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07.31.08

Sam Ramji, the Man Who Wants to Politely Steal from GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Ron Hovsepian, Steve Ballmer, SUN, Xandros at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell still leans towards Microsoft, too

Gavin Clarke is at it again. He does yet another Ramji/Microsoft glorification piece. This time, for a change, he adds this:

“We need to engage with Windows administrators – this stuff runs on Windows,” Ramji said.

For more from Ramji on how Microsoft surrendered sovereignty to the Open Source Initiative, on chief executive Steve Ballmer’s apparent rapprochement with open source – just don’t mention the “L” word – and how Microsoft won’t be open sourcing Windows, you can download George’s 11 minute podcast here.

Remember what Microsoft has in mind. As Steve Ballmer once shouted (and even damaged his vocal chords in the process), it’s "Windows Windows Windows".

The Ramji/Clarke-like series isn’t an isolated incident and it never stops. Remember how Microsoft raves about its control of the press and its ability to push so-called (pseudo) ‘open source’ figures into the headlines. It even says so in a job description.

John Fontana does Ramji another glorifying piece, calling him a “guru”. And then there’s this:

Then it turned ugly.

The first questioner from the audience wanted to know what it would take for Microsoft not to claim patent infringement violations in open source code.

His inquiry was followed by whoops, whistles and thunderous applause.

The next question was about trust, as in why should we trust you this time? And the next referenced what the questioner called the “Office Open XML debacle” and accused Microsoft of using its power to buy international standards.

To explain what has happened here, consider this: Microsoft attacks Free software at the back and uses people like Ramji as a punch bag to absorb criticism and make critics of Microsoft look ugly (because, hey, Ramji didn’t say anything to aggravate, did he?). For similar reasons, female representatives are sometimes used to mitigate a verbal assault. It was a similar situation in OSBC 2008 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Here is what Pamela Jones wrote recently about Microsoft’s attempts to bury memories of the OOXML fiasco:

Now, when it looks like the world really does want ODF instead of OOXML, surrogates are sending a dual message — first, that ODF has won, so OOXML isn’t worth fighting any more (and anyone who does is an “extremist” anti-Microsoft whiner), and two, that OASIS isn’t able to do a good job with ODF, so the same folks who brought you OOXML should take it over.

In the same vein, the message Microsoft delivers to us now is that Microsoft just loves open source and if someone complains about it (or — God forbid — insults ‘poor Ramji’), then that someone is “an “extremist” anti-Microsoft whiner,” to repeat the wording used above. It’s a moral shield which used to ensure that the Trojan horse can penetrate the very centre of Open Source City and then change its governance.

There is actually a lot more of the same in ODF/OOXML. Alex Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], for instance, played innocent a while ago by issuing an apologetic press release. Microsoft pulled the same type of stunt. The purpose was to shut up critics and make them look bad by pretending that Microsoft had already lost.

“The purpose was to shut up critics and make them look bad by pretending that Microsoft had already lost.”As Groklaw showed some hours ago, Microsoft lied. It was self-serving double-speak. Pamela Jones wrote: “If you believed the story put out that “ODF has won”, you may be in for a surprise. ZDNet Asia has some quotes from Oliver Bell, Microsoft Asia-Pacific’s regional technology officer, a CompTIA person, and a sales guy there, all touting OOXML as the dominant choice, due to it allegedly being the default format in Word. I’ll show you one example, but you’ll find it all of interest. Of course, what is available in Word is not the ISO format OOXML, despite what this article says.”

“CompTIA,” eh? Does it not matter who pays the wages there?

Also on the same subject, Novell continues bragging about its own version of OpenOffice.org. It won’t say out loud (with rare exceptions that it’s only for Novell’s paying customers. for whom it claims to have paid Microsoft for ‘protection\. Remember that this thing is filled with Mono hooks, VBA, and OOXML. Novell even makes the Windows version better than the GNU/Linux version. It was a promise made in the agreement between Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer. Sun has many reasons to be displeased. Novell is with Microsoft. Novell supports Microsoft technologies like .NET and OOXML and nothing will change.

Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer

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30 Comments

  1. T. J. Brumfield said,

    July 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm

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    First off, I read your article with an open mind, but I’m a bit confused. I don’t see any evidence in the article that Ramji is stealing from GNU/Linux. I don’t trust Microsoft, but they are certainly acting less evil on the whole than they used to, and have embraced partial openness.

    Instead I find this article of vague accusations, and outright lies.

    Novell’s Windows version of OOo is no better than the Linux version. Conversely, they have betas of version 3 available for Linux, but not for Windows. The go-oo.org builds get frequent Linux updates, and the Windows version gets the least amount of developer attention.

