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03.25.14

OpenDocument Format Celebrated Tomorrow

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White dove

Summary: A look at some recent reports about office suites and standards, one day ahead of the annual event that celebrates document freedom

NOW that businesses and governments gradually move away from Microsoft they often find themselves assessing alternatives to Microsoft Office. There are several articles that cover it these days [1] and some have “[n]o mention of Apache OpenOffice or LibreOffice,” as iophk put it in relation to CNET/CBS coverage [2] (the article is titled “Why I’m quitting Microsoft Office forever”).

“The only way out of this mess is to embrace ODF, not to adapt to Microsoft proprietary formats.”Contrary to myth which mostly prevails among the young generation, Microsoft did not invent office suites and Microsoft Office was far from the first in its area. It was made up from software that Microsoft had acquired and crimes from Microsoft made it dominant (there are still court cases dealing with it). There was also deviation from industry standards, which is how Microsoft made it hard for people to use anything other than Microsoft or even keep using old versions. This is why we need ODF now.

In a multi-part series from Andy Updegrove, titled “ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words” [3,4,5], a little bit of history is provided and there are also recent articles about standards [6,7], which Microsoft never obeyed, not even when it comes to the Web (and this causes huge headaches to many Web developers, who are even willing to pay people [8] to ditch Microsoft’s Web browser).

As we showed some years ago, Microsoft tied Office to its browser too, as part of ongoing attempts to extend the Office monopoly to the Web. These are all serious violations — the consequence of which we continue to suffer from to this date. The only way out of this mess is to embrace ODF, not to adapt to Microsoft proprietary formats.

Tomorrow, which is a special day for OpenDocument Format (Document Freedom Day [9]), we are planning to publish a long article about the long battle for ODF in the UK.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Best Free Office Suites: Microsoft Office Alternatives

    For small businesses, every red cent counts. Sometimes, that means getting creative with your tech decisions. There’s no doubt that Microsoft Office is the most widely used office productivity suite, but if you’re purchasing new computers or replacing old software, buying new copies is going to cost you. Before you pony up for new software, these free Microsoft Office alternatives might be the money-saving solutions you’re looking for.

  2. Why I’m quitting Microsoft Office forever

    It’s not just about the money. Well, okay, it’s mostly about the money, but there are other reasons I’m bidding goodbye to Microsoft’s not-so-sweet suite.

  3. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words

    The story has other notable features as well: ODF is the first IT standard to be taken up as a popular cause, and also represents the first “cross over” standards issue that has attracted the broad support of the open source community. Then there are the societal dimensions: open formats are needed to safeguard our culture and our history from oblivion. And when implemented in open source software and deployed on Linux-based systems (not to mention One Laptop Per Child computers), the benefits and opportunities of IT become more available to those throughout the third world.

  4. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 2
  5. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 3 – What a Difference a Decade Can Make

    Moreover, in the years to come, PC-based word processing products like WordStar, and then WordPerfect, would become far more popular than Microsoft’s own first word processing (originally called Multitool Word), providing low-cost alternatives to the proprietary minicomputer based software offerings of vendors like Wang Laboratories. IBM, too, provided a word processing program for the PC called DisplayWriter. That software was based on a similar program that IBM had developed for its mainframe systems customers. More importantly, another program was launched at just the right time to dramatically accelerate the sale of IBM PCs and their clones. That product was the legendary “killer app” of the IBM PC clone market: Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet software upon which Mitch Kapor built the fortunes of his Lotus Development Corporation.

  6. The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory

    Maybe, thanks to open source, the sausage days of standard making will be behind us. I hope so.

  7. Open Standards and Open Source make a great pairing

    While open source advocates are fond of pointing out the freedom of open source –that is, the freedom to share and modify it –it’s only part of the equation for companies taking advantage of open source in their businesses.

  8. Ditch IE7 and we’ll give you a FREE COMPUTER, says incautious US firm

    Internet Explorer 7 holdouts are being offered a brand new computer by a US company sick of working to support Microsoft’s legacy browser.

  9. Document Freedom Matters

    As the Document Freedom Day is approaching I realized that we don’t push ODF and open standards as loudly as before. Certainly most of the battles for the mind and market share are past, at least when it comes to office file formats. But the recent public consultation of the UK government brought back some of the most crucial issues surrounding ODF and it’s useful, I think, to check where stand these days on these matters.

