Knowledge management in Open Source

Association for Survey Computing (ASC) / Market Research Society (MRS) Open Source Technology – London 23/09/08

The Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) are supporting an event on 23rd September 2008 starting around 1800 hours with Association for Survey Computing (ASC) and Market Research Society (MRS) considering the use of Open Source in the survey process.

This event will be a discussion and debate about Open Source Software in a ‘Question Time’ format with a panel of 4 informed members (from the Survey industry + OSSG). Drinks and a buffet will be provided.

Venue: The Old Doctor Butler’s Head, 2 Mason’s Avenue, City of London, EC2V 5BT

To book a place to attend this event (free to OSSG members) please email your name to the ASC administrator as places are limited.

Further details can be found at the MRS site here: and at the Asc site here:

Archived mailing lists

As part of the migration from Plone to WordPress and related pieces of software, the old mailing lists have been extracted from Plone and archived. Hereafter, mailing lists will be organised as follows:
This list is used for discussing committee business. The archives are open but only committee members may join the list.
This is a low-traffic list used for OSSG event announcements. Posting is restricted to committee members.
A members discussion list, though we would prefer members to discuss issues using the blog comment pages.

The old mailing list archives may be found here:

Committee Forum
Committee discussion
Discussion of issues surround business and open source.
Member Forum
Member event announcements
Licensing discussion
eGovernment and Open Source
Discussion of Open Source in eGovernment
Knowledge Management and Open Source
Using open source for knowledge management
Agile Methods and Open Source
Relationship between Agile Methods and Open Source
Legal Issues surrounding Open Source
Discussion of legal issues involvng Open Source
Accessibility and Open Source
Discussion of Accessiblity in Open Source
Education and Open Source
Use of Open Source in Education

Apologies for any duplicate messages etc. The archives were produced by screen-scraping the old Plone site. Not ideal.

Open Army 1

Hi all,

Over the past several months, I have been toying with an idea in my head. The idea is to create a site where anyone can come to “richly” collaborate (I’ll define richly in a moment) with other programmers and develop in this rich collaboration environment.
I also want the site to be an organization that develops its own open-source software. This development will be performed by members of the open-source community. Project members will be tracked in the system and a higherarchy of positions and responsibilities will be kept like a normal organization. The positions will be volunteer until donations or other money starts to come in for any of the projects developed for the Open Army. At such a point, some volunteer positions would begin to be solicited for hire.
The first project of the Open Army will be to create the Open Army online collaboration environment. The front of this environment is simply the Open Army website where visitors can view current projects in the forge, view products such as documentation, make donations, sign up, donate a project, etc.
The backend of the environment will be the actual collaboration section. It will be rich in that there will be embeded Java IRC clients, flash (laszlo) presentation layers for quick collaboration, there will be on-the-fly file transfers, private development stations (chat/file/bbs/whiteboard/desktop sharing). The idea is that when developers decide to go to work for the Open Army, they log in and are immediately jacked into the present timeline for their project. So idealy, instead of walking into a building to go to work, the programmer opens a website.
This architecture will also allow project to be slaved over 24 hours a day by developers all around the world. When new programmers come in, they just pick up where the project is at the present time.
Many of the projects behind OpenArmy will be actual OpenArmy projects that are being developed by approved developers. However, anyone will be able to create their own project on the site and allow developers to work on their open-source project. Anyone can also log in to get coding help, etc.
If you are interested in being one of the first programmers to assist in setting up this rich callaboration environment and you at least have HTML experience coupled with one other skill such as design talent, Java programming, or PHP programming, please contact me at
Thank you,

Aaron Belovsky

Microsoft Monopoly fact, fiction, and Open Source opportunity 1

A monopoly essentially means that there is no other choice available. For example where there is only one supplier of coal. With computer software there are many choices available. The main types are Bespoke, Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS), and Open Source. Microsoft are, with very minor exceptions, one of several COTS suppliers.

Therefore how is it that many claims are made that Microsoft have a monopolistic hold on the software market? It is true that sales of Microsoft products account for a large share of the software market in the UK . However because there are other choices available this might suggest that this situation has developed through customer choice rather than supplier design.

What is surprising about this so called monopolistic situation is that in both the Public and Private sectors there are complaints about it, but many of those complaining continue to buy Microsoft products and have had a tendency to ignore other choices. Arguments about Total Cost of Ownership and lack of non-Microsoft skills are frequently quoted to justify this practice.

Compounding the skills argument is the claim that the Education sector must provide the skills the market demands. Thus if many employers mainly buy Microsoft products then they will correspondingly mainly want IT and other staff trained in those products. As a result it is common for employers to insist that IT staff should have Microsoft qualifications and that other staff should be trained in the use of Microsoft products. Indeed there has been a lot of media discussion on the importance of the State Education sector supplying IT training linked to the attainment of software vendor qualifications. Also UK universities are often criticised that the training given to IT undergraduates is too broad and should be more industry focused.

Every cloud has a silver lining and in the case of software the above arguments can be used in favour of Open Source by bringing them out in the Open. It therefore follows that one of the main aims of the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) is simply to promote an alternative choice. Ironically informing UK organizations of this choice also has a benefit for Microsoft in that its existence offers proof that they do not have a monopoly.

Mark Elkins

OpenOffice .doc format 4

Although it might not seem obvious this is a big open source topic both for technical and other reasons. On a technical level although OpenOffice/StarOffice can execute, read, and write .doc format documents there are some problems. For example I have found that OpenOffice 1.1.2 using a default install of Red Hat Linux 8 is not too bad, but does have a bit of difficulty with the layout of Tables.

Things get even more confusing with Fedora Core 3 and OpenOffice 1.1.2, which tends to expand say a 13 page document created with Red Hat Linux 8 and OpenOffice 1.1.2 into a 15 page document. I think this maybe to do with the CUPS print manager, which is the default install since Red Hat 9. To confuse matters further OpenOffice 1.1.4 and the beta 2.0 version will do something different again even when used with Red Hat Linux 8.

One way around the example problems given above is to create a pdf version of the .doc document. OpenOffice 1.1.2 will compress such a document into a fairly small file. This will usually end up being quite a bit smaller than if StarOffice 7 or early versions of OpenOffice are used.

Another technical solution might be to run Microsoft Word on Linux using WINE or Crossover Office. However some OSSG members could object to this because of course the source code for Microsoft Word is not Open.

At the time of writing this seems to be the most appropriate, but not fully ideal forum, for this article. In any event I suppose it could be argued that the almost de facto insistence by many organizations to put everything into .doc format is potentially a barrier on the communication of open knowledge.

Mark Elkins