    You also state that it is only available to paying customers, which is also a bold faced lie. Go to go-oo.org and download it yourself for free. Several distros now include that build over the mainline build.

    Next you criticize Novell for adding OOXML support. That isn’t a lie, but it is rather manipulative as a statement. Mainline OOo has added OOXML support as well. And importing/exporting Microsoft documents is the number one most requested feature for OOo. If you can’t read Microsoft documents, you can’t really enable people to change. You act as if adding the ability to open OOXML documents is inherently evil, when in fact it enables users to move away from MS Office if they so desire.

  2. Mick said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:26 pm

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    I believe that the whole point of the article was to highlight the trap that the first poster has fallen for – sympathising with the repeat offender with a long history because of a couple of very short term (perhaps even publicity stunt) changes. I guess the friendly born again religious man next door is trustworthy too, never mind the fact he was a repeat offending child molester who only “saw the light” a week or two ago. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  3. T. J. Brumfield said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:36 pm

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    Except the article is full of lies. The headline says Ramji wants to steal GNU/Linux.

    Excuse me, what the heck is he stealing?

    All the Novell/OOo content in the article was flat-out wrong.

    I have no sympathy for Microsoft. They routinely get away with breaking the law (such as attempted bribing of Nigerian government officials over a shipment of Classmate PCs, and their recent abuse of ISO). However, I believe in focusing on facts rather than lies.

    Microsoft has a horrid, horrid track record. Yet, they are doing a few good things these days, and the people try to spin those good things into some propaganda war.

    Has it ever occurred to you that not every employee in that company is some deranged villain?

    Working with Samba is a good move.
    Opening protocols is a good move.
    Opening source code is a good move.
    Helping Moonlight work on Linux is a good move.
    Allowing the Mono team to own all the copyrights on their code is a good move.
    Promising not to sue on patents associated with their opened protocols is a good move.
    Starting an open source repository is a good move.
    Adding ODF support to Office 2007 SP2 is a good move.

    When they do things like this, the community should be responsive and foster more behavior like this. The author basically suggests that Ramji was attacked so we’d sympathize with him, and this was some brilliant manipulation on Microsoft’s part. Except Microsoft didn’t predetermine that he’d be attacked.

    The only manipulation going on here is this article.

    People need to drop bias and look at facts.

  4. James Dixon said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm

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    > I don’t see any evidence in the article that Ramji is stealing from GNU/Linux.

    And I see that you’re having problems comprehending simple English. The line was “the Man Who Wants to Politely Steal from GNU/Linux”. Wants to steal does not equal is stealing.

    You know, I normally don’t bother reading Boycott Novell because they’re too much into the grand Microsoft conspiracy theory for me, but if you’re going to argue the point with them, and least get the point you’re arguing against correct.

  5. Azerthoth said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm

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    Even thinking that he wants to politely steal is an extreme over exageration. I have never seen or read anything that would lead me to believe that Sam has a firm understanding of the precepts of F/OSS and is a friend to it. Never in communications with license-discuss have I seen him do anything other than intelligently support the OSS development model.

    This is another Roy grandstand that makes a grand claim but never ties things together. When making grand statements, a few verifiable facts against the named individual would be nice. Sam is a decent sort, and if he were to be considered anything, it should be F/OSS’s man inside.

  6. Azerthoth said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:54 pm

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    correction

    Sam has a firm understanding

    should read

    that would lead me to believe that Sam does not have a firm understanding

  7. T. J. Brumfield said,

    July 31, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Gravatar

    >And I see that you’re having problems comprehending simple English.

    Perhaps you missed when I said

    “The headline says Ramji wants to steal GNU/Linux.”

    I’m pedantic. I don’t miss words like that. The article is assigning motivation and making accusations with nothing to back it up. Nothing in this article suggests he has means, motive or reason to steal. Last time I checked, almost the entire GNU/Linux stack is GPL which you can’t just “steal” even if he wanted to.

    You just missed the forest for the trees.

    This article is pure slander and lies with no content that I can find.

  8. BernieS said,

    July 31, 2008 at 11:29 pm

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    How can these posters be so oblivious.

    Ramji is the official spokesman for a particular PR message that MS is trying to get the relatively ignorant to buy into. Whether he is doing this in full knowledge of the reality — ie. a “front-man” for the scam — or is a relatively sincere stooge or “useful fool” is really a side issue.

    The key point here is the actual role he is playing or being put to use for.

