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Government open standards - the curious case of Microsoft and the minister

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft
OOo

Microsoft consistently opposed the policy, which the software giant saw as its last chance to overturn the UK government’s broader plans for open standards. As emails seen by Computer Weekly reveal, the decision became an issue in the supplier’s Seattle boardroom, and brought the lobbying powers of the software giant into full force in Whitehall.

There has been speculation about the role played by senior government minister David Willetts, then minister of state for universities and science in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), but who later left the post in David Cameron’s 2014 summer reshuffle.

An investigation by Computer Weekly has revealed that – according to well-placed sources – Microsoft turned to Willetts to help win its case, with the supplier’s global chief operating officer (COO) Kevin Turner getting involved. But neither BIS nor David Willetts himself is willing to discuss the role the minister played in Microsoft's attempts to influence this obscure but vitally important part of government IT policy.

Willetts was the government’s liaison point for Microsoft, as a major employer and investor in the UK economy. He also served as co-chair of the Information Economy Council, a body set up to enable dialogue between Whitehall and the IT industry over future policy.

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Also: Departments lack common targets for implementing open-document standards

The Power of Brand and the Power of Product Redux

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LibO
OOo

Those who know me know that I am partial to OpenOffice, an open source project that I contribute to. So I am extremely pleased to see it continue to advance in all fronts. Since coming to Apache, OpenOffice’s name recognition has grown from 24% to 39% and the user share has grown from 11% to 18%, while keeping user satisfaction constant. This is a testament to the hard work of the many talented volunteers at Apache.

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Reuniting LibreOffice and AOO – a personal take

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LibO
OOo

As we are approaching the 4th anniversary of the LibreOffice project in just a few days, an old theme has been reappearing on the Internet: Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice should reunite. I would like to share my perceptions on this topic although I think it is not a really important one, at least as long as the LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice do not officially call for such a reunion. Before I start, let me remind everyone that what follows is my own opinion and neither the one of the Document Foundation, nor the one of the Democratic Party, the one of my Government, nor, at last, the one of Bob’s Shipping and Handling Company.

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Also: LibreOffice Celebrates - and Does Something Unusual

ISO/IEC JTC1 Approves ODF 1.2 PAS Ballot

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LibO
OOo

OASIS ODF 1.2, the current version of the Open Document Format standard, was approved by ISO/IEC JTC1 National Bodies after a 3-month Publicly Available Specification (PAS) ballot. The final vote for DIS 26300 was: 17-0 for Parts 1 and 2, and 18-0 for Part 3.

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EC Commissioner Kroes supports ODF campaign

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LibO
OOo

European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe's public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).

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OpenForum Europe Challenges Governments to Walk the Open Format Walk

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LibO
OOo

OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called FixMyDocuments.eu, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).

The announcement coincides with the beginning of another initiative, Global Legislative Openness Week, which will involve global activities annd "events hosted by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and members of the parliamentary openness community." A full calendar of events is here.

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'Open and Libre Office projects should reunite'

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LibO
OSS
OOo

The software developers working on Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice - two closely related suites of open source office productivity tools - should overcome their schism and unite to compete with the ubiquitous proprietary alternative, urges Daniel Brunner, head of the IT department of Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court. Merging the two projects will convince more public administrations to use the open source office suite, he believes.

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Sharing work is easier with an Open Document Format

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LibO
OOo

Many individuals have been using ODF for years, but the open format is also being adopted by organisations, including companies and governments.

We often wish to share electronic documents with friends, colleagues, business or government, and the software application we use to prepare these documents will save them in a particular format.

Any application that later loads the document will also need to be able to understand this format. If an organisation can control the format, and convince people to use it, then they can use this as a very powerful tool to create a monopoly in the market.

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Microsoft is part of the problem, not the solution for Munich

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft
OOo

The new mayor of Munich is a self-proclaimed Microsoft fan and he wants to waste all the money that was invested in moving away from Microsoft’s vendor lock and incompatible technologies. His deputy is also a Microsoft fans so it’s not surprising that the new office of the mayor wants to bring back Microsoft technologies.

But that will be a very dangerous move for Munich.

Josef Schmid, teh deputy, points out two issues with LiMux – one is incompatibility with Microsoft technologies and other was increased support calls.

Incompatibility with Microsoft products is a huge problem and it’s a problem for everyone who is using Microsoft technologies. Linux or Open Source are not the cause of the problem as Schmid says, they are victims.

Then what is the cause?

