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03.24.07

Has Novell Made OpenOffice Incompatible with Itself?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Office Suites, OpenOffice, Windows at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recently we had a mind-boggling discussion about Novell’s special release of OpenOffice for Windows, with a bunch of extra forbidden fruit. Of particular interest was the following little nugget of information from Novell’s CEO:

What about things [OpenOffice features] that were discussed that didn’t make the cut?

[Hovsepian:] One that we were very interested in would be running some of their toolsets on our Linux platform — Visual Studio and other toolsets. That one didn’t make the cut.

Was the perennial question of a version of Microsoft Office for Linux discussed?

[Hovsepian:] Yes, that was one of the ‘toolsets’ I referred to. That one didn’t make the cut, either. As an executive, I understand that they’re protecting their franchise, and I’m respectful of that.

Now, picture the following scenario: John uses Windows and OpenOffice 2.1.x. He produces a nice presentation using Presenter and also uses a collection of nice and fancy macros for slide transition. He then sends his work over to Anna, who favours the use of GNU/Linux. She uses OpenOffice 2.1.x.

But here comes the fun part. It does not matter which distribution she uses, the software is for some reason unable to reproduce the integrity of John’s presentation, let alone view it without losing some crucial elements. It later turns out that John has unknowingly made use Novell’s special ‘features’.

Has Novell broken the round-trip rule at an intra-application level, rather than inter-application or inter-platform level? Has it led to fragmentation? Is it truly a case of an application not being backward-compatible with self, but also self-incompatible? Can you see GNU/Linux discriminated against here? Was our early questioning justified? Was Pamela right after all?

Novell claims to be working on improved interoperability. Unless the judgment and assumption we make are flawed, Novell has just made Windows less interoperable with Linux.

Does Novell Spread Its Mono Along with FUD?

Posted in FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is very easy to let these things escape our attention, but every now and then, Novell selfishly lifts itself above rivals by boasting superiority on purely-litigious grounds. Here is one such case from yesterday’s news.

On Friday, the first race in the Race to Linux 2.0 began. The goal is to get an application developed with Visual Studio for ASP.NET
2.0 ported to Linux.

[...]

Now that Mono does not have to fear lawsuits from Microsoft, it can overcome the barriers that lawyers set up and programmers fear in many market segments.

If you look carefully at the wording, this actually comes from Novell, which supposedly ‘protected’ itself from lawsuits. How can Miguel de Icaza, who persistently (even in our Web site) insists that Mono carries no legal burden, actually defend this? Once again, Novell tries to brag about some sort of legal ‘purity’, thereby smearing the reputation of the code in general and casting an ugly shadow on other Linux distributors. Can you blame Red hat for rejecting Mono?

Moving on, LinuxWorld has an article that gives a disappointingly one-sided coverage. It mentions nothing but interoperability and ignores the community’s opposition, not to mention that other ‘feature’ of that great deal. Conversely, ECT has an article which echoes Perens’ words and suggests that Novell could one day become a Microsoft subsidiary.

Only a handful of reporters attended the briefing across the street from BrainShare where software developer Bruce Perens criticized Novell’s relationship with Microsoft. He said the results of the partnership could doom Novell to becoming a Microsoft subsidiary because Novell does not write its own software but gets it instead from small independents.

These arguably far-fetched predictions seem to repeat themselves, despite the consistent denial.

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