03.24.14

Oracle Releases Java 8 and VirtualBox 4.3.8

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Office Suites, Oracle at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The few Sun projects that Oracle did not burn in a fire

3 matches

Summary: New releases of Free software from Oracle help show that the company did not totally neglect Free software

ORACLE really dropped the ball when it comes to Free software. It not only neglected great projects like OpenOffice.org but it also sued Google, liaised with Microsoft on numerous occasions, and generally became the bad guy on the block. Some former Sun staff took advantage of this [1], but it seems as though Oracle did not totally neglect every single Free software project that it had inherited from Sun. Java 8, for example, has just been officially released [2,3] and VirtualBox, one of people’s favourite desktop virtualisation systems (especially on GNU/Linux), continues to be maintained by Oracle [4]. Imagine what the world would be like if Oracle promoted ODF, maintained all of Sun’s Free software projects and perhaps liberated some of its own proprietary software products.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open source venture that’s profited from Oracle’s actions

    Among the latter group is ForgeRock, an open-source identity and access management company, which was founded in 2010 with very little seed capital. The founders were all part of Sun’s extended community and they decided to focus on Sun’s identity and access management products. One of the four co-founders of Sun, Scott McNealy, is also involved in ForgeRock.

  2. Java 8 Officially Released, Modularity Still a Concern

    Oracle today officially released Java 8, ushering in a new era of development capabilities for the standard-bearer of enterprise IT software platforms. The path to Java 8 has been a long one for Oracle, dating back to at least 2010, when the Java Community Process (JCP) voted in favor of JSR-337, the specification for Java 8.

  3. Reality check: Java 8 finally catches a multi-core break

    Java 8 is important because it’s the base spec for Java Enterprise Edition, as well as feeding the free and open-source implementation of OpenJDK loved by open-sourcers like Red Hat.

  4. VirtualBox 4.3.8 Officially Released with Support for X.Org Server 1.15

    After a couple of development versions, the brand new VirtualBox 4.3.8 release reached the stable channel, replacing the old 4.3.6 version, for which it fixes numerous bugs reported by the community. In addition, it adds many new features and improvements that should have been implemented a long time ago.

Document Freedom Day 2014 Imminent and ODF is Doing Very Well

Posted in Office Suites, OpenDocument at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: It is becoming hard to deny that ODF is the one and only standard for exchange of editable documents

OpenDocument Format, or ODF, has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Registration has been open for Document Freedom Day 2014 [1] (in recent years this annual event was largely neglected), European politicians are now entertaining ODF [2-4], and here in the UK ODF is becoming a standard, perhaps the de facto standard in government (more on Microsoft’s response to it will be covered later this week). New software is now supporting ODF [5,6] and LibreOffice, which makes the press still [7,8], is replacing Microsoft Office in more and more places [9]. I happen to know about places that are quietly migrating to LibreOffice, without ever announcing it. Even Apple, which had helped Microsoft with OOXML (Apple is in Microsoft’s camp for a lot things), was pressured last week to move to ODF [10]. Wait and see how ODF changes the world and takes us into an era of sharing, collaboration, exchanges etc. that are truly independent from Microsoft’s monopoly. Prepare for a world where there are no “DOC” (or “DOCX”) files exchanged inside E-mails.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Registration opens for Document Freedom Day 2014

    Today registration opens for Document Freedom Day 2014 events. This year the campaign day is March 26th, when people who believe in fair access to communications technology and Open Standards will again present, perform, and demonstrate. Event organisers can now register on the re-launched documentfreedom.org website.

  2. Advocacy: “Governments should choose ODF”

    Governments should choose the Open Document Format (ODF) as the default option for all editable government documents, says OpenForum Europe, an organisation advocating the use of open standards in ICT. “ODF has clear superiority in terms of independence from proprietary influence or dependency on proprietary technology.”

    [...]

    Writing on his weblog, the FSFE President called on the EC to “run open, competitive calls for tender based on functional specifications rather than brand names — something it has refused to do for two decades.”

  3. MEP Tarand: “EU should switch to ODF standard”

    The European institutions should switch to using the Open Document Format ODF as their internal default document format, says Member of the European Parliament Indrek Tarand. Speaking at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Free Software User Group (Epfsug), last week Wednesday, MEP Tarand said: “Moving to ODF would allow real innovation, and real procurement.”

  4. European Union in talks to move to the Open Document Format

    A member of the European parliament, Indrek Tarand, openly favoured ODF at the European Parliament’s Free Software User Group (Epsfug) meeting. He is also the founder of the Free Software User Group. He said, “Our work is done the day the EU authorities switch to using the ODF standard. The European Parliament should also be able to use its own free software distribution.” It’s noteworthy to add that the adoption of ODF is normally followed by the adoption of the open source software.

