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Foswiki Arrives

November 26th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

After a rift in the TWiki project led to a fork, the new version has chosen its name and formally launched as Foswiki, for “Free and Open Source Wiki.

Foswiki’s project goals are:

  • “Foswiki promises new (and long-awaited) features, while maintaining a clear upgrade path for existing TWiki installations.
  • Foswiki is an open-source project, publishing its work under the GNU General Public License.
  • The Foswiki community is dedicated to democratic governance, free of commercial influence and trademark issues.
  • We want our marketing finally to live up with our product and be as good.”

I am looking forward to continued Foswiki growth, and I anticipate it will remain an excellent wiki for both intranet and internet use cases.

Norway to Fund Open Source Implementation

November 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The government of Norway has committed $285,000 to encourage and implement in government offices, reports OStatic:

“Minister of Government Adminstration and Reform Heidi Grande Roeys is granting 2 million kroner ($285,000) to the national center for free software, and the terms of the deal are interesting. Instead of general promotion of open source software, the funds are specifically earmarked for adopting and promoting use of the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications in government offices.”

The longterm goal is to increase competition in the office productivity suite space. This grant’s purpose is to fill the gaps in connecting OOo with third-party applications, so that it can compete head-to-head with the Norwegian government’s current deployment of Microsoft Office. Further, by displacing the need to purchase as many licenses for MS Office, this grant will pay for itself in a short time.

Spicebird 0.7 Released

November 24th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Spicebird, the new open source personal information manager developed on top of Thunderbird’s email, calendar and contact infrastructure, has released version 0.7 over the weekend. (See the Spicebird 0.7 Release Notes.)

From the release announcement: “Spicebird is a collaboration client that provides integrated access to email, contacts, calendaring and instant messaging in a single application. It provides easy access to various web services while retaining all the advantages of a desktop application. The application is based on projects like Thunderbird, Lightning and Telepathy and adds more functionality and integration among its components.”

One feature of particular interest is Spiceboard’s Home screen, which lets you install iGoogle Gadgets to use it as a dashboard to the web. Brilliant idea, and one I have adopted for the Dashboard concept under development as well.

Download Spicebird for Linux and Windows here. (Where’s the Mac version?) Dashboard Concept

November 20th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

For the past few weeks I’ve been developing an idea to extend 3.0’s Welcome Screen into a more complete Dashboard concept. The idea sprung from Google Chrome‘s new tab screen, Spicebird‘s Home screen, and the social software ideas being developed as KDE’s Open Collaboration Services.

Yesterday I uploaded (well, Alexandro did it for me) a mockup to the OOo Wiki in order to share my Dashboard concept for further discussion. I have some plans to improve the current mockup, and will attach an ODG to the page to make it easier for others to illustrate ideas to build on top of what I have started.

If you’re interested, please check out the page and provide some feedback.

I think this Dashboard idea fits well with our plans to make OpenOffice feel more modern, configurable, and social, so let’s see what the community can do with this!

High Priority Free Software Projects

November 19th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of High Priority Free Software Projects, where it has identified important technologies that need a free software implementation or need greater community support for an existing implementation.

As the key ideological driver of Free Software, the FSF plays an important role in its continuing development and also to keep it true to its roots. The intention with this project is to make sure no choke points develop in which the internet or the free software world can be controlled by proprietary and closed products.

From the project’s page:

“Our list helps guide volunteers and supporters to projects where their skills can be utilized, whether they be in coding, graphic design, writing, or activism. We hope that you can find a project here where your skill, energy, and time can be put to good use.

“Some of the most important projects on our list are replacement projects. These projects are important because they address areas where users are continually being seduced into using non-free software by the lack of an adequate free replacement.”

Open Source Social Networking: The Open Mesh

November 18th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

With Appleseed, Elgg, Mugshot, BuddyPress and others, I’m seeing a lot of development activity around open source social networking.

Following this back to Appleseed, the very first attempt at an open source social networking platform that I personally discovered, brought me to a post on Marc’s Voice blog titled “How to Build the Open Mesh.”

