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11.15.13

Oracle Continues Its Destruction of Free/Libre Software, But Projects Like LibreOffice, MariaDB, and Ceylon Show That Popular Free/Libre Software Just Can’t Die

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Java, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Larry Ellison: “If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We'll Simply Take It.”
Larry Ellison: “We Have to Exploit Open Source.”

Larry Elllison on stage
Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications

Summary: Oracle’s latest casualty is commercial support for Glassfish JEE Server, but replacements for Java continue to multiply

Oracle has hardly been friendly towards FOSS, and that’s putting it very politely. Oracle actively attacked some FOSS (like Android) and shelved some important FOSS projects like OpenOffice.org, eventually turning it into Apache OpenOffice and then turning its back on it. In addition, Oracle’s abandonment of Java products seems evident [1] (Glassfish JEE Server this time), leaving the likes of Red Hat to bridge the gap [2], joining the likes of Google with Dalvik. Oracle has been a disappointing steward of Java and Java-based projects, so when it comes to branching off in different directions, that’s just fine. As for MySQL, MariaDB — like LibreOffice — helps keep it somewhat safe from Oracle’s neglect [3] (a lot of applications out there still depend on MySQL [4,5]) and there are some big new storage players [6,7] which jeopardise Oracle’s core business (MySQL was an Oracle rival, but so was Postgres, well before Apache Cassandra and and Apache Hadoop).

It remains hard to explain why Oracle turned its back on OpenOffice.org like this. Back in the days Oracle put its weight behind ODF and even opposed OOXML, which is a growing problem [8]. Now we have two options [9], both the IBM-backed [10] Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which is mostly driven by users’ needs (see [11] from Charles-H. Schulz), has frequent releases [12], and is focused on innovation [13], not profit. There are smaller players in this lucrative area of office suites, both Free/libre [14] and proprietary [15], but none is as important as what used to be StarOffice. Nothing other than OpenOffice.org could really challenge and replace Microsoft Office in businesses (from proprietary lock-in to freedom and standards).

The important thing we can learn from all this is that when software is free in the licensing sense it is extremely difficult for aggressors like Oracle to kill. The licence of the code protects the software; developers can take the code and continue the work elsewhere, as long as there is enough demand to drive development. There is another lesson to be learned here. For a business, it is a lot less risky to choose Free/libre software as chances of discontinuation are fairly low, especially when the software is well-established (like Linux and Apache).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Oracle abandons commercial support for Glassfish JEE Server
  2. Red Hat ships piping hot Ceylon to curry favor with Java-weary devs

    After more than three years of development, Red Hat has released version 1.0.0 of Ceylon, its homebrewed, open-source programming language that’s designed to be a replacement for Java.

    Early on, Ceylon was billed as a “Java killer” by some, but lead developer Gavin King has denied that doing away with Oracle’s platform was ever his intent. In fact, even the earliest builds of Ceylon produced code that ran on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

    Instead, King sought to create a new language that could run alongside Java but would be based on more modern class libraries and would have a syntax more amenable to defining user interfaces – something King believes there is “no good way” to do in Java.

    In its current form, King describes Ceylon as a “cross-platform” language. The 1.0.0 release, announced at the Devoxx conference in Antwerp, Belgium on Tuesday, includes compilers that can output either Java bytecode or JavaScript.

    That allows the same Ceylon source modules to run on either the JVM or a JavaScript execution environment such as Node.js, interchangeably. Or, a Ceylon program can be written to target only one of Java or JavaScript, in which case it can interoperate with native code written in that language.

  3. Oracle’s nemesis MariaDB releases sleekest seal yet to beta

    The news came out at the Extremely Large Databases (XLDB) conference in Stanford, California on Wednesday, one month after El Reg reported that Google had assigned one of its engineers to the MariaDB Foundation. News of the swap was not an official announcement by Google, it came out during a presentation by Google senior systems engineer Jeremy Cole on the general state of the MySQL ecosystem.