  5. HoudiniEsq Adds Open Document Format Support

    Innovator and leader in Legal Practice Management Software-as-a-Service for enterprise, LogicBit Software Corp. announced today that it has added support for the Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF), also known as OpenDocument to its core product HoudiniEsq.

  6. WebODF Making Good Progress, Aims For More

    WebODF is an AGPL-licensed JavaScript library that provides Open Document Format support on the web with collaborative editing capabilities. In the four years the project has been around, it’s been making great success but they have even more plans going forward.

  7. Freshly Stable

    With the release of our new LibreOffice 4.2 version and the new website, people have noticed a small yet quite visual change in the way we label the versions of LibreOffice. You now have the choice between downloading LibreOffice “Fresh” or “Stable”.

  8. Zorin OS Cubed, “Fresh” LibreOffice, and Year of Linux

    In today’s search was two Zorin OS reviews and a recommendation. The Document Foundation released the second update to the 4.2 branch of their popular office suite. Jamie Watson got a new Acer laptop and test drove several popular distributions on it. Computer Weekly online has published an article on Unix to Linux migrations and Simon Phipps put out a new post titled 2014 is the year of the Linux desktop.

  9. Breaking Microsoft’s Chains by Moving to LibreOffice

    Vignoli is one of the founders and a member of the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation, the organization behind LibreOffice, where his duties include marketing and communications as well as being an international spokesperson for the project. Before helping start The Document Project, he spent over six years on the marketing team for OpenOffice.org, which was the original code base for LibreOffice. In other words, this is a guy who knows his stuff and who has “been there/done that” when it comes to large enterprise level migrations from MS Office to LibreOffice or OpenOffice.

  10. Open document standards will cure Apple’s bit rot

    Reports emerged this week of a problem for Apple users opening presentation files created in Keynote. The latest update of Keynote — in fact, all of iWork ’13 — won’t open files created with versions before iWork ’09, instead prompting users to find a copy of iWork ’09 and open the file with that.

03.11.14

LibreOffice Stories: Birthday, New Release (4.2), Web Site, TDF Board

Posted in Office Suites, OpenDocument at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • LibreOffice: My birthday wish list

    All in all, this list would not significantly change the userbase of LibreOffice; but it would also position LibreOffice in places and circles where it’s not really used either, and I feel it’s a welcome set of suggestions that differ from the usual Android/iOS porting and cloud based office suite. On a deeper level, I think it also means that LibreOffice as a tool and office suites in general can change and grow to adapt to new usages even today.

  • LibreOffice 4.2.1 Has 100+ Bug-Fixes

    Less than one month after the release of the major LibreOffice 4.2 update, LibreOffice 4.2.1 has been released to ship a large number of fixes for discovered problems.

  • Updated TDF Board and New LibreOffice Release

    The Document Foundation yesterday announced that the new Board of Directors is “officially in charge.” These new members were recently elected and congratulated last December and have been in a sort of training since. In other news, TDF today announced the release of LibreOffice 4.2.1 for early adopters, an update to 4.2 released January 30.

  • FLOSS Office Suites

    There are a bunch of FLOSS office suites but two of them are the big dogs: LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. “October 29th, someone downloaded the 75,000,000th copy of Apache OpenOffice™. The 75 million downloads have occurred in the less than 18th months since the first release of Apache OpenOffice on May 8th, 2012.

  • LibreOffice Plans For C++11 / C++14 Development

    LibreOffice has been pushing forward in its development recently with supporting OpenCL in its spreadsheet, gaining an OpenGL rendering back-end, and supporting other modern features and system capabilities for the open-source office suite. LibreOffice is also planning for its adoption of the C++11 programming language and even C++14 language features.

  • LibreOffice 4.1.5, Linux for Students, and the Weirdest Places

    The Document Foundation has announced the release of LibreOffice 4.1.5 today, for all those running the 4.1 branch of code. In other news, a Pennsylvania high school has provided their students with Linux laptops and Lifehacker.com has outlined the top 10 uses for Linux. Also, www.networkworld.com has a slideshow of the 16 weirdest places running Linux and KDE was featured in hit movie Gravity.

