FON is Dropping Microsoft, Adopting Ubuntu

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 05/06/2007 - 15:56.

Martin Varsavsky, founder of FON, and author of his "Blog of an Entrepreneur", posted there an interesting letter he sent to all his employees: "FON is Dropping Microsoft, Adopting Ubuntu". I had seen, on some of his earlier blog entries, that Martin had a major Windows crash and lost his whole hard drive (been there) and so after 20 years with Microsoft he switched to Ubuntu (done that) and also Apple - after a month he settled on Ubuntu. It has been fascinating reading Martin's celebration of discovering FOSS - I remember having the same awakening. It is very exciting to now see Martin move his company FOSS, and to highlight how he is doing this and why - read his personal account here... and think about how this could be happening all over NEO...

FON is Dropping Microsoft, Adopting Ubuntu

This is a memo that I just sent to all Fon employees.

Dear All:

As of today Fon will disengage from Microsoft and adopt Linux in the Ubuntu form as our operating system of choice.

I would like to ask all Foneros to pls migrate to Ubuntu at your earliest convenience. As of next week Fon will not buy any more Microsoft licenses, nor install, service any new Microsoft programs on any existing computers. All the software we use will be Open Source unless a certain package we need is not easily available in Open Source format.

There are many reasons at Fon for dropping Microsoft. The first one and by far the most important is to save time. I have tested Ubuntu and Mac for about a month now and while I like Mac to play I found myself using Ubuntu more and more for work. Ubuntu has the look and feel of Microsoft, but it´s like a Microsoft software that works fast, that turns on and off very quickly, that installs programs very easily, that lacks that atmosphere of paranoia that surrounds Microsoft and that is extremely easy to learn and use. With Ubuntu I forgot about the computer and got to focus on the work at hand. This I could not do with Windows who through crashes and delays managed to remind me, all too frequently, that it was there. The second reason for the shift is savings. Ubuntu and all its associated software is free and not only will we save money on software but we will save money on computers as Ubuntu runs faster on a 2 year old computer than Vista on a brand new one. Lastly Fon already is an Open Source company and our software is an Open Source project called and we should support other Open Source movements/companies.

So the first thing that I would like those of you who are still using Windows at Fon is to install Ubuntu in the coming weeks. This is very easy to do. You download Ubuntu for free, you burn a CD with that file and you run the CD. If you are concerned about losing data you can back it up as usual before the install but once you install Ubuntu you will be happy to see that Ubuntu does not replace Windows but, instead, it splits your laptop into Windows territory and Ubuntu territory and that from Ubuntu you can still access all your Windows files. You decide how much memory you give each operating system. So the transition to Ubuntu is pretty painless and you can still go back to Windows every now and then if there´s something that Ubuntu cannot handle. To go back to Windows you turn your laptop off and turn it back on and choose Windows. During my first days with Ubuntu I was switching back frequently. Now I rarely do and in one laptop I erased Windows altogether and only have Ubuntu.

Once you have Ubuntu you will see that there are many free programs that are easy to download and install: you will find Skype, IM, Google Talk. Your Word, Excel, Power Point will work perfectly with OpenOffice. Ubuntu comes with Firefox and not Internet Explorer and this is great because you can then add Firefox extensions. One extension that you should download is Gspace to back up all your important data on line. Gspace sends your documents, pictures, etc to your Gmail account as files that can then be easily retrieved.

Now while the main objective in changing the computer guidelines is to avoid the slowness and complications associated with a Microsoft environment our secondary objective is to migrate all our work online so we cut another link that has caused a lot of problems in this company and that is the association between one person and a specific laptop. I would like all of us to migrate to an environment in which if you lose a laptop for some reason you are back on your feet in minutes. So Gspace is but one of the steps in the direction of having all your documents backed up online. Others are using Foxmarks so all your bookmarks are backed up online and using Gmail to constantly ask Fon for your e mail so your Fon e mail is backed up by Gmail. I also would like you to use IMAP on Fon so any computer can be your computer very quickly.

