EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.09.09

Interview with Non-Sun OpenOffice.org Contributor, Charles-H. Schulz

Posted in Debian, Fork, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents, Standard at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s promotion of Go-OO has earned it a lot of attention recently because Novell ridicules OpenOffice.org and harms the brand [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. There is a lot more to OpenOffice.org than just the software; there are translations, ISVs, support firms and so on.

Quite a few people were unhappy with what Novell had done. And yes, Michael Meeks cannot magically disassociate himself from Novell and use the “I’m just a hacker” defence (ironically enough, Meeks has obtained software patents, which he filed with Novell). As critics of the cannibalistic approach taken by Novell, we decided to approach other people who are affected, merely reaching out for their opinion.

We had the opportunity to do an interview with one of the better-known OpenOffice.org people and — just to clarify in advance — it ought to be stated that:

  1. He does not work for Sun
  2. He’s an independent OpenOffice.org contributor (lead of the native-language confederation of OpenOffice.org: http://projects.openoffice.org/native-lang.html )
  3. His view are solely his

BN: As a bit of introduction, please tell us about yourself and your latest activities.

Charles-H. Schulz: My name is Charles-H. Schulz, I’m French and I live in Paris. I’ve been contributing to OpenOffice.org for over eight years now, and I started doing so around the launch of the 1.0 release. I am presently lead of the Native-Language Confederation of OpenOffice.org, which is the category of worldwide communities localizing and providing support, documentation, QA and marketing in languages other than English. I recently got involved in the ODF-at-WWW project that is a fantastic place in OpenOffice.org where you can really work on bringing OpenOffice.org to the next level and that includes, among other things, the Web.

I’m a founding parter of Ars Aperta (www.arsaperta.com) — a small, independent consultancy in the fields of corporate strategy and management related to FOSS and Open Standards.

I’m also working with FFII, and the Digital Standards Organisation (aka Digistan), of which I’m a founding member.

BN: How receptive has Sun been to contributions from the outside, based on your experience?

CS: I think this deserves both a simple and a complex answer. The simple answer is that Sun has built a fully open source — even Free Software — project though OpenOffice.org. By this I mean that contributions, code contributions among others are tested and integrated in the software we release. The source code is out there, the binaries as well, development process is done by collaboration through mailing lists and wiki, CVS (and now SVN).

“…independent contributors outnumber Sun engineers by 10 to 1 inside the QA project.”Going more into details, Sun has the technical leadership in the OpenOffice.org project. I personally don’t have a problem with that. What this means is that sometimes, patches are refused on purely technical merit. Whether those decisions are technically debatable might perhaps be the case sometimes. But generally speaking there is no problem. It is — I believe — quite easy to find both corporate and independent contributors who submitted patches, code or anything you can find in the way of contributions who were able to do so without any difficulty, provided they were following the guidelines and that their contributions were technically acceptable. That being said, OpenOffice.org has a very, very complex code base. This in turn causes a problem that is often overlooked: you need to study the code and the architecture, and thus devote a significant amount of your time doing so before efficiently contributing to OpenOffice.org. That’s why we always find it hard to recruit engineering resources: you don’t contribute code with your left foot when you’re patching OpenOffice.org. But I agree that everything should be done in order to lower the barriers of participation to our project.

BN: What role does QA play in the lifecycle of OOo development?

CS: Since we’re developing an end-user software suite we cannot tolerate leaving our software at a low level of quality. Of course, there are always bugs and we have ramped up our QA teams and resources significantly over time. QA gets to register the builds, test them at various levels according to the development, localization and QA processes. It also approves and decides whether the builds should be released or not. So to answer your question directly: QA and the QA project play a central role in our development and release process. By the way, it should perhaps be noted that independent contributors outnumber Sun engineers by 10 to 1 inside the QA project.

BN: Would you classify Go-OO as a branch or a fork?

CS: Both. I would have rather liked to answer: a branch, mostly, but some recent developments about Go-OO have obviously changed this situation. What should perhaps be reminded is that Go-OO is a Web site that hosts a concurrent build system to the one existing on the OpenOffice.org web site, called “ooo-build”. This build system has been around for ages. In fact, it’s been used by many Linux distributions that found it more convenient for various reasons (basically, the builds were optimized for Linux).

