How to migrate a newsroom to free software? Paper diaries are known to be following the path of the dinosaurs. On the other hand, production costs are increasingly expensive and specialized software licenses have to be paid for under penalty of prosecution and fines.
Janayugom is a paper diary that It is published in Malay language andn the Hindu region of Kerala. It has more than one hundred employees (each with their own computer) distributed in 14 offices and su circulation is at least one hundred thousand copies (estimated number of subscribers).
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I'm following the story from of the story from one of the participants in the migration advisory team. This person has strong political opinions, including some on the current government of India and proprietary software (against). Avoid mentioning other aspects of the newspaper crisis such as the change in readers' preferences, And since I don't speak Malay, I can't rule out that the newspaper loses readers because it's bad.
But leaving aside all that, and a certain triumphalism in my premature judgment, the story is interesting.
Make the moment, Janayugom used Adobe PageMaker for everything related to layout and production. Adobe discontinued PageMaker in 2001. The lack of updating the required to use the ASCII character encoding standard. When they decided that needed to upgrade to better software with many more essential features, including Unicode support, the most logical option it looked like another product from the same developer; AdobeInDesign.
Adobe InDesign it is available under the subscription model. We are talking about almost 100 computers (although they may be less, our source does not clarify how many of them are administrative employees) And, although the author does not mention it, I imagine that photographers would also need to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom.
How to migrate a newsroom?
The migration process was divided into two parts:
- Determination of the software to use.
- Staff training
Determination of the software to use
The objectives at this stage of the project were twofold; Start using Unicode as a character encoding standard and not pay for the software used.
To achieve the first, a specialist was asked to develop fonts for the Malay language. One of them is already available under an open license.
In the case of software, we opted for use your own Linux distribution which will include the following programs; Scribus, Gimp, Inkscape and LibreOffice, plus a self-developed ASCII to Unicode converter called Janayugom Edit.
The Linux distribution used is called Janayugom GNU / Linux. This Kubuntu-based because Ubuntu was found to include better hardware support, has more comprehensive repositories, and KDE is more resource efficient than GNOME and easier to learn for those coming from Windows.
Janayugom GNU / Linux includes the following programs:
- Scribus: Creation and layout of desktop publications as an alternative to Adobe InDesign.
- Gimp: Editing digital photos as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
- Inkscape: Editing vector images as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
- LibreOffice: Office suite as an alternative to Microsoft Office.
- Janayugom Edit: Based on Freaknz-qt, it is an ASCII to Unicode converter that also allows you to write and store news in plain text.
Software installation it was made in two parts; it was first installed on those computers necessary for training. After two-thirds of the staff were trained, they settled in all the others. It was also made migrating the shared file server to Linux.
Janayugom was challenged to train more than 100 employees and install the new software on almost the same number of computers spread over 14 offices throughout Kerala. At the same time they had to carry on with the activity of every day. The responsible team decided on a 5-day course and divided the staff into three groups.
The five days were divided as follows:
- A day for learn the basic use of the operating system and start to understand the entire software stack and workflow,
- Another day for the graphics-related training, including GIMP and Inkscape.
- Three days dedicated to training in the use of Scribus.
- A special focused session in the photographers and graphic equipment, encouraging them to use the Creative Commons license and to contribute to Wikimedia Commons.
- Also provided a separate systems administration training GNU / Linux to the two Janayugom sysadmins.
Hardware compatibility, except in the case of some of the printer models it did not require additional intervention.