Category Archives: ODF

What’s interesting: Hancom goes Open. A decade of Linux at HP. Open Source not a Business Model.

Recent statements in the world of Open Source and Linux.

Hancom, South Korea’s leading software developer says it will open source its popular word processing software Hangul for community to develop software for mobile devices.

Hancom, the developer of a word-processing program known to Koreans as Hangul and foreigners as HanWord, said this week it will open up the product’s source code so other people can modify it for smart phones, tablet computers and other new gadgets. smart phones, tablets and other new devices. Hangul was adopted by the South Korean government nearly 20 years ago and has been a standard in most South Korean companies too, making the country one of the few places where Microsoft’s Office suite of workplace products has taken a back seat. Nearly all documents by the government, except for those of Korea Intellectual Property Office, are Hangul files, which are known by their “HWP” file extension. Companies and individual users have to either buy the software or download a free ‘HWP viewer’ to be able to read them. A person could open Microsoft Word documents in the Hangul program, but not vice versa.

Read more at WSJ.

Bdale Garbee, HP’s Chief Technologist for Open Source and Linux talks about a decade of Linux at HP and what’s coming up in M&As – perhaps Novell?

“HP is absolutely committed to open source”. Bdale Garbee shares some statistics to back up this claim:
* Over 6,500 HP service employees to implement and support Linux and open source worldwide
* Over 3,000 open source software projects initiated
* Over 2,500 HP developers focused on open source
* Over 1,200 open source printer drivers provided

Read more at OSNews.

Red Hat CEO says open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.

Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, the oldest and by far the most successful company whose business is based purely around open source, makes no bones about it: “Selling free software is hard,” he says. In fact, he goes further: “Open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.”

Read more in this interview with Glyn Moody at CIO UK. – A Developer’s Viewpoint: A Conversation with Michael Meeks could be so much more, given a less top down approach to project management and a looser rein on developers’ ability to get involved.

Read more at the H Open.

Let’s Unlock Our Data

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Today is Document Freedom Day. It is a day marked around the world for document liberation. It also highlights the importance of using open standards and open data formats for document interchange between everyone who has information to share – between people, schools, businesses and governments.

Progress is being made.

The Open Government Initiative launched last year by the Obama administration is a giant step in implementing open government. Its directives define goals for improving the quality of government information available to the public and for creating a policy framework to build and maintain a culture of open government. At the level of open document and information exchange, real progress is being achieved by completing milestones that track the success of this initiative.

But there are still hurdles to overcome.

In his keynote at OSBC earlier this month, Tim O’Reilly talked about how data lock-in has become a serious challenge to open data. I believe we, and our governments, must even more persistently apply the principles of open source — transparency, collaboration and participation — to free our information and documents from the threat of data lock-in.

Gaining Political Capital for Open Source in India

Open Source in India

Open Source in India

Open source software has made it to the information technology plans of the political machinery in India. With national elections just around the corner in April and May, everyone in India’s multi-party system is looking for alliances, marriages, deals — any arrangement — to ensure their next win. And everyone is customizing their PR machinery to appeal to the millions of voters in both rural and urban areas – trying to fit the shoe to the appropriate foot.

On March 14th, one of India’s major opposition groups – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced an Information Technology Vision that mentions open source software in two contexts – one of open standards and the other of open source in education. The plan urges the “Government of India to standardize on ‘open standard’ and ‘open source’ software.” It also suggests that “an IT standards-setting body would be spun out of BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards).” The plan further promotes using open source software to expand eEducation, to enable building a Rs.10,000 laptop and to spread innovation in the nation’s academic community.

Noble ideas that would represent giant steps for open source software adoption in India!

In close succession to the BJP’s announcement, another power bloc led by the Communist Party of India – CPI (Marxist) announced their manifesto on March 16th. This proposal for reform in science and technology includes some loaded statements listed below which seem to reinforce a collective model for using open source software and banning software patents.

“…promoting free software and other such new technologies, which are free from monopoly ownership through copyrights or patents;
… the promotion of a “knowledge commons” across disciplines, like biotechnology and drug discovery…..
… scrapping the public funded R&D Bill, that seeks to allow patenting of products that are developed through public funded laboratories…
… revamping the functioning of the Patent offices to ensure strict adherence to the Indian Patent Act;
… stop training and orientation of Indian Patent office personnel by the US and European Patent offices.”

The ruling coalition led by the Congress Party, in its manifesto released on March 24th, talks about using IT to expand educational institutions, to improve connectivity infrastructure and to provide citizen IDs. It does not yet address the opportunities offered to India by open source software but perhaps a little more encouragement could do the trick.

Credit must be given to India’s leaders in the open source software community. They have fought for, motivated and architected inclusion of open source software into the vision statements of some of the major political parties of India. The best of our tireless warriors fighting to gather political capital for open source have included Venkatesh Hariharan of Red Hat, Jaijit Bhattacharya of Sun Microsystems and Ashish Gautam of IBM.

Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst in India

Red Hat’s CEO James Whitehurst is currently on his first trip to India since he took over from Matthew Szulik last December. Whitehurst is to meet with top industry and government leaders. He is also scheduled to meet with members of the open source community as well as famous academics such as Dr. Deepak Phatak of IIT Bombay.

In an interview in Mumbai, Whitehurst hoped that open source software adoption would continue to grow as more e-governance projects are sanctioned. India’s central government continues to increase its investment to make IT services accessible to a larger percentage of people in rural and small town communities. Red Hat India continues to focus on growing Linux and open source deployment in four key markets in India – government, BFSI, telecom and education.

Localization and Open Standards

Other areas that Whitehurst sees as big ticket items for India are local language localization and adoption of open standards. Both these areas are crucial for supporting large e-governance projects. Red Hat India continues to make serious contributions to language localization by incorporating support for 11 Indian languages in RHEL and Fedora. Languages that are fully supported include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Telegu and Tamil. Whitehurst reiterated the need for localization in helping reduce the digital-divide in India.

Whitehurst highlighted Red Hat’s efforts to promote open standards as a dynamic that could change society in the long run. Red Hat has made significant headway in lobbying for adoption of open standards by the central government. India voted against OOXML in favor of ODF earlier this year at ISO. However, despite objections against OOXML, it was approved by ISO as an international standard in August. Appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela that stemmed from irregularities surrounding the approval process were rejected by ISO.

India’s Fedora Community

Whitehurst also praised the Indian Fedora community for actively working on Fedora. India has the third largest group of contributors to the Fedora project. 26 contributors (many of whom work for Red Hat India) are listed on the Fedora project wiki.

OSCON 2008: 10 years of Open Source, Open Web Foundation, and Microsoft joins Apache Software Foundation

OSCON2008 rang in 10 years of the Open Source Definition along with the 10th anniversary of OSCON. Open Source has come a long way in the last decade. The flag bearers of open source – Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP, Python – have matured and are now mainstream. This wealth of open source tools, technologies, and applications was well represented in OSCON’s sessions and discussions.

Sessions I liked

There were some excellent talks highlighting the adoption of open source models and technologies in education, political campaign and voting software, media such as NPR and BBC. The sessions on education, IPR & FOSS economics and women in technology were of special interest to me.

The panel discussion on “Changing Education… Open Content, Open Hardware, Open Curricula” presented initiatives from Africa such as African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR) and Chisimba. According to Derek Keats of the University of the Western Cape, Chisimba, a local open source project was specifically launched to teach communication, collaboration and coding skills necessary to participate effectively in global open source projects as well as support local requirements. I feel India’s universities could significantly succeed in their goal to produce effective contributors to FOSS, if similar models were adopted. Without having the need to support local requirements (i.e. itch to scratch), it is difficult to develop any open source software locally or produce significant contributors.

I enjoyed Pia Waugh’s talk on “Heroes: Women in FOSS” where she presented the typical stereotypes that women face in technology jobs and best practices for motivating young women early on (grades 8-12) to get into programming and science in Australia. She talked about OLPC being a great platform to get kids to learn to develop using FOSS.

The panel discussion on “Open Source, Open World” provided an unfiltered view of FOSS adoption across the world. Open standards and open source have been intertwined in the past year as the politically charged ODF / OOXML battle has pulled almost every country into the debate at ISO. Nnenna Nwakanma of FOSSFA Africa talked about how bitter the open standards battle has been in Africa with tremendous pressure from large corporations to get OOXML ratified by ISO. Rishab Ghosh of UNU Merit provided an excellent overview of the EU evaluation of open standards and adoption of open source in government. Bruno Souza of Brazil provided an update on pressures imposed on the government ministeries to influence the OOXML vote. I presented a brief report on the tremendous pressure put on committee participants and central government ministeries in India as it voted against OOXML. Another key area discussed was FOSS in education. I talked about FOSS in college curricula being critical to successfully build a sustainable open source ecosystem to create contributors and software. This panel was one of those rare discussions at OSCON that provided a global perspective on real challenges to FOSS adoption. After this panel discussion, I ran across this map showing participants at OSCON to be mostly from the US and Europe. And it seemed to reflect the reality of many lop-sided discussions that happen in technology (even in open source) with minimal representation from the rest of the world.

Tectonic shifts

A key announcement at the conference was that of the formation of the Open Web Foundation (OWF). This non-profit foundation aims to protect and help development of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies. David Recordon, a founder of OWF outlined the foundation’s goals in this presentation.