“That furiously looks like someone is ready to fork by diverting and duplicating development resources from the original project.”At the same time, this build system was also used (even by Sun) to test new patches. The common conception here is that while the OpenOffice.org -Sun- build system (simply called “vanilla” for convenience purposes) is sometimes more conservative in that it does not integrate all the patches that fast. The reason for that is simple: QA. The ooo-build does not really test the patches it integrates, while the vanilla build system does. In short, the ooo-build is faster and easier to use, but produces builds that crash more often and have more bugs. You can experience that if you use any *Suse distribution or Ubuntu. Most of the other distributions have gradually stopped using it, precisely because of a certain lack of reliability that was experienced. The OpenOffice.org project now provides OpenOffice.org packages in .rpm, .deb and .tgz formats. We are also looking to improve our packaging on Linux: While straightforward anywhere else, the OpenOffice.org installation is still complex for an inexperienced end-user on Linux.

But the ooo-build has its own relevance and its own use. In this sense, it was a branch for a long time, and there was a widely-held view among the OpenOffice.org community that its existence was actually helpful.

The way you transition from a Web site with a separate build system to a fork is in fact quite easy. And what is only needed is the will for those Web site owners to decide to create a fork. At this stage, we can still keep a status quo, make sure we work out on any technical issues we can to have the two kinds of builds produced compatibly (that means mostly directly upgradeable from one another) and there, there will not be a fork, mainly a branch. Unfortunately go-oo has turned from an “annex” web site where several specific resources were available to a development platform parallel to what exists on OpenOffice.org: mailing lists, patches, builds, etc. That furiously looks like someone is ready to fork by diverting and duplicating development resources from the original project.

BN: Would you feel more comfortable if it was a project like Debian that deviated and managed a derivative of OOo?

CS: Anyone has the right to fork. It’s Free and Open Source Software anyway. But I don’t think a fork is a solution as it does all but adding up resources. Rather, it divides them, duplicates efforts and confuses users. There is worse stuff: in our case, I don’t think that the forker would have the necessary resources to maintain the development efforts and have a coherent roadmap. At this stage, I would even be curious to know how bug squashing and issue management would be properly handled. As an example, I wonder how some of the large deployments of this particular flavour of OpenOffice.org would react if they were told that their own feedback was going to a fork of OpenOffice.org.

There is another couple of things that are of importance to me. Go-OO, if we are to believe its credentials, belongs to Novell. Now it is worth pointing out that at no point in the history of OpenOffice.org we ever got anything in the way of an official statement about Novell. That means that this is a silent fork. There is, if that is the intent of this company, no word, no declaration, nothing that basically says: “we feel we’re doing a better job than you do” or “ we feel we’re being unfairly treated”. That is something I find odd. The second element of importance is that we should get some sorts of governance structure and charter by Novell. You don’t send your code in the wild and not asking yourself some questions. I know that OpenOffice.org was fiercely criticized by some people employed by Novell for having a copyright assignment, something Novell often demands in its own sponsored projects. But this legal vagueness of sorts is a bit odd: whom does your builds belong to? What happens in case of a legal problem? Is there a code steward? You don’t need to be a consultant to ask those questions. And so far we have no answer.

BN: What role has the Novell-implemented OOXML translator played in allowing Microsoft’s plot against ODF to carry on?

CS: Common work on OOXML and a translator was part of the Novell and MS agreement, as far as we know. Having played a role in the OOXML standardization “adventure”, Novell was being constantly taken as an example of “another open source implementation” of OOXML. Sometimes, as it was the case in Mexico we had Novell employees, such as Miguel de Icaza, sitting on the Mexican standards organization and strongly advocating for OOXML to be standardized. To me it looks like Novell has been vassalized and under the influence of Microsoft to the point where they had to defend the indefensible. Now, I was not born yesterday, and I know that in theory as well as in practice, corporations’ primary role is to generate revenue. Hence you will find several corporations out there who will help FOSS with the right hand and promote the exact opposite with the left. Novell strikes me as different: it blurs the lines, puts a little bit of this in a little bit of that, calls a cat a dog and delivers software that is open source with conditions.

BN: What role, if any, do you believe Novell/Microsoft patents play here? What about Sun?

