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10.12.08

Microsoft/Novell Fork OpenOffice.org and Insult Sun, Warn Your Distributor Now

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Meeks is not “just a hacker,” he’s just a hijacker

This may sound like old news [1, 2, 3, 4], but we can assure you that it’s not. In fact, just over a year ago Groklaw was scolded for suggesting Novell had been into a proper fork, yet the reality has since then proven this assessment to be absolutely correct, some would say prophetic.

Novell has turned their downstream build system at OO-Build into a fork of OpenOffice.org into which they are pushing Microsoft’s OOXML support and in which they make improvements to OO.o which aren’t often upstreamed to the main project. In particular, this isolates all improvements that are themselves made by contributors on most Linux platforms that use Novell’s build system, including Debian. They’ve also started a campaign against OpenOffice.org with the forked code, at go-ooo.org where they promote their (down-level) version as better than OO.o and take potshots at it. we covered some examples before.

“OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler.”OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler. Novell is hijacking OOo in the practical sense, probably for further embedment of Microsoft intellectual monopolies and hooks that only Novell is legally allowed to distribute (to paying customers).

Novell doesn’t speak about this sinister behaviour publicly, but it sure throws a lot of mud and FUD at Sun Microsystems or its Free software products at the moment (even Java [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). We mentioned this very briefly a day ago, but we won’t link to actual examples as that would feed Novell’s insidious messages.

We have warned since the very beginning that people should boycott Novell, for it is now paid by Microsoft and therefore helps it attack a major threat to Microsoft’s cash cow. Microsoft does not want OpenOffice.org to stay free. It can’t compete on these terms.

Novell error message

To make matters worse, with go-ooo.org being guerrilla-marketed, there’s more ‘poisoning’. For instance, they push Mono into KDE distributions in this way. Novell’s paymasters in Redmond must be delighted about it. They stay aside grinning — for now.

Readers are encouraged to take immediate action in order to prevent Novell and Microsoft from gaining control of OpenOffice.org (especially on GNU/Linux) under the guise of “we’re just hackers and the fact Novell pays us (in part Microsoft money) is irrelevant.” This pattern of “we’re just hackers” is also used by them to prevent looking like a corporate aggressor and the Mono team does the very same thing while taking control of GNU/Linux — for Novell, as “a community” (some of whom actually work for Microsoft or are on Microsoft’s payroll).

“That’s choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft.”Consider petitioning your distribution’s developers (or leader) to drop Novell’s fork of OpenOffice.org. Inability to do so often means a default choice of go-ooo.org. That’s choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft. OpenOffice.org is vast.

We thought about writing an open letter, but maybe others can do this better, stressing that Novell and Microsoft are harming Java (GPL) and promoting .NET/Mono, which helps the erosion of control and the introduction of patent issues — software patents whose holder openly threatens Free software.

This is a serious risk and it needs to be responded to. Novell was already fighting ODF adoption by doing its duty of supporting and promoting Microsoft OOXML. Microsoft paid Novell for it.

Bad Novell

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86 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:23 am

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    Another old canard. Michael isn’t campaigning for a fork of OOo, he’s campaigning for a better OOo. You can’t castigate Novell for not upstreaming patches; it’s Sun who is refusing them (e.g. Kohei’s solver).

    Another dangerous attack on free software from boycott novell :(

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:33 am

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    Another dangerous attack on free software from boycott novell

    Another attack by Alex Hudson on a site Alex Hudson dislikes. Your presence here seems to have become an obsession.

  3. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:39 am

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    Defending free software is an obsession, coming here not so much. However, while you continue to attack it seems that it must be done.

    Do you want to try to defend your attack on free software, or just make ad hominem arguments?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:44 am

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    Your claims totally ignore Sun’s side (and some OpenOffice.org volunteers) whose blogs I read. Novell is using some manufactured confrontation as an excuse to hijack and pollute OOo. This was shown over a year ago.

    And I don’t buy the “it’s just a Meeks” thing.

    This is just a “community”-like front that acts a shield to Novell. Same with Mono. Mono *is* Novell. OpenSUSE is Novell. They use moral shields to conceal these relationships.

  5. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:49 am

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    Sorry? What side of Sun do I ignore? I value and appreciate their huge efforts into making OOo available.

    However, they’re not a Linux distributor, and I don’t expect them to maintain OOo readily for Linux users. That’s what Go-OO is for, and which is why all distributions use it.

    Given that you seem unwilling to defend your accusations about upstreaming, here’s a question. You raise the OOXML problem again, but you neglect to tell your readers that Sun’s OOo also has OOXML support, which Sun developed, and they get it when they download OOo 3.0. Why is that, Roy?

  6. Chris said,

    October 12, 2008 at 10:49 am

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    Oh Boy … :D You somehow completely fail to understand the purpose of go-ooo.

    1. It is simply not true that go-ooo doesn’t try to push changes upstream. If you claim it is please provide some proof cause the go-ooo devs as well as the OpenOffice ones say the opposite.

    2. How Novell is a spoiler or how they try to “hijack” oo is beyond me and your “article” (unsurprisingly) doesn’t show any proofs / arguments for this either.

    3. Regardless if Mono is evil or not (afaik it is based on an open standard part of .Net): I have the latest go-ooo installed and it works just fine although I don’t have a single mono package installed. So your claim that go-ooo is trying to sneak Mono into the [KDE] desktop is, once again, not true.

    4. Regarding that open letter: Please write one! So many more people than the few that frequent your site have something to laugh. Who knows, perhaps you even find new zealots this way ;)

    So, to sum it up, every single claim in this “article” is simply wrong. If you disagree please come up with some proofs (and no, a link to another “article” of yours isn’t what I consider a proof).