  • LibreOffice 4.2 brings new features for power and enterprise users
  • LibreOffice 4.2 Office Suite Boasts New Features, Performance Boost
  • LibreOffice 4.2 better bridges the gap with Microsoft Office
  • Why LibreOffice 4.2 matters more than you think

    On Thursday the Document Foundation released its newest stable branch, LibreOffice 4,2. Don’t let be misled by its number; if we weren’t on a strict time released scheduled alongside a clear number scheme without any nickname for each release, I would have called this one the 5,0. Yes, you read that right, the mighty Five. Why? Mostly for two big reasons.

  • LibreOffice 4.2 Released with Focus on Performance

    Italo Vignoli of The Document Foundation today announced the immediate availability of the next major stable build of the popular office suite. LibreOffice 4.2 “features a large number of performance and interoperability improvements targeted to users of all kinds, but particularly appealing for power and enterprise users.”

  • Bigger, better, faster: LibreOffice 4.2

    The Document Foundation’s newest release of LibreOffice 4.2 targets early adopters. It comes with many new performance and interoperability improvements for users of all kinds. Specifically, this update is designed to appeal to Windows power and enterprise users.

  • LibreOffice 4.2 Brings OpenCL Calc, OOXML Improvements

    A new stable, major release of the open-source LibreOffice suite is now available and with it comes several new and improved features.

  • LibreOffice Gets An OpenGL Rendering Back-End

    The initial work on an OpenGL rendering back-end has landed in LibreOffice, not too long after receiving OpenCL support for spreadsheets and OpenGL canvas support.

    Pushed into Git today was the initial OpenGL rendering support, anti-aliasing support, a new time-based charting approach, OpenGL text rendering, OpenGL area rendering support, and other OpenGL-related changes.

  • Open office choices grip multiple languages

    Open source office suite alternatives are well able to handle multiple languages. Apache OpenOffice for example, already supports 32 languages, and the upcoming new version will add several new languages, including Danish and Norwegian, according to a press statement from the Apache Software Foundation, released on International Mother Language Day, Thursday 20 February. Multilingualism is also a feature of LibreOffice, another open source office suite, localised in over a hundred languages.

  • LibreOffice HiDPI Patches

    I bought a HiDPI laptop in October to replace my 5-year old Thinkpad. Between the 5.7 million pixels, and the bright LED backlight replacing my dying and dim CFL bulb, it makes the daily computing experience much easier on the eyes. I’d put up with a lot for this screen. It turns out I have to compared to my old Lenovo, as there is an incompatible and inferior keyboard layout, the Synaptics mouse drivers are flakey, it is difficult to replace the battery or hard drive, etc.

    [...]

    Apparently, everyone is so busy delivering a new product, fostering a young community, paying down technical debt, making it run on Android, improving import and export, rewriting the Calc engine, removing Java, etc., that no one has time to make it look good on these beautiful screens. There is a lot happening without any rich benefactor anymore, and a split community. If you think LibreOffice is amazing, just imagine what it would be if IBM gave them $10M / year, and the trademark, and didn’t seduce away naïve volunteers and donations. (I believe if IBM were to ask Watson whether it should end the fork, the AI would recommend it. Watson is only being applied to customer problems instead of their own. One could spend a lot of time correcting the inaccurate FUD written on the AOO dev alias. Imagine we lived in a society that celebrated divorce instead of marriage.)

  • A new web site for the LibreOffice Project

    When we first started the LibreOffice Project, we had a gazilion tasks to work on. Among them, we had priorities, most of them involving the code readiness of our first version, LibreOffice 3.3. Another priority was to make sure that the native-lang communities of the now defunct OpenOffice.org project would be able to find the tools needed to work on the releases, (re)create documentation, QA of their localized builds and several other important tasks. These were some of our most crucial priorities; yet among them, you would not have noted “design a nice website”.

01.29.14

UK Government Seems to Be Serious About Moving to Free Software and OpenDocument Format This Time Around

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: British politicians finally decide that by throwing away Microsoft spyware (in favour of FOSS and ‘cloud’ spyware like Google Docs) savings can be passed to the British public

AS ONE who works with the British public sector, I have heard some truly disturbing stories about FOSS projects being derailed by outside intervention (Microsoft partners, lobbyists, etc.) and seen some for myself. This is not a gentlemen’s club; it’s a fierce, manipulative race for domination. Those who are enjoying overpriced contracts with the government would never let go.

Earlier today there was this report in the British press [1] about something that requires looking at the date stamp. The headline says “UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source” and it seems like a blast from the past. On many occasions before the government said it would transition to FOSS and ODF (on which there were workshops), but it hardly ever happened. Is this time different from the previous times? Let’s wait and see. Microsoft sure is lobbying and probably setting up “task forces” or “response teams” (Microsoft’s terminology) with the sole goal is derailing this policy by all means necessary (ousting those involved has been a common strategy).