And to do its open source good deed of the year, Microsoft announced its platinum sponsorship of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) by pledging to donate $100,000 every year to support Apache development. Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Platform Strategy had an announcement on his blog. ASF put out the following statement on -

The Apache Software Foundation welcomes Microsoft as a Platinum Sponsor
At OSCON, Microsoft announced their sponsorship of The Apache Software Foundation, joining Google and Yahoo! at Platinum level. The generous contributions by Sponsoring organizations and individuals help offset the day-to-day operating expenses to advance the work of The ASF.”

Here is what Michael Tiemann of the OSI had to say about the announcement and on what Microsoft should can do for open source. I agree with him about what they can start with, namely:

  1. Pursue the abolition of software patents with the same zeal they showed in their (Microsoft’s) efforts to get OOXML approved as a standard.
  2. Unilaterally promise to not use the DMCA to maintain control of their Trusted Computing Platform.
  3. Transition to 100% open standards (as defined by the OSI, IETF, W3C, or the Digistan).
  4. Stop trying to maintain their monopolies by illegal, anti-competitive means [1] [2].

Actions demonstrate intent and direction. Let us see what Microsoft will do positively with the open source community in action. Let us see which way the wind blows.

OOXML victory taints ISO credibility

Microsoft’s controversial OOXML private file format was voted in as standard DIS29500 by the International Standards Organization, err… the “I Sold Out” (ISO) this weekend. Amid serious allegations of irregularities in the voting process, political manipulation, cronyism, influence trading and unfair practices employed to secure favorable votes, ISO committees stuffed with inept members representing various countries voted 75% in favor of OOXML.

All for a document format! What a shame to demolish the credibility of such a prestigious standards body. And for a format from a corporation which fiercely opposes competition, cannot tolerate open standards and cannot get over misusing its corporate reach.

The Open Malaysia blog has some interesting stats about the vote.

* 24 out of 32 P-Members (Participating Members) voted in favor of OOXML (75%). The requirement for confirmation is >= 66.66%.
* A total of 61 P-Members and O-Members (Observing and Other Members) voted in favor.
* 10 out of 71 member countries voted against (14%).
* 16 countries abstained and were not counted in the total.

According to , a lot of last minute vote switching occurred due to heavy influence brokering by Microsoft, its subsidiaries and its business partners. This carried OOXML forward to approval.
But approval at what cost? Desperate efforts to win by compromising institutional integrity can only backfire and is already leading to erosion of brand credibility for Microsoft around the world. Microsoft is its own worst enemy.

Another report discussing the problems at the Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) can be found at Groklaw. Ubuntu’s Mark Shuttleworth has also commented about the process in an interview.

Support ODF on Document Freedom Day

Document Freedom DayKeep your data free. Free from vendor lock-in. Support Document Freedom Day on March 26. Activities and events will be held around the world to promote awareness of free document formats such as ODF.

It is great to see that India voted NO for OOXML yesterday. According to Venky Hariharan, 13 members voted “No”, 5 members voted “Yes” (including Microsoft India, Infosys, TCS, Wipro and NASSCOM), 1 member abstained and 3 members did not attend.

It appears that revenue partners and their special interests take precedence for India’s software export companies over preserving freedom of knowledge and rights of users to share data using open formats. Can money buy standards?

Take a stand and just say no! Support free document formats next week on March 26th. Organize awareness programs in your community, work with your favorite Linux Users Group and support Document Freedom Day.

BIS revisits Indian IT standards

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) held their second seminar on IT standards in Bangalore on April 12 where they seem to have acquired a semblance of political rectitude by including participants and speakers from a wider swath of the industry. In contrast to the first seminar held earlier this year in New Delhi (February 21), they allowed competing industry stakeholders to represent their positions on IT standards. Proponents of the Open Document Format (ODF) such as IBM, Sun, and Red Hat emphasized the need for open, global standards. Microsoft with its Office Open XML (OOXML) standard reiterated Craig Mundie’s message from his talk in Delhi that standards should support interoperability and innovation should be forged through strong IPR.

BIS’s additional director general Rakesh Verma announced the formation of a panel of 30 organizations to work along with BIS to help build IT standards for India. Action items for this panel include identifying relevant international standards documents and creating India-specific standards as needed. One hopes that BIS will keep the process transparent to ensure open dialog and comments by the public and experts at large.

Today the digital world has multiple vendors and multiple standards. From a nation’s point of view, choosing only one standard from among multiple non-universal standards may be premature. However, enforcing interoperability via adopting open formats and promoting a level playing field can ensure that competing standards play together and communicate productively. An open standards development process can only enhance the prospects of interoperability. The government’s interest lies in having all stakeholders compete fairly to protect and support the consumer’s interests.

Mystifying Open Source and Open Standards

This article by the national technology officer of MS India represents the kind of misinformation about open source and open standards being disseminated in India. This type of FUD confuses the government as well as the market. It points to the need for all stakeholders in India’s open source industry and community to rise up to this challenge.