CS: It’s very hard to tell. My personal view is that Microsoft does not have many patents and that most them are low quality assets. In short, when Microsoft makes claims about owning some significant amount of IP inside Linux for instance, it spreads FUD, and does just this. Anything further directly coming from Redmond would be very unlikely, because they have nothing. In short, it’s “all hat no cattle” as they say in Texas. But they keep on applying pressure and make extravagant claims about their supposed ownership of every bit of open source code out there. I am in favour of full disclosure. Open Source code is, well, open source. It’s out there. Anyone can grab it, freely modify and redistribute it. Proprietary code? I’m sure we would find some code blurbs that could turn out to be funnier than Easter eggs.

I have read, reread, and read again the Novell/Microsoft agreement. I think it’s not clear whether this is an outright violation of the GPL in spirit or a legal flaw that has been exploited in it. But it surely changed the strategy of Novell in a way that poses a certain number of threats to FOSS users. It is also easy to notice that Novell’s behaviour changed inside the OpenOffice.org community right after that agreement.

BN: Going forward, how do you suggest that the projects target their main competitor, Microsoft Office, rather than one another?

CS: First, remember that Novell acquired both Suse and Ximian. The Ximian team is still working inside Novell, and it looks like the Ximian business model got ultimately translated inside Novell’s own strategy. Basically, when it comes to its open source offerings, Novell implements the Ximian strategy of taking the code, branching it, repackaging it and generating revenue from it. The way Ximian was doing it was a bit problematic, as it was not really beneficial to the communities it was deriving the code from and the value proposition to their customers wasn’t clear either. I guess it’s not my business, but such a mindset has partly led us to where we are today.

“We want to take OpenOffice.org to the next level, because we don’t use office suites the same way were using them five years ago.”At this stage, I don’t see any plans -nor any relevance- for the OpenOffice.org project to target go-oo. It just doesn’t make any sense: what would be talking about? Different patches? I don’t think the market even cares about that, I don’t think it’s even an audible message. I know that some people send messages out there, “my build is better than yours, I don’t like your community”, but these same people should think: does it really benefit customers?

In regards to Microsoft Office, which is the true competitor to OpenOffice.org, our value proposition is clear: we are a full-featured office suite that brings its users the benefits of true open standards, quality, stability and Free Software. We want to take OpenOffice.org to the next level, because we don’t use office suites the same way were using them five years ago. So we will increasingly interact with the Internet and on an online level, becoming the hub for creative writing, design and office work for everyone. That’s what we stand for, and we will remain true to our mission and to our soul.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

38 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    January 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Gravatar

    Interview with a Non-Novell Go-OOo contributor next?

  2. Baby In The Bath Water said,

    January 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Gravatar

    Wow, congrats on finding an anti-Novell biased OOo contributor to interview as if he were “unbiased”.

    That makes all the difference in the world.

    Note: this comment was posted from Novell’s headquarters.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Gravatar

    So every critic of Novell’s actions is now biased? I guess there are more “biased” people and groups out there, such as:

    1. FSF/GNU/SFLC
    2. GNU/Linux developers
    3. Samba developers
    4. Wine developers
    5. Many businesses, including (former) Novell/SUSE customers
    6. Red Hat, Canonical, Mandriva and other Linux vendors
    7. Lots of users
    8. Some Novell employees who left as a result of the deal
  4. Baby In The Bath Water said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Gravatar

    Point is that if you look for a specific person who will say anti-Novell things and then interview them and publish the results as if the person represents what the majority think, then that’s disingenuous.

    And that’s exactly what you did.

    Note: this comment was posted from Novell’s headquarters.

  5. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Gravatar

    [AlexH] >> Interview with a Non-Novell Go-OOo contributor next?

    Would Roy be the best person to draw up the questions? Why doesn’t a go-ooo supporter give it a shot?

    Perhaps it would be a good idea if BN would carry out that interview, but this may open up to some criticism if the questions are viewed as unfair.

    BTW, haven’t various go-ooo devs (or at least one) done interviews already which have been featured here? What is wrong with those?