Meanwhile, suggests this piece of news from Belgium [2], the “Dutch city of Ede spends 92 percent less (!) than its peers on software licenses” and owing to FOSS use a “Dutch town lowers IT cost 24% vs peers” [3]. Fantastic, but it’s consistent with what Dutch researchers showed more than half a decade ago (Microsoft partners demonised them and criticised/ridiculed their reports). In other news from the same source [4,5], “Finnish schools using open source reap savings” (no surprise here either). Remember what BECTA did in the UK? As we’ve argued many times over the years, the UK is likely to be the last country in Europe to migrate to FOSS, but it would be pleasing to be proven wrong.
Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source

    Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft.

    Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant’s Office suite alone since 2010.

    But the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to software which can produce open-source files in the “open document format” (ODF), such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.

  2. Dutch city of Ede spends 92 percent less (!) than its peers on software licenses

    The city of Ede, the Netherlands, currently has an annual total ICT budget of six million euros. According to the Dutch Berenschot benchmark for municipal ICT costs, that is 24 percent less than other municipalities of comparable size are spending. Drilling down shows that most of this reduction can be explained by Ede’s extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee (FTE) instead of 731 euros. That’s a very impressive 92 percent less than average. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software.

  3. OSS use Dutch town lowers IT cost 24% vs peers

    Public administrations that switch to free and open source software can expect a large reduction of their ICT costs, a study published on Joinup shows. The annual ICT costs for the Dutch municipality of Ede are now 24% lower than its peers. “Most of this reduction can be explained by Ede’s extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee instead of 731 euros. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software.”

  4. Finnish schools using open source reap savings

    Municipalities in Finland that have switched their schools to Linux and other open source solutions are saving millions of euro, says Jouni Lintu, CIO of Opinsys. “Typically, our centrally managed open source computers are at least 40 percent cheaper than the proprietary alternative. The total savings could be 10 million.”

  5. Finnish Schools Save Big With FLOSS

    I’ve seen it repeatedly. New systems cost half as much and migrating old systems costs a fraction of that. The saving in money is important but so is the saving in time. In a typical school the effort could drop from many hours per week to minutes.

01.10.14

Corporate Press is Burying LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org, States Exclude Them

Posted in IBM, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LibreOffice

Summary: Free/libre office suites LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org are mostly ignored by the corporations-funded media, despite having new major developments such as Web-based versions

OBJECTIVE reporting is the key to fairness and justice. Without it, we are left with incitations, half-truths (censorship by omission), and agenda/indocrination disguised as ‘information’. Interestingly enough, IDG (paid by Microsoft) decided to pretty much ‘vanish’ Free software. LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org get no mention in an article about Microsoft Office alternatives [1]. Is the author dumb, misinformed (e.g. never heard of Free software), or is he driving some kind of Fog Computing agenda? Whatever is the case, we have to counter such deficient ‘reporting’. The consequences of such poorly-executed ‘journalism’ include states where Microsoft is found guilty of evading tax simply excluding non-Microsoft users from doing their taxes, as this new article reveals. Titled “Microsoft and your tax returns”, this article says that “The Excel “macro” feature used in tax forms released by the Income Tax department means that free software — such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc. that otherwise support Microsoft Excel files, not to mention cheaper alternatives from Microsoft itself, like MS Office Starter Edition — cannot be used on those forms.

“In short, any tax payer trying to file income tax online in India has a fairly expensive dependency on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Windows.”

in Australia and elsewhere Windows may sometimes be required for tax purposes, but not Microsoft Office, which is a lot more expensive. So this is quite a scandal. Muktware, a news site run by quite a few writers from India, shows that there are many Free/libre alternatives to Microsoft Office [2].

There is a very disturbing trend where those who abandon Microsoft Office (which is a good thing in itself) move to other proprietary software with surveillance, for instance the City of Boston, which moves 76,000 city employees to Google Apps [3]. Why not choose or consider Free software, as the City of Largo apparently does [4]? Maybe bad reporting leads people to the wrong alternatives, or in other words to traps. It was the same with IBM’s proprietary traps (Lotus) half a decade or so ago.