  4. MySQL Performance and Tuning Best Practices
  5. MySQL Security Best Practices
  6. Cassandra 2.0: The next generation of big data

    Apache has just released Apache Cassandra v2.0, the latest version of its popular highly-scalable, big data distributed database.

  7. Hortonworks to seek IPO within two years, CEO says

    The Palo Alto, California-based company is a Yahoo Inc spin-off founded in 2011 by a team of software engineers working on Yahoo’s Apache Hadoop implementation.

  8. Shall we waste twelve more years promoting Free office suites instead of open office formats?

    Twelve (TWELVE!!!) years ago I asked OpenOffice users “Are you advocating OO correctly”. Six years ago I said the same things in a different format. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a perfect proof that that kind of advocacy IS right, but so far has been never practiced enough.

  9. Apache OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice

    Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice are the modern descendants of OpenOffice.org. For the last few years, almost all Linux distributions have included LibreOffice as their default office suite. However, in the past eighteen months, OpenOffice has reappeared, newly organized into an Apache project, and free software users now have the choice of two full-featured suites instead of one.

  10. IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice

    The latest, and most significant, enabler of enterprise use of Apache OpenOffice is our IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice offering. Although individual end-users and even small businesses can easily deploy Apache OpenOffice on their own (75 million downloads testifies to that), larger enterprises with more complicated and demanding needs benefit from the kind of expertise that IBM can provide. So I’m glad to see this offering available to fill out the ecosystem, so everyone can use and be successful with Apache OpenOffice, from individual university students, to small non-profits, to large international corporations.

  11. Users: the Final Frontier?

    A few weeks ago we started to have a quite interesting discussion on the LibreOffice project’s marketing mailing list on how to engage users in our community. Readers of Moved by Freedom – Powered by Standards may remember that during the LibreOffice Conference of 2012 in Berlin, the marketing strategy had already defined that the mission of marketing for the LibreOffice project was not to market a product but rather to grow the size of the community of contributors, improve the communications and raise the brand awareness of LibreOffice. This strategy was clearly reaffirmed during our second marketing workshop in Milano in September 2013.

  12. LibreOffice 4.2 Alpha 1 To Bring Many Improvements

    LibreOffice was bumped today for version 4.2.0 Alpha 1, the next major update to the popular open-source office suite.

  13. Forget about meeting customers’ expectations: Innovation comes first

    … and so does pesky market research. The IT bubble has been spreading the word about this Forrester report and as you can imagine it got many of us wondering what it really means. Well it got me wondered about a few things too, but perhaps not for the same reasons others twisted their heads around..

  14. AbiWord: The little word processor that could
  15. Pages 5: An unmitigated disaster

    It certainly is not intended for people who, like me, appreciated the combination of simplicity and power that was the hallmark of previous versions of Pages. I realize that it must be hard to maintain the right balance between simplicity and power when you try to add more features, more customizability, and so on. But Apple’s engineers appear to have chosen to keep the emphasis on “simplicity” at the expense of “power”. They have not just neglected to add features to bring the feature set of the application closer to that of a word processor like Microsoft Word. They have actually removed many features for no apparent reason other than to bring the application in line with its iOS counterpart, which is, inevitably, much less powerful.

    [...]

    I guess that, in an era of mobile, touch-based computing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Apple engineers to understand that document writers spend most of their days with their hands on an actual keyboard, and providing easy access to functionality via the keyboard is particularly important for them.

10.24.13

The World According to Forrester’s Clients: Bashing Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenOffice at 9:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest FUD from Forrester and who’s behind it; more on IBM’s Power PR and why it should not be taken at face value

AS we showed in previous years, the marketing company (masquerading as “analyst”) called Forrester is Microsoft’s go-to entity for Free software bashing and GNU/Linux FUD. Microsoft literally pays Forrester to produce reports that belittle GNU/Linux. It’s just a real damn shame that Forrester gets caught doing this and Microsoft’s red-handed actions have them red-faced in the international press.

