Tag: oin

Open source exceeds Munich's expectations

The German city of Munich has been very precise at bumping off Windows PCs to give its Linux operating system Lebensraum .

Munich’s LiMux project has been going great guns and today the city announced that it had migrated 9,000 systems away from the PC and onto Linux. It only wanted to migrate 8,500 of the 12,000-15,000 PC workstations used by city officials in Munich but it turned out a bit easier than expected.

Munich which is derived from the High German word Munichen, meaning “by the monks’ place” and not the word Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz, has been at the forefront of cutting edge Linux roll outs ever since the local government worked out it could save a lot of money by avoiding Microsoft.

In May 2003, Munich’s city council decided to migrate municipal workstations to Linux and open source. It developed its own LiMux client and WollMux, a template system for OpenOffice.org.

The LiMux project directors have announced that almost all copies of Microsoft Office have been banished from Bavaria and replaced with version 3.2.1 of the open source OpenOffice.org office suite. The remaining 3,000 plus systems will be switched to the LiMux client next year.

Although the rollout has done well this year, the whole project has taken a little longer than originally expected. Last year, Florian Schießl, a LiMux project director, stated that he and his team had been naïve and had underestimated the extent of minor problems. In 2006 the computer infrastructure reorganised and the project could start up again.

The delays did prevent Munich being the pin-up region for the Open Source movement. However, it has proved that Linux on the desktop is more than possible. 

Ubuntu fast becoming Linux pariah

There are dark mutterings among Open Saucers against one of their more successful brethren and it highlights one of the main problems within the Open Sauce movement.

Over the years, Ubuntu has slid from being the champion of Linux to the level where its name is mentioned in dark whispers.

For those of use who have used the operating system for years, we have seen its users divided between those who want to actually use the software and those who like to tinker with it. There are those who believe that everything under the bonnet of Ubuntu should be a pure development of an Open Sauce religion banner, and those who feel that they would use proprietary software if they have to.

However Ubuntu’s soul has accessibility written down its spine like Brighton rock. While its founder Mark Shuttleworth might bang on about Open Sauce, it appears that he sees this as a means to an end.

This sets him at odds with those who see Open Sauce as a religion or a way of life. Accessibility is such an approach’s polarity. Ultimately it does not matter if your video codec was written by Steve Ballmer’s minion in the heart of Redmond, it does not matter if it is free if it works and it is accessible.

The Open Sauce movement is populated by a band of almost autistic software geniuses who do not really care if the product is successful, provided it is elegant and proprietary-free.

They are the sorts who insist that GIMP is an alternative to Photoshop because it is Open Sauce.

Being accessible is not something that is good for such types. They have never been accessible and would always have been the last to be picked for teams in school PE.

At their heart they don’t want Linux to be accessible otherwise they will cease to be different.

In their view Linux is supposed to be on the server where it can only be seen by those who appreciate its elegance or on their own finely tuned desktops. The thought of an ordinary person touching such perfection fills them with dread.

Canonical, which makes Ubuntu, has also made a few mistakes that antagonise the Open Sauce community.

Bruce Byfield said that political manipulation of the various software projects has miffed a lot of Open Saucers. They feel that Ubuntu is choosing projects on the basis the ability to dominate the projects that dominate its software stack.

Shuttleworth got miffed at the glacial pace that Gnome was making interface improvements and he moved to beef up interface software called Unity and this meant that many Canonical developers were suddenly not supporting Gnome.

There are many in the community who did not like the way that he attempted to lead them too. “Self appointed dictator” was one of the mutterings.

CEO Jane Silber has a more business orientated approach and likes ideas like Ubuntu One, the cloud storage service, which is aimed more at corporate customers.

With its accessibility and business approach, one would think that Canonical should be making money. The problem is that it isn’t. While the likes of Red Hat have managed to squeeze a dollar out of Linux, Canonical has been unprofitable for seven years.

One of the reasons for this is that for Open Sauce business plans to work they have to be backed by a community who is writing the code and working from them. Ubuntu’s problem is that these are the very guys who don’t like this accessibility argument.

At the end of the day Canonical were the only ones who have come up with a commercially viable Linux desktop which could have taken Windows to the cleaners. The fact that it is not successful and the process of its creation managed to anger the Open Sauce community so much that the outfit has become a pariah in the story is extremely telling.

Both sides have a point in this argument. But both sides also come with heaps of baggage which makes a resolution impossible. It is the sort of baggage that will keep Linux on the server and give the desktop to Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer.

OpenOffice revolutionaries release stable product

The revolutionaries who have sought to free OpenOffice from the tyranny of King Larry Ellison’s Oracle have released their first stable version.

The Document Foundation launched a stable version of its open source LibreOffice 3.3 productivity suite.

LibreOffice was created because Open Sauce types on the OpenOffice project had no confidence in Larry Ellison to keep it free and open.

So far the product is doing well. It is set for inclusion in the next Ubuntu and OpenSUSE Linux releases.

We have been running the beta for a while. It is a bit lighter than OpenOffice and has several different features. But mostly it has nothing to do with Oracle.

Office suites are much of a muchness. They have been going for nearly 20 years and while they have added new features, they remain largely unchanged.

LibreOffice 3.3 is still not yet ready to support mobile platforms but this is rumoured to be on the way.

Most of LibreOffice 3.3 appears to be about cleaning up the code and integrating new infrastructure to make the project sustainable and independent of Oracle.

However, that is not to say that the new software has nothing interesting under the bonnet.

There are new custom properties handling, new fonts, document protection, increasing the number of allowed rows in a Calc spreadsheet to one million and an easier-to-use print interface.

There is the ability to work with SVG and Microsoft Works files and an easier way to format and number text blocks in Writer, and improved sheet and cell management in Calc. There is the ability to import PDFs, a slide-show presenter console and an improved report builder.

Generally OpenOffice users will be hard pressed to spot the difference and that is probably a good thing.

Open Saucers buying up patent insurance

Open sauce groups are frantically buying up patents to prevent being sued by proprietary companies.

KDE and The Document Foundation joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) as a licensee following the doomed Novell flogging of its patents.

The fear is that Novell has put open source companies at risk by flogging IPs to a company backed by Microsoft, Oracle and Apple.

Redmond has always claimed that Linux infringes its patents, but it has never pointed out which one. Oracle’s hamfisted use of the Open Sauce products it bought from Sun makes it appear like the outfit is not interested in propping up the concept and Apple is the most proprietary outfit on this side of the galactic Rim.

It appears that the open saucers feel that OIN, which was was founded as a way to help defend the Linux ecosystem, gives them some protection.

Patents owned by Open Invention Network are available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System, creating an umbrella of protection for its members.

Adriaan de Groot, vice president of KDE said OIN provides an additional safety net for KDE when it comes to the risks Free Software is facing from such patents today.

“We are committed to freedom of action in Linux, and in taking a license we help to address the threat from companies that support proprietary platforms to the exclusion of open source initiatives, and whose behaviors reflect a disdain for inventiveness and collaboration.”

Ironically it means that the Open Sauce community has had to embrace the patent system, which it traditionally hates. It is a bit like hiring a vampire to stop yourself being bitten by another bloodsucker.

Still there is a saying that you always become your own worst enemy.