    These initiatives on the part of Microsoft are aimed at snowing the general public, and lulling those involved in the relevant sectors of IT industry, Free/Open-Source Software development, Open Standards, and public policy, into letting down their guard, relaxing their vigilance, and being sucked further back into Microsoft’s lock-in and excessive control of IT choices.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 12:09 am

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    T. J. Brumfield,

    Pardon me for being away (asleep). I’ll defend my statements as I believe you did not follow the hyperlinks embedded in this post.

    Except the article is full of lies. The headline says Ramji wants to steal GNU/Linux.

    His goal is to have FOSS projects deployed on Windows rather than on GNU/Linux, (Open)Solaris, *BSD, whatever…

    Excuse me, what the heck is he stealing?

    A portion of the stack. It’s not stealing as in “stealing candy from a baby.”

    All the Novell/OOo content in the article was flat-out wrong.

    No, allow me to elaborate.

    Novell’s Windows version of OOo is no better than the Linux version.

    The Windows version will have functionality that GNU/Linux is not allowed to have. Ron Hovsepian talked about it a year ago. This essentially breaks cross-platform capabilities of the very same software (and version). This was part of the agreement with Microsoft.

    Conversely, they have betas of version 3 available for Linux, but not for Windows. The go-oo.org builds get frequent Linux updates, and the Windows version gets the least amount of developer attention.

    This may be true, but the above explanation stands.

    You also state that it is only available to paying customers, which is also a bold faced lie.

    No, you are /’protected’/ only as a paying customer and Novell will take feature requests (and such) only from its paying customer. Meeks wrote it in the mailing list some weeks ago (I’d have to re-check for exact details/phrasing). I didn’t not write “available”, so you merely put words in my mouth and attack a straw man.

    Go to go-oo.org and download it yourself for free. Several distros now include that build over the mainline build.

    Again, I did not say “available”. I am aware of all this, but I was talking about ‘protection’.

    Next you criticize Novell for adding OOXML support. That isn’t a lie, but it is rather manipulative as a statement. Mainline OOo has added OOXML support as well.

    But when? I encourage you to follow the hyperlink above ( http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/23/novell-helps-ooxml-2/ ).

    And importing/exporting Microsoft documents is the number one most requested feature for OOo. If you can’t read Microsoft documents, you can’t really enable people to change. You act as if adding the ability to open OOXML documents is inherently evil, when in fact it enables users to move away from MS Office if they so desire.

    See the remark above. This goes back to confrontations with GNOME, too.

    I have no sympathy for Microsoft. They routinely get away with breaking the law (such as attempted bribing of Nigerian government officials over a shipment of Classmate PCs, and their recent abuse of ISO). However, I believe in focusing on facts rather than lies.

    Same here.

    Microsoft has a horrid, horrid track record. Yet, they are doing a few good things these days, and the people try to spin those good things into some propaganda war.

    Microsoft is in the business of making money. If it does good things, it typically has a purpose. Let’s not be naive, especially after seeing Microsoft deceiving and betraying partners in this way _for decades_. Take our word for it and be patient; you’ll see the consequences later. Watch what others have said.

    “I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”

    Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

    “He [Bill Gates] is divisive. He is manipulative. He is a user. He has taken much from me and the industry.”

    Gary Kildall

    Has it ever occurred to you that not every employee in that company is some deranged villain?

    You said “employee”, not “boss”. There’s a big difference here. I urge you to read http://boycottnovell.com/2007/12/01/antitrust-letters-doj/

    Microsoft’s conduct as a corporation and a manufacturer of computing products, is predicated upon an internal policy of deception, which includes deceiving customers, deceiving competitors, deceiving partners, deceiving its own vendors, and at some level, deceiving its own staff.

    Yes, its own staff, too.

    When they do things like this, the community should be responsive and foster more behavior like this. The author basically suggests that Ramji was attacked so we’d sympathize with him, and this was some brilliant manipulation on Microsoft’s part. Except Microsoft didn’t predetermine that he’d be attacked.

    That’s not correct. He said so too a week ago.

    The only manipulation going on here is this article.

    As I wrote in this post, that’s just what they try to achieve. They’ll use criticism of the “man smiling and offering gifts” to criticise the critics (of Microsoft). If that was Ballmer or Martin Taylor up there instead of Ramji (Hilf ran away months ago), would you feel the same way?

    People need to drop bias and look at facts.

    You chose not to listen and not to ask questions, either. The arguments made above still stand. You just shoot them along with the messenger.

