces a new IBM effort to promote open source desktops running its Notes and Symphony packages in “IBM, Canonical/Ubuntu, Novell, Red Hat to Deliver Microsoft-Free Desktops Worldwide“.

From the article, “Citing shifting market forces and the growing demand for economical alternatives to costly Windows and Office-based computers, the four leaders sense an ideal set of circumstances allowing Linux-based desktops to proliferate in the coming year. Linux is far more profitable for a PC vendor and the operating system is better equipped to work with lower cost hardware than new Microsoft technology.”

Greater profitability for PC vendors should be a significant factor for them to promote Linux-based computers, while the technical advantages of the open source platform, on cheap as well as expensive hardware, has long been clear already.

Further, every new Lotus Symphony user is compatible with the ODF standard, which means interoperability with and the entire constellation of other compatible applications. The more adoption IBM and the Linux vendors achieve here, the better for everyone.

RepRap: Open Source Meets Hardware

August 5th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Readers of The Diamond Age and viewers of Star Trek: The Next Generation are familiar with the idea of replicators. Indeed, architects and product designers have been working them into their design and rapid prototyping processes already, yet the home market is still nascent.

A big step in making replicators as ubiquitous as personal computers was taken by tinkerers Adrian Bowyer and Vik Olliver when they built the RepRap, a rapid-prototyper capable of replicating itself.

A particularly great feature of their work is the licensing model they have chosen: open source. Their stated goal is “to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can make another and give it to a friend…”

This is going to be extraordinary!

RepRap connected to an Ubuntu Linux machine.

OpenOffice Extensions: Last Session

August 4th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

I love to see the cross-pollination of ideas between open source projects, and the clever ways they can be adapted from one paradigm to another.

For example, recent versions of have become more like web browsers, especially Firefox, as OOo introduced its Extensions features, as developers have worked to provide wiki-capabilities, and now, as a new extension called Last Session allows you to reopen OOo and have all your previous documents open for you with one click, just like I’ve become accustomed to with Firefox’s session restore.

Last Session is something I had a distinct need for, and I look forward to making good use of it starting immediately.

Firefox Achieves 20% Share, Free Video Codec Support Coming

August 1st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Two great news bites from Firefox in the past few days:

As recently predicted, Firefox’s browser use share has surpassed 20%, while IE has dropped below 70% and continues its gradual demise.

TG Daily writes, “According to the most recent data made available by the market research firm [NetApplications] today, Internet Explorer stands at 69.88% today, while Firefox 2 and 3 account for a combined market share of 20.68% (Firefox 2: 13.75%, Firefox 3: 6.92%.)”

The second is that Firefox will soon support the HTML 5 media elements, which means native support for Theora video and Vorbis audio in the browser, with no plugins. These are open formats like HTML itself, free from the control and maneuverings of any single company. When these catch on, we’ll hopefully see them replace Flash video (too CPU intensive) and broaden free access to open media on the web.