    ***

    On the meaning of “fork”:

    [blog piece] >> Unfortunately go-oo has turned from an “annex” web site where several specific resources were available to a development platform parallel to what exists on OpenOffice.org: mailing lists, patches, builds, etc. That furiously looks like someone is ready to fork by diverting and duplicating development resources from the original project.

    basic wikipedia def:
    >> 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.

    Wikipedia further defines a “branch” as a common term for *a type of* fork that is related to the main code base in various ways (eg, branches are forks that can be used for versions of main).

    CHS appears to *differentiate* between branches and forks: you either have one or the other but not both. The rough criteria he uses to determine whether something that looks like a branch might instead be a fork is based on the degree of duplication of developer resources for this branch/fork wrt the original code base.

    In sum, wikipedia defines “branch” as a flavor of “fork”, and defines a “fork” as an independent forking from a given code base. Meanwhile, CHS and many others appear to define “fork” as a forking from a given code base, and where developer resources have been duplicated, and where the forked code base has diverged enough from the main code that the original community stops worrying about coding in a way that is consistent with the new code base. CHS defines a branch as a forking that otherwise remains “near” the main code base.

    I prefer the wikipedia definition because it seems clearer to refer to a forking as a “fork” and then use more description to describe the fork further if desired. I do recognize the usage “that is a fork” to mean what CHS means, but I find it a vague expression/notion and do prefer to still have a name for the clean concept of any forking (call any “forking”, naturally enough, a “fork”).

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Gravatar

    I asked another person from OOo the same question and it’s a “fork”.

  7. RLillySr said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Gravatar

    “AlexH said, Interview with a Non-Novell Go-OOo contributor next?”

    dont know who you are, other than reading these threads, you can get annoying and with statements like that, pathetic

  8. Miguel de Icaza said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Hello,

    Charles is misrepresenting my participation in the Mexican standards group. I was an invited expert on the subject on the deliberations for OOXML as part of Linux AC (the civil association that promotes Linux in Mexico) just like a bunch of other people were.

    I do not sit in the standards group, I do not have a vote, and did not have a vote. I participated in one phone call where I explained my position to the people in the committee.

    Miguel.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Gravatar

    So why did you promote/defend it?

    Why do you defend Microsoft against The European Commission?

    What do you think of Microsoft’s anti-Linux tactics, as last published this afternoon?

  10. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Gravatar

    >> I asked another person from OOo the same question and it’s a “fork”.

    Were you replying to me? I presume then that you are using your definition of “fork”.

    I’m not interested in changing how you use that word, but understand that what you call “a fork, no more no less” ..I call.. “a fork that is being maintained independently from the original code base, as opposed to a fork that isn’t, for example, like a branch.”

    So wrt go-ooo, I would say that it seems maybe go-ooo is being taken in a direction guided by a community different than the oo.o community. Call it a rose or a fork or a foo, I don’t care.

    I don’t follow go-ooo except through what I hear on BN/LT/etc, so I don’t really know. What I know is that I don’t want dotnet hooks near me if possible because I don’t want to facilitate or encourage the growth of dotnet. If I cared that much about similar technology, I’d petition to have Java (or something else) changed to be more like X or like Y [and there likely are ways to improve Java, perhaps more in line with dotnet.. and vice-versa perhaps as well].

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Gravatar

    Were you replying to me? I presume then that you are using your definition of “fork”.

    I was referring to no definitions. I said what I was told (based on another person’s definition).

  12. saulgoode said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Gravatar

    Nice interview. It covered some important issues that are of concern to any large free software project.

    I would have liked to seen the copyright assignment issue more thoroughly addressed — OO.o is likely foregoing some significant contributions with their stance — even if just to the point of future plans for resolving the problem. Not that Mr Schultz is necessarily the one to address it, but he does seem somewhat aware of the administrative structure of the project.

    I particularly appreciated Mr Schultz’s distinction when commenting about “corporations out there who will help FOSS with the right hand and promote the exact opposite with the left”. Free Software is a complex web of alternative business approaches and varying degrees of participation. Novell makes some significant contributions to Free Software; however, their efforts to leverage patent indemnities and to undermine the GPL are nonetheless deserving of the criticism they have received.

    @Jose_X,
    I disagree with regard to branching versus forking. Mr Schultz’s interpretation is much more consistent with the employment of those terms whereby a particular project may offer multiple branches within the same basic infrastructure (e.g., CVS repository, bug report mechanism, language translation, etc).