    I’m pedantic. I don’t miss words like that. The article is assigning motivation and making accusations with nothing to back it up. Nothing in this article suggests he has means, motive or reason to steal. Last time I checked, almost the entire GNU/Linux stack is GPL which you can’t just “steal” even if he wanted to.

    I try to warn about the man’s purpose, the man’s role; Not about his personal biases (I’m sure he’s paid very well to tolerate the abuse). He inherited the role of people whose motives are obvious. Remember Bill Hilf? The “Linux man” of Microsoft who was “so nice and lovable”? He was a different man behind the scenes.

    “The Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007.”

    Bill Hilf (Microsoft’s ‘Linux Guy’), May 2007

    By the way, Microsoft appears to have shot down the article containing this. It was in the Bangkok Times, IIRC.

    Later he also took part in Microsoft’s FUD attack on GNU/Linux (2007). He left after he had received lots of spam (subscribed for by others) and hate mail. With the Ramji PR role they are being more careful. They try to get the squirrel close enough without scaring it away and so far they have had quite a few projects sell out (e.g. XenSource, Zend and more).

  10. Daniel Strindberg said,

    August 1, 2008 at 2:37 am

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    The plan Microsoft has is to convert popular open source projects to run on Windows. Their intention is no doubt that they should run only on Windows or atleast run better on it.

    The goal is still that you shall have no other god than Microsoft and their toolchain, thus being locked into their wishes and the three letter acronyms of the day.

    I feel most bad about the poor sods that believe Microsoft because they are destined for a real rough awakening. I dont know a single company that has benefit the least from working with Microsoft. A onetime quick fix and a year later a knife in the back seems to be standard procedure.

  11. T. J. Brumfield said,

    August 1, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Gravatar

    “His goal is to have FOSS projects deployed on Windows rather than on GNU/Linux, (Open)Solaris, *BSD, whatever…”

    His goal is interoperability? How evil.

    Wait, I thought the FOSS community has been asking for interoperability for years. We want Windows protocols and apps to work better with Linux, but you’re arguing it is evil if they’re doing exactly that.

    As I said on Slashdot, just as Windows shouldn’t be the only choice, Linux shouldn’t be the only choice. We’re multiplatform in my company, but we have a lot of proprietary, industry specific software that is Windows only. I encourage the use of FOSS, but quite frankly that FOSS has to play nice on Windows, or we can’t use it since almost all of our systems are Windows.

    If I ask my manager to move the entire company to move to Linux I get scoffed at. However, I’ve got my company seriously looking at migrating to OpenOffice because within our corporation we’ve got users all the way from Word 95 to Office 2007, and they can’t share files. The economy is down, and people don’t want to pay for Office licenses.

    Even the cheap “volume” license I just priced is $366 per seat. Try buying 1,000 seats of that at once. You’re talking $366,000. Or install OpenOffice for free.

    When people make small changes like that, it starts to open their minds to benefits of FOSS, and they’ll consider it more in the future. Better enabling FOSS on Windows is a good thing.

    Trying to force people into a paradigm that the stack must be 100% pure is antagonistic, and removes choice from the user.

    As for Novell and OOo, I’ve emailed Meeks and he is always really nice to talk to. He has gone on record saying that the Linux version should always be as nice as the Windows version. The upstream OOo has quickstart on Windows, but not Linux, so he developed a quickstart for Linux. He focused largely on Bdirect patches for binutils to improve Linux performance. A recent interview a couple days ago focused on improving how widgets are handled with GTK.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 9:35 am

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    His goal is interoperability? How evil.

    It’s not about interoperability/compatibility though. It’s about optimising software like PHP (maybe Apache) so that Windows is chosen at the expense of other platforms. There’s also the chance of ‘enhancing’ software to make it dependent on proprietary, Windows-only modules, which then imperil portability (e.g. from Windows to another platform). It’s the infamous embrace and extend, can’t you see? Just watch how they try to suck OOo users into OOXML, which they already ‘extend’.

  13. Jose_X said,

    August 1, 2008 at 12:58 pm

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    T. J. Brumfield,

    It’s essentially impossible to get full interoperability even when you want to if you do NOT share source code.

    Monopolysoft would lose out if they (were able to and) provided full interoperability. They don’t want to lose their monopolies because the stock will crash and who knows what else. [Monopolysoft has played around with derivatives before so their might actually be a nasty chain reaction.] Besides the stock, the company would start losing serious money unless they cut back significantly in expenses and well… it would be downhill for all of the Dinosoft owning stockholders from there out.

