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12.06.08

Why is Linux.com Promoting Microsoft/Novell’s Fork of OpenOffice.org?

Posted in Deception, Fork, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenOffice at 10:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft must be pleased with Novell’s disruption

Background

For Microsoft to provoke or to cause infighting is not something new [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. As the father of MINIX put it at the time (just a couple of years ago):

“A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me… It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this…”

Andrew S Tanenbaum

As Microsoft’s top secret presentation reveals:

“Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog. We need to know who their allies are and what differences exist between them and their allies (there are always sources of tension between allies), so that we can find ways to split ‘em apart. Reading the trade press, lurking on newsgroups, attending conferences, and (above all) talking to ISVs is essential to gathering this intelligence.”

The emphasis in red is ours. This is from Microsoft’s own mouth (in obligatory training seminars).

Promoting by Demotion

We turn our attention to Novell’s fork [1, 2, 3, 4] of a Sun Microsystems crown jewel, OpenOffice.org. It’s bad enough that Novell does this to incorporate Java-hostile, Microsoft-serving technologies like Mono into its fork, but the press that accompanies this merely ridicules OpenOffice.org, thus helping Novell and Microsoft.

Discs and fork
Go-OO: a fork is sometimes a pitchfork

Worth taking a glance at is this new Linux.com article about Go-OO (we don't trust Linux.com too much). It contains what seems like a promotional pitch. Not so long ago, Linux.com promoted the proprietary SoftMaker by dismissing OpenOffice.org as well.

Go-OO includes enhancements and functions that haven’t been accepted by Sun, and that may never be, because of licensing, business, or other reasons.

Low blow there.

Here is the first comment:

Since it’s Novell behind this move, I wonder if this is really an improvement or an attempt to get mono code integrated into OO.o
If so, no one with a functioning brain is wise to touch it. I don’t have much respect for Sun, but even less for the games Novell is playing on MS’ behalf.

Here is another comment among very many (they created some sort of a Sun/Novell flamewar):

The go-ooo fork of OpenOffice.org is very much a bleeding edge developers’ version, which has not been through the full QA process run by the OpenOffice.org folks. Reporting go-ooo bugs is a good way of winding up people on the genuine OpenOffice.org support forums :-)

As has been stated above, open-source purists might also worry about go-ooo’s origins in Novell, with their close links to Microsoft (and getting closer every day).

I’m amazed why so many otherwise sane distros continue to ship go-ooo in preference to genuine OpenOffice.org.

“This is a classic Microsoft action. Divide your enemies (not that I’d call Novell an enemy to Microsoft). It divides the community,” says one of our readers. “Microsoft would be happy with something that echoes the Unix wars.”

Instead of OpenOffice.org fighting Microsoft Office, part of what remains here is Novell fighting Sun and OpenOffice.org. In the same vein, it has been said that Novell is now targeting Red Hat instead of Windows.

For what it’s worth, Boycott Novell never intends to aggravate or to divide. It points out areas where the friction exists. It’s companies (i.e. managers) that instruct programmers who do the damage for a paycheck. Why has Novell decided to focus on .NET, for example? They routinely use money and favouritism to hurt Freedom.

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47 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 6, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    Here is the link to the authentic version of OpenOffice:
    http://www.openoffice.org/

    Free Software & Open Standards are the core of the project.

    Some key points:
    OpenDocument Format support
    WordPerfect legacy format support
    Javascript macros
    Python macros
    no MS-based code

  2. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Gravatar

    …because it isn’t a fork.

    :p

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  3. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Gravatar

    …and by the way, your guys are really nuts, real, living & breathing 100% loonies.

    You really and seriously call a review of Novell’s patched OOo-version – a version that has been part of many distributions, like Debian and Ubuntu for years now – a ‘typical Microsoft action’?!?

    You do know that Novell is one of the main contributors to upstream OOo, together with IBM?

    Either you have been living behind the moon during the last decade, or you are simply trying to ly and deceive your readers – again.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Gravatar

    …because it isn’t a fork.

    It is.

