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Novell Still a Threat to OpenOffice.org

Bad Novell



Summary: How Novell is trying to take charge of OpenOffice.org; reminder of where Red Hat got it right while Novell got it wrong

HYPOCRISY is a real problem and a trap. In the previous post we highlighted Microsoft's lobbying against the population's interests, but there is also government lobbying from Free/open source software-supporting companies such as IBM. We have criticised this for years. We also criticised Novell for paying IDC [1, 2] and feeding the same corrupt system which prolonged the agony with proprietary software (software patents too). To fix a broken system, one sometimes needs to break it; rather than play along with the USPTO by putting software patents in the OIN's arsenal, for example, one ought to just abolish software patents.

Today we take another glance at Novell, which we still target with the "Boycott Novell" campaign. Novell is still a predominantly proprietary software company which has new flaws in its proprietary software (e.g. [1, 2]) and even though Novell makes SUSE and OpenSUSE, this is joint work involving many other companies such as Red Hat, IBM, Nokia, Intel, and HP.

Novell has been trying for over 2 years to seize and gain a better status in the community while at the same time promoting Microsoft's agenda with projects like Mono and Moonlight. Novell's latest attempt to take control of OpenOffice.org is described by Tectonic:

Michael Meeks a long-time OOo and Gnome developer and Novell employee argues that among the chief problems are a lack of leadership, a half-hearted open source strategy and copyright assignments that discourage external contributions.


It's the same old story from Meeks et al [1, 2]. Now that Wipro and Novell (Thorsten Behrens) want to be closer and deeper inside OpenOffice.org, it is worth keeping an eye open. Oracle has no real financial stress [1, 2] and given the huge number of OpenOffice.org users, Novell is unlikely to get its way.

In other news, Matt Asay explains why Novell got it going with Microsoft:

Back in late 2006, Novell and Microsoft inked a broad interoperability agreement, one designed to prop up Novell’s SUSE against Red Hat’s dominant RHEL operating system. Novell painted the agreement as customer-friendly and driven by conversations with customers, Red Hat wasn’t impressed, in large part because Microsoft persisted in clouding interoperability with patents.

[...]

When I was still at Novell in 2005, we spent a year devising a strategy to hold off SharePoint because Microsoft was using it to drive Windows deeper into enterprises, and to push Novell out. When I asked then-Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik about the SharePoint threat to Red Hat, he sanguinely replied, “We never see it.”

The broader Red Hat gets deployed, the more it’s bumping into Windows, both as a replacement OS and as a companion OS. Red Hat’s position, then and now, therefore makes a lot of sense. Back in 2006 it could afford to snub Microsoft; in 2010, it can’t.


Red Hat has already shown that collaboration can be followed through without patent deals and this continues to be shown in the latest press releases. There is nothing wrong with making things work together, as long as control games and patents are left off the table so that open standards can be obeyed instead.

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