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

01.04.11

As India Picks ODF, Novell-Microsoft Influence in LibreOffice Raises Questions (the Unfortunate ‘Go-OO Factor’)

Posted in Asia, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summer palace

Summary: Novell staff is said to be pushing for OOXML write support in LibreOffice just when ODF becomes a standard in more and more large nations

Techrights is a supporter of LibreOffice because it is willing to believe that — as promised to us personally — the project is not steered by Novell employees. Last night in IRC one of or readers raised some concerns about what goes on at LibreOffice and its umbrella organisation. There is active discussion about it in Twitter and in Groklaw. If there are blog posts or articles about it, then we have not come across them yet. The short story is that OOXML write support becomes a controversial subject for all sorts of reasons, some more justifiable than others (and some are fictional). Charles from LibreOffice has kindly responded to us about 3 times already, denying all of the allegations (more on that in Twitter).

For those who are not familiar with this debate, start here in an IRC log from last night. This came at the same time as the news about India going with ODF, which is a fantastic development. To quote a Red Hat employee:

Here is some good news to kick off the new year. As a follow-up to the Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance, the Department of Information Technology has published the “Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India (IFEG).”

The draft of the IFEG lists out the standards approved for e-governance in India. The last date for comments on this draft is 27th Jan 2011.

The current concern is that Novell, which was paid handsomely by Microsoft, may continue pushing for OOXML. We wrote about this last month and this question returns not just due to discussion in Groklaw but also because IBM’s Rob Weir writes that the “Document Foundation debates OOXML support in LibreOffice. With freedom it is hard to be only half pure. http://bit.ly/hjPqMU”. The FFII says: “A user is concerned about #LibreOffice #OOXML write support http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.comp.documentfoundation.discuss/3058″

As Weir added: “Half-pure is starting with the goal of being independent of a Oracle, but then doing what Microsoft is paying Novell to do.”

“Half-pure is starting with the goal of being independent of a Oracle, but then doing what Microsoft is paying Novell to do.”
      –Rob Weir, IBM
As a result of this, Weir comes under another pressure offence from Microsoft, over ODF. He is having a long powwow (about 30 tweets back and forth) with Microsoft employees and also boosters like Jesper Lund Stocholm, starting with messages like this one which says: “if OSS doesn’t add support for OOXML, .NET, XPS, SilverLight , etc., then they’re “detroying your ability to choose”?”

It’s like Microsoft speaking using a peripheral person, Jesper. They spin OOXML as “choice” again. We’ll probably post a little more on this subject at a later date. A lot of it is in Twitter and in our IRC logs. Maybe it’s just a manufactured controversy, it’s still hard to tell without a lot of research and personal queries. There is more in Groklaw comments and interestingly enough, a longtime supporter of Groklaw, Brian Proffitt, opines that Groklaw should open up to more people:

The problem is that in the short term, Groklaw’s mission (stopping SCO from hurting Linux) has basically succeeded. Yes, there are pending appeals from SCO, but Jones is concerned that any efforts to continue the fight against SCO will only serve to help companies like Novell. Other suits are out there, but right now the community interest for those seems to be waning. And, I suspect, Jones’ own interest might be waning: she has been at this since 2003, while facing several personal attacks along the way. The potential for burnout has to be very real.

When one person, any person, gets so wrapped up in something and then has to deal with the lack of that issue in their lives–even if they have won–it has a profound effect.

My most constructive suggestion would be for Groklaw to become a more community-run site. Instead of being a strictly one-person show, perhaps a shift to a more collaboratively run organization is possible. There is precedent: Linus Torvalds is still leading the Linux kernel development, but over the years he has delegated a lot of responsibilities to the various kernel maintainers. Surely there are those in the Groklaw community who could step up and fill similar roles for Groklaw.

I believe this approach would enable Groklaw to dedicate more time to covering all of the different legal issues surrounding FLOSS these days. In effect, it would become a meta-blog, like Huffington Post, or Engadget, or what have you, with a focus on FLOSS legal battles.