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:05 am

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    However, they’re not a Linux distributor, and I don’t expect them to maintain OOo readily for Linux users.

    In my eyes, Sun is more of a Linux company than Novell. Laugh all you want, but Novell just wants to replace GNU/Linux with “SUSE” (.NET and all). We’ve been through this before.

    Given that you seem unwilling to defend your accusations about upstreaming, here’s a question. You raise the OOXML problem again, but you neglect to tell your readers that Sun’s OOo also has OOXML support, which Sun developed, and they get it when they download OOo 3.0. Why is that, Roy?

    Again, we’ve been through this before. Novell supported OOXML in 2006 when it was nowhere in sight. Sun’s reluctant move was one of desperation, which resulted in part from Novell’s help to OOXML.

    How quickly you rewrite history…

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

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    1. It is simply not true that go-ooo doesn’t try to push changes upstream. If you claim it is please provide some proof cause the go-ooo devs as well as the OpenOffice ones say the opposite.

    See http://boycottnovell.com/2008/07/17/novell-openoffice-control-freak/

    2. How Novell is a spoiler or how they try to “hijack” oo is beyond me and your “article” (unsurprisingly) doesn’t show any proofs / arguments for this either.

    They try to have go-ooo installed at the expense of guess-what.

    3. Regardless if Mono is evil or not (afaik it is based on an open standard part of .Net): I have the latest go-ooo installed and it works just fine although I don’t have a single mono package installed. So your claim that go-ooo is trying to sneak Mono into the [KDE] desktop is, once again, not true.

    The question of “standard” does not matter for reasons we’ve explained before. As for KDE, you obviously did not follow the link which is anchored on the claim.

  9. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

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    Rewriting history? Sun’s “move in desperation” was started well before OOXML was standardised, so don’t blame Novell for that, thanks.

    Sun being a “Linux company” is a new one though. I wish they were (not that I have anything against Solaris…)

  10. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:25 am

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    @Roy:

    All due respect, but I think the article at http://boycottnovell.com/2008/07/17/novell-openoffice-control-freak/ is essentially incorrect.

    Michael’s statement about upstream suffering bugs that Go-OO users don’t suffer is a statement about the speed at which patches are applied: he’s making a comment about the conservatism of upstream. That’s not withholding code; it just takes an extremely long time for changes to get put through.

    OOo is based on CVS (and, soon, SVN). “Forking” such a project carries an extremely high cost in terms of maintenance. It’s not in Novell’s interest to withhold code, particularly since their competitors are using their code anyway.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:34 am

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    Maybe you should discuss that with people from both sides of this argument. You seem to have been painted grateful to Go-OOo by Novell (&friends).

    Mind you, Novell is slinging mud at OOo. But it’s hiding behind “hackers”.

  12. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:43 am

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    Free Software needs Open Formats, as do just about any other (Non-MS) packages. Novell is poisoning the commons here. In this case it is by pushing a broken version of OpenOffice tainted with encumbered formats.

    Promoting yet another encumbered data format helps no one, not even closed source products (except MS). Rather, it makes a further mess of the masses of legacy formats that we have to deal with.

    OpenDocument is an essential first step towards a universal office format.

  13. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

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    No, actually, I appreciate both sides. I appreciate the huge effort and investment Sun make in OOo, which outweighs everyone else’s contribution put together.

    But that’s also not a healthy position for a project to be in. Michael’s right, because outside Novell, very few people or companies are making substantial contributions.

    Would you not agree that it would be best that Sun set up an OpenOffice Foundation instead of reserving the right to issue proprietary versions?

  14. Technie said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Gravatar

    http://www.tuxdeluxe.org/node/184

    On the Novell website, there is a page dedicated to the company’s Distinguished Engineers. One of these is Michael Meeks, a Cambridge graduate who began his Linux career at GNOME desktop start-up Ximian, and now works as part of Novell’s OpenOffice.org team.

  15. Technie said,

    October 12, 2008 at 11:54 am

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    http://www.gnome.org/~michael/

  16. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 12:13 pm

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    [quote]Novell is hijacking OOo in the practical sense, probably for further embedment of Microsoft intellectual monopolies and hooks that only Novell is legally allowed to distribute (to paying customers).[/quote]

    Could you please provide a link to a Novell site where this is clearly written? It seems to me that, being the licensing LGPL, the distribution is completely free.

    For your information, go-oo is distributed for free in openSUSE, and it is used by other distributions too.

    Regards,
    A.

  17. Duarte said,

    October 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

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    @AlexH,

    “Another dangerous attack on free software from boycott novell”

    Can’t you see the real atack is being made by go-oo implementing OOXML?

    Just open your eyes

  18. Chris said,

    October 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Gravatar

    I read that link Roy and it basically states that there is support for plugins written in Mono which don’t work if Mono isn’t installed. That is not really surprising …

    However, no one is forcing you to install Mono if you don’t like to do so since it is not required for any core functionality but merely to offer the choice to use plugins written in Mono. Choice is terrible, isn’t it … ;P

    I also read that other “article” of yours which basically is as bad / wrong as they usually are. E.g. do you really think that Novell isn’t pushing fixes made to upstream OpenOffice upstream? Meeks statement simply means the stuff gets fixed for Novell customers now while core OpenOffice users have to wait till upstream applies the fix and releases a new version. Which is absolutely obvious if one doesn’t give his best to interpret it wrong.

