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OSSDI to Distribute OpenOffice.org in Schools 133

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the nothing-says-helpful-like-free dept.
Xampper writes to tell us that the OSSDI (Open Source Software Distribution Initiative) is a new organization that has cropped up to help not only spread the word about Open Source Software, but to help distribute the OpenOffice.org office suite starting with less fortunate school districts. The OSSDI describes their current status as still being in its "infancy as an organization. Because of this, all of our current resources are focused on gaining supporters, raising funds, and recruiting volunteers. Plans are under-way for our first software distribution, but we must first cover our operating costs. We are also interested in becoming a registered not for profit corporation so that donors will receive tax breaks for their gifts, but the registration process can also be very costly and time-consuming."
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OSSDI to Distribute OpenOffice.org in Schools

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  • Oy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xampper (806386) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:41PM (#17802884)
    The timing of this post hit me just as I was migrating our email services to Google Hosted Services. If you email OSSDI and get a bounce, try again in an hour. Sorry about the trouble!
  • OLPC Software (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caitriona81 (1032126)
    I wonder if the same can be done for distributing OLPC's software platform easily. If a large part of the cost of computers in schools is the software and the continual upgrades that come with it, wonder what can be done for schools that already have computers, just not the latest and greatest...
    • I suspect that an even larger part of school's budgets than software, are the salaries of the people who are responsible for maintaining everything; IT-types but also teachers, librarians, etc.

      Those are the people who need to be "sold" on Linux or even other OSS projects like OO.org; in my experience it's a lot easier to get management on board with a solid presentation highlighting the cost savings and feature parity, but it can be quickly scuttled by the rank-and-file if they're resistant to change.

      A few
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Monsuco (998964)

        but it can be quickly scuttled by the rank-and-file if they're resistant to change.

        My dad works for school districts. He said back in the early 1990's teachers were furious that they were told they had to use this new fangled e-mail instead of network mail. All of the teachers were complaining about how complicated this new e-mail would be. They wanted their network mail. Finally, after some heavy pushing from the district, they submitted to this horribly complex e-mail. Now they obviously could never go

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Machtyn (759119)
        unless you can figure out a way to paint it so that it's to their personal advantage.
        The biggest personal advantage one can give a novice:
        "You don't have to spend $250.00 on MS Office 200x of your own money to use the formats that we will use at the school. Here, take this disk, or here let me put this install file on your USB drive... double click on that and off you go."

        (Sure, they get the educational edition... it's only $120.00 at Amazon. Many teachers have to work an entire day to take home that
    • OPM = BIG EVIL (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if the same can be done for distributing OLPC's software platform easily. If a large part of the cost of computers in schools is the software and the continual upgrades that come with it, wonder what can be done for schools that already have computers, just not the latest and greatest...

      as a naive child, i thought i'd buy the same vehicle the city police used b/c they obviously invested lots of time evaluating vehicles based upon MERIT and surely bought the best vehicles available.

      isn't that funny

    • by Otter (3800)
      If a large part of the cost of computers in schools is the software and the continual upgrades that come with it, wonder what can be done for schools that already have computers...

      Schools get extremely steep discounts, and aren't exactly Gentoo-ish in their upgrades. I doubt if there's a huge amount of money to be saved.

      As for OLPC, their distribution scheme (selling hardware only to people with no money, relying on children who have never seen a computer before as software developers) is so bizarre, it's

  • Might want to ensure they are organized and have status prior to engaging. This will ensure that they are more effective and focused on their mission, and not distracted by the worries of setting up and operating as an entity. Wonderful idea, they just need to keep on when faced with adversity.
  • So, they are not really doning nothing yet... but the mision sounds good, with a good organization pushingig OO to become the standar suite, although I guess that means to give customer / technical support, which is why schools and enterprises don't use more OSS. BTW non profit corporation... isn't that an oxymoron or just a fancy name for fundation (or am I just not used to legal terminology?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lcsjk (143581)
      I hate to have to tell you this, but based on your grammar and spelling, getting used to legal terminology should not be your first priority.
      • by Umbrel (1040414)
        Yep, I noticed but I wanted the first post, so I let my fingers act wihout brain supervision :P
        • by lcsjk (143581)
          You had a chance, but that smiley face did you in.

