Open Work Place: Open Source Desktop for the SME
Wednesday September 15th 2010, 23:38h
Filed under: FLOSS, Ubuntu

Small and medium companies (SME) always kind of got lost in my open source activities. No wonder, they’re the most difficult to convince for using open source software.

Individuals enjoy saving a couple Swiss Francs when downloading or GIMP instead of buying Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, therefore they choose to use open source software. On the other hand big corporations and public institutions with several hundred workstations benefit from economies of scale by migrating to open source alternatives. But most SMEs only have 5 to 20 computers, therefore a return on investment is difficult to achieve when switching to open source solutions: data and application migration is tedious, training is time consuming, and IT skills are scarce.

Now this might change, hope rises in Switzerland. Yesterday a new company Open Work Place AG announced their all-in-one open source desktop solution. Bragging with all possible buzzwords like cloud computing, virtualization, green IT, open standards, and open source I was skeptical in the first place. Nevertheless I agreed on giving a short introduction session on open source (see slides above) - my first official Ernst & Young presentation.

And I was surprised in a positive way: Meeting the great people behind the new company gave me trust. Funny enough, they’re mostly experienced Microsoft professionals from Leuchter Informatik - but now enthusiastic about Firefox,, GIMP, Scribus, Dia, OpenProj, and couple more applications running on the Open Work Place based on Ubuntu. So let’s see how their business evolves - and let’s already now nominate them for next year’s CH Open Source Business Case Award!

USUSv2 - Linux for the People
Sunday October 25th 2009, 20:32h
Filed under: Linux, Research, Ubuntu

Amadeus Wittwer had the great idea to make a short documentation about regular computer users being put in front of a Linux machine - without being told that it’s Linux (it’s the Ubuntu Netbook Remix). Have a look at the great experiment:

The official press release starts like this:

Die Alternative zu Windows 7: Schweizer Doku-Clip über Linux
Alle Welt spricht von Windows 7. Wer weiss jedoch, wie ein aktueller Linux Desktop aussieht? Ein Filmteam aus der Schweizer Open Source Szene ging dieser Frage nach. Das Resultat zeigt, dass Linux durchaus eine Alternative zu proprietären Betriebssystemen darstellt.

Read the full press release on USUSv2.

Ubuntu Comic
Wednesday April 22nd 2009, 13:39h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Linux, Ubuntu

In case you want to learn how to convince your fellows installing Ubuntu, have a look at this great Japanese comic - translated completely with open source software only! (source files)


Change EXIF Date of Photographs
Wednesday January 28th 2009, 12:37h
Filed under: FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

Have you ever forgotten to adjust the clock in your camera resulting in wrongly dated photographs? Here’s what I did to correct the time applying the hints of Al Fish by using exiv2:

exiv2 -a 1:02:03 -D 4 -O 5 -Y 6 ad *.jpg

This adds 1 hour, 2 minutes, 3 seconds, 4 days, 5 months and 6 years to the EXIF date of all JPGs in a folder.

GSoC 2008 started - great example of firm involvement in FLOSS
Tuesday April 22nd 2008, 23:30h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research, Ubuntu

While we’re trying to get open source projects on the Hackontest platform, I just read Leslie’s post in the Google Open Source Blog. I believe it’s really amazing: 1125 student proposals for 175 different open source projects got accepted for Google Summer of Code 2008 and will be financially supported by Google with USD 5000 each. That’s really a substantial amount of money! Of course it’s PR, of course it benefits their recruiting strategy, but it’s not just cheap CSR, it’s really substantial - and relevant and beneficial for the OSS community as a whole. It’s definitively an interesting and successful example of firm involvement in the FLOSS world - the focus of my PhD.

Great to see GNOME got 30 students (I’m desperately hoping John Ross Stowers will succeed with his Evo syncing proposal!), Scribus 3, Inkscape 5, OpenMoko 10 and OpenStreetMap 4 - congratulations Sebi! A pitty TYPO3 and Ubuntu, two of my favorite projects, aren’t on the list…

Promising times for Ubuntu
Friday April 04th 2008, 11:43h
Filed under: Education, FLOSS, Ubuntu

This week the Geneva government announced 9000 Ubuntu installations on its school computers. That’s definitively a case we have to bring at the next teacher’s conference on open source software! But also in the Swiss German part of Switzerland we’re not inactive in terms of Ubuntu adoption: By the beginning of May our association /ch/open will release the new Ubuntu Swiss Remix Hardy Heron on DVD thanks to the sponsoring of And while Dell Switzerland is still not offering pre-installed Ubuntu (probably because of the lack of local Canonical support) I ordered a new XPS M1530 this week hoping its hardware is well-supported by Hardy Heron.

