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Microsoft/Novell Fork OpenOffice.org and Insult Sun, Warn Your Distributor Now

Michael Meeks is not "just a hacker," he's just a hijacker

This may sound like old news [1, 2, 3, 4], but we can assure you that it's not. In fact, just over a year ago Groklaw was scolded for suggesting Novell had been into a proper fork, yet the reality has since then proven this assessment to be absolutely correct, some would say prophetic.



Novell has turned their downstream build system at OO-Build into a fork of OpenOffice.org into which they are pushing Microsoft's OOXML support and in which they make improvements to OO.o which aren't often upstreamed to the main project. In particular, this isolates all improvements that are themselves made by contributors on most Linux platforms that use Novell's build system, including Debian. They've also started a campaign against OpenOffice.org with the forked code, at go-ooo.org where they promote their (down-level) version as better than OO.o and take potshots at it. we covered some examples before.

“OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler.”OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler. Novell is hijacking OOo in the practical sense, probably for further embedment of Microsoft intellectual monopolies and hooks that only Novell is legally allowed to distribute (to paying customers).

Novell doesn't speak about this sinister behaviour publicly, but it sure throws a lot of mud and FUD at Sun Microsystems or its Free software products at the moment (even Java [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). We mentioned this very briefly a day ago, but we won't link to actual examples as that would feed Novell's insidious messages.

We have warned since the very beginning that people should boycott Novell, for it is now paid by Microsoft and therefore helps it attack a major threat to Microsoft's cash cow. Microsoft does not want OpenOffice.org to stay free. It can't compete on these terms.

Novell error message



To make matters worse, with go-ooo.org being guerrilla-marketed, there's more 'poisoning'. For instance, they push Mono into KDE distributions in this way. Novell's paymasters in Redmond must be delighted about it. They stay aside grinning -- for now.

Readers are encouraged to take immediate action in order to prevent Novell and Microsoft from gaining control of OpenOffice.org (especially on GNU/Linux) under the guise of "we're just hackers and the fact Novell pays us (in part Microsoft money) is irrelevant." This pattern of "we're just hackers" is also used by them to prevent looking like a corporate aggressor and the Mono team does the very same thing while taking control of GNU/Linux -- for Novell, as "a community" (some of whom actually work for Microsoft or are on Microsoft's payroll).

“That's choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft.”Consider petitioning your distribution's developers (or leader) to drop Novell's fork of OpenOffice.org. Inability to do so often means a default choice of go-ooo.org. That's choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft. OpenOffice.org is vast.

We thought about writing an open letter, but maybe others can do this better, stressing that Novell and Microsoft are harming Java (GPL) and promoting .NET/Mono, which helps the erosion of control and the introduction of patent issues -- software patents whose holder openly threatens Free software.

This is a serious risk and it needs to be responded to. Novell was already fighting ODF adoption by doing its duty of supporting and promoting Microsoft OOXML. Microsoft paid Novell for it.

Bad Novell

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