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Is Novell is Trying to ‘Hijack’ OpenOffice.org from Sun Microsystems for Competitive Reasons Alone?

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, OpenOffice, SUN at 10:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As the argument about OpenOffice.org evolves and developers, Novell is beginning to have its true colours shown. It used to put the blame on Sun Microsystems for lack of openness, but looking at the other side of the fence, it seems like Novell has its own financial agenda as a considerable part of the equation. Sun’s Simon Phipps, whose opinion I can trust, has this to say:

It’s a shame Michael [Meeks] has chosen now – a turning point in OpenOffice.org and a moment when Sun has radically improved the SCA in response to broad feedback from many communities – as a time to mount a fresh challenge to Sun that by implication also harms OpenOffice.org. And when you distill out all the details, that’s what this turns out to be even by Michael’s admission – a competitive issue, not a community one.

It therefore appears as though Novell has its own plans and alternative agenda for OpenOffice.org, which is not surprising given things we have seen. The founder of Linux Questions has just posted some words in defense of Sun.

I forget sometimes how difficult a position Sun has put themselves in after years of being schizo about Open Source. For the last couple of years they have done some truly awesome things, yet they continue to take a beating in the community. I wonder how long it is until some will think they have paid their dues.

The complex relationship between IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Sun continues to baffle. They want to collaborate, but they compete and exchange favours and/or money at the same time. Can standards be established in this way? Which side would a standard then serve? And most importantly — how does the innocent customer fit into this picture? Companies wants money. Ordinary people want their data to be accessible and easy to interchange. They also want to have choice between platforms and applications so a proprietary/de facto status-quo is not acceptable. It raises price and reduces quality.

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  1. Eric Gearhart said,

    October 7, 2007 at 11:31 pm


    As long as ODF is the document format, not Novell ODF, or Sun ODF, or IBM Lotus Symphony ODF, I don’t care. OpenOffice.org has stagnated. They need to man up and improve performance. It really is bloated… making Meeks out to be the bad guy is bad form (but business as usual for boycottnovell…)

    Sun needs a kick in the pants… OOo IS bloated, and does need to be gutted.
    Either fork a branch internally, stop adding features to it and significantly improve performance, or for OOo 3.0 target major performance improvements. However they wanna go about it, this really does need to get done. This has been a complaint of OOo for years.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 8, 2007 at 12:11 am


    I fear that ‘performance’ can be used as an excuse to open a door to other ‘improvements’.

  3. Eric Gearhart said,

    October 8, 2007 at 12:24 am


    Roy pardon my ignorance, but if “Novell OpenOffice” had major feature improvements over Sun’s OpenOffice they’d have to release them too… correct? Both projects would fall under the LGPL right?

    Forking can be a good thing, although “the sky is falling” is the common reaction from the open source community. Forks are a healthy side effect of having an open source project. Look at XFree before X.org forked… there are major feature improvements that happened there. Also look at Compiz/Beryl.. they forked and are now in the process of “unforking” and marging improvements back together.

    There seems to be a “self-tuning” aspect to open source projects… if a project stagnates and the “benevolent dictator” that runs it starts being unreasonable, well then it’s forked.

    If that fork doesn’t gain enough momentum from developers because it’s not necessary, it dies off. If it does gain enough developers usually it provokes the original project into waking up and introducing new features (or in the case of XFree… it basically falling by the wayside as X.org became the de facto standard in every major distro).

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 8, 2007 at 4:26 am


    To quote a comment from someone whose opinion I respsect (posted just a couple of hours ago):

    “First you took money from Microsoft while strengthening its argument that Linux violates its patent.
    Then you guys said that OOXML is superior and added that to your distro.
    You find it necessary to make your users dependent to Microsoft’s stuff.
    And now you find it necessary to split OpenOffice.

    Shame on you Novell.”

    The guy is not anti-Novell.

    The Microsoft dependence here is the main issue with this fork.

  5. Sebastiaan Veld said,

    October 8, 2007 at 3:41 pm


    As far as I know Go-OO is meant to get the Novell builds faster in the community leveraging the OpenSuSE build service. This really has nothing to do with Microsoft. It’s just a way to get Sun to faster accept needed changes that are used in OO versions in many distro’s but not accepted in the OO main tree.

    As the site states: “The go-oo version of OpenOffice.org is designed to give a foretaste of new features in development and includes functionality not yet accepted up-stream.”

  6. John Drinkwater said,

    October 8, 2007 at 4:09 pm


    Openness of the code isn’t the complete issue here.
    If Novell produces some work to improve OOXML support (that includes the parts of the spec. that aren’t in the spec. and not covered by the covenent not to sue/OSP ), and that enters into go-OOo, can it be safely used outside of the Novell branch?
    I don’t want to fear monger at all… but can any contributions now be safely accepted from Novell with their licence from MS?

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 8, 2007 at 4:26 pm


    John, that was my response to Rob Weir as well. It’s similar to the Mono/Moonlight issue.

  8. Eric Gearhart said,

    October 9, 2007 at 5:01 am


    The bottom line, at the end of the day, after the water’s boiled off (ok enough cliches) is this: what is the software licensed under. PRODUCTS that you buy from Novell are covered under the patent deal. If they release software that’s GPL’d or LGPL’d or BSD licensed, then that’s the license. End of story.

  9. John Drinkwater said,

    October 10, 2007 at 9:50 am


    If the code is free from requiring patent deals, PRODUCTS that you buy from Novell would not need to be covered. Producing binaries from code doesn’t change potential infringements.

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