          You are lucky! My fingers do that even with brain supervision.

    • by BenoitRen (998927)
      I'd rather not have OpenOffice become the standard office suite. It's a bad clone of M$ Office, and is way too bulky and slow. Additionally, bugs in the printing of certain pages are unforgivable.
  • by usv (829497) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:43PM (#17802912) Homepage Journal
    As in those currently having only MS software?
    • by d3m0nCr4t (869332)
      No, as in those with not enough money to keep pace with MS.
    • My thoughts exactly (aka. "me too!")

      Another case of euphemisms gone wrong.

  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:46PM (#17802958) Homepage Journal
    Ok, your heart is in the right place, but you seem a bit unprepared. I mean, if you can't cope with the bureaucracy of registering as a non-profit, how are you going to cope with the bureaucracy of school management?
    • by garcia (6573) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:01PM (#17803136) Homepage
      I mean, if you can't cope with the bureaucracy of registering as a non-profit, how are you going to cope with the bureaucracy of school management?

      What's the difference if they do that or not? I'd rather have them be an unregistered social club that gets the job done than worry about being registered as a non-profit.

      Unless they are looking to avoid paying taxes and sales taxes, there shouldn't be a real need for that anyway.
      • by Xampper (806386)
        Mostly, we want to register as a non-profit to protect the board members. Obviously, no issues are foreseen, but if your not registered as a non-profit and you have issues with the gov't/IRS, board members can be held liable and their stuff can be seized. As remote a possibility as this is, we don't even want it to be possible to happen. Tax-exemption, and tax-breaks for donors are other advantages.
    • by ortholattice (175065) on Monday January 29, 2007 @04:21PM (#17804234)

      I mean, if you can't cope with the bureaucracy of registering as a non-profit, how are you going to cope with the bureaucracy of school management?

      I briefly looked into (and gave up) applying for non-profit status for an open-source project - the main reason being so that people could deduct donations on their tax forms - and found out that it can be a real pain that distracts from your goals. After all, it dips into Uncle Sam's (in the U.S.) revenue, so they aren't motivated to make the approval and appeal process simple. And it isn't free, either, although the fees (was it $135/yr?) aren't too unreasonable. Most organizations have their lawyers set the thing up, although it can be done without a lawyer if you're willing to do the requirements research and paperwork.

      An alternative that I started to investigate, that is apparently much easier, was to seek what's called "fiscal sponsorship" from another organization that already has an approved U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. There are very strict rules about the nature of financial transactions that can take place between the two entities, but the basic idea is that donations are made to the sponsoring entity, which then decides to fund the subsidiary according to what they perceive it needs. The main advantages are that donations are tax-deductible and donors supposedly have some assurance that their funds aren't personally enriching the donee instead of being used for the project. (I didn't complete the process of setting this up for other reasons, though, so that's all I know about it.) Anyway, that's what I would recommend that the story submitter look into.

      • by garcia (6573)
        After all, it dips into Uncle Sam's (in the U.S.) revenue, so they aren't motivated to make the approval and appeal process simple.

        IANAL (I think this is the first time I've ever used that):

        You're confusing two different things here. You can be a non-profit 501(c)(3) but not be tax-exempt. Does it serve any purpose to become a 501(c)(3) and not be tax-exempt? Well, for most groups probably not...

        The process to become tax-exempt via the IRS is a bit of a pain in the ass and it involves some paperwork and

  • I'm not sure I understand the reasons for CD based distribution. Don't most schools (even inner city schools)
    have a connection that could download OO? The complete distro is 93 megs. Am I so naive to think that most
    schools don't have at least some access to broadband and a CD burner somewhere in the building, or among the
    staff/community?