  5. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Gravatar

    It isn’t, the code goes upstream

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Gravatar

    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.

  7. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Gravatar

    Novell has turned their downstream build system at OO-Build into a fork

    Claiming it doesn’t make it less false.

    Everything is upstreamed; if SUN doesn’t allow the code in, it’s not Novell failing to comply with their commitment to upstream everything.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  8. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Gravatar

    BTW, as we now know that Linus Torvalds has been bribed by Micro$oft to steal Linux and put it into the enemies hand, when will we take legal action? When will the Linux community wake up and boycott Linux?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  9. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 6, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Gravatar

    No project maintainer is under any obligation to accept patches that are harmful, at cross purposes to the project, or substandard quality. So just because Novell *wants* a project to accept its changes, doesn’t mean that project has to or wants to.

    It’s the same with contracts. There is no obligation, despite what MSFTers go on about, for companies to sign contracts that weaken their position. Code is of the same strategic importance.

    Whining about it has gone on long enough that this appears more MS attacking Sun and OpenOffice.org via Novell than it is about anything else. Beneath it as is the fact that if MS loses the monopoly on office formats, then it loses the monopoly on productivity software and one of the last ties holding Windows on the corporate desktop. As whole countries continue to move to open formats, both Novell and MS will be recognized not only as irrelevant, but as having perpetrated long lasting harm.

    I say it’s good for us and makes Sun look good that they have not taken any crap from Novell. All the good coders, and some of the other staff, left Novell shortly after the MS – Novell patent contract.
    http://www.zdnet.com.au/tag/departure-novell.htm

    Keep up the good work, Roy. You can tell by the name calling that you have been hitting nerves.

  10. G. Michaels said,

    December 6, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Gravatar

    I would be weary of believing any post here which includes references to comments on other websites that seem to back his arguments. One of his close collaborators and friends is a well-known Slashdot troll that maintains 14 accounts there, and uses them to actively manipulates the submission system to try to get Roy’s website (or stories from it) on the front page.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Gravatar

    Keep your obsessions with “twitter” in Slashdot where cyber-stalking is tolerated.

  12. pcolon said,

    December 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Gravatar

    @G. Michaels. MichaelThere’s nothing in the post or the comments that point to slashdot except yours.

  13. jo Shields said,

    December 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Gravatar

    into which they are pushing Microsoft’s OOXML

    One day, Roy, you might quit lying.

    OOo3, from openoffice.org, has OOXML support. You know this, yet keep pretending it isnt, because it hurts your lies.

    And please, stop citing yourself.

    Cite trustworthy sources. Boycottnovell is fiction, not fact

  14. G. Michaels said,

    December 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy, by “twitter” you mean the guy whose home page says he’s not “twitter”?

    Besides, I’m not cyber-stalking anyone. I’m just warning your readers about the games played by you and your collaborators.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  15. Goblin said,

    December 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Back again Jo?

    For someone who thinks Roy is dishonest and believes Boycott Novell is fiction you certainly spend alot of your time here.

    If you are so keen to bring “truth” to the web, you could start posting on some of the sites on the net that claim Aliens are real and the end of the world will occur when the Hadron Collider gets switched back on. You’d probably do more good, because except for the trolls, I dont see anyone else agreeing with you.

    Just out of interest, do you post on all sites which have a similar opinion to Roy or is it just Roys?

  16. jo Shields said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Just out of interest, do you post on all sites which have a similar opinion to Roy or is it just Roys?

    If you can’t tell the difference between Roy’s crappy little blog and, say, Groklaw, then there’s very little anyone can do for you.

    No, I don’t have any specific objection to any sites which hold views counter to my own. I don’t even mind sites which are categorically, provably, full of lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie.

    However, when I’m personally lied about, then I take offense. Prior to that, I read BN for the same reason I read Dilbert – for a good laugh.

    Roy started things when he decided to libel me. I decided to stick around for a while, then decided there was no point – then thought “sod it, it’s more fun than watching things compile”.

