UK Government Kicks Out Microsoft Office and Adopts LibreOffice

20 10 2015

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The UK Government is looking to shed its dependency on proprietary software and entered into a new commercial deal with an open source software company Collabora Productivity that adapts LibreOffice for the use in enterprise environments.

Collabora Productivity is not the kind of company to usually get in the news, and it’s used to doing things without asking for any special recognition. With such a huge move from the UK Government, through its Crown Commercial Service (CCS) body, it will be difficult for Collabora to keep a low profile. It’s worth noting that Collabora is one of the biggest contributors to LibreOffice, and it has the largest team of certified LibreOffice engineers.

GovOffice is the name of the LibreOffice suite for the public sector, and it’s actually more than just a simple adoption. The deal signed by the UK Government is called the “Cloud Transition Agreement,” and that means that it also includes a product named CloudSuite, which provides its users with cloud-based and mobile access, viewing and editing locally on devices, and online in web browsers. It hasn’t been released yet, but it’s going to bring crucial functionality.

It’s likely that we’ll get to see much more of this going on with other governments in 2016, and LibreOffice’s reach will expand a great deal.

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Microsoft Accused of Blackmailing UK Officials Supporting Open Document Format

23 05 2015

The IT reform that the United Kingdom is working on is faced with strong opposition from tech giants operating facilities and doing business in the country, with some going as far as to blackmail MPs in order to block some changes from being adopted.
David Cameron’s former strategy chief, Steve Hilton, revealed during a public speech that Microsoft officials called MPs and tried to blackmail them to block the adoption of certain laws, threatening with the closure of local research facilities if the proposed changes go through.

“You just have to fight them off. I can give you specific examples: the thing I mentioned about IT contracts. Maybe there is someone here to confirm this from Microsoft? When we proposed this, Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said, ‘we will close them down in your constituency if this goes through,’” Hilton was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

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Linux-based AUV maps Antarctic sea ice thickness

26 11 2014

Woods Hole Oceanographic used a Linux-based “SeaBED” AUV to build the first 3D map of Antarctic sea ice — and found it’s thicker than had been estimated.

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Like the Bluefin Robotics Linux-based Bluefin-21 AUV, which was used in an unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 earlier this year, the SeaBED surveys the surface (or in this case the ice) in lines, like a lawnmower. The SeaBED was specially fitted with an upward-looking sonar device to measure ice thickness.

SeaBED runs Ubuntu Linux on a 1.2GHz Intel Pentium. Complete source-code is provided to users, “making sensor additions or vehicle maintenance much simpler than that of competing commercial offerings,” according to Singh’s SeaBED page on the WHOI website.

The electronics are located in the top hull, and the batteries and sensors are in the bottom hull. The two hulls are connected by “wet” cabling routed through the vertical struts, says WHOI. The upper hull holds most of the positive buoyancy while the lower hull houses the bulk of the negative buoyancy, thereby increasing stability in pitch and roll conditions.

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LibreOffice 4.3 Arrives with 30 New Excel Formulas and Support for Microsoft Works Spreadsheets

1 08 2014

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The Document Foundation has announced that the final version for LibreOffice 4.3 is now available for all platforms, making this the most advanced release for the office suite.

The Document Foundation maintains quite a few concurrent branches and 4.3.x is the most advanced version they have right now. This is where all the new features are introduced and it’s usually the version added the most in the Linux distributions out there.

There are other branches available for download, like 4.2.x or 4.1.x, but none of them is as exciting as this one. LibreOffice is one of the many open source applications that are being considered to replace Microsoft software in various city administrations, as we’ve recently seen in Toulouse, France. This puts some pressure on the developers to make the best software possible.

“The LibreOffice project shows that a large free software community can live and thrive without the patronage of a software vendor, to liberate PC desktops. Today, you can’t own a better office suite than LibreOffice, in term of features, interoperability, support for document standards and independence. After many years, LibreOffice brings the control of the PC desktop back into the hands of the users,” says Thorsten Behrens, chairman of The Document Foundation.

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Moving to LibreOffice saves Toulouse 1 million

28 07 2014

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Toulouse, France’s fourth largest city, has saved 1 million euro by migrating all its desktops to LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. “Free software and open source in general is now an established part of the city’s comprehensive digital policy, and the open model promotes economic development and employment in the region”, according to a study published by the Open Source Observatory and Repository today.

Moving to LibreOffice is one of the key projects in the city’s IT strategy, the study reports. Currently several thousand people out of the 10,000 who work for the city and Toulouse Métropole use LibreOffice daily. The migration started in 2012, following the political decision in 2011. The switch took a year and a half, and 90 per cent of the desktops now run LibreOffice.

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