Change isn’t easy, but it can be an opportunity to do something bigger than you had ever planned.

The whole post is very thought-provoking and it has attracted Microsoft mobbyists too (libel and crazy theories in the comments).

Addendum: As this post comes into publication time Charles posts this rebuttal in his blog. He also told me: “I think it might be #Oracle trying run some brainfuck here. Oracle more #FOSS than #LibreOffice? Who does benefit from this?”

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

3 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    January 5, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Gravatar

    Mark Preston has a good write up of the choices faced. The core issue is Microsoft acting in bad faith and the futility of trying to implement anything by people who are out screw everyone else. He puts it this way:

    We are left, in short, with just two realistic choices. Either we
    reverse-engineer the OOXML as actually used and let Microsoft scream
    about it (as they certainly would) or we simply ignore the format for
    written documents and write them in the old “doc” format… while
    telling people clearly on the download website that this is because we
    are prevented from using the Microsoft “open” standard. Given the work
    involved in these choices, I would suggest the only realistic option
    is the latter one.

    I agree that chasing Microsoft’s tail is a waste of time. There’s not much new about this except Microsoft’s relative weakness and the fact that no one is using OOXML.

    The rebuttals have a Novel/Microsoft stink. This is especially true of Charles, who defends his position by dismissing other opinions as, ” inaccuracies”, “outright bullshit”, “rumor”, “ignorance”, “the complexity of the matter [aka, you are stupid]“, and “the urge to have a soapbox” promoted by “people who do not know how to contribute to Free and Open Source Software Communities, do not even want to learn but only want to stand on their soapbox and shout whatever they will please.” Vignoli makes the point that his little club is not for people who don’t trust Microsoft, “If you share the idea of being AGAINST Microsoft, TDF and users, then we are happy if you choose the OOo community.” False choices and arrogant insults from people who assume that Microsoft is the center of the universe and that everything Microsoft does must be aped because it will be the next “standard”. This are the same talking points handed to us by the Mono people, Go-OO people and other Novell “engineers”. No thanks.

    Reasonable people will simply wait and see if anyone ever starts using OOXML before wasting time and effort on it. OO.org in squeeze is greatly improved and KDE’s Office suite is also good for the purpose. Free software users have no problems in this department. It’s a truism that the free software world is so large that there’s someone who enjoys doing every task that most people hate with a passion, but implementing OOXML may be an exception to that. I can’t see anyone besides people paid by Novell bothering to implement Microsoft’s insane new file formats.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I forgot to include in my original post Weir’s contention that OOXML write support is not needed because almost nobody uses ‘OOXML’ (Office 2007 pseudo-OOXML); people use Office binary formats and we need to move them towards ODF. I value Weir’s take on it as he’s not from OOo, either.

  2. TemporalBeing said,

    January 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Gravatar

    I quite agree. There had been a somewhat interesting discussion on the TDF-LibreOffice mailing list. Charles came off better than the others, but they all were pretty pissy about the issue saying that write support was a must, even in the face of at least as many people (myself included) that read support should be all LibreOffice does.

    There are organizations out there (like the parent of my employer) that use OOXML-based documents. However, I always convert them back to standard DOC/XLS/etc before sending any replies.

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  2. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  3. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  4. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  5. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism<



  6. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  7. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  8. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  9. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  10. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  11. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  12. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  13. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  14. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  15. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  16. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  17. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  18. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  19. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  20. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  21. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  22. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  23. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  24. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  25. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  26. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  27. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day



  28. Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

    Torvalds' latest talk which got media attention earlier this month



  29. Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

    Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition



  30. Pro-Software Patents Voices Finally Acknowledge the Demise of Software Patents in the United States

    A milestone is reached as even the most zealous supporters of patents on algorithms (or computer-implemented inventions, or software patents) are admitting that the era of software patents may be over


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