  13. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Gravatar

    >> I was referring to no definitions. I said what I was told (based on another person’s definition).

    Then, if nothing more, my last comment served as extra clarification to the earlier longer reply.

    Some call go-ooo a fork, and some call it a foo I could imagine.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Either way, it’s more hostile than complementary.

  15. saulgoode said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Gravatar

    My apologies for misspelling Mr Schulz’s name throughout my previous post.

  16. AlexH said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Gravatar

    @Jose: I’m not sure it would matter who was writing the question, although I did notice that specific answers were embedded in this set.

  17. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Gravatar

    [saulgoode] >> Mr Schultz’s interpretation is much more consistent with the employment of those terms whereby a particular project may offer multiple branches within the same basic infrastructure (e.g., CVS repository, bug report mechanism, language translation, etc).

    His branch and fork definitions may be more consistent with and/or shared as definitions by a majority of the people, at least under certain context. I am not disputing that.

    I am adding that Wikipedia has a set of definitions that is different but which is itself consistent and which I prefer to use many times because I think it makes sense to have a term for referring to an arbitrary (eg, private) copy/change done to any code base.

    If I copy your project and start playing with it on my PC, would you consider it a fork.. a branch.. ?

    I’d consider it a “fork” quite simply ..no matter what my future intentions were; no matter what opinion you had formed about my “derived” project; no matter how large of a diff I had developed to date; no matter how I was managing the code “repository”; no matter how many people were helping me and how we were communicating with each other as developers on this new code base; etc.

    In any case, we can use many different words. The important point I’m trying to bring up is that some people use “fork” for what I am stating (and which coincides with the Wikipedia definition) and that is the simple notion that someone has copied code and has begun to make changes.

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Gravatar

    Labels like “fork” (or “foo”, to borrow Jose’s humour) don’t matter much. We know where Go-OOXML stands wrt OOo and it’s not helpful. It’s not a positive thing for the Free desktop; it’s good for Novell and for SUSE.

  19. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Gravatar

    Alex, if people here really want to pursue the opinions key individuals have on this topic, maybe it would be a good idea to keep interviewing people. We can start with a set of standard questions, and then come up with individual follow-up questions.

  20. Jose_X said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Gravatar

    ..and see who is interested in answering them.

    Maybe gather/archive the answers from anyone anywhere interested in replying.

  21. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Gravatar

    We can accumulate some here in this thread and then serve them separately for answering.

  22. Victor Soliz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Gravatar

    Point is that if you look for a specific person who will say anti-Novell things and then interview them and publish the results as if the person represents what the majority think, then that’s disingenuous.

    And that’s exactly what you did.

    You know, You Novell guys sometimes do the sins you blame Roy of. Noticed how you are blaming Roy of claiming that he represents the majority? I don’t see such claim, in fact, your comment was the first appearance of the word majority. Time to panic?

  23. Victor Soliz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Gravatar

    Interview with a Non-Novell Go-OOo contributor next?

    What would the point be? The Novell FUD was that Sun wouldn’t allow other contributors in OOo, and hence go-ooo was created. I don’t think Sun or Roy ever claimed something similar about goooo.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 9, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Gravatar

    I doubt they’d choose to talk to this audience. Hustler does not publish an interview with the pope (Novell talking to BN) and likewise, the pope does not talk to the girls from Hustler (that would be us talking to Novell PR bunnies).

  25. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Gravatar

    Nice interview. It cleared up a lot about the Novell fork of OpenOffice.org.

    I have a lot of respect for Charles’ work and independence. He was a good choice for a neutral, outside view. I’m disappointed in the whining and attacks subsequently coming from DeIcaza and the other microsofters.

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Gravatar

    If it evokes this, it’s likely to have touched a nerve.

  27. AlexH said,

    January 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Gravatar

    Not surprising that a one-sided line of questioning would touch a nerve, would it?

  28. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 10, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Gravatar

    Novell had its side heard.

  29. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Gravatar

    “Interesting and reasonably balanced article on the endless and fruitless debate Novell is generating. I’m not aware that the author sought any input from Sun; I’d be pleased to explore some of the things he’s asked.”

    http://blogs.sun.com/webmink/entry/thursday_s_links_january_8th

  30. Dan O'Brian said,

    January 10, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Bruce Byfield didn’t seem to talk to Novell either, for that matter. You might note the comments after the story.