Zimbra, the software that comes with the Fon web mail is also very good and it has calendar and contacts. So does Gmail if you prefer to use Google tools. And if you would like to send your old e mail to your Gmail account you can try an experimental program web site that we launched today called Gmail Uploader that converts mbox files into gmail. This is a tool that we developed and are going to offer to others to use. This is a slow process but with this you will finally be able to search all your email. Until Gmailuploader old email is like having pictures stored in a box that you cannot open. Gmail will soon be of unlimited capacity and its great to have all your e mail in one site including your old e mail. If you have Microsoft Outlook you have to first install Thunderbird in Windows, and send the Thunderbird files to Gmail Uploader.

Yes I know some of you will read and worry. I know how hard it is to change. I used Microsoft for 20 years and until I had a terrible, fatal crash I did not change. Also Linux used to be very hard to use and people are prejudiced against it. But now it´s the perfect time to change because Ubuntu has made Linux easy and fast to use and because Microsoft has made Vista so complicated and expensive to upgrade to. If somehow you find you need help in this process please contact the local chapter of your Microsoft Anonymous organization ;)

Ubuntu in use in NEO

It was fun to be at NOTACON the other weekend and actually see people running Linux on the laptop. One presenter running Ubuntu even said he had just bought his Apple Powerdook this week for NOTACON because he wouldn't dare show up with a computer running Windows.

It would be so easy and amazing for governments, non-profits and businesses here to follow in Martin's steps.b

Disrupt IT

migrating to openland


I am going to New Orleans. What should I not miss?

Over the summer after this arts prize business is over, can you help me with a migration to Ubuntu? I am ready. Now I am asking you because you have been such an advocate and the person who has written so much about it here, but if there is someone else in Cleveland who would help I would be thrilled to barter for a dinner out or a dinner here -- a CityFresh market bag... I need it to be understandable, reliable and easy. You're talking to an over the hill woman who can't even post a f---ing image today. I'm thinking of sometime in July.

Who else runs Ubuntu? Let's hear the testimony folks...

Derek will open up your world with Ubuntu

I can load and configure Ubuntu, partition your hard drive to dual boot, etc., but you'll want Derek to walk you through more than I can cover. He'll certanly be glad to help you with that - he's in town at least one day a week so just plan it ahead with us.

Disrupt IT

Ubuntu Fan Boy


I have been a huge Ubuntu Fan since version 4.10!

I have been a Linux user for about a decade and find that my new MacBook Pro is not so wonderful as  I was lead to belive it would be.  I am writing this post on my Ubuntu 7.04 Dell Server and loving every minute of it.  The system is so configurable and smooth that I find no problems navigating the content or launching applications.

Do I miss the easy of some of the applications in Windows and Mac?  Sometimes, but I have found myself using Linux *Ubuntu* as my everyday computer more more over the past few years.

As a developer I use Ecplise IDE, a programming editor that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac with ease.  I never have to remember how to use the software as it works nearly 100% the same on all platforms... and yes it is FOSS.

I use Firefox for surfing the web, Thunderbird for navigating my porn, sorry email (often difficult to tell the difference with all the SPAM these days) and Pidgin (formaly Gaim) for my instant messaging.  All FOSS applications.

When it comes to graphics the Gimp is my stand by favorite for raster (photo) type of work.  When it comes to illustration I fire up Inkscape.  The list goes on and on... from FTP clients and music players, watching DVD's as well as edting all sorts of multimedia.  All of these applications falling under the FOSS heading.

Is ubuntu perfect?  Dare I say NO, it is not.  Are there better versions of Linux on the market?  Yes there are.. at a cost.

Can Linux do it all?  No, not today... and maybe never.  If you find yourself needing certain software to run smootly and be supported... like Adobe products... then the Mac is your choice.  ( a close cousin to Linux... but that is another post).

To sum it up... I run Linux and I am very happy to do so.  The latest verison of Ubuntu is smooth, fast and packed with software to make most home users sail through the internet while still be able to write that all important letter to aunt Martha.

From organizing photos to keeping current with the worlds news... Ubuntu Linux is there for you.

I hope you Susan, and anyone else reading this, gives Linux a shot.  If there is enought interest maybe a round table on the installation and initial use of Linux might be in order?

Best wishes,

Phillip Williams