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Thread: Open Source Newspaper

  1. #1
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    Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

    Open Source Newspaper

    I just started a new job with a small Newspaper/Publishing company. My first task is to upgrade and streamline all the computer systems. Since we're a small outfit in a small town in Ohio, we don't have a large budget. My first instinct is to convert everything to open source. I'm not a computer expert and I feel like I could potentially be playing with fire. But, deep down inside, I know this is the right thing to do for the company.

    Does anyone here run a newspaper/publishing company with open source software?

  2. #2
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    Let me explain what we're dealing with:

    The publishing computers are running Mac OS9 and OSX with Adobe Indesign, Photoshop, and another publishing program called Quark. All of these versions are out of date and the departments are running into trouble with compatiability. To upgrade all the computer software is pretty much out of question from a financial point of view.

    The Office computers are running Windows XP with Quickbooks and some customized SAP software for mailing subscriptions. The SAP license is expensive and I would love to cancel the annual contract, but I don't know what we would do instead. The office ladies say the software is absolutely neccessary.

    To make things a little more complicated, we also have a printing department with pre-press gear and a web press. And, we provide printing services for additional clients. What kind of problems could we run into if our customers are using Indesign CS4 and we are not?

    Is there anyone else dealing with similar issues?

  3. #3
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    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    The cost of retraining your staff to use open source alternatives may be more expensive than just updating commercial software.

    I feel your pain though, newspapers are going under all over the place, budgets are real tight.

  4. #4
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    Well, before you make the switch, you should get comfortable with tools on your own so that when people come with questions you can have answers ready.

    It sounds like the Windows machines would be the more complicated ones to replace (and I wouldn't **** off the office ladies if I were you). You may need to seek trained help to get that done, but it's probably doable.

    As for the Macs, a combination of Inkscape, Gimp, and Scribus will probably work for you. Get to know these, set up a test computer and tell your designers that they "need to learn this" and see how they do with it before switching everything right away.

    Your print shop will probably be fine without Adobe software, just be sure to tell your customers to export to an appropriate format.

    As for the cost of retraining staff, that's a one-time cost VS. the recurring cost of software licenses.
    What makes a great open source contributor is not primarily the brilliance of their ideas or importance of their bug, but rather their willingness to see it through to success.

  5. #5
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    Thanks for your responses. Yesterday I took a copy of the newspaper and recreated a page just using open office draw. Do you think we could get by with just open office and gimp shop? All our printing is done with an old style newspaper web press, so its not like we're dealing with super high quality images.

    I haven't tried usking Inkscape, I'm going to download it right now.

  6. #6
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    Scribus may be a little easier than open office draw for laying out your paper.
    What makes a great open source contributor is not primarily the brilliance of their ideas or importance of their bug, but rather their willingness to see it through to success.

  7. #7
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    The Office computers are running Windows XP with Quickbooks and some customized SAP software for mailing subscriptions.
    For the accounting software you can check out GnuCash.

    eGroupWare might be able to replace both of these.

    Check out SugarCRM or OpenERP as an option to replace the SAP system.

  8. #8
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    I'd like to know the out come of this posting.

    We have been looking at this for some time and have found the problem being in prepress/output of fonts and print driver for the imagers.

    Anyone have more info? Progress?

    thanks,
    matt

  9. #9
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    I'm still working on this. My company has every intention of switching completely to open source alternatives, but we're taking things slow. All the sales people are using Ubuntu right now and its working out well. Pre-Press is still using Adobe software. The newspaper department has been experimenting with Scribus for the last few months, but they're still unsure if they want to make the switch. Right now, we're just making what we have work.

    We're also going to rebuild our website with Drupal.

    I know what you're saying about the font issues and print drivers. We have those same issues without open source. Right now we have an old school film maker, that we use to make plates. We currently have plans to buy a direct-to-plate machine.

  10. #10
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    Re: Open Source Newspaper

    Would you be willing to talk? Do you use Skype?

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