A broad treatise on the subject and a strategic map, the linked post is actually a table of contents to ten detailed chapters on the topic:

“I have created a series of blog posts which attempts to map out many of the issues, constructs, technologies and standards required to build out the open mesh.

“Each post has a chart showing how the particular area I’m focusing on – looks vis a vis one’s ID and profile record. Then I started to imagine what these charts would look like – overlaid on top of each other.

“Each one of the posts maps out who the major players are, who are the dudes and dudesses down in the trenches doing the work and how do I see all these areas meshing together.

“So here is the Table of Content on the series. Please send me any input, feedback, corrections, additional names and players and lets all build the open mesh – together.”

When people talk about “Web3.0,” I imagine this is what they mean. Not just the read/write web, not just a giant semantic database like the Semantic Web, but rather the combination of both those things with a layer of personal human data and relationship graphs. It’s huge, fascinating, and will keep us busy for the next decade or more.

ODF@WWW Wiki Becomes an Official Incubator Project

November 17th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

ODF@WWW, Kay Ramme’s wiki project built on OpenOffice and ODF, has been accepted as an official incubator project, Ramme announces.

He presented it at the recently-concluded Conference in Beijing and writes, “Since last week ODF@WWW is an Official Incubator Project 🙂 You find it’s home page at”

Integration with and adoption of Web 2.0 concepts has been an important development strategy for OOo, and this is a strong adaptation of wiki concepts into the familiar word processor paradigm. Its growth should be interesting to observe and groundbreaking in many ways.

Ian Lynch on Malaysia’s Open Source Strategy

November 13th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Ian Lynch, a longtime OOo community member and founder of The INGOTs project, recently returned from Malaysia, where he studied the government’s strategy to adopt open source. He describes his experience in “Malaysian Government’s World Leading Open Source Strategy“:

“My recent trip to Malaysia at the invitation of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) provided a great insight into the Malaysian Government’s strategy to move all public administration to Open Source software. The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and the Open Source Competency Center (OSCC) published implementation guidelines in August 2008. In contrast with political strategies that are more about presentation and spin, this publication is a refreshing object lesson in planning for change, taking into account the existing position and infrastructure.”

Malaysia has been talking about migrating to open source for several years now. Unlike some other countries, however, Malaysia has also taken concrete steps in the form of pilot projects. It has reached some very positive conclusions:

“In 5 pilots across 4 ministries, savings reported were

  • 80% on software licensing costs
  • 58% in development and consultancy
  • 7% in software support
  • 31% overall.”

Lynch concludes “Malaysia shows that… putting the needs of the tax payer before those of shareholders of private companies is a responsibility governments ought to be taking more seriously.” He describes Malaysia’s growth toward a technology leadership position in Southeast Asia, and how open source has played a key role in that process.

BuddyPress: Open Source Social Networking

November 12th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

BuddyPress is a collection of plugins for WordPress Multi-User edition that provides social profiles and networking features. Users, groups, blogs, activity, friends, and all the normal features are included, with a very clean user interface.

A BuddyPress test site is online to let interested parties see how it works in action. (It even includes a group interested in open source social networking, including competitors like Elgg and others, which is cool.)

Just as WordPress itself brought open source blogging to the mainstream, it looks like BuddyPress could do the same for distributed, open source social networking. This will be a fascinating, innovative, and in my mind, long-awaited development. 3.0 Achieves 10 Million Downloads

November 11th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

An press release on PRWeb announces, “The Community passed the ten million downloads mark for the latest version of its software, just four weeks after the launch on October 13th.”

John McCreesh elaborates: “We were delighted to hit a million downloads in the first two days. Four weeks later, we have hit ten million, and we are still seeing an amazing 250,000 – 350,000 downloads a day. For a community with no advertising budget, this is an astonishing level of product awareness around the world.”

This is the fastest download rate of any version of OpenOffice to date, and has probably only been exceeded by Firefox 3 among all open source software downloads. (See more download statistics here.)