    Also it’s up to the distributions to choose if they offer core OpenOffice or go-ooo. Nearly all offer go-ooo since it adds more functionality that isn’t yet available in the upstream project. And since go-ooo is based upon core OpenOffice I really wouldn’t call it “hijacking”. If this would be the case then Ubuntu would “hijack” Debian …

    Since you really seem to be unable to grasp the concept behind go-ooo I will try to explain it to you in simple words: go-ooo extends OpenOffice and provides additional functionality which isn’t available in the upstream product yet. They try to push their changes upstream as well but not everything gets accepted (for whatever reason) and it is a pretty cumbersome & bureaucratic process sometimes.

  19. AlexH said,

    October 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm

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    @Duarte: download OpenOffice.org 3.0 from Sun. You’ll find it has OOXML support.

  20. luke said,

    October 12, 2008 at 1:02 pm

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    The ability to fork a project is the fundamental right at the heart of open source software. If you have a problem with it, you have a problem with OSS, Roy.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Gravatar

    There are benign forks and more malicious forks (I could give example). Given Novell’s submission to Microsoft, I wouldn’t be too willing to let Novell control an office suites in GNU/Linux, which is hardly replaceable. This fork is already being used to promote Microsoft in a variety of ways, even at OOo’s expense.

  22. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s amazing how quick the fanboise crawl out. Never mind that an action is louder than words and if you act unethically and morally, no amount of, “well it’s legal”, would make it right.

    Therefore asking for “concrete proof” to assuage your consciense is rationalization into questionable behaviour; that’s obviously transparent.

  23. bob said,

    October 12, 2008 at 4:38 pm

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    Let me get this straight: Novell implements OOXML support into a forked OO.o distribution. Therefore, Novell is insulting Sun.

    Have I got it correct? If so, what would happen if Novell actually got their changes ported into the official OO.o? The headline would probably read something like: “Microsoft has won a major victory against Sun”.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 4:40 pm

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    bob,

    No, the insults are separate. I just didn’t link to them (for obvious reasons). It’s an ongoing thing.

  25. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Gravatar

    [quote]There are benign forks and more malicious forks (I could give example). [/quote]

    That’s true. This is a “fork” done to add functionalities, which are not only related to OOXML support, by the way. Since when adding functionalities to improve the usability for the end user is negative? Btw, as said by others, OOXML support is implemented also by SUN.

    [quote]Given Novell’s submission to Microsoft, I wouldn’t be too willing to let Novell control an office suites in GNU/Linux, which is hardly replaceable. [/quote]

    Novell didn’t ask for control on OpenOffice suite, but to create a more meritocratic and less burocratic foundation to make OpenOffice progress. I think it’s under everyone eyes that OpenOffice development is not exactly lightning fast and efficient. It tool more than 6 years to have a decent graph tool in calc, and we are not yet close to Excel level, for example.

    [quote]This fork is already being used to promote Microsoft in a variety of ways, even at OOo’s expense. [/quote]

    Again, proofs please :-)

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s true. This is a “fork” done to add functionalities, which are not only related to OOXML support, by the way. Since when adding functionalities to improve the usability for the end user is negative? Btw, as said by others, OOXML support is implemented also by SUN.

    Please don’t ignore the earlier responses regarding timing and motivation.

    Novell didn’t ask for control on OpenOffice suite, but to create a more meritocratic and less burocratic foundation to make OpenOffice progress. I think it’s under everyone eyes that OpenOffice development is not exactly lightning fast and efficient. It tool more than 6 years to have a decent graph tool in calc, and we are not yet close to Excel level, for example.

    That’s the excuse propagated by Novell — a convenient excuse for Novell to use to sieze control of (some of) the project.

    [quote]This fork is already being used to promote Microsoft in a variety of ways, even at OOo’s expense. [/quote]

    Again, proofs please

    It’s already covered in the body of the post.

  27. Paulo C said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m really asking myself now why the hell I’m reading this crazy dude blog.. but whatever..

    OpenOffice has serious problems and just because someone inside Novell pointed out these problems you go nuts thinking that it’s a conspiracy from Microsoft to destroy open source? Common…

    just kidding :)

    Seriously now, despite that Mono nonsense, Novell has done great things for the Linux community (you can thank Novell for that compiz thing), and today it’s a great open source collaborator, indeed, they contribute more to Linux than an army of “Roys” who only knows how to difame people that work hard and rant all day long

  28. Xanadu said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Gravatar

    I find it amazing how the Novell apologists would defend Novell with such zealotry that they even defend Novell in this situation, go-ooo has become such a total embarrassment, that even the most pragmatic non-OS-caring Linux user is despised of this attempt from Novell to get even more control than they have already by pushing an ooo fork that was never justified other than for the whole “We Novell deserve all control” inner thinking Novell got.

    OOH wait, I forgot that Novell paid some devs to submit patches and therefore NOVELL ARE FREAKING UNTOUCHABLE DON’T EVER DARE TO CRITIZICE TEHM !!!!!!!!1111111

  29. Xanadu said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Novell didn’t ask for control on OpenOffice suite, but to create a more meritocratic and less burocratic foundation to make OpenOffice progress

    Wow, people actually buy that BS, amazing.

  30. Xanadu said,

    October 12, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh and AlexH is such an obvious shill, I hope people are not taking that guy any seriously. Back when the whole ISO take over, there he was supporting OOXML as if it was the second coming.

  31. Ian said,

    October 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Gravatar

    @Xanadu

    Oh and AlexH is such an obvious shill, I hope people are not taking that guy any seriously. Back when the whole ISO take over, there he was supporting OOXML as if it was the second coming.

    Got a link or evidence to that support? It’s a serious question, not trying to discount your claim on its face.

