Sun Microsystems Talk on Office Migration

Free Software 1 Comment »

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GLUG hosted a talk tonight by Michael E. Bohn from Sun Microsystems on migration.


Blurry Phone Pic

Michael is a German working in South Africa assisting local government with ODF migration, he’s been involved with since the early StarOffice days.


Document Complexity Checklist

He talked about:

  • Challenges he’s facing in migrating to
  • Benefits of over MS Office
  • Things that MS Office still does better
  • Migration strategies
  • Document freedom and how important it is to own your data
  • Soft issues around migration, change management
  • Project renaissance
  • OOo’s superior database support
  • Easter eggs in
  • Plugins for (the presenter console looks quite nice)

I asked him about Java and how Sun committed to release it all under a free license two years ago, and whether the aquisition of Oracle would have any effect on that project. He said that unfortunately, if anything, it would make that process slower. Not a big surprise, but I wish Sun could’ve done more to get more of it out there before the aquisition.

I asked him whether would be more open to accepting patches from the community under Oracle. Sun has kept control over quite tight over the years which have resulted in a number of forks. He said that 93% of is developed in Hamburg and that he doesn’t think that that will change because of the Oracle buy-out.

Overall I think the talk was very good. I learned a few things about, and I’m glad that GLUG is hosting talks now, it’s been much needed in the Gauteng free software community.

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Oracle to Buy Sun Microsystems

Free Software 5 Comments »


A few weeks ago, it was common knowledge that IBM was going to aquire Sun Microsystems. That deal has subsequently been canceled and today, Sun Microsystems anounced that they will now be bought out by Oracle.

Oracle is a large proprietary software company that specialises in large database applications. Sun Microsystems is responsible for lots of software we encounter often in the free software world, such as, MySQL, OpenSolaris, Java and projects such as the ZFS filesystem.

I was much more comfortable when IBM were buying Sun, either way, when large companies buy over other large companies, entire projects can be trashed or morphed to the point where they don’t provide the value to the larger ecosystem they they did before, especially when the technologies they buy compete with their existing technologies.

Fun times, I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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More Easter Eggs in Ubuntu

Free Software 7 Comments »

Easter time! I’m going to spend the next few days off-line attending some music festivals (KKNK, KoDV, Cokefest, etc). I kept a list of all the easter eggs I’ve gathered in Ubuntu since the last time I blogged about Ubuntu Easter Eggs, enjoy!


Type about:robots in the Firefox address bar. You’ll get this message:


Require Quarter

In GDM, the Ubuntu login screen, type “Require Quarter” and press enter. It will return back to the login prompt as if you haven’t typed anything at all. When the next user comes to log in, the system will display a prompt that says “Insert 25 cents to continue…”

Zenity Dress Up

Zenity is a tool that you can use to add some GUI functionality to your scripts. If you execute zenity –about, and type “zen” into the about dialog, then you will get to play dress-up Mr Potato style. This doesn’t seem to work on Jaunty anymore.

StarCalc Team

In Calc, type “=STARCALCTEAM()” into any of the cells. A picture will be displayed of the original Star Office Calc team.


GEGL Eggs in Gnome

Right-click on an open space on the gnome-panel and click on properties.Right-click 3 times on any of the tabs. A GEGL cow will fly by waving at you.


You can also play the gegls from outer space game. Press ALT+F2, then typs “gegls from outer space”


The Answer in VIM

Type :help 42 in the command field, and you will get the following message:



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70 000 Ubuntu workstation migration for French Police

Free Software 6 Comments »

The French paramilitary police will be migrating 70 000 desktops from Microsoft Windows to Ubuntu. They plan to change 5000-8000 desktops this year (all new machines will run Ubuntu), and 12 000 – 15 000 over the next 4 years, and completing the migration by 2014.

The reasons behind the migration is reduction in cost, diversifying their software suppliers and the advanced state that Linux systems are in today. In recent years, they have already started using, Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird which should smooth out the transition for the users quite significantly.

They estimate that migrating from Microsoft’s products will save them about €7m a year. That’s a lot of money. It’s great to see that governments all over the world are deciding to spend their money better in their own country rather than spend it on licenses that will be worthless in less than a decade.

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Becta advises against Windows Vista in Britain schools

Education, Free Software 3 Comments »

Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), which governs technology use in schools, has advised schools not to upgrade to Windows Vista or Microsoft Office 2007. The reasons for this suggestion revolves around new licensing restrictions and higher costs, as well as compatibility issues in Microsoft’s new products. Furthermore, they also advise schools to investigate Linux-based products and

Personally, I find it strange that Microsoft is continuing to alienate the people that should matter to them most- their customers. Every few weeks, it seems that there is an entire new industry that is angry and frustrated with Microsoft. Even Bill Gates seems embarrassed about Windows Vista. I truly feel sorry for him (empathetically), he spent such a large amount of energy and passion building up Microsoft, and then his underlings make such a mess of it. I guess that’s the price you have to pay for being greedy.

I personally believe that Free Software is the only logical choice for mass-deployment in education environments, and also that pretty much everyone is going about it the wrong way currently, but that’s another post…

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