  31. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Gravatar

    He has always been defensive about Novell.

  32. Dan O'Brian said,

    January 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Doesn’t seem that way to anyone who reads his article from a neutral position.

    He criticizes both Novell and Sun in his article, concluding that both have good and bad points.

  33. Andre said,

    January 13, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Gravatar

    Charles is very diplomatic and raises valid points. M. Meek’s criticism remains to be a valid issue for all enthusiasts of the platform: How to better scale development and open up the development process? So we should carefully keep these two issues distinct and consider the political agenda of Novell.

    The third question is: How to make OpenOffice.org independent from dominant vendors?

    Maybe a bailout plan is worth to get considered. A proposal would be to ask for a one billion EUR European FLOSS Fund which aims to lower dependencies of European enterprises and citizens on Microsoft Office and strategically funds alternatives as Openoffice.org which promote competition. This would be a minor lobbying effort and feasible in the current environment. If there is political agreement in Europe to become software-independent the means would be found, e.g. a contract with the French military etc.

    I mean, we accepted oil and gas to be strategic resources and supprt our military to deal with these dependencies. Why overlook the software related dependencies of our economy which enable a vendor to milk our economy, and undermine and endanger European democratic decision making procedures?

    You just need a sponsor for an anti-lockin and Eurofloss campaign.

  34. Alberto Barrionuevo said,

    January 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Gravatar

    Miguel,

    in the Mexican standardization committee you represented the interests of Novell and Microsoft: in other words, the approval of the DIS 29500 (OOXML) as in the precarious status that it was at the time. It was, and still is, totally biased and discriminatory to the interests of the FLOSS community and Microsoft/Novell competitors, so not fulfilling by far indeed the neutrality that you must expect from an international standard.

    Apart from that, you can dress your participation in the committee as you like. The fact that you had voting rights or not has little value, since everybody could vote if s/he would wanted (actually, it was the way used to hijack the final result with several hundred votes coming up and down from everywhere with many ballot recounts and recounts always getting out different “final” results… until extremely late in the night).

    So at the end, only your words were the fact to take in account to judge your participation. And, so sorry, but they spoke enough about who was your master voice at that time.

    Un saludo,
    //Alberto Barrionuevo
    FFII Vice President at the time
    NoOOXML.org campaign leader for LatAm

  35. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 13, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Gravatar

    Get a load of this, will you? Participants at the BRM were told that only technical issues can be addressed. Bill Gates, however, reportedly contacted the president of Mexico to try to influence Mexico to accept OOXML. Unless, of course, they were talking about representing dates in Excel or other technical issues. Hardy har. Like, totally. I’m sure.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080327104739103

  36. Scott said,

    January 13, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Gravatar

    How much credibility accrues to Miguel’s ridiculous protestations from being the founder of the GNOME project? It must be enormous.

  37. Andre said,

    January 14, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Gravatar

    What concerns me, Alberto, is not that persons have business affiliations but the hypocrisy of the standard process. Prior to the Open XML debate I thought standard committees can be compared with courts or unpolitical expert fora. You raise issues and if they are valid they have to get considered. When you actually have a conflict of interest and happen to be in the Committee you try to be even more neutral in your decision making. The engineering attitude, let’s make it work and fix the bugs.

    It is well documented that Novell is actually contractually obliged to support Open XML. The company became a drone. Roy is very emotional and attached about this but it also makes way for Microsoft technology on other platforms. Nothing wrong to buy companies or make business deals as such. My personal opinion with a grain of salt.

    So it is two levels of questionable standard committee behaviour:
    1. Objections are technically valid and you vote they are not and cover them (unprofessional attitude)
    2. You serve an agenda but fake a community guy and accuse others

    My assumption is that there are also objective and universal criteria that determine standard quality. You can even argue that Open XML is good enough as a standard because there are worse standards, compare the Open XML specification with other undocumented parts of IT infrastructure, bug level of productive software or websites and you might get another perspective. We both had the controversy before we started with the disapproval campaign.