Despite getting a cold shoulder from Novell/SUSE, LibreOffice is doing all right with a new board [5,6] and online version (comparable to the above) [7,8]. Apache OpenOffice is still very much alive, as IBM (main steward) claims [9] and there are new releases of LibreOffice coming [10]. Why is the corporate press mostly ignoring that? This may be a rhetorical question.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Moving to Office 365? Dig deep into your options first
  2. Best word processors for GNU/Linux

    Word processing is an important part of work – and not just office work; everyone needs word processors at some point. This is the first article in the series ‘Best Open Source Apps’ and here I will talk about the most popular open source word processors for GNU/Linux: AbiWord, Calligra Words and LibreOffice Writer. I didn’t take OpenOffice Writer because it is not all that different from LibreOffice Writer.

  3. Boston moves 76K city employees to Google Apps

    Every Boston city employee from police officers to public school teachers now have a Google Apps account.

  4. Dave At City of Largo Reports Looking At NX and LibreOffice 4.1

    While the trolls here constantly tell us how essential that other OS is people in the real world keep rolling along comfortably with GNU/Linux, LibreOffice and making unfettered (by M$’s EULA) use of the hardware they own.

  5. A New Board for a New Year
  6. The Document Foundation Elects New Directors
  7. Rollapp’s Online LibreOffice Nearly Ready for Prime Time – But Not Yet
  8. Now you can run LibreOffice in a browser
  9. Latest Stable LibreOffice 4.1.4 Released
  10. Apache OpenOffice 2013 Mailing List Review

    I did a quick study of the 2013 mailing list traffic for the Apache OpenOffice project. I looked at all project mailing lists, including native language lists. I omitted the purely transactional mailing lists, the ones that merely echo code check-ins and bug reports. Altogether 14 mailing lists were included in this study.

11.15.13

Oracle Continues Its Destruction of Free/Libre Software, But Projects Like LibreOffice, MariaDB, and Ceylon Show That Popular Free/Libre Software Just Can’t Die

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Java, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Larry Ellison: “If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We'll Simply Take It.”
Larry Ellison: “We Have to Exploit Open Source.”

Larry Elllison on stage
Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications

Summary: Oracle’s latest casualty is commercial support for Glassfish JEE Server, but replacements for Java continue to multiply

Oracle has hardly been friendly towards FOSS, and that’s putting it very politely. Oracle actively attacked some FOSS (like Android) and shelved some important FOSS projects like OpenOffice.org, eventually turning it into Apache OpenOffice and then turning its back on it. In addition, Oracle’s abandonment of Java products seems evident [1] (Glassfish JEE Server this time), leaving the likes of Red Hat to bridge the gap [2], joining the likes of Google with Dalvik. Oracle has been a disappointing steward of Java and Java-based projects, so when it comes to branching off in different directions, that’s just fine. As for MySQL, MariaDB — like LibreOffice — helps keep it somewhat safe from Oracle’s neglect [3] (a lot of applications out there still depend on MySQL [4,5]) and there are some big new storage players [6,7] which jeopardise Oracle’s core business (MySQL was an Oracle rival, but so was Postgres, well before Apache Cassandra and and Apache Hadoop).

It remains hard to explain why Oracle turned its back on OpenOffice.org like this. Back in the days Oracle put its weight behind ODF and even opposed OOXML, which is a growing problem [8]. Now we have two options [9], both the IBM-backed [10] Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which is mostly driven by users’ needs (see [11] from Charles-H. Schulz), has frequent releases [12], and is focused on innovation [13], not profit. There are smaller players in this lucrative area of office suites, both Free/libre [14] and proprietary [15], but none is as important as what used to be StarOffice. Nothing other than OpenOffice.org could really challenge and replace Microsoft Office in businesses (from proprietary lock-in to freedom and standards).

The important thing we can learn from all this is that when software is free in the licensing sense it is extremely difficult for aggressors like Oracle to kill. The licence of the code protects the software; developers can take the code and continue the work elsewhere, as long as there is enough demand to drive development. There is another lesson to be learned here. For a business, it is a lot less risky to choose Free/libre software as chances of discontinuation are fairly low, especially when the software is well-established (like Linux and Apache).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Oracle abandons commercial support for Glassfish JEE Server
  2. Red Hat ships piping hot Ceylon to curry favor with Java-weary devs

    After more than three years of development, Red Hat has released version 1.0.0 of Ceylon, its homebrewed, open-source programming language that’s designed to be a replacement for Java.

    Early on, Ceylon was billed as a “Java killer” by some, but lead developer Gavin King has denied that doing away with Oracle’s platform was ever his intent. In fact, even the earliest builds of Ceylon produced code that ran on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

    Instead, King sought to create a new language that could run alongside Java but would be based on more modern class libraries and would have a syntax more amenable to defining user interfaces – something King believes there is “no good way” to do in Java.