As one who spent many years working with statistics (common tool in computer vision) I am quite familiar with ways of cheating and Forrester [via [1]] seems to be cheating again [2], in pretty much the same way that IDC cheapted for Microsoft several years ago. If one looks carefully enough at who Forrester has surveyed, it is “a survey of 155 Forrester clients with responsibility for those investments.” Who are those clients and what are their relative roles? It doesn’t say. Forrester is gleefully generalising based on this biased sample (geographically, economically, etc.); classic tactic. ‘Disclosure’ without even names.

ZDNet, the vile tabloid which gave Forrester a blog (conflict of interest), already covers this paid-for propaganda as though it is factual and also “news” [3], claiming (in the headline even) that “Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice” (no attribution to Forrester even).

“Forrester is gleefully generalising based on this biased sample (geographically, economically, etc.); classic tactic.”Really? Says who? Says Forrester. So is Forrester registering billions of users’ computers and then doing a census? Of course not, see the methodologies. It’s bogus, but Forrester tries to pass it off as “professional”. Well, professional FUD it sure is because it is penetrating the press and is proving effective (FUD well worth the money). Microsoft-friendly press puts that forth as some kind of universal fact, not even scrutinising the methods, the messengers, the funder, the polled population, etc. That’s not real journalism, it’s simply PR relayed via Forrester.

Taking into account what Rob Weir (of IBM) says this week [4], “[t]he OpenOffice brand is strong and growing. Over 30% of consumers surveyed had heard of it. Of those who had heard of it, 67% had given it a try.” He also says that “[o]f those who tried OpenOffice almost 78% continued to use OpenOffice.”

Sounds pretty decent, but the IBM-dominated Apache OpenOffice is not to be trusted either. IBM in general is not worth trusting, definitely not with it comes to “trusted computing”. Regarding IBM Power investments, which have had a Linux-themed PR campaign, some say that it’s partly about the NSA: [via Gary Edwards]

The Other Reason Why IBM Throws A Billion At Linux (With NSA- Designed Backdoor)

[...]

Then another boon for IBM. Experts at the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BIS) determined that Windows 8 is dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a “special surveillance chip,” the wonderfully named Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and a backdoor in the software – with keys likely accessible to the NSA and possibly other third parties, such as the Chinese. Risks: “Loss of control over the operating system and the hardware” [read…. LEAKED: German Government Warns Key Entities Not To Use Windows 8 – Links The NSA.

Governments and companies overseas paid rapt attention. They’re big customers of our American tech heroes – and they’re having second thoughts, and some are cancelling orders. Tech companies are feeling the heat. A debacle IBM apparently decided not to let go to waste.

This is a story worth exploring in isolation.

What are the true numbers behind OpenOffice and LibreOffice adoption? It’s hard to tell without a census. Free software is being spread vertically and unless it’s improperly designed it also discourages spying that’s needed to count the number of active installations. If Forrester claims to know how OpenOffice and LibreOffice are doing, then it is lying; but on whose behalf? My wife uses OpenOffice at this very moment while I’m typing this. She uses a Live CD, so how can the likes of Forrester count it? They can’t. They can only pretend to be able to.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Office Productivity Software Is No Closer To Becoming A Commodity | Forrester Blogs
  2. Office Productivity Software Is No Closer To Becoming A Commodity
  3. Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice but cloud tools gain ground

    Nine out of 10 firms simply give staff the installed version of Office, with only six percent offering some or all employees a non-Microsoft alternative, according to a Forrester survey.

  4. The Power of Brand and the Power of Product, Part 3

    The OpenOffice brand is strong and growing. Over 30% of consumers surveyed had heard of it. Of those who had heard of it, 67% had given it a try. That number is changed little. This is an opportunity for Apache OpenOffice marketing volunteers to improve both of these numbers. Of those who tried OpenOffice almost 78% continued to use OpenOffice. This is a modest increase, but there is certainly room to improve here. Put it altogether, and the estimated user share, the percentage of US internet users who use OpenOffice “sometimes” or “regularly” is 16.1%, nearly a 50% improvement year-over-year.

Procurement Corruption: Followup on “Open Bar” Contract Between Microsoft and the French Ministry of Defence

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The NSA-friendly back doors chosen politically, barring technical considerations and assessment

Flag of France

Summary: Forced disclosure of administrative documents in France reveals a secret Microsoft deal which is purely political and not technical

FOLLOWING our coverage of Microsoft and spooks collaborating (two months before the NSA leaks began), APRIL (software freedom advocacy group in France) sent us what it called a “[f]ollowup on “Open Bar” contract between Microsoft and French ministry of Defence,” stating:

you wrote a few months ago an article about the “Open Bar” contract
between Microsoft and French ministry of Defence

http://techrights.org/2013/04/21/nato-and-microsoft/.

FYI We published last weeks news documents. These documents show that
choosing an Open Bar contract was indeed the result of a political
decision which clearly was made before the feasibility and risks studies
were being performed.

Read on :

http://www.april.org/en/open-bar-contract-between-microsoft-and-french-ministry-defence-new-documents-support-political-game

This page says: “This framework contract, which was signed without any open call for tender or competitive procedure, granted right of use on some Microsoft products and associated services for the duration of the contract, i.e. four years. It was signed in complete secrecy, despite numerous negative opinions, and was the subject of several leaks to the press.”

“Taking advantage of this information, we made two successive requests for administrative documents. The first one obtained a partially usable response. We are now publishing the released documents resulting from the second one.”

This is very fascinating and it can give clues as to what happens in other countries. France is generally considered one of the most FOSS-friendly countries in the world when it comes to the public sector (based on Europe-wide assessment from professional assessors it was ranked first). Microsoft's assault on standards, which include ODF, was very interesting in France because then too it involved political corruption and involvement by Nicolas Sarkozy, who was close to Microsoft executives. This led to OOXML apologism and adoption [1, 2],

It is clear that Microsoft is intimidated (poor Microsoft!) if not deeply shocked to find the French police moving to GNU/Linux. Other proprietary software vendors are becoming “legacy vendors” as some call them [1] and as proprietary systems show massive failures in the British public sector, e.g. [2], we are likely to see more nations embracing Free/libre software (new example in [3,4]), with ODF leading the way in many cases (LibreOffice gets more support [5,6] and development effort [7]). Speaking of the UK, things change here for the better and just yesterday the UK Home Office became a client of the company I work for.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Does Open Source’s Rise Spell The End Of Traditional Software Vendors?

    It’s clear that open source is shaking up the technology industry. What isn’t yet clear is how this impacts legacy vendors.

  2. Abandoned NHS IT system has cost £10bn so far

    Richard Bacon, a Conservative member of the committee, said the report was further evidence of a “systemic failure” in the government’s ability to draw up and manage large IT contracts. “This saga is one of the worst and most expensive contracting fiascos in the history of the public sector.

  3. Finland Gets Free/Libre Open Source Software
  4. Open source search engine for Finnish libraries and museums

    A recently unveiled search engine for accessing the collections of Finland’s archives, libraries and museums was built on open source, announces the country’s National Library. “The advantage of open source is that it enables organisations to work together to develop a system without limits, contracts or procedures.” The engine itself is also made publicly available.

  5. Studio Storti joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board to Complement the Launch of the LibreOffice Division

    The Document Foundation (TDF) announces that Studio Storti is now a member of its Advisory Board. Studio Storti is the largest provider of open source solutions to the Italian Public Administration, and is launching a LibreOffice Division to support migrations from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice.

  6. CloudOn joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board to Accelerate LibreOffice Availability on Mobile Devices
  7. LibreOffice 4.1.2 RC2 Finally Fixes the TIFF Import

10.18.13

Oracle Hates Free/Libre Software

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We’ll Simply Take It.”Larry Ellison

Summary: A roundup of news about Oracle, which took and ripped apart many valuable Free/Open Source software (FOSS) projects

MATT ASAY, who sells FOSS databases (a disruptive force), points out [1] that “Oracle Still Hates Open Source Software” because, based on some reports [2,3], The United States’ Department of Defense is being lobbied by Oracle to avoid FOSS. Remember that Oracle has roots and connections with the CIA/NSA. This is an organisational position, not some opinion posted by an employee in some personal blog. Oracle’s current position on patents is also troubling.

As pointed out by some [4], VirtualBox is oddly enough one of the few FOSS projects which Oracle did not shoot in the back [5], maybe because it helps run proprietary operating systems. Most famously, Oracle chose to litigate with software patents over Java and pretty much abandoned OpenOffice.org, passing it to Apache at the end. Microsoft Office is widely loathed by technical people [6], so Oracle missed a real opportunity here. South Tyrol wants to be using ODF/LibreOffice [7] to avoid layoffs (through savings) while LibreOffice conferences [8] and workshops [9] show that despite SUSE stepping out of backing/support for this project (just like Oracle), FOSS is just too hard to kill. Too bad for Larry Ellison, who can’t just buy FOSS out of existence

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. News Flash: Oracle Still Hates Open Source Software

    Oracle wants the U.S. Department of Defense to believe open source costs more and is less reliable. Too bad the DOD knows better.

  2. Oracle tells the military to buy their products instead of using open source

    Oracle has never been shy about promoting its products. The Register is reporting today that Oracle is recommending that the military stay away from open source apps.

  3. Oracle says open source has no place in military apps

    Oracle has popped out a white paper that may well turn some heads, because it contains robust criticism of open source software.

    Titled “The Department of Defense (DoD) and Open Source Software” and available here as a PDF to those with Oracle accounts or here in Dropbox, the document’s premise is that folks in the USA’s Department of Defense (DoD) could think it is possible to save money if they “… avoid buying commercial software products simply by starting with open source software and developing their own applications.”

  4. VirtualBox 4.3 Lets You Run Many Cutting-Edge Platforms at Once

    It’s been interesting to watch which components of Sun Microsystems’ portfolio of products–many of which were open source projects–Oracle has chosen to embrace or abandon since its acquisition of Sun. One project that it hasn’t jettisoned is VirtualBox, which has just arrived in a new version 4.3. The popular hypervisor is now tuned to work with operating systems that have just arrived, including Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.9 ( “Mavericks” ), and it’s also tuned to work smoothly with Linux distros. The new version also supports multi-monitor setups and touch interfaces conventions.

  5. VirtualBox 4.3 comes with New Multi-Touch Support, virtual cam and more

    Oracle announced the release of VirtualBox 4.3, this is a major release that comes with important new features, devices support and improvements

  6. Why Microsoft Word must Die

    I hate Microsoft Word. I want Microsoft Word to die. I hate Microsoft Word with a burning, fiery passion.

  7. Avoiding layoffs motivates South Tyrol province-wide switch
  8. Slides for my talk at LibreOffice conference
  9. LibreOffice Marketing Workshop Milano 2013 – an overview

    This year saw, among other conferences, the second marketing strategy workshop for the LibreOffice project. While a workshop’s slides tend to be rather short and relatively unimportant, I intended to publlish some feedback that’s on the Marketing Pad as well as my own impressions about the state of marketing activities in the project. My slides emphasized what was going wrong more than what was right but it was nonetheless useful to start the workshop on that basis.

07.26.13

Marketing Free Software as ‘Similar to Microsoft’ is Always a Bad Idea

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 1:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ooxml_demo_4.jpg

Summary: Marketing OOXML as part of the announcement of LibreOffice 4.1 and why it is a bad idea that Apache OpenOffice 4 won’t embrace

Microsoft represents exceptionally bad behaviour, including serious crimes, ‘cleansing’ (planned purge) of competitors and occasionally for producing shoddy products, too (resulting in users being sent to prison or entire enterprises destroyed). Nobody deserves to be compared to Microsoft. There should be a Godwin-like law for such comparisons.

Having our own strengths and adapting to future trends is the selling point of Free software, aside from freedom. But some seem to forget the abuse associated with OOXML (bribes, blackmail, etc.), which leads to marketing free/libre office suites as having just “OOXML improvements”. The Microsoft booster does it, but that doesn’t mean that we should too.

In the past few days there were two major releases of office suites and coverage was inclusive of the following (including original announcements) for Apache™ OpenOffice™ 4.0:

  • Apache OpenOffice 4 is here

    Apache OpenOffice 4.0 has been released. This is the first major milestone release since the Free and Open Source software Office suite was donated to the Apache Software Foundation by Oracle.

    It is also the first Apache OpenOffice version that includes code and features merged from IBM’s Symphony. So this is not just a cleanup of the old OpenOffice code that you used to use before LibreOffice was forked from it. It’s much more than that.

  • OpenOffice 4.0 released, introduces sidebar interface

    The new version of OpenOffice, has introduced a new sidebar, designed to take advantage of widescreen monitors. The side bar has been taken from IBM’s Lotus Symphony office Suite, which was a fork of OpenOffice.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache™ OpenOffice™ 4.0
  • AOO 4.0 Release Notes

    Apache OpenOffice 4.0 is now available for download from our official download page. Building upon the great success of the OpenOffice 3.4 release, which has seen over 57 million downloads, this major update brings exciting new features, enhancements and bug fixes. OpenOffice 4.0 features an innovative new Sidebar user interface, additional language support for 22 languages (including 3 new languages), 500 bug fixes, improvements in Microsoft Office interoperability, enhancements to drawing/graphics, performance improvements, etc. You can read the details of these later in these Release Notes.

  • Apache Releases Open Source OpenOffice 4

    The Apache Software Foundation is out with a major new milestone release of the open source OpenOffice suite. The new OpenOffice 4 release marks a major new stage in the evolution of the open source project at Apache.

    “This is a big update, a release nearly a year in the making,” Rob Weir, Apache OpenOffice Project Management Committee, told Datamation. “The volume of changes in Apache OpenOffice, the more visible ones as well as the many improvements behind the scenes, justifies a major version increment.”

It has been disappointing to see LibreOffice in particular putting forth OOXML as a selling point, Even Swapnil Bhartiya uses the “interoperability” term — the word Microsoft likes to use to dodge talking about standards. He says: “Since Microsoft’s Office suite dominates the landscape, interoperability is key for LibreOffice. While Microsoft refuse to work with other file formats, LibreOffice supports as many file formats possible and in this version “numerous improvements have been made to Microsoft OOXML import and export filters, as well as to legacy Microsoft Office and RTF file filters. Most of these improvements derive from the fundamental activity of certified developers backing migration projects, based on a professional support agreement.””

It is disheartening to see that several years down the line almost nobody even mentions OOXML crimes. Michael Larabel was among those who did not emphasise OOXML at all.

The bottom line is, market Free software based on freedom and technical strength, not something like similarity or adherence to Microsoft. People want to get away from Microsoft, they don’t want an identical substitute. Apache™ OpenOffice™ 4.0 (mostly IBM-driven) does not market OOXML, whereas LibreOffice (mostly SUSE-driven) does to a certain degree. So much for “libre”…

05.30.13

Australia Steps in the Right Direction With New Document Formats Policy

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 8:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sydney
Sydney, Australia

Summary: Although the Australian government does not guarantee the use of open standards and/or Free software, it does give way for better facilitation of those

After years of OOXML-related abuses such as bribes, Microsoft might — just might — see some consequences. According to this announcement from Australia, ODF is a winner, but the “proposal does not require that ODF be used as a standard. Rather, it just specifies that productivity suites must support ODF. Recent versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Google Docs, Libre Office and OpenOffice support the file format,” says this post. It is not entirely true that Microsoft supports ODF; it is just its proprietary hybrid which it labels ODF. The news sites, nonetheless, welcome the news. Here is a bunch of reports about it:

  • Australia mulls requiring OpenDocument Format compatibility

    Australia’s government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.

    The country’s government agencies mostly use Microsoft’s Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the “potential for a vendor ending support for specific format,” wrote John Sheridan, Australia’s chief technology officer.

    If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board for approval.

  • Feds propose Open Document Format support

    The office of the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO) is proposing support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in an annual review of computing system policies.

  • Australia government goes with ODF document standard

    The AGCTO’s office says that requiring support for ODF will not preclude use of other formats and does not mandate use of ODF 1.1. But it will establish ODF 1.1 as the baseline for compatibility within the Australian government. According to Australian tech news site Delimiter, in 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) decided to standardise on Office Open XML, but was pushed to reconsider that choice after receiving complaints. The new proposal has now been published and the AGIMO and AGCTO are seeking public feedback before progressing further.

We previously covered outrage in Australia over choice of OOXML (entryism possibly the cause, i.e. Microsoft moles), so this latest news sure is a positive change and a step in the right direction. Have they just rewritten the policy to conform with a t prior decision of choosing Microsoft Office though? We shall see…

12.05.12

Supporting UEFI in 2012 is Like Supporting OOXML in 2007

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As a reminder, as part of its many OOXML abuses, Microsoft paid companies to ‘support’ OOXML

OOXML Suppets

Summary: The similarities between the effect of adding UEFI code and adding OOXML code to Free software

IN 40 comments or so I have been discussing UEFI with the developer of Shim, whose latest work one can read about in:

  1. Shimming your way to Linux on Windows 8 PCs

    So, while Garrett’s shim will soon be bring many more varieties of Linux to many more Windows 8 PCs, UEFI Secure Boot will remain a significant worry for anyone wanting to run Linux or other alternative operating systems on Windows 8 PCs.

  2. HP Pavilion dm1-4310: SSD installation, and fun with EFI Boot

    Next I went to the other extreme, disabled Legacy Boot and enabled Secure Boot. In this configuration, the Live USB media for Linux Mint and openSuSE wouldn’t even try to boot as they don’t have EFI bootloaders included. Fedora 18 Beta would try, but failed — the necessary security certification is not yet included on the 18 Beta distribution. But Ubuntu 12.10 booted with absolutely no problem. Hooray!

UEFI was designed with lock-down — not just “security” — in mind. It’s like TPM. Thus, Microsoft hoped to embrace the darn thing, making it harder to boot Linux. It doesn’t take a wild theory to deduce this. We saw the same things around 2007, as I explained in comments alluding to hundreds of posts I had written in 2006-2008. Antitrust is bound to be hurt when the anticompetitive is embraced by that who is being hurt.

Speaking of which, check out what Simon Phipps says about Freiburg:

We recently saw the news that the German city of Freiburg had decided to end its open source migration and instead switch to using Microsoft products again. The rationale provided seemed curious to me – after all, at the same time the German city of Munich announced total savings amounting to €10 million from its own successful and ongoing migration.

What seemed odd was there was no account of how they changed course to make the migration succeed. Munich learned lessons from early challenges and updated its strategy in order to succeed. But not Freiburg.

From what I could see, instead of ditching the old versions of MS Office and OpenOffice.org they’d started with and installing up-to-date LibreOffice using expert in-house help, they had just hung on to outdated software and expected staff to muddle through to success. When that didn’t happen, they blamed the software and not the strategy. Everything was in German, so rather than risk misinterpretation I turned to German-speaking friends in the technology industry to explain the report to me (if I got anything wrong, please tell me – the documents seemed very complicated).

My (guided) reading shows three points of concern in the situation over the last four years. First, the only ongoing expenditure in support of the migration is running costs of less than €15 per seat per annum, all associated with licensing supposedly superceded proprietary software. Second, substantial one-off costs of around €231/seat associated with interoperability – a topic that is always an indicator that proprietary software is controlling people’s thinking. Third, no obvious investment in ongoing community engagement or equivalent commercial subscriptions for open source.

“Very good article,” Matthias Kirschner calls it. He is right. Phipps did a fine job and he should know. He was overseeing a lot of aspects of OpenOffice.org for several years at Sun. He also led some efforts to spread ODF and opposed Go-OO, whose team moved on to LibreOffice.

As we showed before, Microsoft had also used OOXML to derail the kind of migrations we saw in Freiburg. Those who were paid by Microsoft to pretend to support OOXML were also to blame. They helped legitimise it. It was always disguised as “choice”, where one choice was lock-in, i.e. no choice. For proprietary software lobbyists, to be “neutral” is to choose proprietary lock-in, as shown in this new article:

Two members of Congress, reaching across the partisan divide, are pushing the government to think broadly — governmentwide — about open-source software, provoking warnings from industry groups that they are ignoring the core principle of technology neutrality.

No, this is not such a matter. To deny choice using lock-in is not to be neutral, it’s to be predatory.

Anyway, one can hopefully grasp the similarity between the two cases; when Microsoft introduces new FOSS-hostile traps it requires that some "useful idiot" — either paid or unpaid — ‘proves’ that the traps are digestable. An effective diplomatic approach is to reject what is worthy of rejection, not give up. This is not a compromise, it is giving up/surrendering to Microsoft,

11.30.12

Moving to ODF Before Microsoft Jacks Up the Prices

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 7:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

Adult gull

Summary: Microsoft uses price hikes in the UK amid discussions about ultimately moving to standards like OpenDocument Format

MR. Updegrove, a standards guru, recently wrote about the new UK standards policy which is FRAND-hostile. FRAND is neither fair nor reasonable; it is about patents, usually software patents. There is more on that here at OSS Watch:

I have just got back from this event organised by the European Commission and the European Patent Office to discuss the implications of implementing open standards in open source. Now of course this is an issue that has been very active in the UK recently, and about which we have blogged, due to the present government’s desire to use open standards as a way of increasing efficiency in government IT procurement. The idea, briefly, is that specifying IT systems in smaller, interoperable chunks that implement open standards should make government IT easier to manage and maintain and more able to be supplied by a wider range of bidders, including authors and integrators of free and open source software. As discussed in the blog linked above, there is an issue with implementing royalty-bearing standards in GPL-licensed software, and as a lot of the free and open source software out there is GPL-licensed, government risks locking this software out if they don’t specify standards that are royalty free.

Well, after a long consultation process, the Cabinet Office has decided that it will indeed make it a principle that government IT should implement interoperability standards that are royalty free…

The founder of the FSFE said that Microsoft had stated FRAND is FOSS-compatible, which is of course a lie. Microsoft did this in an awkward European event on FRAND and OSS. It’s not “reasonable” to ban Free software. According to the British technology press, since lock-in enables raising of prices for little risk associated with customer retention, Microsoft does exactly that: [via]

Microsoft will make businesses pay 15% more for licenses…

It is for particular services. As we showed in the site’s previous posts and will also show in the next one, Office as a service is struggling, just like Windows. Price hikes are the only way for Microsoft to dodge further losses in the long term. Microsoft is struggling most than common people appreciate. They think that widespread usage necessitates financial stability.

Now, before it is too late, governments should follow Munich’s lead (12,000 desktops migrated to GNU/Linux with ODF). The sinking ship if the ageing Microsoft monopoly.

Updegrove explains how a controlled opposition strategy, namely the portrayal of non-open as “open” (OOXML is one example), is being used now:

The debate over what ‘openness’ should mean in the standards arena has been around for a long time – perhaps as long as a hundred years. But in order to understand the current debate, it’s important to realize that we are in phase two of that dialogue.

In the first phase, the definition of openness was pretty well established and nailed to the wall, following the evolution and formalization of the global standards infrastructure. The high level result was the principle of “RAND” terms (the RAND standing for reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), or FRAND terms (adding an F for “Fair,” if you hail from Europe). These terms are backed up by fairly universally accepted process rules for the conduct of standards development in the global standards bodies. In the United States, compliance with the rules is supervised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which until recently accredited almost all U.S. standards setting organizations.

The definition of “open” — with all sorts of slants and variations of it (e.g. “open core”) — has been changing over time because of those who feared Free software and later on Open Source resort to deception. They try to conquer the opposition.

“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, integral part of the ‘Open’ XML corruptions (further background in [1, 2, 3])

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