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Everyone Apologize to PJ

Posted in Fork, Formats, GNU/Linux, GPL, Interoperability, LGPL, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML at 2:19 pm by Shane Coyle

Novell OpenOffice.org is a Fork.

There was much furor over a recent Groklaw headline regarding Novell forking OpenOffice.org, with even Miguel De Icaza taking the time to respond, albeit in a somewhat "fast and loose" manner. Everyone said, "Novell forking Open Office? No way."

During Stafford Masie’s Question and Answer session at the CITI forum, he explained how Novell has two streams of Linux products – "FOSS" and "OSS", with OpenSUSE and OpenOffice.org being "FOSS" and SLE(S|D) and Novell OpenOffice.org being "OSS" Masie goes on to say that in their version of Novell OpenOffice, they add extra interoperability, backward compatibilty and testing, in addition to licensed fonts and graphic rendering engines. These differences are in addition to the Open XML support and even more controversial VBA support, which may or may not be accepted into OOO’s main branch.

So, Novell OpenOffice.org is a fork, it has been for some time, its okay and you don’t need to deny it. Correct me if I am wrong, but OOO is LGPL and as long as you do it right, you can have a version linked with proprietary stuff, Novell.

Now, it is just a question of how closely OpenOffice.org wants to follow their lead into Microsoft’s embrace, or branch off towards Freedom, that will determine just how much of a fork Novell’s OpenOffice.org becomes.

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  1. Joshua Bergland said,

    December 12, 2006 at 6:07 pm


    I don’t think you understand the definition of a fork. A fork would be if Novell took a copy of OOo at one point in time and started developing it on their own, with it no longer being based on OOo releases after that point.

    What they are doing is more like making a branch of the released version of OOo and adding their additions to make the Novell edition.

    Its all about semantics.

  2. jed said,

    December 12, 2006 at 9:15 pm


    I’m confused now, thanks. I didnt think it was a fork at first either, but I bet there was a time when xorg and xfree were just ‘branches’.

    If novell is, like this says, adding pieces which are not contributed back, then it is a fork I think. How different is OOO and Novell OOO, really?

    Til now, I thought I knew what I was talking about. Thanks guys.

  3. shane said,

    December 13, 2006 at 12:20 am


    That word you keep on using, I do not think it means what you think it means…

    (anyone who hasn’t seen “The Princess Bride”, go rent it, its a classic)

  4. Shane Coyle said,

    December 13, 2006 at 2:30 am


    I posted a semi-retraction:

    [and xorg broke off from xfree over a license change, that was definitely a capital F in Fork]

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