    Beyond that though, regardless if you think he’s a shill or not, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who has been able discount much of what he has said on this site without having to try and question his background or why he posts on this site. If he says something you disagree with, bring someone other than his background. It’s a useless tinfoil hat stance if you go to the shill argument.

  32. Ian said,

    October 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Gravatar

    that even the most pragmatic non-OS-caring Linux user is despised of this attempt from Novell to get even more control than they have already by….

    Please tell me what OO.org has to do with Linux. Moreover, do you really think an end user who barely give a crap about what OS they might be using would really care about forks and OSS political bickering? Take a step back from the blogs and news groups for a second and realize the end users don’t care. In fact, they care so little that Microsoft’s monopolistic business tactics clearly aren’t enough to stop them from paying top dollar for MS Office products.

  33. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Gravatar

    So, if a group of devs decided to fork opensuse , to
    create a more meritocratic and less burocratic foundation to
    make opensuse progress,
    that would be OK also; right?

  34. AlbertoP said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy: You wrote “That’s the excuse propagated by Novell — a convenient excuse for Novell to use to sieze control of (some of) the project.” referring to my comment about the efficiency in OpenOffice development.

    You probably need to read some posts in OpenOffice bug tracker, to see that there have been requests of functionalities for years without productive answers. Actually various users, me included, offered to support their development for what possible and to work together with the developers, but it was not accepted. Personally I have never received a comment different from “do it yourself”.
    I will provide you some examples regarding calc:

    1) Error bars in plots – Opened in 2001 – Closed in 2008
    http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=366

    2) Trendline plots – Opened in 2002 – Closed in 2008 – Not yet at the level of Excel – http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=5289

    3) Trendline equations – Opened in 2002 – Closed in 2008 and not complete yet
    http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=7998

    Of course they are specific examples, but these three functionalities together with various others kept OpenOffice out of schools and universities for 7 years. Search a bit, and you will find out a lot more.

    Novell added a lot of useful functionalities like multimedia support, VBA macro support, a very nice solver which was really necessary for various complex applications, better diagram rendering and so on. What Novell did is not at all limited to OOXML support. And it has been done in a reasonable time frame.

    [quote]
    It’s already covered in the body of the post.
    [/quote]

    In the post you write your point of view. I asked for proofs of Novell and MS trying to go against OO.org. I still don’t see any. You might say Novell is trying to go against the current status of OO.org, and there are good reasons for that, considering the extremely slow development of OpenOffice. But going against the core office suite of Linux is not really what Novell is doing. Of course if you don’t consider improving a product an attempt to kill it.

    @xISO_ZWT: forking opensuse to make it better on a more meritocratic foundation would have nothing wrong. It’s the spirit of OSS. I have only one doubt: it would be hard to put together a good enough group of developers to replace the current development team in suse ;-)

  35. aeshna23 said,

    October 12, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy, I’m not sure what to think. I usually use Frugalware linux, but I noticed that Miklos one of the main frugalware developers is also one of the “people behind go-oo.org”. Obviously, I removed mono from my install of frugalware. But after learning this factiod, should I now go on to another distro like Fedora or Pardus to escape the taint of Novell? I know you can’t answer this question for me, but do you have any thoughts?

  36. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 3:37 am

    Gravatar

    There’s an attempt to shift some control from Sun over to Novell and given the chances of Novell being acquired (it’s already exploited by Microsoft in exchange for a lifeline), there’s degradation of trust.

  37. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Gravatar

    If we’re talking about chances of being acquired, maybe take a look at Sun’s stock price. I’m not sure I put as much store in them as you do, but whereas NOVL has halved over the last year (8->4 roughly) JAVA has completely collapsed (25->5).

    (actually, the chances of them merging…. not so bad…)

    But anyway, that’s not really the point. Novell don’t want “control”, they want a way of getting their patches merged. If Sun accepted their patches, or setup a Foundation, that would solve most of the problems.

  38. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Gravatar

    If my memory serves me right ( http://boycottnovell.com/2007/10/13/no-openofficeorg-fork-if-sun-relinquishes-control/ ), the question of control is still lingering and the company threatened the most by OOo is Microsoft. Letting its close and dependent partner have control is too dangerous. There is already the example of Mono, OOXML and accompanying licensing issues. Don’t forget that Novell continues to demote Linux desktops:
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/03/14/novell-openoffice/

  39. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Gravatar

    You keep mentioning OOXML and Mono as if Novell is the only company developing that. Sun has many more engineers working on OOXML, as you know, and the official ODF toolkit has .net support on Windows and Mono.

    It’s not a fork, either. A fork is a divergence. Go-OO closely tracks upstream, so cannot be a fork.

  40. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:00 am

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    You keep mentioning OOXML and Mono as if Novell is the only company developing that.

    Mono comes from Novell and Novell is the catalyst for OOXML development (back in 2006).

    It’s not a fork, either.

    It is a fork. Your sources might not be up to date.

  41. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Gravatar

    By the definition I gave (which is the usual one), it is not a fork.

    An example of a fork would be Pidgin versus Empathy: same original code base, but no longer developed together.

    Go-OO is based on OpenOffice.org and tracks it version-for-version. This is just a patchset; sometimes patches eventually get applied upstream, sometimes they stay in Go-OO (and not just because Sun won’t accept them).

    That doesn’t make it a fork.

  42. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:19 am

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    You should speak to Sun. Their assessment of this is different, so you are spreading misinformation. Trust me, they understand it better.