In a recent interview one of the directors of The Document Foundation disclosed how Microsoft users various tricks to break compatibility and that leads to people like Schmid to blame open source technologies without fully understanding where the problem lies.

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Sharing work is easier with an Open Document Format

Filed under
LibO
OOo

We often wish to share electronic documents with friends, colleagues, business or government, and the software application we use to prepare these documents will save them in a particular format.

Any application that later loads the document will also need to be able to understand this format. If an organisation can control the format, and convince people to use it, then they can use this as a very powerful tool to create a monopoly in the market.

Read more

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Software: LibreNMS, Pidgin, Wireshark and More

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    Technology is at an interesting crossroads, where Linux rules the server landscape but Microsoft rules the enterprise desktop. Office 365, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Outlook... the list goes on of Microsoft software and services that dominate the enterprise workspace. What if you could replace that proprietary software with free and open source applications and make them work with an Office 365 backend you have no choice but to use? Buckle up, because that is exactly what we are going to do with Pidgin, an open source replacement for Skype.
  • Wireshark, World’s Most Popular Network Protocol Analyzer, Gets Major Release
    Wireshark, world’s most popular open-source network protocol analyzer, has been updated to a new stable series, versioned 2.6, a major update that adds numerous new features and improvements, as well as support for new protocols. A lot of user interface improvements have been made since Wireshark 2.5, and Wireshark 2.6 appears to be the last release that will support the legacy GTK+ graphical user interface, as the development team announced it wouldn't be supported in the next major series, Wireshark 3.0. New features in Wireshark 2.6 include support for HTTP Request sequences, support for MaxMind DB files, Microsoft Network Monitor capture file support, as well as LoRaTap capture interface support. The IP map feature was removed, as well as support for the GeoIP and GeoLite Legacy databases.
  • A look at terminal emulators, part 2
    A comparison of the feature sets for a handful of terminal emulators was the subject of a recent article; here I follow that up by examining the performance of those terminals. This might seem like a lesser concern, but as it turns out, terminals exhibit surprisingly high latency for such fundamental programs. I also examine what is traditionally considered "speed" (but is really scroll bandwidth) and memory usage, with the understanding that the impact of memory use is less than it was when I looked at this a decade ago (in French).
  • Counting beans—and more—with Beancount
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  • Firefox release speed wins
    Sylvestre wrote about how we were able to ship new releases for Nightly, Beta, Release and ESR versions of Firefox for Desktop and Android in less than a day in response to the pwn2own contest. People commented on how much faster the Beta and Release releases were compared to the ESR release, so I wanted to dive into the releases on the different branches to understand if this really was the case, and if so, why? [..] We can see that Firefox 59 and 60.0b4 were significantly faster to run than ESR 52 was! What's behind this speedup?
  • LibreOffice 6.1 Alpha 1 Is Ready To Roll For Advancing The Open-Source Office
    LibreOffice 6.1 Alpha 1 was tagged overnight as the first development release towards this next updated open-source office suite release succeeding the big LibreOffice 6.0. LibreOffice 6.1.0 is set to be released by the middle of August and for that to happen the alpha release has now been hit followed by the beta release this time next month, and the release candidates to come through the month of July. The feature freeze and branching occurs at next month's beta stage while the hard code freeze is expected for the middle of July.