    Now, if Monopolysoft really wanted interop, they would show source code [the actual source code] and they would “promise” not to show you one thing but change it. I would not take their word, naturally. I’d simply want the free-toolchain-compatible source, and when I had Windows up and running well, I would say “they followed through.. now all DIYers can stop paying for a Windows OS.” This is not going to happen though. [It's a wonder of nature that source code can actually be changed very easily.. it's also a wonder of nature that a group of humans can easily keep secrets and mislead another group only to spring (parts of) the surprise changes at the last minute.] Monopolysoft’s monopolies require closed source and deception and bugs and tiers of quality code and switcheroos etc. Monopolysoft needs to ship closed source products that no one can see and which they control.

    Monopolysoft needs open source on Windows. It’s one of the few weapons they have for holding back Linux.

    If a company doesn’t want to change to Linux, I say, let them keep going along their merry Monopolysoft path. I will be smiling further on down the race when they do switch or get bought out cheaply. You can’t save someone that doesn’t need or think they need any type of saving. If they are happy, why would I want to interfere?

    OO.o on Windows is not open source because the functions of that application on Windows constantly are interacting with closed source software controlled by a single Monopolysoft and changeable very readily (“soft” ware and closed).

    Think about it. All calls to the “kernel” (and even interrupts out of OO.o’s control) invoke closed source functions. OO.o on Windows is not open source. There are no guarantees about what it will do the next time it runs; hence, I don’t support it. End users don’t have control. Not to mention that supporting Windows with FOSS app level ports helps sustain the Windows monopoly — something I consider dangerous when you consider how much of value in all areas of society run on software out of our control.

    My feeling about OO.o on Windows is that it can be a short-term Good Thing IF it is taking sales from the major money earner that is MSO (and help crack that monopoly), but I am not convinced OO.o on Windows is a good idea for Linux growth. People would change to run Linux just for OO.o (firefox, etc) if they could only get access to OO.o on Linux. [Not everyone would change or change right away, but many would. And those not changing would take Linux a lot more seriously and plan future investments accordingly].

    I think once Google, Sun, and others believe that development on Linux for the average developer will be easy (and will have achieved a significant uptick in mindshare and projects.. something that is happening), they will start to withdraw quality support for Windows for the FOSS products they back.

    However, Novell has made their position clear. They want Monopolysoft to exist and they want to leverage the closeness and power of the monopolies since being the strategic doorman pays fine tips. Novell will keep giving out little bits of candy (assuming what you said was true) if that can help drive a community away from Sun and towards them.

    I have a preference for Sun over Novell because of their history and contributions, but long term I would not care too much … if and when Novell broke ties with Monopolysoft. Dump OOXML and the rest. If Novell can’t do that, I will not support them and will actually continue to actively oppose/shun them (to the extent I do already).

    Monopolysoft will go down when we all focus on open platforms (eg, Linux/LSB).

    Plus, the worse off Novell does, the more of a bad investment the Monopolysoft cash infusion will have turned out to be. The more difficult a time Novell has, the higher the price tag on future Monopolysoft investments of that sort. Naturally, Monopolysoft shops around because they want their “partners” to compete against each other since that helps drive the price down.

    The longer Monopolysoft doesn’t have their way completely, the higher the price on Monopolyware, and the closer we will be to the breaking point of the monopolies.

    As an advocate, invest in Linux and in the select tools that are the least likely to be bought out. If something gets bought out, at least it is costing someone a pretty penny. Not to mention that the community will fork and move away to allow that investment to rot.

    Sorry Novell. Next time, you should consider more carefully on which side of the fence you really want to be. Then again, the deal with Monopolysoft was likely a good move for the then existing crop of shareholders. As you might be able to tell, I was not and am not a major NOVL shareholder. [I have owned tiny amounts of NOVL for hours or maybe even days at a time.]

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 1:29 pm

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    Thanks, Jose, for the excellent insight. I just wish to draw attention to something which does not receive sufficient coverage: Novell’s OOo for Windows. It reminds me of Apple’s ‘mercy deal’ with Microsoft 10 years ago.

    For some information about this beast which is Novell’s OOo for Windows (incompatible with GNU/Linux, naturally), see:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/24/openoffice-compatibility/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/14/novell-openoffice/

    Same tricks with Apple?

    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/06/04/mac-2008-compatibility-mso07/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/30/novell-apple-deal-similarity/

  15. T. J. Brumfield said,

    August 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm

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    Their go-oo builds are incompatible with GNU/Linux? Funny, those are the default builds in openSUSE, Gentoo and other distros. I use those builds on Linux and Windows and have yet to notice a difference between them, save the Linux build offers me version 2.99, where as I only have 2.4.1 on Windows. But when I ran 2.4 for both, they acted the same.