  43. Paulo C said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:22 am

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    Look! That mad guy even have fanboys! (Xanadu)

    This is indeed very funny! The only part that isn’t so funny is that there are people that believes all this crap, and this is really really bad for the open source community..

    And this Roy seems to be the most stubborn people is the world, when someone post valid arguments against his claims he just put a big wall in front of his eyes and ignore it, and the most funny part, he references himself to prove his right!!!

    Ah common..

  44. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:23 am

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    Do you want to cite something? Or is this another private e-mail?

  45. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:48 am

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    Alex, I will ask for permission to quote.

  46. Daniel Watkins said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:55 am

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    @Roy:
    So, the way Go-OO works when building it is to:
    * download the upstream OpenOffice source
    * apply patches to it
    * build the patched sources

    That’s not a fork, regardless of what you claim, that’s a patched version of the same source code.

  47. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Gravatar

    That would be appreciated.

    I have a hard time believing that it’s such a big fork when you see Sun engineers on the Go-oo mailing lists.

    I don’t have a hard time believing that Sun and Novell are goading each other over this issue, because it’s important, and the correct solution (imho) is an OpenOffice.org Foundation.

  48. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Gravatar

    Well, I’ve sent out an E-mail to Sun’s VP and if I receive a response, I’ll post it here. You seem to find me an easier target for a message to be shot down. I’m sure all your nitpicking (some of which by Novell employees like the one I argue with in IRC at the moment) permits you to pooh-pooh my credibility. That’s what you appear to be here for.

  49. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Gravatar

    You’ll notice that I don’t make any statements about you; I make statements about the things you say.

    In this instance, inciting people to agitate against a free software project is something I’m very much against. You’re painting Go-OO as a fork, when anyone with a SVN browser can clearly see that it isn’t a fork, and the features you claim to be against are present in the upstream version anyway.

  50. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Gravatar

    I have it confirmed from Sun that go-ooo.org is a fork. I’ve just asked:

    Some people insist that Novell never forked OOo. Can you please shed light on this or at least confirm this is a fork?

    Simon Phipps responded quite promptly:


    OO-Build started life as a downstream intermediary run by Novell because the Sun engineers were impossible to deal with. It was mainly used by the Linux builds so that non-specialist maintainers could engage with the code without having to touch the Sun engineers. I’d assert that I have been able to address the issues that caused this problem and if they’ve not gone away they are certainly hugely mitigated and on the way to fixing.

    About 2 years ago, there was an intervention because IBM wanted to start participating. The main contributors met and discussed what they wanted to happen. The overall activity was a long story, but the result was that as both IBM and Red Flag 2000 in China joined the development community, there was a loss of trust on behalf of some Novell staff. The result has been that they used the code at OO-Build to create the http://www.go-ooo.org web site where they offer both builds of OpenOffice (including Windows builds and, in their NeoOffice downstream, Mac builds) and spin-prone criticism of the OpenOffice.org community.

    Novell also reversed his decision around the OO.o use of the Sun contributor agreement (SCA) to aggregate copyright, on the grounds they doesn’t trust Sun to use the aggregated copyright wisely. Note that the aggregated copyright has been used for the community twice in the last 4 years, once (arguably) to drop SISSL as a dual license and once to adopt LGPLv3 instead of LGPLv2. Without the aggregated copyright the second action in particular would have been very hard indeed, and any similar actions would be impossible. (Sun has also needed the aggregated copyright to support some customers unable to deal with LGPL – this gets OpenOffice.org code used more widely and investment funnelled into the community. There’s no part of OpenOffice/StarOffice that is a big earner for Sun).

    Again, I believe I’ve influenced the team to address any concerns around the SCA by focussing on the add-on system which is being very effective at allowing innovative development without the need to engage the core code. The SCA is still needed for any change to the core code, but it’s now very easy to build OO.o features that don’t need to be submitted under the SCA but which can be made available as add-ons.

    The result of this is that go-oo.org is definitely a hostile and competitive fork of OpenOffice.org, and OO-Build is no longer a helpful downstream since it no longer upstreams much of anything (especially for Mac), small changes excepted. Unlike Groklaw I’d still hesitate to call OO-Build a fork, but Go-OO is unmistakably one, just look at the web site, the Windows build and the rhetoric.

    The motivation for Go-OO being hosted and promoted by Novell and its staff seems unmistakable to me, as does the fact it is a Novell-sponsored fork. They are promoting Microsoft’s flakey XSLT-based OOXML support, they are isolating Linux from OpenOffice.org (so that no-one in the main OpenOffice.org community is able to get support contracts from Linux users). And it is all cleverly wrapped in a community-friendly story about hackers and their freedom and evil, controlling Sun, delivered without interference from Novell corporate.


    Note: message edited.

  51. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Gravatar

    Wow, that’s pretty stinging. I wonder why Simon isn’t blogging this.

    Y’see, here’s my problem. Ooo-build and Go-OO are basically the same thing (ooo-build is the software, go-oo is the site). It’s not like Go-OO is “isolating the Linux developer community”: vanilla OpenOffice.org just isn’t buildable, that’s why ooo-build exists.

    If Sun see Go-OO as a competitive fork – it’s not a technical fork as we’ve already seen – then that’s a major problem, because the two biggest contributors are effectively at loggerheads.

    To me, this just makes it clearer that a Foundation is needed.

  52. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Gravatar

    I beg to differ for reasons that are stated at the top. It’s not about relinquishing control; it’s about Novell and Microsoft grabbing control just as they already did in the OSI and various events that they pollute with their proprietary interests (e.g. Windows-only, Visual Studio, .NET, software patents).

    You give Novell too much credit and trust.