    In its current form, King describes Ceylon as a “cross-platform” language. The 1.0.0 release, announced at the Devoxx conference in Antwerp, Belgium on Tuesday, includes compilers that can output either Java bytecode or JavaScript.

    That allows the same Ceylon source modules to run on either the JVM or a JavaScript execution environment such as Node.js, interchangeably. Or, a Ceylon program can be written to target only one of Java or JavaScript, in which case it can interoperate with native code written in that language.

  3. Oracle’s nemesis MariaDB releases sleekest seal yet to beta

    The news came out at the Extremely Large Databases (XLDB) conference in Stanford, California on Wednesday, one month after El Reg reported that Google had assigned one of its engineers to the MariaDB Foundation. News of the swap was not an official announcement by Google, it came out during a presentation by Google senior systems engineer Jeremy Cole on the general state of the MySQL ecosystem.

  4. MySQL Performance and Tuning Best Practices
  5. MySQL Security Best Practices
  6. Cassandra 2.0: The next generation of big data

    Apache has just released Apache Cassandra v2.0, the latest version of its popular highly-scalable, big data distributed database.

  7. Hortonworks to seek IPO within two years, CEO says

    The Palo Alto, California-based company is a Yahoo Inc spin-off founded in 2011 by a team of software engineers working on Yahoo’s Apache Hadoop implementation.

  8. Shall we waste twelve more years promoting Free office suites instead of open office formats?

    Twelve (TWELVE!!!) years ago I asked OpenOffice users “Are you advocating OO correctly”. Six years ago I said the same things in a different format. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a perfect proof that that kind of advocacy IS right, but so far has been never practiced enough.

  9. Apache OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice

    Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice are the modern descendants of OpenOffice.org. For the last few years, almost all Linux distributions have included LibreOffice as their default office suite. However, in the past eighteen months, OpenOffice has reappeared, newly organized into an Apache project, and free software users now have the choice of two full-featured suites instead of one.

  10. IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice

    The latest, and most significant, enabler of enterprise use of Apache OpenOffice is our IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice offering. Although individual end-users and even small businesses can easily deploy Apache OpenOffice on their own (75 million downloads testifies to that), larger enterprises with more complicated and demanding needs benefit from the kind of expertise that IBM can provide. So I’m glad to see this offering available to fill out the ecosystem, so everyone can use and be successful with Apache OpenOffice, from individual university students, to small non-profits, to large international corporations.

  11. Users: the Final Frontier?

    A few weeks ago we started to have a quite interesting discussion on the LibreOffice project’s marketing mailing list on how to engage users in our community. Readers of Moved by Freedom – Powered by Standards may remember that during the LibreOffice Conference of 2012 in Berlin, the marketing strategy had already defined that the mission of marketing for the LibreOffice project was not to market a product but rather to grow the size of the community of contributors, improve the communications and raise the brand awareness of LibreOffice. This strategy was clearly reaffirmed during our second marketing workshop in Milano in September 2013.

  12. LibreOffice 4.2 Alpha 1 To Bring Many Improvements

    LibreOffice was bumped today for version 4.2.0 Alpha 1, the next major update to the popular open-source office suite.

  13. Forget about meeting customers’ expectations: Innovation comes first

    … and so does pesky market research. The IT bubble has been spreading the word about this Forrester report and as you can imagine it got many of us wondering what it really means. Well it got me wondered about a few things too, but perhaps not for the same reasons others twisted their heads around..

  14. AbiWord: The little word processor that could
  15. Pages 5: An unmitigated disaster

    It certainly is not intended for people who, like me, appreciated the combination of simplicity and power that was the hallmark of previous versions of Pages. I realize that it must be hard to maintain the right balance between simplicity and power when you try to add more features, more customizability, and so on. But Apple’s engineers appear to have chosen to keep the emphasis on “simplicity” at the expense of “power”. They have not just neglected to add features to bring the feature set of the application closer to that of a word processor like Microsoft Word. They have actually removed many features for no apparent reason other than to bring the application in line with its iOS counterpart, which is, inevitably, much less powerful.

    [...]

    I guess that, in an era of mobile, touch-based computing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Apple engineers to understand that document writers spend most of their days with their hands on an actual keyboard, and providing easy access to functionality via the keyboard is particularly important for them.