    It is also acceptable for others to take commercial avantage for unprofessional actions. It is a matter of compensation for you as you risk your reputation. When your company is contracted to do what you do. Roy will disagree and has every right to think Novell does ‘evil’. His opinion.

    It is the same with an army. You may personally politically disagree with the invasion of Iraq but as a commander of troops you have to carry out your mission and likewise order your troops to carry it out. Roy would then so to speak argue for conscientious objection to the mission. No one should expect that from a soldier who made the decision for this job. Of course your rank makes a difference in terms of responsibility. And as a soldier don’t take it personal when you get shot. And mercanaries soldiers who talk about their personal convictions deserve medical treatment.

    *But* people should not make their defense against standard war critics or opponents let them sacrifice personal dignity and respect:

    “Charles is misrepresenting my participation in the Mexican standards group. I was an invited expert on the subject on the deliberations for OOXML as part of Linux AC (the civil association that promotes Linux in Mexico) just like a bunch of other people were.”

    We know that the situation was different in Mexico and there is no benefit to play games. Probably Charles misrepresented the Ximian business model, it is a bit polemic and sticks, but there should not be any desire to see others proof the “just an invited Linux expert” story wrong.

    I don’t really see an advantage to let Novell become a next Caldera. Fair enough it does not seem to be the objective behind the Novell investment.

    – André

    When I did lobbying in Parliament I often used to get “invited” by MPs. That is the process to enter the building if you don’t have a permanent badge (which makes MPs believe you are a professional lobby gun, has also sometimes disadvantages).

  38. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Gravatar

    You may personally politically disagree with the invasion of Iraq but as a commander of troops you have to carry out your mission and likewise order your troops to carry it out.

    The “above my pay grade” remark springs to mind.

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/10/2017: Mesa 17.2.3, New Ubuntu Release, Samsung Flirts With GNU/Linux Desktops

    Links for the day



  2. Some of the USPTO's Most Ridiculous Patents Are Scrutinised by “Above the Law” While Dennis Crouch Attempts to Tarnish Alice

    Controversies over patent scope and level of novelty required for a patent; as usual, public interest groups try to restrict patent scope, whereas those who make money out of abundance of patents attempt to remove every barrier



  3. Microsoft's Software Patents Aggression in Court (Corel Again)

    Microsoft's tendency to not only abuse the competition but also to destroy it with patent lawsuits as seen in Corel's case



  4. The Spanish Supreme Court Rejects the EPO's “Problem and Solution Approach” While Quality of European Patents Nosedives

    European Patents (EPs) aren't what they used to be and their credibility is being further eroded and even detected as such



  5. Europe is Being Robbed by Team Battistelli and the UPC/PPH Would Make Things Worse

    The European Patent Office (EPO) has put litigation at the forefront, having implicitly decided to no longer bother with proper patent examination and instead issue lots of patents for judges and lawyers to argue about (at great expense to the public)



  6. Team UPC Continues to Promote Illusion of UPC Progress Where There's None

    The core members of Team UPC in the UK spread obvious falsehoods in the media, probably in an effort to attract 'business' (consultation regarding something that does not exist)



  7. António Campinos: A True EPO Reformer or More of the Same?

    More unfortunate reminders that Campinos and Battistelli don't quite diverge on the big issues, they're just more than two decades apart in age (but the same nationality)



  8. Juve Has Confirmed That António Campinos is French

    The relationship between Campinos and Battistelli has a nationality aspect to it, not even taking into account the interpersonal connection which goes a long way back



  9. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO - Part II: António Campinos at Banco Caixa Geral de Depósitos

    A look at the largely-hidden banking career of the next President of the EPO and the career of the person who competed with him for this position



  10. SUEPO to the Media, Regarding Campinos: “No Comment, It’s Too Dangerous”

    António Campinos, who is Benoît Battistelli's chosen successor at the EPO, as covered by German media earlier this month



  11. Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Willing to Work With Campinos But Foresees Difficulties

    New message from SUEPO regarding Battistelli's successor of choice (Campinos)



  12. Links 18/10/2017: GTK+ 3.92, Microsoft Bug Doors Leaked

    Links for the day



  13. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO - Part I: Introduction

    Some new details about Mr. Campinos, who is Battistelli’s successor at the EPO



  14. Confessions of EPO Insiders Reveal That European Patents (EPs) Have Lost Their Legitimacy/Value Due to Battistelli's Policies