  53. Xanadu said,

    October 13, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Gravatar

    Perhaps because he knows the Novell fan boys would excommunicate him from the free software community for daring to attack Novell.

  54. Ian said,

    October 13, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Gravatar

    Novell fan boys? Well, that’s a new concept. Most users of Novell software generally tend to rip on Novell for various technical reasons. If you’re feeling bored some day, take a read through Novell’s off topic message board. I probably wouldn’t use the label, Novell Fanboy. I guess there really is a divergence between how IT folks who use Novell software and blog/newsgroup jockeys interpret Novell. It’s like two different worlds.

  55. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Gravatar

    Novell fan boys? Well, that’s a new concept.

    Novell and/or its channel partners have some PR blogs out there.

    There are also OpenSUSE users who promote Novell/SUSE. We have some of them commenting in this Web site without clear disclosure that explains biases.

    Sadly, I stated earlier, opponents of this site are typically the most vocal (leave comments). People comment when there’s discontent or no consent.

  56. AlbertoP said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Gravatar

    [quote]“There’s an attempt to shift some control from Sun over to Novell and given the chances of Novell being acquired (it’s already exploited by Microsoft in exchange for a lifeline), there’s degradation of trust.”[/quote]

    Any proof of these chances of acquisition? Or just speculations based on who knows what foundation?

    Degradation of trust should be based on facts, like real, proven objective damages that Novell did to Linux and its community. Not on the basis of the potential consequences of an agreement that a lot of people interprets and speculates on.

  57. Ian said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Gravatar

    I don’t understand why disclosure matters one way or the other. As was stated, there are plenty of people who post here who echo your own statements who are not identified and labeled. The way I look at it, a well constructed post is a well constructed post. Roy, if you post something and you get questioned about it, the motivation behind the questioning is almost completely irrelevant. If you can’t defend your own words, regardless of who is questioning them or why, then you probably shouldn’t be posting it.

  58. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft is better off /using/ — not acquiring — Novell with its ‘open source’ gown because it can spread damage — so to speak — much more effectively in this way. Some journalists compared Novell to a ‘GPL division’ of Microsoft — one that goes to the GPL car park whenever Microsoft needs to get something done inside of FOSS. Citrix too comes to mind here (with Xen).

    Moreover, some people who took the trial into consideration do not rule out an acquisition:

    Microsoft & Linux: At What Point Is It Cheaper to Just Buy Novell?

    “Microsoft no longer sees itself as simply a Windows company. One recent indication of this is their determination to buy the LAMP-centric (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) Yahoo! Instead of migrating all the tried and tested Yahoo! services over to a Windows server infrastructure, wouldn’t it be simpler to establish Microsoft Linux through the acquisition of Novell?”

    http://java.sys-con.com/node/535178/print

  59. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Gravatar

    Fair point, but some recent posts came under very persistent scrutiny/criticism and not by proponents. It’s okay, but it’s tedious and it pulls weight away from the post, sometimes diluting the overall message. It’s a diversion.

  60. Ian said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not sure what posts you’re referring to, but if the scrutiny/criticism is valid or at the very least not contested by you or anyone else constructively, then I would think there is no diversion for the objective minded reader.

  61. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Gravatar

    Point taken. It still tends to feel like another viva, which limits my ability to write. Just the other day there was a big stink over a single sentence that I wrote:
    http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2008/10/10/boycott_novell/

    Speaking of which, while trying to locate that, I also noticed that they have Tom Raftery on staff. He worked for Microsoft (in Belgium) IIRC, on a contract. They also sent him a Vista laptop as a gift a few months after the “bribing bloggers” fiasco:

    http://www.tomrafteryit.net/getting-a-vaio/

    And yes… I remembered right now that I look at it:

    “Microsoft Belgium rang me yesterday (I don’t think they realised it was a public holiday here!).”

  62. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Gravatar

    @Simon:

    Without getting into the whats and wherefores of this current story, I would suggest that this is a situation which needs some kind of resolution.

    It seems pretty clear to me that both Sun and Novell are unhappy in this situation, and it also seems clear that this isn’t going to improve on it’s own: if anything, it will simply get worse.

    Has there been any thought to bringing in a third-party, independent, mediator? There may not be any mutually agreeable solution to current issues, but at least stopping the current relationship getting any worse would be a step forward.

  63. Miguel Branco said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Gravatar

    Explain how you came out with this entrie title. What EXACT words did Novell used to ‘insult’ Sun?.

    As I read here [ http://www.gnome.org/~michael/blog/ooo-commit-stats-2008.html ] GO-OO is making a constructive and very valid critic about Sun’s way to work on OOo. Furthemore, as GPL says, forks are permited. Indeed forks is what free software is all about: ability to freely modify a system as needed. So, what’s all this about?. It’s because you consider that OOXML shouldn’t be implemented and GO-OO/Novell are doing so?. If you want ‘Boycott Novell’ to be considered a serious place focus on why that’s wrong but the moment you go on with your own FUD, and smears and mud you will have credibility ZERO.

  64. Simon Phipps said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Gravatar

    @AlexH: BTDTGTTS.

  65. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Gravatar

    Miguel Branco,

    This has some history. Novell doesn’t criticise Microsoft, for example, so it attacks UNIX instead (just watch the products & services in novell.com).

    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/04/15/ron-hovsepian-wrong-on-osolaris/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/04/03/ron-hovsepian-on-opensolaris/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/05/08/novell-opensolaris-speculations/

  66. Simon Phipps said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Gravatar

    @Miguel: The best word to describe the posting you link to there is “truthy”. There is plenty that is true in it, and plenty that is the first derivative of interpretation (AKA spin). To the causal reader the case the author makes seems compelling.