    I don’t have people on forums I frequent charge in talking about aliens or 9/11 or whatever – I *DO* see them quoting the equally disreputable and untrustworthy BN.

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Gravatar

    You don’t tolerate opposing views, do you?

  18. jo Shields said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Gravatar

    You don’t tolerate opposing views, do you?

    Pot calling kettle black doesn’t even come close to covering the irony of this little snippet.

    Of course I tolerate them. I encourage them. I’ve had fruitful and enlightening discussions with people in assorted places, on many of the topics you cover.

    I don’t tolerate using LIES TO PROMOTE THOSE VIEWS. That’s the argument, that’s always been the argument. You can successfully campaign against all the technologies you object to without lying, without demagogy, without name-calling, without childishness. Groklaw can do it, you can’t.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t delete comments. I do encourage discussion and if assertions I made about you are not correct, then I apologise.

  20. BBlackmoor said,

    December 7, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Gravatar

    Personally, I do not really care if Novell is a villain or not. Forking OpenOffice.org as they have (yes, they have: get a clue) is simply a bad idea.

    Boycott Novell? Maybe.

    Boycott the go-OO fork of OpenOffice.org? Definitely.

  21. jo Shields said,

    December 7, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Gravatar

    Have you ever thought to ask “why do distributions all use go-oo”?

  22. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 6:50 am

    Gravatar

    It would be better if they didn’t.

  23. RyanT said,

    December 7, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Gravatar

    @ Jo

    The point is idealogical reasons and presumed intent, not technological merit.

    I will say for the first quote Roy that I don’t really see why it’s a low blow. It’s perfectly ordinary and true of any project.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Gravatar

    What I was thinking when I wrote this was QA. There are some reasons for prudence when it comes to selective patching and pacing of development.

    On the other hand, Go-OO does some commendable things.

  25. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Gravatar

    Needs Sunlight: The article you link to only mentions 1 or 2 engineers leaving Novell, how is that equivalent to your claim of “All the good coders, and some of the other staff, left Novell shortly after the MS – Novell patent contract” unless your assertion is that Jeremy Allison was the only good coder?

    I find that highly unlikely to be the case.

    Also, the reason some of Go-OO’s patches haven’t been accepted upstream is due to licenses. For example, Go-OO’s Solver is GPL and Sun rejected it because they want the ability to relicense it for use in the proprietary StarOffice. I do not recall ever reading that Sun rejected any Go-OO patches over code quality.

  26. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Gravatar

    Also, as has been noted already – but just to reiterate – upstream OOo has OOXML import support already (which is all Go-OO’s version had as well).

    For a list of the improvements that Go-OO 2.x had over OOo 2.x, see here:

    http://go-oo.org/discover/#docx-support

  27. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Gravatar

    Needs Sunlight: The article you link to only mentions 1 or 2 engineers leaving Novell…

    Not all departures are loudly announced.

    “When this happened, there was a lot of disillusionment in the market and a lot of Suse developers left on the principle that they wouldn’t work for a company that has these agreements with proprietary vendors,” Weiss says.

    “…a lot of Suse developers left..”

  28. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Gravatar

    What does “a lot” mean in this case? It could mean 3 or 4 for all you know.

    Also, the SUSE engineers weren’t the ones working on Go-OO, were they? Probably not, so it’s still irrelevant to the quality of the Go-OO team/patches.

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Gravatar

    What does “a lot” mean in this case? It could mean 3 or 4 for all you know.

    Is that an opinion or fact? Did you know that OpenSUSE’s big evangelist (Ted Haeger) left because of the secrecy around the Novell/Microsoft deal?

    Also, the SUSE engineers weren’t the ones working on Go-OO, were they? Probably not, so it’s still irrelevant to the quality of the Go-OO team/patches.

    We don’t know the answer to do.

  30. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Gravatar

    Roy: the question is, what is “a lot”?

    Ted Haeger is 1 person. Jeremy Allison is 1 person. There was also one other guy from SAMBA team that left. That’s 3 people total that left because of the deal.

    By some definitions, that could be considered a lot, but not by my definition.

