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Don’t Let Novell (and Microsoft) Control GNU/Linux, Licences, and Open Office

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Office Suites, OpenOffice, Oracle, SUN at 8:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MS Novell

Summary: Dangers of Moonlight seen in a different light (but same angle); OpenOffice.org needs to be kept away from Novell

EARLIER on today we wrote about Microsoft's fanfare over the release of Microsoft Moonlight. The Microsoft-oriented Elizabeth Montalbano (at IDG) covered it promptly just like other reporters who pick the same theme. By contrast, Sean who is actually a GNU/Linux user talked about the problems which make Moonlight quite so controversial (and forbidden in Fedora's case).

Yes there is still a debate about the media codecs themselves which are still proprietary, even though Microsoft is making them freely available via Novell. Questions about Free Software purity aside, Moonlight is about enabling Linux users with the ability to view the same content as Windows users. With Moonlight in play, Microsoft can rightfully claim that Silverlight isn’t just for Windows.

Those who are not careful enough mistakenly call Microsoft Moonlight a “port” of Silverlight. It’s not a port by any stretch of imagination. And in a similar vein, Go-OO from Novell is a fork of OpenOffice.org [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], whose 3.1.0 release is currently being deployed across mirrors. If the following new articles bear truth, then Novell’s fork could spell trouble. The last thing the community needs is a Microsoft ally in virtual charge of Open Office development (whichever variant is dominant).

The setting Sun: responses to the acquisition

Another project with a cloudy future is OpenOffice.org, Sun’s open source office suite. Sun’s stewardship of OpenOffice.org has been mired in controversy. The company often clashed with other major contributors, especially Novell. Many critics of Sun’s conduct have called for OpenOffice.org to be spun off into an independent foundation with vendor-neutral governance so that all interested parties can participate in enhancing the project on even footing. Such advocacy has been renewed in the wake of the acquisition.

Saving OpenOffice From Itself (And Oracle)

The big question is: will Oracle let such a thing happen? If they don’t, the only alternative may be to fork it and let IBM (via the Lotus Symphony project) or Novell (via Go-OO) pick up the pieces. The former brought a great sense of design and integration to the suite; the latter a tenacity to improve the whole in ways that were previously neglected. Maybe the two of them can join forces on this one; they’d both have everything to gain.

The Sun ain’t gonna shine on OpenOffice any more

Everyone who has cheerfully been using OpenOffice for the past seven or eight years must face the prospect that the new owners will drop the project. As it’s open source, this is easily accomplished by “releasing it into the community”, which will make it reliant on Novell and IBM, the only other companies to put significant numbers of programmers into the work.

By all means, do not ever allow Microsoft’s close ally to control the rival of Microsoft’s #1 cash cow. It won’t work. SUSE never worked for Novell because the companies hardly compete, except Microsoft which mostly divides and conquers.

“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”

LinuxToday Managing Editor

Novell and Vista

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  1. Will said,

    May 7, 2009 at 6:46 am


    If I recall correctly, the version of OpenOffice in the official Ubuntu repositories is actually Go-OO, even though it doesn’t come right out and say that. Vanilla OO.org works just fine on Ubuntu though, as I’ve been manually updating it from the OO.org site since the official Ubuntu repos stay frozen on the same release version within an Ubuntu release.

    I’ve no idea how the Oracle-Sun thing will turn out for OO.org, and while it may turn out well in the end, I wonder what might have resulted if IBM had acquired Sun and subsequently fused OpenOffice 3.x with Lotus Symphony (which was forked from OO.org 1.x code) to perhaps create a new office suite better than either of them.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IBM currently builds a version of Lotus Symphony which is based on OpenOffice.org 3.0. IBM won’t allow OpenOffice.org development to dry up.

  2. souskel said,

    May 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm


    “The last thing the community needs is a Microsoft ally in virtual charge of Open Office development (whichever variant is dominant).”

    Your argument that Go-OO is a hostile fork because of Novell’s association with Microsoft seems like a bit of a false dichotomy, Roy. Sun has a patent agreement with Microsoft that covers OpenOffice.org and it’s pretty much the same as the deal that Novell has with Microsoft. To make matters even more sketchy, Sun says that patent indemnification is a major selling point of their commercial StarOffice program.

    Why all the love for Sun? Wrt OOo, they are as much in bed with Microsoft as Novell is.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 7, 2009 at 12:44 pm


    Oracle in bed with Microsoft? Tell that to Ellison.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Oh, they must be. You can buy Oracle for Windows.


    Personally, I’m sure they were sorely tempted to laugh in the face of the people who were asking for Oracle on Windows, of all the platforms. But there’s infinite sums of money in serving those who refuse to think.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    80% or 90% run UNIX/Linux, mostly Red Hat/Unbreakable. There are up-to-date statistics on their Web site somewhere.

    Oracle also releases software to GNU/Linux before it releases it to Windows.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Oracle is a serious performance database for when you need something with serious performance. Unix and Linux versions both involve ridiculous amounts of performance tweaking, custom file systems, etc. That sort of thing plus Windows is so stupid that anyone asking for it probably deserves to pay for it.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’ve found it.

    Oracle’s market share on Linux was 82.6 percent in 2006, up from 80.6 percent in 2005

    The newer figures are even better.

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