Bonum Certa Men Certa

Anti-symbiosis: ODF, OOXML, Mono, GNOME, and OpenOffice.org

OpenDocument format (ODF) adoption is still rising quite sharply. As evidence of this consider:

In total, there are now more than two dozen ODF-supporting text, spreadsheet, and presentation applications announced in the past three months


Recent additions include a component of Apple's new operating system, which was release on Friday. Where does Novell stand? Well, it's mildly complex. Novell seems to be having a small conflict of interests although ODF remains its priority. Novell insists on it.

The following news bits brought back memories of the fact that Novell separates OpenOffice.org for Windows and OpenOffice.org for Linux because of its 'special' edition. Ron Hovsepian explained that part of his deal with Microsoft involved such a condition. It was a side effect of restrictions. Novell was allowed to add certain features to OpenOffice.org for Windows, but not for Linux. At the time, it certainly sounded like Microsoft wishes to divide OpenOffice.org and make Windows the more attractive option, even for open source software such as OpenOffice.org. From the short article:

Some of the OpenOffice.org-based variants that you can opt for instead include IBM’s Lotus Symphony Suite http://symphony.lotus.com) and Novell’s OpenOffice Windows edition at www.novell.com.


"Windows edition" is bad news because it means fragmentation. It's "OpenOffice on steroids" and it's likely to be bound by poor limitations that are similar to Moonlight's. As part of Novell's path of getting standards replaced by 'interoperability' Novell has already made OpenOffice.org incompatible with itself. Need the forking issues be mentioned at all? These concerns no longer escape everyone's attention. Consider the following newly-published open letter.

Having Gnome team members promoting the [OOXML] agenda of its main opponent, however, is not only counter-productive but also reflects negatively on the project and its credibility. GNOME is supporting its main opponent by explicitly participating in the official Ecma / ISO process; by participating informally at the conferences; and, presumably, by participating inside of actual [OOXML] development. It seems that Gnome is becoming Microsoft’s catspaw to damage and slow down open source and open standards.


I exchanged some E-mails with Jeff Waugh and I can confirm that GNOME developers are implementing OOXML. In fact, Microsoft has already used Gnumeric as an illustration that OOXML is allegedly supported by other parties. Rob Weir rebutted this argument very quickly by showing many examples from Gnumeric (we covered this here). He proved that Gnumeric is engaged in the task of achieving the impossible. The GNOME team is, sadly enough, helping the Microsoft agenda. It's an agenda of lock-in -- a digital dark age.

"Novell was paid to earn nothing and lose everything, unless its selfish ego is the only thing that counts."The open letter moves on to addressing another issue. As you probably know by now, this site is very concerned about Novell's direction with .NET/Mono and particularly the nature of its deal with Microsoft, which uses Mono as a divider (only Novell receives Mono 'protection', but it it is excluded from other patent deals). See [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33]. Yes, there are many of previous writings on this topic and you can get a taste by hovering over the links with JavaScript enabled. Because of patents and visibility of code (Novell gets to see Microsoft source code), patents and SCO-like claims emerge as a concern in both OpenOffice.org and Mono. The two issues are almost interchangeable in this context and let's not forget that C# gets introduced where OpenOffice.org converters get implemented and added. Novell was paid to earn nothing and lose everything, unless its selfish ego is the only thing that counts.

OOXML and OpenOffice.org can be used as dividers as well -- the dividers that set apart different Linux distributions -- those that pay Microsoft and those that do not (or those that are permitted to interact with Windows and those that are forbidden access to protocols).

The open letter addresses this issue.

For example, one high profile team member can cause a lot of trouble for Gnome, especially when promoting proprietary technologies in opposition to open source and open standards. Quotes like, “Time to play with C#, ASP.NET and some nifty toys (you can make almost Windows feel like Linux now)” seem to be promoting themes advanced by bloggers at Gnome’s (and open standards’) main antagonist, Microsoft.


Miguel de Icaza and GNOME are still conceptually inseparable. It is unfortunate to find that we end up this way.

Mono is Novell

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