    Identifying each needs a very solid background in OpenOffice history, personalties and community politics and even then remains subjective. I’m not wildly excited to dig into it because there’s way too much explanation needed to clarify it, but one example for you (cited by @AlexH above) surrounds Novell’s substantive items such as Solver.

    The author had already signed an SCA for Solver, and it had already been identified as a part of the OO.o v3 release feature set. On joining Novell, the author asserted that he did not now want Solver covered by the SCA. Since the rules for contributions to the OO.o core code require an SCA, the clear consequence of that decision was that Solver had to be removed from the core code.

    Depending on your intent, you can spin that as “Novell withdrawing it” or you can spin it as “Sun rejecting it”. The truth is in between and far more complex and involves named individuals, community rules and competitive stances of corporations. My problem with the posting is that none of that nuancing is even attempted or hinted-at.

  67. Ian said,

    October 13, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Novell doesn’t criticise Microsoft

    I guess you’ve never been at a Novell sponsored event then!

  68. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Gravatar

    Ok, what’s going on here?

    My post here was a follow-up to Simon’s request that Roy delete the private e-mail that he wasn’t supposed to share.

    Instead, Simon’s request has been deleted? Roy?

    FWIW, if that is a private e-mail, I think Simon’s request should be respected.

  69. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, I did what he asked me to and apologised. What he told me was rewritten.

  70. Alex Brown said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Gravatar

    @AlexH

    Simon’s message has been silently edited in-situ to remove the character assassination and amp-up the anti-MS message.

    If MS has originated a personal attack like that of the original text, they would have been crucified in the blogosphere, not least here.

    - Alex (B).

  71. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Alex,

    Microsoft has amassed a chunk of history to deserve this criticism.
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20041228040645419
    http://boycottnovell.com/microsoft-critique-resources/

    And I won’t even delve into the ruthless personal attacks they directed at myself, as well as many others. These things are all documented.

  72. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Gravatar

    Hmm. I’m somewhat unhappy about that, because my previous comment was in the context of the original post that Roy (Simon) made, not this edited version.

    Roy: if you could, can you just tag that post as having been edited? I don’t think it matters what you edited, just so that it’s clear that responses underneath aren’t referencing this new version.

  73. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Gravatar

    Sure, AlexH, I’ll make that clearer.

  74. AlexH said,

    October 13, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks Roy.

  75. Jose_X said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Gravatar

    Here is what I wrote before http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2008-10-12-004-35-NW-DT-SW-0004 wrt Meeks’ analysis which you can find here http://www.gnome.org/~michael/blog/ooo-commit-stats-2008.html .

    The conflict is over control (and, as far as the greater FOSS community is concerned) trust.

    At this point in time, Sun is a much greater asset to Linux/FOSS than is Novell. The primary reason for this has to do with the checks and balances provided by Sun on Microsoft, who is without a doubt and by far the biggest threat and obstacle to FOSS, vs. the helping hand Novell gives Microsoft in helping Microsoft’s poison and tentacles to spread, eg, http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/07/18/analysis_how_ms_used/ . [FOSS is software that can run usefully independently of other closed software, something that is impossible with anything that gets ported to Windows, for example.]

    I do not like Sun’s support in OO of OOXML, but I can live with it for the time being. At least they don’t appear to advocate use of OOXML and other MS controlled and dominated technologies.

    Sun could be bought out in the future. In fact, them losing control over copyrights to the main development branch of OO.o is one way to move in that direction.

    Alex, you mention Sun giving up control. At this point in time, that would probably really hurt Sun’s business and hence ability to continue contributing (that is my guess) and keeping the fire underneath Microsoft. I think that to ask Sun to give up something so valuable to them almost necessitates we too ask Novell to place all their Netware, Suse (and derivs), Go-oo, and MS-clone-gunk copyrights into the hands of a “neutral” third party such that we all have access to special licenses (beyond the GPL, etc) or else no one does.

    So Alex, are you up to the task of hanging around Novell forums asking that they move their “IP” into “neutral” third party hands in order to resolve conflicts many of us have with them? I would be particularly tickled to see Netware be made open source with copyrights be placed into third party hands, soon, while that product might still be useful.

    Novell should walk the FOSS talk, don’t you think? Their customers, whom they love so much, would really appreciate that. [Don't bother to ask same of Microsoft -- it's hopeless beyond hopelessness.]

    Getting back to reality, if ISO was manipulated significantly by Microsoft (with help of Novell and others), I think it’s certainly possible a nonprofit could be usurped as well. I do prefer to contribute copyrights to nonprofits, but it’s a judgement call. Again, keep in mind the THREAT to FOSS.

    Let me see if this helps clarify the meaning of “fork” (from wikipedia):
    >> In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software.

    I **love** the concept of forking, but implied by that is that you can dislike/distrust/etc some forks. We can like the concept of forking and then turn around and say that people should watch out for Novell’s fork or at least not contribute to it significantly if possible.

    BTW, you can take any two bodies of source code and find a “diff” between them. So a set of “patches” does imply a fork if it is being applied by someone and not by someone else. Note, you *can* “patch” Linux to turn it into BSD. There is nothing magical about “patch”. As the definition states, a fork is implied by independent development. Many distros possibly use forks of “vanilla” OO.o, of “vanilla” Linux kernel, etc.

    The fork concept is great. The go-ooo fork is not. [Just like Novell takes the vast majority of OO.o, certainly, anyone else can take from go-ooo/ooo-build, but I would not contribute copyrights to Novell if at all practical.]

