12.19.07

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Is Microsoft Using OOXML and Novell to Further Divide the Communuity?

Posted in Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML at 10:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When tensions rise, there is only one winner…

…and it ain’t Free software

It is regularly argued that desktop environments living in agreement and harmony is the best way to go. In fact, these sentiments are reflected pretty well in this new article from Matt Hartley, who talks about their suitability for business.

As for daily workstation use, examine the applications that your business will be using in Linux. Weigh in how many of them are built for KDE. Customization per workstation aside, most offices will do well with KDE installed, but may fall back on GNOME based personal information managers such as Evolution over Kontact.

Glyn Moody, writing in Linux Magazine for the first time in quite a while, talks about the divisive nature of OOXML and also its effect on desktop environments, KDE and GNOME in particular.

The details of their rivalry are not relevant here; what matters is that in the beginning GNOME was clearly perceived as the saviour of the free software movement, with de Icaza as its knight in shining armour, which is rather at odds with a current widely-held view on his place in the hacker pantheon.

The point here is not to take sides on this question, but to demonstrate the amazing and pernicious effects of Microsoft’s recent engagement with the open source world. The growing tensions between the KDE and GNOME camps are just part of that: another facet is the split of companies into those who believe that intellectual monopoly deals with Microsoft are a good idea (Novell, Xandros, Turbolinux) and those who do not (Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc.).

The result is a growing schism that can only serve Microsoft’s interests. Unfortunately, this is one area where we don’t have a choice: we need to heal the rift. The question is, How?

Over at Linux.com, Bruce Byfield presents the view of the KDE team, which opines that not supporting OOXML is a technical decision, as opposed to one that is affected by sentiments and wariness of Microsoft.

In the recent accusations that the GNOME Foundation has been supporting Microsoft’s OOXML format at the expense of ODF, KDE has been presented as a counter-example. Based on a KDE News article, Richard Stallman suggested that “major KDE developers” had announced “their rejection of OOXML” and urged GNOME to do the same. More recently, a widely linked story on ITWire used the same article to declare that KDE has taken a “principled stand” against OOXML. However, if you go the source, the story is more nuanced than these claims suggest.

The iTWire piece he is referring to was actually quite frank and accurate. Its headline aside, it did not generalise too much and it focused its attention on those who are to blame for GNOME Foundation’s decision to participate in ECMA. As stated here many times before, judging by the Foundation’s mailing list, the authoritative figures remain divided on this issue.

iTWire has just unleashed another piece which gives further details about the previous complaints.

While the GNOME Foundation media spokesman Jeff Waugh claimed recently that Miguel de Icaza has no official role in the GNOME project anymore, it is common to see long posts from De Icaza on the Planet GNOME website. This site is meant for GNOME developers.

The discussion in LinuxToday is fairly interesting because of some snide comments.

We have refrained from embedding personal opinions in this eclectic analysis thus far, but it is my personal opinion that a lot of this OOXML poison comes from Novell, which must obey Microsoft's orders to support OOXML. As such, the issue must be addressed at it its root — Novell et al.

Novell and Microsoft piss on GNU/Linux codebase

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