Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 20:40:50 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 03-22-2005 - Open Questions For Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Open Questions For | 03.23.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Open Questions For
  • Top Linux News
        - KDE Rolls Linux Desktop Update
        - Firefox Eats More Microsoft Market Share
        - EU Pressures Microsoft To Expand Shared-Source Initiative
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Your Iptable Is Ready: Using A Linux Firewall
        - Interview: Groklaw Founder Pamela Jones
        - Painless Multimedia For Linux
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: How do You Get Your IT News?
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Open Questions For has been on my mind a lot recently. Although I have worked quite a bit with the open-source office suite on my home Windows and Linux systems, it isn't yet up to snuff on the Mac platform, which means I'm not using it on an everyday basis.

    My wife, however, downloaded and installed a while back, and she now uses it instead of Microsoft Office when she works at home. She's also interested in evaluating the suite for use at the educational non-profit where she works.

    So far, so good: One more open-source convert, and one more person helping to spread the good word in one of the industries that can least afford to keep feeding Microsoft's cash cow. At this rate they might be serving some cheap hamburger in Redmond soon, right?

    I'm not so sure about that. is one of the most promising open-source products on the market today, and it has almost unlimited potential. Is the organization behind the product, however, ready to make the most of its opportunities?

    My concerns fall into two categories, marketing and user-centered development, that are really two sides of the same coin.

    There's no sense blaming if it can't cut deals with hardware OEMs to put the suite on new Windows PCs--this is an area where Microsoft plays for keeps, and it may never be a productive avenue for promoting an open-source Office alternative. And if you read the OpenOffice marketing material available online, the organization certainly seems to have the right ideas about topics such as making the migration process from Office as simple as possible.

    In practice, however, isn't doing a lot of the little things--or the big things--that could make this a lot easier. Why, for example, will you search in vain for a small, easy to install viewer for OpenOffice documents? Anyone who thinks someone receiving a document using the suite's native, XML-based format should download and install the whole enchilada just to read a few pages isn't living in the real world. Yet I've seen just that solution suggested more than once on forums.

    The suite's growing dependence on Java is another potential disaster for users, especially those on Windows who haven't yet downloaded a Java runtime. Sure, the suite's Java components are optional. Will that always be the case? Is Sun, which supports and sells its own suite, StarOffice, based on the OpenOffice code base, pressuring the organization in any way to use Java?

    My wife discussed both issues with me, as have other people familiar with the product. They all express, in somewhat different ways, the same concern: A product they're willing to use while it continues to improve might actually take them the opposite direction.

    The world doesn't need another 200MB hunk of bloatware that takes three days to load on a new system. If this is the road OpenOffice is destined to take, let me off at the next stop. But I'm almost certain that's not the case, which means there's plenty of time to fix whatever might be going wrong. I hope at least pauses long enough to consider whether a series of choices that look reasonable by themselves, in the short term, could someday add up to just another roadkill on the highway behind the Office juggernaut.

    Matthew McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    KDE Rolls Linux Desktop Update
    The KDE Foundation releases the newest version of its open-source desktop environment, KDE 3.4; improvements in accessibility for disabled users top the product's new feature list.

    Firefox Eats More Microsoft Market Share
    Market share for Mozilla's open-source Firefox browser climbed above 6 percent in February, while Microsoft's Internet Explorer share dropped below 90 percent.

    EU Pressures Microsoft To Expand Shared-Source Initiative
    Facing a European Union threat to impose a $5 million daily fine for allegedly failing to license selected software code, Microsoft is expanding its Shared Source Initiative (SSI) to cover seven small European nations.

    Open-Source Development Effort Gets First Korean Member
    A South Korean technology institute is joining the Open Source Development Lab's efforts to create versions of Linux for the most demanding data center and telecom operations.

    Linspire Ships Linux Desktop Upgrade
    Linspire launches an upgrade of its Linux desktop, which includes a streamlined graphical interface and improved laptop and hardware support.

    Sun Revises J2SE Licenses For Developers
    Sun launches three new software licenses for J2SE, giving developers easier access to the code, but the company insists that it has no plans to release the Java desktop platform as open-source software.

    IBM, Novell Lend A Hand To Linux Developers
    The two vendors will provide resources and tools to help developers certify products to run Novell's SUSE Linux on the IBM eServer platforms.

    Editor's Picks

    Your Iptable Is Ready: Using A Linux Firewall
    Every Linux system includes one of the best firewalls in the business. Ross Greenberg explains how iptables works and how to put it to work protecting your computer.

    Interview: Groklaw Founder Pamela Jones
    Over the past two years, Groklaw has become essential reading for IT experts, Linux supporters, legal professionals, and probably one or two SCO employees. Tom's Hardware speaks with the woman who started it all.

    Painless Multimedia For Linux
    Getting Linux workstations to run multimedia should be easy, but it's not. This TechBuilder Recipe shows how to find and install all the necessary software.

    Novell's Linux Channel Challenge
    Novell faces increasing pressure to pick up its Linux channel efforts, as Microsoft turns up the heat on potential NetWare defectors.

    Voting Booth: How Do You Get Your IT News?

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