    Were there more that left? How many more? Who?

    Unless someone can shine some light on those questions, we can’t really assume that more than those 3 left due to the MS/Novell deal.

    As far as quality of the Go-OO team: the (7 of 12) names I recognize on the Go-OO team roster are high quality developers.

  31. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Gravatar

    Anyhow, that’s getting off-topic unless someone wants to claim that the reason Go-OO patches aren’t making it upstream to OOo is due to code quality (which I don’t think anyone can even argue).

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Gravatar

    Based on what I’ve heard, Sun’s door open but the patches don’t make it through. Novell might not bother.

  33. AlexH said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Gravatar

    Sun could always get them; it’s not like it doesn’t know where they are.

    What is depressing is that Sun appears to now be following Novell features – witness the recent announcement on UI refresh; when Novell have already been working on XML UI definitions.

    Somebody needs to knock Sun and Novell’s collective heads together.

  34. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Gravatar

    Clearly I need to pay closer attention, I thought the UI refresh was about OOo copying Microsoft Office’s ribbon UI?

  35. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Gravatar

    It’s more to do with “user-customised”. I posted some links about this recently.

  36. AlexH said,

    December 7, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Gravatar

    @Dan: whatever you want to do, you have to remove the UI declarations from the code.

    I doubt they will follow the ribbon, but we’ll see.

    @Roy: it’s about providing a better default UI, not about letting people tweak it more.

  37. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Gravatar

    Project “Renaissance” – Create a New User Interface for OOo

    Our Mission

    “Create a User interface so that OpenOffice.org becomes the users’ choice not only out of need but also out of desire.”

    http://blogs.sun.com/GullFOSS/entry/project_renaissance_kick_off1

  38. AlexH said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Gravatar

    @Roy: which backs up my statement.

    Translate: create a UI that is functional and desirable.

    It says nothing about customisation.

  39. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Gravatar

    AlexH: ah, thanks.

  40. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Gravatar

    They’ll use collective feedback from users, I reckon.

  41. AlexH said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Gravatar

    Given they already said that’s what they’re doing, that’s not the most insightful comment I’ve ever read :D

  42. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Gravatar

    Oh, come on, Alex. Scraping bottoms of barrels for cheap heckles?

  43. AlexH said,

    December 7, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Gravatar

    No, it was a joke, hence the smiley.

  44. jo Shields said,

    December 7, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Gravatar

    Somebody needs to knock Sun and Novell’s collective heads together.

    Both have problems.

    The problem with Sun is that they have no community involvement with OOo – decisions as to what to allow are made for opaque Sun business reasons and their bug tracker is an unwelcome place for those outside Sun,

    Distros use go-oo because go-oo is somewhere they can actually cooperate. Building OOo is very hard – and with every distro needing to apply identical tweaks which Sun doesn’t want to (as they don’t benefit Windows or Solaris), go-oo provides the “community” version of OOo which every distro maintainer wants and needs.

    At the same time, nobody doubts that there is some degree of Novell involvement in go-oo – but there’s no active censorship of patches, or convoluted copyright assignment required. In the end, what distros would /like* is a non-profit OOo foundation to look after this stuff – but go-oo is MUCH closer to that ideal than Sun’s ivory tower product

  45. Chris said,

    December 7, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh Boy, I’m not even going to start to argue with you why a patchset isn’t a fork but I honestly fail to find the bad Mono stuff that this evil “fork” apparently forces on my system.

    Please help me and tell me where it is because “rpm -qa | grep -i mono” returns nothing. But since you always tell the truth and I use version 3.0 of “that evil fork” ™ is has to be there.

    But where?

  46. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 7, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Gravatar

    Novell engineers have cast a spell of invisibility on Mono to make it easier to force on unsuspecting users.

    Obviously.

  47. Jo Shields said,

    December 7, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh Boy, I’m not even going to start to argue with you why a patchset isn’t a fork

    Not even worth your time – Roy’s described the OpenSUSE/SLES kernel patches as a fork, and suggested that no other distro patches its kernel (!)

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