    Most Americans of course, are still on dial-up, or without computers/access altogether... but most schools/communities?
    That puts our current state of connectivity in a pr
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xampper (806386)
      Just because a school has resources to download the software doesn't mean they will. They're much more likely to try it out if they have the CD sitting in front of them. Also, we're targeting the students more than the schools themselves, the schools are just a vehicle for distribution.
      • by popo (107611)

        Hmmm... but that shifts the focus of the project from one of 'granting access to software' and 'enabling students to overcome prohibitive costs' to one of evangelizing a specific platform.

        Which isn't what it says on your site:

        "OSSDI believes that commercial software costs can be prohibitive for students in impoverished regions. We also believe that no child should be prevented from fully utilizing technology to further their education."

      • by nharmon (97591) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:01PM (#17803138) Homepage
        Also, we're targeting the students more than the schools themselves, the schools are just a vehicle for distribution.

        For a minute there I forgot we were talking about OO.org CDs, and not drugs.
        • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:26PM (#17803472) Journal
          "Psssst.... want some Open Office?"
          "I don't know. My dad says to stay with Microsoft Office"
          "Come on! It's free!"
          "But at school, they said that OpenOffice is a gateway program, and that I'll soon be hitting the heavy stuff like Linux"
          "This ain't linux! What's wrong with just trying just a little bit of OpenOffice"
          "But my friend Jimmy started on just a little bit of OpenOffice, now he spends all of his time trolling forums and posting in Vi vs. Emacs threads. I wanted to play some Quake with him last night, and he said that he was too busy rebuilding his Gentoo system from Stage 1 with some really cool flags some guy gave him on the internet." *Starts Crying* "I don't want strange guys on the internet giving me flags!"
          "what are you, some kind of wimp?"
          "I'm going to walk away now. Friends don't let friends use Open Source"

          This message brought to you by Open Source Abuse Resistance Education. Just say no to Open Source

          • by waveclaw (43274)

            This message brought to you by Open Source Abuse Resistance Education. Just say no to Open Source

            Slashdot quotes of old:

            "Re: Hooked on Crack ($200 M$ Windows for $50 offered to users of Lindows Linux)
            [It's] Like the friendly neighborhood drug dealer, Bill says, "Here, have this first taste on me..."
            -- Anonymous, Tuesday June 10, 200

      • by saskboy (600063)
        Plus a teacher or student could borrow or burn a CD, where they might not have a USB key or CD burner in the school to get a downloaded file onto their dialup computer at home.
      • by Americano (920576)

        They're much more likely to try it out if they have the CD sitting in front of them.

        I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but I think it's far more likely that the teachers and other adults at the school will continue using whatever is loaded on the systems, because that's what they've learned to use, that's what they've been trained on, and they're probably going to be fairly resistant to change. What's the reasoning that makes you think that having the CD means anyone in the school is more likely to give it a

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      "Am I so naive to think that most
      schools don't have at least some access to broadband and a CD burner somewhere in the building, or among the
      staff/community?"

      Yeah, I'm afraid so. While I can't truly speak for 'most schools', the ones where I grew up are quite unlikely to have even dialup in the school, let alone broadband internet. The library at the school MIGHT have some form of internet for research purposes only.

      That doesn't mean they couldn't just go home and burn it on their home computer, of course
    • by lcsjk (143581) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:04PM (#17803184)
      Give a person a CD and they will probably give it a try. Tell them that there is a nifty program on a website somewhere that they can download, burn to a CD and they will walk away and do it when they have time, which is never.

      Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?

      • by eldepeche (854916)
        Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?

        No, I can say honestly that I have never wondered that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by popo (107611)
        So the goal of the non-profit is *not* to provide access to a cost-saving alternative, but to overcome the inherent laziness and stupidity of American educators and school systems. Ok. I just wanted to make sure I had that straight.

      • by Clazzy (958719)
        Perhaps because most of their new customers have never had an internet connection before?
      • by asabjorn (903413)
        "Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?" The likely reason for that is that they are selling internet connectivity through dialup. Since they already have a high market penetration they probably want to target the market of people without internet connectivity and for those an online link would not be very constructive.
      • by gregorio (520049)

        Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?

        Actually yes. And the conclusion was obvious: they are selling internet access. Asking customers to download the software AFTER connecting to the internet, when what they want, after all, is internet access, would be pretty dumb.

        Imagine that you wanted to go from NY to LA, and the air company told you that they will only issue tickets at the final destination, in your case, LA. That means you wou

      • by kabocox (199019)
        Tell them that there is a nifty program on a website somewhere that they can download, burn to a CD and they will walk away and do it when they have time, which is never.
        Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?


        Because AOL is an ISP and without their software their targeted users wouldn't be on the internet to download anything?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dkf (304284)

        Have you ever wondered why AOL sent so many CDs instead of telling people that the program is on the internet?
        I always assumed it was because they thought I didn't have enough mats for standing hot drinks on.
      • So many times I tried to give away CDs to try (Ubuntu, the OpenCD, custom made). They all appreciate the gesture, but the CD goes in the dust, because they got the "real" version of whatever program (Office for example), not necessarily legally. What I am trying to say is that handing out the CD is simply not enough. Lots of people would rather have pirated software they know than experiment with new one, unless you install those programs for them. They will not probably see the difference. So full instal
    • by rHBa (976986)
      IT Teacher - Good morning class, today we are going to learn how to install software on our computers. Firstly I want you all to open your web browser and go to http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org]

      OO.org has got to be one of the easiest bits of software I have ever installed, what better place to start teaching kids the basics?
  • Scam (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by kevin_conaway (585204)
    Ehh, this actually sounds like a scam to me.
    • by Xampper (806386)
      There's not really much I could say to prove it, but it's not a scam. Right now, until we build our reputation, you'll just have to take my word for it. ;)
    • Do you have any reason for which to qualify that statement? It seems pretty hard to make giving something away for free a scam, unless they decide to bundle something terrible with it.
  • IMO, The less fortunate should learn something more mainstream that they can get a job with. Like Microsoft Office.
    • You forget (or just work for Microsoft.) How old are these kids? Let's assume the average is about 13. That means by the time they emerge into the world of work Office - assuming it still exists in that form, which is not a given - will be on Office 2012. If they were using Office in school, they would presumably not be on the latest release, so let's say they might be using Office 2008 or 2009 (and many schools will doubtless be still on 2007). So, they will have a learning curve.

      Now, how much steeper is t

      • This is really important!

        Training school kids in the specific software applications of today is a dumb idea to begin with. Trying to argue that they need to be trained specifically in the current version of the exact software that you personally are using at work is even more absurd.

        This new version of Microsoft Office doesn't look much like the old version, and that's just one revision. I'd be willing to bet that GUI environments will look pretty familiar in 5 years. I'd say that we'd still have "buttons

    • by nbritton (823086)
      So what are they going to do when there employer uses OpenOffice? Your argument is retarded at best, we need to teach them general concepts like what a word processor or spreadsheet program is and what you can typically do with such a program. Systematically teaching them specific features, such as rote learning of menu layouts, of a vendors product is leading them down a path to failure, a perfect example of this is the new version of Microsoft office with the changed UI.

      Ideally you would teach them the ba
      • If it were up to me, I'd take this even further and teach a course in "Using Modern GUI Applications". I know how to use a GUI, and as a result I'm perfectly capable of sitting down and using (at a basic level) any application that's followed the style guidelines from any OS vendor for almost 20 years.

        I'm pretty sure that this is a skill that can be taught. I'd probably try to cover topics like the following:

        • Widgets: What is a button? An icon? A menu? What is a form? How do you recognize which controls b
        • One more really important one: Prediction. "What will happen if I do this?"
          Another: Recognizing basic feedback. "Why did the mouse pointer just change into a diagonal double-headed arrow?" "Under what circumstances would that arrow instead be horizontal?"

      • by westlake (615356)
        So what are they going to do when there employer uses OpenOffice?

        Learn to check their grammar? Oops, sorry, cheap shot.

        But you might want to take a look at what is happening at ground level.

        Here, in the Rust Belt, MS Office skills are marketable and taught everywhere there is a classroom. Employers aren't demanding the idealized regime you ask for and until they do no one else is going to pay for it.