today's howtos

GNOME Development and Events

  • Dependencies with code generators got a lot smoother with Meson 0.46.0
    Most dependencies are libraries. Almost all build systems can find dependency libraries from the system using e.g. pkg-config. Some can build dependencies from source. Some, like Meson, can do both and toggle between them transparently. Library dependencies might not be a fully solved problem but we as a community have a fairly good grasp on how to make them work. However there are some dependencies where this is not enough. A fairly common case is to have a dependency that has some sort of a source code generator. Examples of this include Protocol Buffers, Qt's moc and glib-mkenums and other tools that come with Glib. The common solution is to look up these binaries from PATH. This works for dependencies that are already installed on the system but fails quite badly when the dependencies are built as subprojects. Bootstrapping is also a bit trickier because you may need to write custom code in the project that provides the executables.
  • Expanding Amtk to support GUIs with headerbar
    I initially created the Amtk library to still be able to conveniently create a traditional UI without using deprecated GTK+ APIs, for GNOME LaTeX. But when working on Devhelp (which has a modern UI with a GtkHeaderBar) I noticed that some pieces of information were duplicated in order to create the menus and the GtkShortcutsWindow.
  • GLib/GIO async operations and Rust futures + async/await
    Unfortunately I was not able to attend the Rust+GNOME hackfest in Madrid last week, but I could at least spend some of my work time at Centricular on implementing one of the things I wanted to work on during the hackfest. The other one, more closely related to the gnome-class work, will be the topic of a future blog post once I actually have something to show.
  • Introducing Chafa
  • Infra Hackfest
  • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 3 (conclusion)
    I'm back home now, jetlagged but very happy that gnome-class is in a much more advanced a state than it was before the hackfest. I'm very thankful that practically everyone worked on it!
  • GNOME loves Rust Hackfest in Madrid
    The last week was the GNOME loves Rust hackfest in Madrid. I was there, only for the first two days, but was a great experience to meet the people working with Rust in GNOME a great community with a lot of talented people.
  • GNOME Mutter 3.29.1 Now Works With Elogind, Allows For Wayland On Non-Systemd Distros
    GNOME Mutter 3.29.1 has been released as the first development snapshot of this window manager / compositor in the trek towards GNOME 3.30. Mutter 3.29.1 overshot the GNOME 3.29.1 release by one week, but for being a first development release of a new cycle has some pretty interesting changes. Among the work found in Mutter 3.29.1 includes: - Mutter can now be built with elogind. That is the systemd-logind as its own standalone package. This in turn allows using Mutter with its native Wayland back-end on Linux distributions using init systems besides systemd.

KDE: Plasma Widgets, PIM Update and More

  • 3 Students Accepted for Google Summer of Code 2018
    Since 2006, we have had the opportunity for Google to sponsor students to help out with Krita. For 2018 we have 3 talented students working over the summer. Over the next few months they will be getting more familiar with the Krita code base and working on their projects. They will be blogging about their experience and what they are learning along the way. We will be sure to share any progress or information along the way. Here is a summary of their projects and what they hope to achieve.
  • Plasma widgets – Beltway Bandit Unlimited
    The concept of addons is an interesting one. At some point over the past decade or two, companies developing (successful) software realized that bundling an ever-growing code base into their products in order to meet the spiraling tower of requests from their users would result in unsustainable bloat and complexity that would not warrant the new functionality. And so, the idea of addons was born. Addons come in many flavors – extensions, plugins, applets, scripts, and of course, widgets. A large number of popular programs have incorporated them, and when done with style, the extra functionality becomes as important as the core application itself. Examples that come to mind: Firefox, Notepad++, VLC, Blender. And then, there’s the Plasma desktop environment. Since inception, KDE has prided itself on offering complete solutions, and the last incarnation of its UI framework is no different. Which begs the question, what, how and why would anyone need Plasma widgets? We explore. [...] Conclusion A good mean needs no seasoning, indeed. And Plasma is a proof of that, with the widgets the best example. Remarkably, this desktop environment manages to juggle the million different usage needs and create a balanced compromise that offers pretty much everything without over-simplifying the usage in any particular category. It’s a really amazing achievement, because normally, the sum of all requests is a boring, useless muddle. Plasma’s default showing is rich, layered, complex yet accessible, and consistent. And that means it does not really need any widgets. This shows. The extras are largely redundant, with some brilliant occasional usage models here and there, but nothing drastic or critical that you don’t get out of the box. This makes Plasma different from most other addons-blessed frameworks, as they do significantly benefit from the extras, and in some cases, the extensions and plugins are critical in supplementing the missing basics. And so, if you wonder, whether you’ll embark on a wonderful journey of discovery and fun with Plasma widgets, the answer is no. Plasma offers 99% of everything you may need right there, and the extras are more to keep people busy rather than give you anything cardinal. After all, if it’s missing, it should be an integral part of the desktop environment, and the KDE folks know this. So if you’re disappointed with this article, don’t be. It means the baseline is solid, and that’s where you journey of wonders and adventure should and will be focused. 
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  • Google Summer of Code 2018 with KDE
    It’s been 2 days since the GSoC accepted student list was announced and I’m still getting goosebumps thinking about the moment I saw my name on the website. I started contributing to open source after attending a GSoC session in our college by one of our senior and a previous GSoC student with KDE: Aroonav Mishra. I was very inspired by the program and that defined the turning point of my life. [...] Then I came across GCompris and it caught my eye. I started contributing to it and the mentors are really very helpful and supportive. They always guided me whenever I needed any help  or was stuck at anything. Under their guidance, I learnt many things during the period of my contributions. I had never thought I would get this far.