10.24.13

The World According to Forrester’s Clients: Bashing Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenOffice at 9:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest FUD from Forrester and who’s behind it; more on IBM’s Power PR and why it should not be taken at face value

AS we showed in previous years, the marketing company (masquerading as “analyst”) called Forrester is Microsoft’s go-to entity for Free software bashing and GNU/Linux FUD. Microsoft literally pays Forrester to produce reports that belittle GNU/Linux. It’s just a real damn shame that Forrester gets caught doing this and Microsoft’s red-handed actions have them red-faced in the international press.

As one who spent many years working with statistics (common tool in computer vision) I am quite familiar with ways of cheating and Forrester [via [1]] seems to be cheating again [2], in pretty much the same way that IDC cheapted for Microsoft several years ago. If one looks carefully enough at who Forrester has surveyed, it is “a survey of 155 Forrester clients with responsibility for those investments.” Who are those clients and what are their relative roles? It doesn’t say. Forrester is gleefully generalising based on this biased sample (geographically, economically, etc.); classic tactic. ‘Disclosure’ without even names.

ZDNet, the vile tabloid which gave Forrester a blog (conflict of interest), already covers this paid-for propaganda as though it is factual and also “news” [3], claiming (in the headline even) that “Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice” (no attribution to Forrester even).

“Forrester is gleefully generalising based on this biased sample (geographically, economically, etc.); classic tactic.”Really? Says who? Says Forrester. So is Forrester registering billions of users’ computers and then doing a census? Of course not, see the methodologies. It’s bogus, but Forrester tries to pass it off as “professional”. Well, professional FUD it sure is because it is penetrating the press and is proving effective (FUD well worth the money). Microsoft-friendly press puts that forth as some kind of universal fact, not even scrutinising the methods, the messengers, the funder, the polled population, etc. That’s not real journalism, it’s simply PR relayed via Forrester.

Taking into account what Rob Weir (of IBM) says this week [4], “[t]he OpenOffice brand is strong and growing. Over 30% of consumers surveyed had heard of it. Of those who had heard of it, 67% had given it a try.” He also says that “[o]f those who tried OpenOffice almost 78% continued to use OpenOffice.”

Sounds pretty decent, but the IBM-dominated Apache OpenOffice is not to be trusted either. IBM in general is not worth trusting, definitely not with it comes to “trusted computing”. Regarding IBM Power investments, which have had a Linux-themed PR campaign, some say that it’s partly about the NSA: [via Gary Edwards]

The Other Reason Why IBM Throws A Billion At Linux (With NSA- Designed Backdoor)

[...]

Then another boon for IBM. Experts at the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BIS) determined that Windows 8 is dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a “special surveillance chip,” the wonderfully named Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and a backdoor in the software – with keys likely accessible to the NSA and possibly other third parties, such as the Chinese. Risks: “Loss of control over the operating system and the hardware” [read…. LEAKED: German Government Warns Key Entities Not To Use Windows 8 – Links The NSA.

Governments and companies overseas paid rapt attention. They’re big customers of our American tech heroes – and they’re having second thoughts, and some are cancelling orders. Tech companies are feeling the heat. A debacle IBM apparently decided not to let go to waste.

This is a story worth exploring in isolation.

What are the true numbers behind OpenOffice and LibreOffice adoption? It’s hard to tell without a census. Free software is being spread vertically and unless it’s improperly designed it also discourages spying that’s needed to count the number of active installations. If Forrester claims to know how OpenOffice and LibreOffice are doing, then it is lying; but on whose behalf? My wife uses OpenOffice at this very moment while I’m typing this. She uses a Live CD, so how can the likes of Forrester count it? They can’t. They can only pretend to be able to.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Office Productivity Software Is No Closer To Becoming A Commodity | Forrester Blogs
  2. Office Productivity Software Is No Closer To Becoming A Commodity
  3. Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice but cloud tools gain ground

    Nine out of 10 firms simply give staff the installed version of Office, with only six percent offering some or all employees a non-Microsoft alternative, according to a Forrester survey.

  4. The Power of Brand and the Power of Product, Part 3

    The OpenOffice brand is strong and growing. Over 30% of consumers surveyed had heard of it. Of those who had heard of it, 67% had given it a try. That number is changed little. This is an opportunity for Apache OpenOffice marketing volunteers to improve both of these numbers. Of those who tried OpenOffice almost 78% continued to use OpenOffice. This is a modest increase, but there is certainly room to improve here. Put it altogether, and the estimated user share, the percentage of US internet users who use OpenOffice “sometimes” or “regularly” is 16.1%, nearly a 50% improvement year-over-year.

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