    • by Maul (83993)
      Most of the intermediate and advanced features in Word probably go unused by 90% or more of users. Both Word and Open Office are easy enough to pick up the basic features of, if you've used any word processor before.
    • "The world needs ditch diggers, too."

      There's some validity to teaching MS office, since the $8/hr secretary jobs all require it. They don't care that you know OO, they want you to be able to sit down and type a memo without having to send you to a class. That costs money, which is probably not budgeted.

      OO should be in all the high-tech schools where the graduates will eventually go on to be mangers looking for $8/hr secretaries.

      (mod me down, but those of you that work in the real world know it's true - 80%
      • by markdavis (642305)

        There's some validity to teaching MS office, since the $8/hr secretary jobs all require it. They don't care that you know OO, they want you to be able to sit down and type a memo without having to send you to a class.

        If one can use MS Word, one can use OpenOffice Writer. Especially at the level of an $8/hr secretary. Besides, you and I both know that the company won't pay for any training, anyway!

        Really, schools should teach WORD PROCESSING, not MS-Word OR OO-Writer. Good document formatting is a con

        • Technically, they should be teaching writing and composition, along with proper formating. It should be done using notepad or an equivalent non-formating, non-helping application (no textpad, for example...and I think SCOTUS has ruled vi as cruel and inhuman). We're definintely on the same page there (so to speak).

          You see, to use any full-fledged program causes problems in transition. You expect certain things to be in certain places (Alt-I,P,F will insert an image in Word, btw) and will be very inefficient
          • by markdavis (642305)

            and will be very inefficient in a system which places things in other places (say, if there is no way to see the formatting codes - God, I miss Word Perfect).

            OMG- I know EXACTLY what you mean. Codes were the best thing ever, and it is what made WordPerfect the best word processor of all time. I still use it when possible, but the Linux binaries are aging and buggy now. Oh, if we could just get OpenOffice Writer to use and display codes. No more mysterious documents with lack of control.... oh well.

            h [openoffice.org]

      • There's some validity to teaching MS office, since the $8/hr secretary jobs all require it. They don't care that you know OO, they want you to be able to sit down and type a memo without having to send you to a class. That costs money, which is probably not budgeted.

        If you have "word processing in an office environment" on your resume, the keyword scanner picks up "word" and "office", and if you understand the conventions of the WIMP GUI (which really haven't changed much over the two decades since Apple introduced Macintosh), you can probably wing it enough to make it past the 90 days of probation.

  • by Gruuk (18480)
    Does anyone else find it odd that the site is remarkably anonymous? Usually, in an "About" or "Contact Us" page, you'll find at least the name of one contact (or the name(s) of the founders, board members, etc), which is not the case here.

    There may be an excellent reason for this, but it just seems strange to me. Oh well, maybe I've become overly paranoid in my old age when people are asking me for my money ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Xampper (806386)
      I am the founder. My full name is George Johnson. Right now, the board members have not been finalized. They will be withing the next few days.
      • by Gruuk (18480)
        Thanks for the reply. Adding your name in the "About us" would probably help quite a bit, as it humanizes your organization and probably would put people a bit more at ease with donating to OSSDI.

        The goal certainly is worthy, so every little detail that may encourage people to send money will certainly help you reach your objectives and help those schools even more.
  • by popo (107611) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:55PM (#17803058) Homepage

    Because there's something very strange about providing a free office suite that runs on an expensive OS.

    Why not distribute a Linux distro bundled with OOo?

    Otherwise the overall mission seems compromised by the platform.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because currently, you can distribute a Linux distro to the small percentage of people interested in running linux. You can give away OO.o to almost anyone with a computer, and they can use it. Plus, there are many students in college that must use windows for one reason or another, or are scared to switch. This will be an introduction for the time being with maybe a conversion down the line.
    • by Xampper (806386)
      Baby steps. Most people, even if you hand them the disc, will not install a new OS just because you say "it's better" and "open source". The user doesn't care. A free office suite that runs on the OS they already use, however, is a great introduction to the open source movement.
    • by joshetc (955226)
      Couldn't they just do both? OOo installer for Windows as well as some Linux live CD that includes OOo? Seems like the best of both worlds and fairly easily done...
    • Forget expensive OS, try expensive hardware. OOo is the slowest Office Suite that I've used anyway. Not slow enough to justify MS Office but still.