    I did read your embedded links, in which again I noticed people in the comments completely debunking your claims.

    Keep your tin foil hat if you want it. Frankly I don’t care. I saw this blog linked from linuxtoday.com, and I will encourage them not to link to you in the future.

  16. Jose_X said,

    August 1, 2008 at 2:18 pm

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    When you have a monopoly position and you use closed source, you can call your format CUcKoo, OOXML, ODF, or whatever you like and what you put out will be the de facto standard.

    Because antitrust authorities are watching, OOXML is to be preferred by Monopolysoft. This is because OOXML is broken and full of loopholes. There will be a ton of incompatibilities for anyone not using Monopolysoft sanctioned API (their own, but to a lesser controlled degree, Novell’s, and maybe those of some other royalty paying partners). This will happen because of all the ambiguities and inconsistencies that exist with OOXML. OOXML needs to be broken by design. This way there will be many excuses to give to the antitrust cops when interop obviously fails among independent parties trying to decipher OOXML.

    They’d also prefer OOXML because their products are integrated tightly with it. Simply, it is much easier for them to support OOXML than ODF today in a competitive fashion because their products are designed around OOXML today and not ODF. They have billions invested towards the OOXML end already. They also have a huge lead over everyone else, not just with OOXML but with OOXML *extensions*. There are the legal extensions (new features) and there are also the de facto extensions since every single bug or implementation decision they make that contradicts the standard in any way (easy to do if the standard is already very broken) is a de facto extension (closed source at that). There will be many of these extensions.. and many likely designed for maximum effect of interop failures.

    They’d also prefer OOXML because they probably have many carefully designed patents around OOXML (like dotnet etc). Their goal would likely be to make it impossible to implement their extensions (post some degree of successful reverse-engineering of their closed implementation) without violating the official standard, thus losing out on the patent covenant. Those “lucky” few to have found some of the secrets will thus have become lawsuit targets. Pay to live or die.

    They’d also prefer it because they have more control over the future development of the official OOXML standard than over the official ODF standard. This helps ensure they can continue to develop OOXML “properly” based on what their $5 billion in R&D decides is best for preserving the monopolies.

    Thus, Monopolysoft gives away OOXML version X, but will use trade secrets, patents, and anything else to protect the actual “OOXML” they will use in their monopoly products. If you can’t figure it out, you can’t interoperate with the monopoly product. Their monopolies are protected. If you figure some secrets out, you then get to pay royalties to live a little longer independently of Monopolysoft API or else be sued to death. But upon a future update, you will find it will have been for little since the products will have changed (and with it many existing files that are opened and automatically resaved to include the new distinct secrets.. or maybe even resaved just by residing on a Monopoly Platform like Windows). Their monopolies are protected. People will learn that only Monopolysoft APIs will work decently. Thus people will stay on the treadmill. [Eventually this "good" API will break/fail, bitrot, miss security and feature updates, etc, if not "upgraded" after an expenditure of $$ (round and round we go).]

    ODF implementations currently can create extensions to anyone’s heart’s content legitimately according to the standard. But this little loophole may be closed at some point. What would remain would be a very decent standard. Even with the loophole, ODF is designed better to allow competing products and there exist open source implementations (even if not perfect). With its faults, ODF is a lot less palatable to Monopolysoft since the above OOXML benefits would not exist. Monopolysoft will eventually be able to extend ODF (ie, their products will produce ODF that won’t interoperate and they will have added OOXML-ish extensions.. as many as they want). I hope ODF will have had more of its loopholes closed by then, so that Monopolysoft’s ODF extension treck doesn’t become a walk in the park.

  17. Alex said,

    August 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Gravatar

    OOXML. It would be funny for Microsoft to claim their office package supported it and for trading standards to be given evidence to the contrary so that they had to publicise their lie or even better recall or refund people on the deceitful products:-)

    Oh I live to dream!

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Gravatar

    I use those builds on Linux and Windows and have yet to notice a difference between them…

    Ah. The perfect scientific proof. Rest your case.

    Parable: “I asked a couple of cab drivers who they vote for and both said Republicans, so McCain must be the next president.”

    Suffice to say, OOo on top of Windows is already tightly integrated to a proprietary software environment. It’s also ‘licensed’ to have particular fonts you cannot have on GNU/Linux.

  19. T. J. Brumfield said,

    August 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Gravatar

    I should send this link to Michael Meeks and let him respond directly. I’m sure he’d love to hear how feature requests are only granted to people who pay, and how is secretly forwarding the Microsoft agenda, even though almost all his efforts have been specifically for improving OOo on Linux.