    A much-discussed topic at the EPO is now the ever-declining quality of granted patents, which make or break patent offices because quality justifies high costs (searches, applications, renewals and so on)



  15. Patent Firms From the United States Try Hard to Push the Unitary Patent (UPC), Which Would Foment Litigation Wars in Europe

    The UPC push seems to be coming from firms which not only fail to represent public interests but are not even European



  16. In the Age of Alice and PTAB There is No Reason to Pursue Software Patents in the United States (Not Anymore)

    The appeal board in the US (PTAB) combined with a key decision of the Supreme Court may mean that even at a very low cost software patents can be invalidated upon demand (petition) and, failing that, the courts will invalidate these



  17. IAM is Wrong, the Narrative Isn't Changing, Except in the Battistelli-Funded (at EPO's Expense) Financial Times

    The desperate attempts to change the narrative in the press culminate in nothing more than yet another misleading article from Rana Foroohar and some rants from Watchtroll



  18. The Federal Circuit Continues Squashing Software Patents

    Under the leadership of Sharon Prost the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) continues its war on software patents, making it very hard to remember the last time it tolerated any



  19. SUEPO Representatives Like Elizabeth Hardon Vindicated as Battistelli's Detrimental Effect on Patent Quality is Widely Confirmed

    Feedback regarding the awful refusal to acknowledge patent quality crisis at the EPO as well as the appointment of a President so close to Battistelli (who most likely assures continuation of his policies)



  20. Links 17/10/2017: KDE Frameworks 5.39.0, Safe Browsing in Epiphany

    Links for the day



  21. Judge Bryson Rules Against Allergan After It Used Native American Tribes to Dodge Scrutiny of Patents (IPRs); Senator Hatch Does Not Understand IPRs

    Having attempted to dodge inter partes reviews (IPRs) by latching onto sovereign immunity, Allergan loses a key case and Senator Hatch is meanwhile attempting to water down IPRs albeit at the same time bemoaning patent trolls (which IPRs help neutralise)



  22. Rumours That António Campinos Initially Had No Competition at All (for Battistelli's Succession) Are Confirmed

    Succession at the EPO (mostly French) shows that there's little room for optimism and Battistelli's people are too deeply entrenched in the upper echelons of the EPO



  23. EPO Stakeholders Complain That the New Chairman Does Not Grasp the Issues at the EPO (or Denies These)

    Some information from inside the EPO’s Administrative Council, whose Chairman is denying (at least to himself) some of the core issues that render the EPO less competitive in the international market



  24. Another Misleading Article Regarding Patents From Rana Foroohar at the Financial Times

    In an effort to promote the agenda of patent maximalists, many of whom are connected to the Financial Times, another deceiving report comes out



  25. Monika Ermert's Reports About the Crisis at the EPO and IP Kat's Uncharacteristically Shallow Coverage

    News from inside the Council shows conflict regarding the quality of European Patents (granted by the EPO under pressure from top-level management)



  26. Patent Troll VirnetX a Reminder to Apple That Software Patents Are a Threat to Apple Too

    VirnetX, a notorious patent troll, is poised to receive a huge sum of money from Apple and Qualcomm is trying to ban Apple products, serving to remind Apple of the detrimental impact of patents on Apple itself



  27. Links 16/10/2017: Linux 4.14 RC5, Debian 9.2.1, End of LibreOffice Conference 2017

    Links for the day



  28. The Systematic Erosion of Workers' Rights and Holidays at the EPO Goes Years Back

    The legitimacy of the staff's concerns at the EPO, having seen basic labour safeguards being shredded to pieces by Battistelli for a number of years (predating even the escalation of the conflict)



  29. Articles in English and German Speak About the Decline in Quality of European Patents (Granted by the EPO)

    Heise and The Register, two sites that have closely watched EPO affairs for a number of years, speak about the real problem which is declining patent quality (or rushed examination) -- a recipe for frivolous litigation in Europe



  30. Software Patents and Patent Trolls Not a Solved Issue, But the US is Getting There

    A media survey regarding software patents, which are being rejected in the US in spite of all the spin from law firms and bullies such as IBM


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts