01.29.11

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LibreOffice Clarifies OOXML Situation and Role of Novell’s Influence

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 11:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The ‘umbrella’ of LibreOffice, The Document Foundation, explains that Novell’s deal with Microsoft does not apply to it

THIS Web site, Techrights, was one of the sites which broke the news about LibreOffice (to ensure no misunderstandings we were contacted weeks in advance). There has been criticism of this project, however, notably because of OOXML exporting [1, 2]. In order to clarify this situation, The Document Foundation has just released a LibreOffice FAQ relating only to OOXML doubts. Among the parts:

Ah! So Novell is bringing in odd software bits from Microsoft to betray Free Software!

That’s not really a question, but there are some things that are quite clear to the Document Foundation:

* Novell and the Document Foundation are not the same entities, nor does Novell own the Document Foundation. Novell is one contributor, among several others, to the Document Foundation.
* The patches related to the Microsoft Office formats support coming from Novell are the indirect result of the a specific agreement between Novell and Microsoft. We use the word “indirect” here, as the agreement covers the software known as “OpenOffice Novell Edition”, and that’s not the same as LibreOffice.
* To the best of the knowledge of the Document Foundation, there is no specific agreement between Novell and Microsoft about LibreOffice. (But then again, we are not Novell nor do we represent the company in any way).

“Excuse me,” wrote Groklaw in response to this, “but this is a little too smooth, because if LibreOffice includes those OpenOffice patches, and apparently it does, what in the world would require a specific contract regarding LibreOffice? If the patches are patent-encumbered, for example, would LibreOffice get a pass from the courts because the patch was designed for OpenOffice? Obviously not. If there is any chance of that, then why not make the patches optional by default, and the wiki says you can ship LibreOffice without those patches? That way those of us in countries with wacky patent laws can avoid difficulties.”

Techrights has covered this subject since 2007 and Groklaw woke up to it only a few weeks ago. Separately, Groklaw wrote: “If you do technical work for Microsoft to help it be more interoperable, then, are you helping or hurting FOSS in this context? Something to think about.”

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10 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    January 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Gravatar

    The idea of interoperating with every file format under the sun is a fundamentally good one. MS Office 2007 is standard in my workplace, and the OOo with Ubuntu 10.04 does fine with its binary file blobs. Two way file fidelity is essential to be a drop-in replacement for the incumbent and is necessary to OOo superseding MSO.

  2. David Gerard said,

    January 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Gravatar

    In fact, the most annoying thing for me is that OOo or variants do not know how to read Word 5 for Mac (or, indeed, any Word format before Word 6) – as I had a pile of old documents in Word 5 for Mac which I wanted to convert, and had to use MSO :-(

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That’s importing though, the controversy is about exporting.

    David Gerard Reply:

    No, export is a necessary part of displacing the incumbent. If LibreOffice does what MSO 2007 does, but users like it more, it can slide into place in an environment where MSO 2007 is presumed; if it can’t, it won’t.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    No, export is a necessary part of displacing the incumbent.

    But how so (if exporting as OOXML)? The rest of the claim does not back the beginning, IMHO.

    David Gerard Reply:

    So that a LO user can participate in an MSO office environment without being told to stop using the software.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But Office users can handle .DOC.

    David Gerard Reply:

    But they get shirty if what they get isn’t exactly what they expect.

    I’m talking entirely from practical experience of using Ubuntu in a Windows/MSO environment. Two-way conversion is necessary for me to be allowed to keep doing this. It is, in point of fact, the expectation.

    You appear to be talking in terms of how a more ideal, sensible world would work – but if the world was ideal and sensible, then we’d be using Linux on the desktop already. In this bitter and imperfect world, for LO to be an effective cuckoo it’s got to imitate the incumbent very well indeed in interoperation.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The question it, will colleagues strictly require OOXML is sent to them?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    /it/is/

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