      Supporting Windows makes sense as it lowers the barriers to migrating the OS too.
      • What do you have a for hardware? A Pentium II and 64 megs of RAM?

        Any decent computer sold this century (except perhaps some 2001 era Dells with 128 megs of RAM) should run OpenOffice fine. If your computer doesn't, I'd consider a hardware upgrade or a move to a complete resource-optimized OS / Software stack like Xubuntu + Abiword.

        • by Darundal (891860)
          Uhh, even on my system (p4 3.2 ghz, 2gigs ram, etc...) OpenOffice, in windows, runs slower than Office.
          • Uhh, even on my system (p4 3.2 ghz, 2gigs ram, etc...) OpenOffice, in windows, runs slower than Office.

            Are you making sure to use the same preloader setting for both products? If you don't turn on OpenOffice.org's preloader, turn off Microsoft Office's.

  • by planetmn (724378) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:59PM (#17803106)
    I like the idea. Though it certainly is not going to be easy to find districts willing to install and support the software on their own if they don't have experience with it.

    But why just Open Office? Why not do something with (or like) Edubuntu, and distribute an entire platform that has the administration and management tools built in? People are definately hesitent to change, but if they are going to learn something new (in this case Open Office), it might be a good time for them to jump right in (especially if you, or a group of local volunteers can spend time training them).

    -dave
    • by realmolo (574068)
      Using OpenOffice is pretty much the same as using Microsoft Office. It's an easy switch, and mostly painless.

      Using Ubuntu, especially *managing* Ubuntu on a large network, is VASTLY different (and harder) from doing the same thing with Windows. It would be a major undertaking for a school/district to switch to Ubuntu.

    • I don't know if Edubuntu follows Ubuntu lead, but Ubuntu includes a subset of "The Open CD" set of utilities that's visible when you load the CD from Windows. (try it)

      This gives you the best of both worlds -- Windows versions of open source programs plus a good education-oriented Linux distro if one decides to experiment with Linux.

      If they don't want to promote Linux, they should likely stick to theOpenCD (http://www.theopencd.org/) since it's already done the hard work of picking a good set of Windows comp
    • by karbin (1047742)
      Because, unfortunate though it may be, if you work in a business environment(not IT related, but in an industry that utilizes computers) sometime in the next 5 years, the odds are that you will be working on Windows. Half the point of having the computers in school is to increase the students ability to operate the market standard operating system and be able to effectively complete tasks. Installing Ubuntu, or another linux distro effectively defeats that point.
    • "it certainly is not going to be easy to find districts willing to install and support the software on their own if they don't have experience with it"

      Like what 'support' are you refering to. You put the CD in the drive and click on INSTALL, click next etc, and that's it.

      was: Why just Open Office? (Score:4, Insightful !!!! ???)
  • help distribute the OpenOffice.org office suite starting with less fortunate school districts
    It will take the full class period just to load. Just imagine the latest cut of OpenOffice on five-year-old surplus hardware.

    How about some old copies of Office 97 instead? That still runs snappy on my mid-1990's Toshiba laptop...

    • help distribute the OpenOffice.org office suite starting with less fortunate school districts It will take the full class period just to load. Just imagine the latest cut of OpenOffice on five-year-old surplus hardware. How about some old copies of Office 97 instead? That still runs snappy on my mid-1990's Toshiba laptop...

      Or how about Abiword [abisource.com] [abisource.com], and still avoid M$ while you're at it? OO.o is admittedly rather sluggish on its first open, and for this reason I like a more responsive w

  • This is exciting to hear, as it's amazing how many people have never heard of 'open source' or even specifically Open Office.

    It's a concept that is generally segregated to those already in 'the know' and not so much Joe User. As awareness grows, use will grow, and the entire open source community will grow.

    That's my theory, at least.

  • If only many of these efforts to promote open source software weren't focused on these bloated imitations of Windows apps that I so dislike.

