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Thursday, 22 January 2009 15:07

LCA2009: Why ODF should be the chosen one

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It is difficult to know whether Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager at OpenOffice.org, was conscious at any point today of the irony of criticising proprietary software while making a presentation using a MacBook.

Suarez-Potts, an employee of Sun Microsystems, was speaking at the Australian national Linux conference in Hobart about the OpenDocument Format and OpenOffice.org and the reasons for using it.

He argued strongly for the use of ODF in order to prevent lock-in, pointing out that people should start thinking about the consequences of trusting their data to proprietary formats.

Suarez-Potts has been in the role for about eight years so the patter came smoothly.

He gave the example of coal; 50 years ago nobody had ever given a thought to what the burning of coal would do to the environment and now the effects were being felt. The same could happen with our own personal data, he warned.

The arguments of cost, flexibility, interoperability and community were cited to push the case of open formats like ODF and software like OpenOffice.org.

There was no argument for governments to continue using free and open source alternatives; there was technical support available both from the community and companies, and open source alternatives worked well with proprietary applications as well, he said.

Given that the FOSS alternatives have no big budgets to spread their message through advertising - while Microsoft has limitless money to spend - Suarez-Potts said formats like ODF should be pushed to people like archivists and educators, groups that were interested in the virtues of these formats.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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