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 😉

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anonymoose on May 4, 2007  · 

I think you need a second partition already available to install ubuntu, and most windows machines will not have a second partition. this can be done with many programs, including running GParted from a bootable CD, but it is somewhat complex, and VERY risky (backup is MANDATORY if messing around with partitions)

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ilan a. on May 4, 2007  · 

wow! What a brave move! it’s a brillant and tough change that you are initiating at FON. I guess your employees will thank you sooner or later 😉

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rag on May 4, 2007  · 

happy adopting 😉

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Carlos on May 4, 2007  · 

I agree with #1, you should do partitions.

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Francois on May 4, 2007  · 

there is imap in gmail ? 😉

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Alex on May 5, 2007  · 

Interesting move. I am sure you will keep us updated on this one. I wish I could see the results by myself, I mean there, in front of the user.

Good luck

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Hernán on May 5, 2007  · 

What happens with tools/programs like adobe creative suite, photoshop, illustrator, indesign, etc?

I´d love to move away from MS, but does this or other linux os offer a way to emulate this programs?


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Lukketto on May 5, 2007  · 

Welcome to the Ubuntu community!

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sisyfoss on May 5, 2007  · 

Godbye Microsoft, You must think what you can do naxt. Welcome Ubuntu! and Royal in France

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Tobias on May 5, 2007  · 

A quite logical move…

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Euronerd on May 5, 2007  · 

“You download Ubuntu for free, you burn a CD with that file and you run the CD.”
So that’s how FON does it’s own in-house IT management.
Probably no servers to connect to, no company security standards, no migrationplan.

Is there anybody else but me who now thinks the rest of FON’s IT decisions are handled just like this one?

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Hernán on May 5, 2007  · 

I was just browsing Ubuntu´s website and found this info, which turned a red light on right away:

“Ubuntu is designed with security in mind. You get free security updates for at least 18 months on the desktop and server. With the Long Term Support (LTS) version you get three years support on the desktop, and five years on the server. There is no extra fee for the LTS version, we make our very best work available to everyone on the same free terms. Upgrades to new versions of Ubuntu are and always will be free of charge.”

This is the typical “American” way of giving/selling. They offer you a free try and then scare you to death so that you get the paid version…

My concern is, if they ONLY guarantee free SECURITY UPDATES for 18 months, WHAT HAPPENS WITH ALL YOUR VALUABLE INFORMATION after that short period of time???

Too bad and sad to read such news. If anybody knows better, please explain.


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mab on May 5, 2007  · 

Way to go Martin. A very logical and brave move for FON!

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ddluk on May 5, 2007  · 

Welcome in the Linux world 🙂

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Alejandro on May 5, 2007  · 


“My concern is, if they ONLY guarantee free SECURITY UPDATES for 18 months, WHAT HAPPENS WITH ALL YOUR VALUABLE INFORMATION after that short period of time???”

You upgrade to a new version of Ubuntu for free, with another 18 months of updates? Even if you think 18 months is too short, there are still options: next year we’ll have a version with Long Term Support, which includes 3 years of support on the desktop and 5 on servers. Myself, I’d still rather have the latest and greatest.

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Stinky on May 5, 2007  · 

@ Hernàn: Ubuntu is a completely free open source operating system. You do not pay for anything. They just garante you that for the version you use, security patches will be available till 18 months after it’s release. Normaly a complete update is available every 6 months.

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Sp on May 5, 2007  · 

For # 12,

I think that is for business that don’t wish to change versions to often. What happens when the 18 month period expires? You just move to the next version.

There is no hiding agenda.

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Henrik on May 6, 2007  · 

I don’t think it is important which vendor’s brand is on the computers that are used in your business. I’d rather do an analysis on what has to be done and what the best tools do these tasks are.

I have a mixed user-environment myself where I use Windows XP professional as well as Ubuntu Linux. Actually, I am also new in the Ubuntu-camp after being with CentOS for one of my client-like operating systems for a couple of years.

I had the same worries as Hernán, but after reading up on the version-history of Ubuntu I understood that the shorter term of life is replaced by upgrading to a new version/branding of Ubuntu.

If you don’t use any windows specific applications, I can warmly recommend to switch to Ubuntu all together. It is just much better than Windows.

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Snark on May 6, 2007  · 

Skype isn’t open source, but ekiga is. See given url.

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Hernan on May 6, 2007  · 

Thanks 15, 16, 17!

I´ll put my long forgotten celeron 900Mhz to the test!