  20. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Gravatar

    http://tools.openoffice.org/servlets/ReadMsg?list=dev&msgNo=6564

    Everything else that is applied to our product Novell offers L3 support for – if you find something broken, we will fix it (well, if you’re a paying customer – but we’re interested in bugs of course anyway).

  21. T. J. Brumfield said,

    August 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Gravatar

    Way to take half a sentence out of context, and ignore the fact that they submit bug fixes for free all the time. Meeks also repeatedly bemoans that he can’t submit more features and fixes upstream because Sun won’t take them.

    He was talking specifically about providing support for the go-oo patches on a dev build. Working as L3 support (which isn’t his job title anymore) technically his job was to provide support for paying customers, but he states “but we’re interested in bugs of course anyway”.

    I don’t pay for even L1 support, and he has kindly responded to all my requests.

    He then goes on to explain how he sees bug reports for up-stream problems come his way.

    Again, you ignore the facts (that he often provides support for free to those who contact him, and that he submits fixes upstream for free) and twist half a sentence out of context in the face of facts.

    Again, I should forward this to Meeks and let him respond directly. He’s a rather nice guy, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate the vicious slander you’re sending him.

  22. T. J. Brumfield said,

    August 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t know why I’m bothering. You’ve been cornered here into repeated, blatant lies.

    Also on the same subject, Novell continues bragging about its own version of OpenOffice.org. It won’t say out loud (with rare exceptions that it’s only for Novell’s paying customers.

    You state specifically that go-oo isn’t available unless you are a paying customer. Then you state you said support (which isn’t what you said).

    Does Sun provide free support? Does any company really provide free support?

    Novell offers a bugzilla, forums and irc, pretty much the same as anyone. And again, guys like Meeks respond very politely to direct email as well. So they provide more than reasonable free support.

    You repeatedly throw up random details talking about how Microsoft has this evil past.

    That is an absolute argument. It depends on the premise that everything they ever do is evil. That argument is not only silly on principle (absolutes generally don’t hold up), but easily debunked in a matter of seconds.

    Microsoft often does evil things. I was upset Novell struck a deal with them because of the precedent, that it enabled Microsoft to continue to spread patent FUD.

    Neither have any bearing on you attacking Ramji without merit, nor attacking Meeks and the go-oo team. This vitrol is unwarranted, petty and juvenile.

    Again, I intend to write to linuxtoday.com asking them not to link to content like this anymore. It just makes the FOSS community look bad.

  23. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Gravatar

    So you have some friends at Novell and you refuse to believe that they act selfishly to the exclusion of others. Fine. So attack the messenger. Try to put a stop to legitimate criticism. Misinterpret stuff I wrote and then attack a straw man. It’s easier.

  24. James Dixon said,

    August 1, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Gravatar

    > Even thinking that he wants to politely steal is an extreme over exageration.

    Now, that’s a valid criticism of the argument. Whether correct or not I’ll leave up to the readers to determine.

    > Perhaps you missed when I said

    I quoted what you said. It blatantly misstated the headline. For someone who argues the other side is lying, that’s no way to convince anyone. The fact that you changed your wording in a later post is immaterial to my point.

  25. Jose_X said,

    August 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Novell has staked out a position for itself that is risky to real FOSS and to those looking to break the monopolies and its locks. I am not going to justify their actions because they are a corp (even if these actions may make sense for their stockholders).

    We aren’t judging people. At their current jobs, I want Ramji, Ballmer, and many others to be very unsuccessful. These talented individuals can probably find other jobs rather easily if they want to.

    It is a sign of respect to give people the ability to break free from you. This is where most for-profit corps fail. It’s not all there is to it, but having more people enabled and respected generally is very good. Competition is good. It keeps people honest and more considerate. It keeps prices down and variety and quality up. I want these people to fail at their current jobs.

    Conversely, I want RMS, Linus, and many others to be very successful at their jobs. These people don’t have to be angels for me to wish them success here.

    When you see Ramji, tell him that he can find a great job in many other places. Tell him it isn’t personal that you have great reasons for wanting his employer to fail at its task.

    Roy has done a great job gathering a huge amount of material and analysis on Novell. If Novell gets off the fence and changes for the better, no small part of that will have been because of the heat kept on them.

    Novell can start to turn things around by dropping the part of their business plan that supports Monopolysoft “IP” position (this includes supporting Monopolysoft controlled standards). They should break away from Monopolysoft’s lead in dotnet (though better would have been to ignore dotnet and work on improving Java as necessary if necessary.. help Parrot, etc, ..if “managed” solutions are their thing).