    I think the true strength of open source is not in the apps that mimic some Windows app, but in the many little, lean and mean apps that are totally _different_.

    This is not to knock the good efforts that seek to promote open source. I think they are commendable. I just wish people would see that open source provides so much _more_ than just the same apps that people alr
    • by yukk (638002)
      Uhh, the reason those apps are on Windows and that Windows does so well is that people need the functionality they provide in the workplace. How are we helping schoolkids by providing them with ... tuxracer ? If you have an essay due tomorrow, you can write it out, like Chuck Norris or use some kind of word processor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083)

        The very simple fact is that you don't need Word, Access, Outlook, Powerpoint, Excel or any clones of them to accomplish any legitimate work. Heavyweight word processors are seriously overkill for most tasks they're used for, and not well equipped for more complex tasks like document processing and desktop publishing. I'm still not sure what the niche for Access is supposed to be; either you're a programmer and need a scripting language and SQLite or you're not and need to hire one. Outlook is sort of bloat

    • While I somewhat like the idea, PLEASE give them abiword and the other spreadsheet app. Maybe your experience is different but openoffice has always been kinda slow for me.
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``Maybe your experience is different but openoffice has always been kinda slow for me.''

        Exactly. Not to mention unstable. And some computers don't even have enough RAM to run it at all.
        • by Coryoth (254751)
          The only major strongpoint I can see for OpenOffice is its MS Office compatibility; both in file formats, and in general similarity for users (particularly feature-wise). To be honest for many uses KOffice is more than adequate, much lighter, and much faster. Likewise, while GNOME doesn't have an equivalent "office" package, Abiword, Gnumeric, Inkscape, Glom, and Evolution make a fairly nice set.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "... but to help distribute the OpenOffice.org office suite starting with less fortunate school districts"

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't "less fortunate school districts" usually having some really old hardware? Is OO.o going to help, given that it supposedly takes ages for any of the bundled apps to start even on fast machines due to high hardware requirements? I mean, if you're installing OO.o on a machine with 128 or 256 MB RAM, this probably isn't going to go well. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, b
    • by rs232 (849320)
      "if you're installing OO.o on a machine with 128 or 256 MB RAM, this probably isn't going to go well"

      This Windows machine reports 326 MB. Open Office opens and runs just as fast as msOffice, if you use the quick start option and increase memory cache. "I don't even have a clue on how much memory MS Office apps need. Can someone provide some numbers, please? KOffice too, if possible..."

      While the system reports that Open Office uses more memory this can be misleading as a lot of msOffice gets loaded
  • It seems to me that if the various companies that distibute open source software want to start making a dent in the world of the average home user, schools would be the place to start. When I was in high school I had the oppurtunity to participate in an intership with the District's IT department. It was at a time when they were switching their servers to Linux (I can't recall wich distro). That was my first experience with FOSS and it left a lasting impression. I tried a few differnet Linux distro's at
  • I don't necessarily think that Open Office is a good choice for this sort of application. As someone else pointed out, most "less fortunate" schools and districts are probably running on older hardware. Open Office is going to be somewhat of a lumbering sloth on computers that are five years old or more. I know from experience. I installed Edubuntu PPC on my son's Apple clamshell G3, and it runs Open Office, but -barely-. In contrast, Abiword is quite snappy.

    I think that the OSSDI is definitely on the ri
    • I think that the OSSDI is definitely on the right track, but I think they should really try to tailor the solutions specifically to the computing environments that the schools currently have, lest they end up, while meaning well, creating more problems along with that "solution".

      The purpose of targeting one application, in this case Open Office, is strategic in nature. I think the OSSDI wants to bring to market a drop-in replacement for M$ Office. The best way to encourage this is so get as many people

  • Perhaps I misunderstood the the purpose of the program. I thought it was to provide this software, documentation, and some clip art to the students in a depressed area. This way they have an office program they can use at home that is compatible with the MS Office applications they probably use at school. This would be a great idea, however if the purpose was to try to save the school some money then, I don't think there will be huge savings to the district. I have been a systems analyst at a school dis

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