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poketself on May 6, 2007  · 


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poketself on May 6, 2007  · 

ops… I forgot to say: welcome to Ubuntu!

Must read:

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Nico on May 6, 2007  · 

Very good approach and totaly understandable.

I installed Feisty on my laptop two weeks ago and was very pleased with the fast booting and the amazing stability and speed, but when it came to productivity I faced some serious lacks of usability:

– Why do I have to use the command line when installing RealPlayer (and get error messages) and why does my printer not print PDF files? This goes for quite some tools (a VPN client, a video player, Adobe Reader…) By the way, I couldn’t install FONSPOT (sorry, I don’t remember the exact error messages).

– Another example: Why is creating a video DVD so complicated doesn’t even work (I tried qdvdauthor + dvdauthor).

– But what I disliked the most by far is the incredibly unusable multi screen support. I have two screens but of course only when I’m at my desk. Ubuntu doesn’t offer display profiles etc. and I couldn’t find a tool that provides such a feature (like UltraMon for Windows).

– The last thing I want to mention is OpenOffice. At first I thought it was an equal alternative to MS Office but when I typed my first document (which was really just a simple letter), I caused a bug by underlining (!) a word…

– Also I found booting after hibernating pretty slow (compared to WIN) and sometimes the system clock was still at the time when I switched off my computer.

So for me Ubuntu is a great system when you like to play around, really get into Linux before reaching a productive level and do not expect a real out of the box system. I am convinced that whenever it’s set up properly one will love it, but at least in my case, there’s some things to do and for the moment I’m back with a fresh and clean WIN XP installation (and looking forward to be shown that I’m wrong).

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Luca on May 7, 2007  · 


I just migrated an old notebook with a Celeron 400Mhz to Xubuntu 7.04, works fine, and I’m really happy! The X-ubuntu version is the more suitable for slower and smaller environments (slow CPU, small HD, small Ram).

Just one point though: migrating Skype to Ubuntu made me loose the possibility to send SMSs, is there any patch to that?

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Daedeloth on May 7, 2007  · 

At Nico:

There is support for multiple screens but it isn’t as easy to install as windows. Need proof:
Here you go 😉

It is true that Xorg doesn’t offer a way to swithc “profiles” easily and even if you do want to use different xorg.conf files, the whole login process becomes quite messy. However, I never had problems with that since, if a screen is not connected, it will simply not be registered and your desktop will become the regular “1 screener”.

Like Martin said, it takes some time to get used to Ubuntu. But honestly, I don’t miss the “oh god he crashed again” and “oh no another bluescreen” and “stupid office, give me back my document” moments. Open Office has its flaws, but one thing they are good at is recovering unsaved documents 😀

For your DVD problem: have you tried installing k3b? It’s a really nice program (quite “Nero” – like) which writes dvd movies and such. It also has a nice wizard to fix your dvd issues (although my burn – software worked out of the box when I installed ubuntu).

And why do you have to use the command line?
Because RealPlayer doesn’t offer it’s software in the “easy to use” form. They did create an installer for Windows, but an “ubuntu package” (actually that’s a debian package, but Ubuntu stole that idea :D) is not available.

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Raul on May 8, 2007  · 

Quite nice and fast Martin. It’s getting closer to Windows in ease of use, but there are still issues. As mentioned above, Skype is one of them (only a very old version 1.3 seems to be available). Another one is installing Java as a plug in for Firefox. Did you try this? Definitely not for mom and pop computer users. This is where Windows is much easier to use. Installing Flash was a little easier.
If only it could read my Outlook.pst files (assuming it does SMTP too), but a great improvement overall to bring Linux to mainstream.

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Martin Varsavsky on May 9, 2007  · 


It would only be reasonable that skype updates its linux version now that Ubuntu is catching on.

And for pst first install thunderbird in windows and then use the mbox files for linux.

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Freak0 on May 11, 2007  · 

Are you planning to recruit ?? I’m looking for a job in an great company 🙂

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Theo on May 11, 2007  · 

Firstly, I admire your move as a company to Ubuntu – even Dell has recognized that Ubuntu is now growing as a competitor to windows. My previous Linux experiences with other distributions have been somewhat disappointing, but even the live CD had my Wireless, Ethernet and Sound card drivers ready! Obviously, at that point I repartitioned my hard drive, and installed Ubuntu x64. On my second attempt it worked out, but then I switched to the x86 version due to poor compatibility.

It was this post that inspired me to check Ubuntu out once again, and I must say that in a couple of months time, this may become my primary operating system.

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Doener on May 16, 2007  · 

Great decision! All I can say …

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