    They should abandon OOXML (more like, “should have”). They could be putting pressure to improve ODF or other existing standards as necessary.

    Arguably Novell is doing some good things. Some might even argue that they are trying to get inside the monopolies and help break them apart. Unfortunately, we’d have to trust them. I like putting faith in things that are straightforward and aren’t relying on deception. “Trust me” is not good enough, especially when I have little reason to do so and I know their main priority, by law, is to maximize stockholder wealth. Are they taking a position that shunning the big cash and contracts from Monopolysoft is the best for the long-term benefit of the company? I don’t think they have. [They did do something very good by revealing their contract with Monopolysoft.. to the extent what they revealed accurately reflected the nature of the contract and wasn't intended to deceive.]

  26. Jose_X said,

    August 1, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Gravatar

    T. J. Brumfield,

    I put up two posts here that might be of interest http://www.linuxtoday.com/it_management/2008080102835NWMSRL

    [Read within the context of the Alfresco-Sharepoint story]

    The relationship to Novell is because I think Novell is being instrumental in helping to build and sell the Trojan Horse.

    They may be doing this on purpose (to leverage the monopolies for themselves, despite the setbacks it brings to the larger FOSS effort), or this result may be partially undesired by them as an unfortunate byproduct of the niche they have adopted with goals mainly to replace as much Monopolyware as possible with Linux.

    The evidence suggests that they are not being entirely forthright when the claim the latter, but who can really know? The point is they are doing the Wrong Thing in many ways.. hence the “boycott” by many in the FOSS world.

  27. karousiac said,

    August 2, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Gravatar

    It’s just the usual malevolent fact-twisting and utterly baseless insinuations from Roy S. here. No-one in his right mind takes this website for face-value. It’s slander.

  28. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Gravatar

    It’s only slander if it’s not true. You haven’t refuted my arguments as far as I can tell. Maybe there were a few small inaccuracies, but none are intentional.

  29. Mark Kent said,

    August 2, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Gravatar

    TJ Brumfield: You have repeatedly stated that you do not believe that Roy’s article is supported by the facts that he has gathered. Clearly, the LT editors do not agree with you, neither, indeed, do most of the responders here, including me.

    If you are correct, however, then surely you should have nothing to worry about? If you believe Roy to be correct, though, then I would recommend that you contact other sites in order to disuade them from linking to clearly correct information.

    Which is it, TJ? If he’s right, then you need to shut him up, if he’s wrong, then you can ignore, can’t you?

    You talk about foss and giving it a good name or not, but what appears to be your website shows no interest in foss at all.

    Or, is this another TJ B, and you’ve accidentally chosen his name?

    Ta,

    Mark

  30. TSPatterson said,

    August 4, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Gravatar

    Nice spin T. J. Brumfield.

    TJ>”Working with Samba is a good move.”
    TJ>”Opening protocols is a good move.”

    MS opened protocols to the Samba team because the EU FORCED them to. This wasn’t done from the ‘goodness’ of MS’ black little heart.

    TJ>”Opening source code is a good move.”

    Depends on the license. MS ‘open source’ is designed to bring the naive under the eventual control of MS.

    TJ>”Helping Moonlight work on Linux is a good move.”

    Whether or not they “help” is debatable. MS is counting on superficial people such as yourself. While MS did offer a blanket patent covenant for the use of Moonlight what they don’t readily tell us is that Moonlight depends on Mono libs which MS does consider to be infringing on their .NET patents.

    “That is false. Moonlight is usable for anyone on any distribution of Linux (redhat, ubuntu, etc.) — it is not limited just to Novell as Mono is.”
    -Brian Goldfarb [Microsoft]

    There you have it from Silverlight’s lead dev. So clearly MS believes that only Novell via the ‘patent covenant’ can use Mono. So this clearly tells us that since Moonlight depends on Mono libs, it is a potential patent trap.

    TJ>”Allowing the Mono team to own all the copyrights on their code is a good move.”

    So now you think that FOSS devs must seek MS’ permission to retain copyright to the code they write? How on earth does MS “allow” the Mono team to own the copyright of the code the Mono team wrote? This is pure ignorance.

    TJ>”Promising not to sue on patents associated with their opened protocols is a good move.”

    Once again, thank the EU for this. Although I’m sure MS would like the mindless sheep to parrot that it was a voluntary MS gesture.

    I don’t know why I even wasted time replying to you except for the fact that there may be others who equal you in ignorance reading this who should have all of the facts.

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