  76. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Gravatar

    Since you mentioned weakening of Sun, remember that Novell snatches some revenue from Sun through support. That’s not good for Java (or JAVA).

  77. AlexH said,

    October 14, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Gravatar

    One of the points of free software is that you don’t have to rely on a single vendor for support.

    Sun also continue to tout the lack of indemnification as a reason to buy StarOffice over OpenOffice.org. I would imagine most of their revenue comes from a fork – StarOffice.

  78. Simon Phipps said,

    October 14, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Gravatar

    @AlexH: Revenue – you might imagine that, but I’d not agree. First it’s not a fork, and second Sun mainly promotes support of OpenOffice.org these days (still some historic StarOffice business, naturally).

    Web page: wow, it sucks. While there are actually quite a few people who do want to know Sun will catch the bullet for them in the unlikely event anyone tries to fire one, I think that feature listing is disproportionate to the demand. And it doesn’t mention the support that’s available for OpenOffice.org. I’ll go get the page changed.

  79. Jose_X said,

    October 14, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Gravatar

    >> One of the points of free software is that you don’t have to rely on a single vendor for support.

    I’m not in disagreement (abstractly/theoretically) over many things Novell has done in order to compete and contribute (contribute code, fork, add support, or even keep “some” closed source around). The problem is in how closely they have aligned themselves with Microsoft. Apparently Hovsepian seriously underestimated the reaction from many in the wider FOSS community.

    Microsoft is very powerful and leveraged and seriously against losing any of that control. Linux is a huge threat to them. Novell is helping Microsoft tame FOSS and Linux. Microsoft has always accepted competing technologies and companies it has not been able to absorb or entirely eliminate, but in a way where these are marginalized. If Microsoft did not have so much domination, aggression, and a past history of success, and if Novell had not aligned themselves so closely to Microsoft, Novell would not be vilified nearly as much as they are. Novell really did help improve Sun’s and Red Hat’s image within the community. And, of course, these companies and others are naturally taking advantage or at least taking notes.

    I don’t fault Novell for making a business decision they felt was in the best interest of their stockholders, but the reality remains that it’s not in my interest as an ordinary user and developer to support Novell or to have them be successful while they stick with their current plans.

    So Novell’s problem is in the specifics and not abstractly.

  80. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t fault Novell for making a business decision they felt was in the best interest of their stockholders…

    The problem is that, being of a proprietary mindset, they failed to predict the market reaction. The second time they announced coupons they tried to ‘gag’ journalists and bloggers in order to police public perception. I documented this here, having been in touch with those involved.

  81. AlexH said,

    October 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Gravatar

    @Simon: well, I hope you got some money off Asus for shipping it on the EeePC I’m writing on :D

    Just to make it clear, I have no problem with Sun making tonnes of money out of OpenOffice.org, I just don’t have anything against Novell doing that either. One of the sad things about free software is so few people making money actually off the software, not ancilliary services….

  82. Pete P.A. said,

    October 14, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Gravatar

    I think there are other problems with OOo.
    Many people worldwide are using it, may it be the ooo- or go-oo build, but only a few are involved in core development. The impact of Novells contribution is so high because there are only very few other major players involved. I doubt that SUN will continue to invest that much, while getting so little. Assuming other companies would stem a lot developers (which accept the (somewhat peculiar) conventions of SUN), what would the influence of Novell be? I say close to nothing. They would release the go-oo build with their SUSE products but others would likely use the other (new feature-richer) core-builds. Other projects of arguable equal size grow while OOo remains are widget (development-wise).
    OOo itself needs a lot supporters which give donations. Firefox can do its job independently by the means they have a healthy financial background, from Google and alike, which allows them to do R&D, advertisement and other stuff. OOo where are you after 8 years?

  83. Jose_X said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Gravatar

    >> OOo where are you after 8 years?

    There are many apps that reach maturity level and continue to be used for a long time with minimal changes in the code.

    Plus, today, OO.o is growing and is healthy. Tomorrow, if the need arises, someone else’s fork will catch on. Since it is open source, people will be able to extend OO.o or take a lead when the time comes.

    Customers will always be able to use OO.o if they want since they have the source code (assuming some time after those “8 years” the noncommercial and commercial support sources dried up).

    And let’s not forget about the other office suites. As ODF support matures, you will be able to move across applications without significantly (or at all) losing fidelity or functionality.

    There is very little risk generally in adopting OO.o.

    I don’t trust Novell today. I think it’s great that they make some contributions/improvements to OO.o that might be useful to others. Surely, if they borrow the majority of OO.o, others can borrow their pieces without feeling too guilty. Looking forward for Novell to stop supporting Microsoft. [I think Roy needs a vacation.]

  84. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 14, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Gravatar

    There are quite a few high-profile takers of SaaS, notably Zoho and Google Apps (Google just signed Washington DC). They will be capable of taking advantage of open formats and rely on OOo for connectionless work (Google Gears aside), or vice versa. OOo should continue to evolve nicely while taking account of a partial/gradual shift towards the Web (some would naively call this “a cloud”, which is just a bunch of Web servers really).

  85. Federico Kereki said,

    November 23, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Gravatar

    The argument about Novell pushing Mono with KDE is unbased; I am running openSUSE, and I have absolutely no Mono packages in it — “rpm -qa | grep mono” produces nothing.

  86. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 23, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Gravatar

    Federico,

    See this post about Mandriva. They retracted.

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    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  27. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  28. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  29. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    Links for the day



  30. Links 8/8/2014: Qt a Separate Company Again, KDE Frameworks 5.1 Released

    Links for the day


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