Alan Cox and many more speaking at OpenExpo 2008 in Bern
Monday January 14th 2008, 16:41h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

OpenExpo 2008 in Bern

Last week we published the program of the upcoming OpenExpo on March 12/13, 2008 in Bern (list of the eight presentations in English). Our most famous guest from the FOSS community is Alan Cox, Linux kernel developer, visiting Switzerland for the first time.

Alan Cox visiting OpenExpo 2008 in Bern

A side note concerning the creation of the 32p booklet and how the open source process works in practice: This time I layouted the booklet with an own compilation of Scribus 1.3.5svn. It was not just a proof-of-concept concerning the great DTP software but also a real world test of community responsiveness: Three times I reported a minor software error through Scribus’ Bugzilla (e.g. bug 6622), getting informed that Franz Schmid submitted a patch 24h later and then downloading the new source code and recompiling the stuff - fixed! Now I’m trying to get sponsoring from /ch/open for a bounty enabling true PDF handling (scaling, croping…) - let’s see if it works till the next OpenExpo booklet creation!

Great foresight for 2008
Thursday December 27th 2007, 10:13h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

The Economist has a positive foresight for Linux and Ubuntu in particular for 2008:

Bulletproof distributions of Linux from Red Hat and Novell have long been used on back-office servers. Since the verdict against SCO, Linux has swiftly become popular in small businesses and the home.

That’s largely the doing of Gutsy Gibbon, the code-name for the Ubuntu 7.10 from Canonical. Along with distributions such as Linspire, Mint, Xandros, OpenSUSE and gOS, Ubuntu (and its siblings Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu) has smoothed most of Linux’s geeky edges while polishing it for the desktop.

No question, Gutsy Gibbon is the sleekest, best integrated and most user-friendly Linux distribution yet. It’s now simpler to set up and configure than Windows. A great deal of work has gone into making the graphics, and especially the fonts, as intuitive and attractive as the Mac’s.

Like other Linux desktop editions, Ubuntu works perfectly well on lowly machines that couldn’t hope to run Windows XP, let alone Vista Home Edition or Apple’s OS-X.

Your correspondent has been happily using Gutsy Gibbon on a ten-year-old desktop with only 128 megabytes of RAM and a tiny 10 gigabyte hard-drive. When Michael Dell, the boss of Dell Computers, runs Ubuntu on one of his home systems, Linux is clearly doing many things right.


Pundits agree: neither Microsoft nor Apple can compete at the new price points being plumbed by companies looking to cut costs. With open-source software maturing fast, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox, MySQL, Evolution, Pidgin and some 23,000 other Linux applications available for free seem more than ready to fill that gap. By some reckonings, Linux fans will soon outnumber Macintosh addicts. Linus Torvalds should be rightly proud.

The world is flat!
Friday November 02nd 2007, 18:23h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Education, FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

I love this slogan of Lunatic, “…unsere Welt ist eine Scheibe”, although in English the point is little bit lost ;) Lunatic’s world indeed consists of discs - CDs and DVDs - and next week it’s 2000 copies more. With the financial support of /ch/open, the great technical skills of Debian developer Daniel Baumann, the creative design of Stefan Sicher and my last-minute acrobatics we produced this week the Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Swiss Remix.

It’s a German/French adaptation of the current Ubuntu release in order to boot all the programs of the respective language from the disc. As Daniel encountered some problems with the language packages while removing the GIMP manual in order to save space (about 20MB), you have to reinstall the manual after hard disk installation if you want to learn all about this great graphical editor:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall gimp-help-de gimp-help-common #German
sudo apt-get install --reinstall gimp-help-fr gimp-help-common #French

The Swiss Remix is available as ISO image from Daniel’s server including the shell script (under GPL) for building the distribution. When the discs arrive next Friday we ship packages with at least 50 copies at a production price of CHF 2.00 per piece. So email me if you’re interested in a package. Otherwise come to the Ubuntu release party next Saturday at the Puzzle offices in Bern or become member of /ch/open and you’ll receive free copies of the first Swiss remix!

Update 2007-12-05: I’ve written a press release last week, Ursula published the new /ch/open website with the order form and inside-it printed a short note about the Swiss Remix.

Contention with Microsoft about OSS Motion in Kanton Bern
Tuesday October 16th 2007, 10:35h
Filed under: FLOSS, Linux, Politics, Research, Ubuntu

Today the Berner Zeitung published a summary of a discussion about the political motion for promotion of open source software in the canton of Berne. Marc Jost, EVP candidate for the elections next weekend, and I advocated the Free and Open Source Software movement and Marc Holitscher and Thomas Reitze from the board of Microsoft Switzerland defended their proprietary view. Since the text represents only a fraction of the arguments I suggest to listen to the full discussion (MP3, 57min, Swiss German).

Link to the news paper article