…like it’s an emergency: before somebody dials 1600-11-0033 toll-free.
Do you know of noble gases? On the extreme right of the periodic table you may find a few of them. But you may find tens of millions more in the real world. These noble gases are totally inert to using OpenOffice.org, the completely muft and mukt alternative to MS Office. They must indeed be noble to pay what I consider a steep price for using MS Office, which is infinitely more expensive than the zero price of OpenOffice.org. Oh! And wait till you hear all the gas from them about why they have not yet considered or migrated to OpenOffice.org.
Call 1600-11-0033 toll-free
The most popular excuse is also the most obvious: “Even I’ve got my copy of MS Office free, like everyone else I know, so why should I use OpenOffice.org? None of my friends or colleagues have been caught, fined, or sent to jail.” You mean no one has yet called the anti-piracy toll-free number in India, 1600-11-0033? Good. Keep waiting. And be nice to that disgruntled employee you just sacked; or that competitor you just cut off from that lucrative deal.
The next excuse: “Everyone uses MS Office, so my organisation has purchased legal licenses for every desktop and laptop in every department. Why should I use OpenOffice.org?” If you’re a government agency or funded by one, how about justifying that in a Right To Information (RTI) request. An RTI can be filed by any citizen concerned about why your department is squandering away so much money on expensive software licenses when a 100 per cent drop-in replacement is available, which is not only free-of-cost, but also has a large precedent of adoption in various ministries and departments across the government of India. More information about India’s RTI can be found here: righttoinformation.gov.in
If you’re a public-limited company, any shareholder could question you. If you’re not answerable to anyone else, then launch Microsoft Excel and calculate how much money you’d save with a complete migration to OpenOffice.org. Hold an office meeting out in the open to discuss how best to use the money saved to survive the meltdown, and grow your business.
Hall of fame
I just hopped over to the various websites of LINUX ForYou magazine. Let’s see… there’s linuxforu.com, lfymag.com, and openitis.com. I then checked Venkatesh Hariharan’s blog, Prakash Advani’s, and of everyone else interested in the adoption of ODF and OpenOffice.org in India. None has a special section yet on the ‘OpenOffice.org Hall of Fame’. Maybe evangelists of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in India could come together to create such a high-profile website. Or maybe you could just stop reading this article now, and go create it yourself. All this website would do is list government organisations, PSUs, and NGOs, that have successfully adopted OpenOffice.org. A helpful link to each may even link to a more detailed case study. If I were a Linux Users Group (LUG) looking for a raison d’etre, I’d contribute to a ‘Hall of Shame’, listing those who stubbornly refuse to adopt.
Okay, I’m convinced
So you want to migrate to OpenOffice.org but don’t know how? You can download the free OpenOffice.org from the eponymous website, and install it on your computer. It’s really that simple. You can then burn unlimited copies on to CDs and pass them around, or share over USB drives. If you want some training and orientation, check the ads in LINUX For You magazine, or a reputable IT training institute. Do you want commercial support so you can have someone else contractually responsible to handle any hiccups or technical issues? Just ask around for software vendors who can, or write to lfyedit at efyindia dot com for pointers.
Are you feeling as frustrated as I am with the apathy of everyone around you using MS Office or any other proprietary office suite software? Do you want to get involved with any of the ideas mentioned here, or do you have more ideas? E-mail me. I’m focused on getting this started. No talk. Just work.