Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Microsoft Novell

Novell "Forking" OpenOffice.org 370

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the patent-office-dot-org dept.
l2718 writes to mention that In the wake of their recent deal with Microsoft, Novell has announced a new version of OpenOffice.org which will support Microsoft's planned Office formal, Open XML. From the article: "The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Novell "Forking" OpenOffice.org

Comments Filter:
  • That's not a fork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:50PM (#17106846)
    Nice FUD, slashdot.
  • Um (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eco-Mono (978899) on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:50PM (#17106852) Homepage
    Does this look like Microsoft back to its old "embrace and extend" tricks to anyone else?
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ENOENT (25325) on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:53PM (#17106918) Homepage Journal
    When did "forking" come to mean "releasing plugins for a product"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:59PM (#17107000)
    How does providing an additional translator module constitute a "fork"? Looks more like more Novell-trolling to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:00PM (#17107014)
    The OpenOffice.org architecture does not support dynamically loaded plugins. Perhaps future versions will include such support, but as it stands now, that just isn't the case.

    To add functionality, one must add to or patch the existing code, and rebuild it from scratch. That's what Novell is doing in this case, from the sounds of it. It's unlikely that the OpenOffice.org team would accept any code contributed from Novell. There's now so much uncertainty swirling around whether or not code from them is safe, that's it's likely quicker, easier and safest just to ignore any contributions coming from them.

    So if the OpenOffice.org team wisely rejects any patches and code from Novell's developers, Novell will in essence be forced into forking OpenOffice.org, in the traditional sense of the word.

  • by ciurana (2603) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:01PM (#17107034) Homepage Journal
    I have been an OpenOffice.org supporter and evangelist for many years [computerworld.com]. It saddens me to see Novell do these things because they at once seem good for their business but place people on the road to vendor lock-in once more. The Microsoft formats are closed and incompatible. The sane approach would be to standardize ODF across the board.

    Novell must protect its business as an obligation to its shareholders. In the process, though, they may alienate some of the open-source community supporters to the point where countermeasures may be executed. Forks like this mean that some open-source developers and organizations may ban or license their software in such a way that prevents Novell from sharing the goodies. This in turn results in fragmentation that benefits nobody but Microsoft and its offerings.

    This is a master stroke from Microsoft's point of view because this way they may sneak OpenXML into organizations that had otherwise had the sanity to abandon MS-Office and forces them to move in that direction again. Novell gets stuck in the middle, with their leadership getting screwed from both ends (open-source developers and advocates in one corner, and Microsoft in the other) while thinking that they are doing something good. In the end nobody but Microsoft wins this one.

    Just say "NO" to OpenXML in an OpenOffice.org fork. Make it an optional package download, and make it a non-default setting, but don't fork the code. In fact, I'd go one step further and make it a requirement for Microsoft Office (and Office Mac) to support ODF if they want OpenXML included in any open-source product. That would make this a two-way street. Are you listening, Novell?

    Cheers,

    E
  • by modir (66559) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:01PM (#17107038) Homepage Journal
    This Novell bashing is absolutely not necessary. All Novell is doing is releasing several plugins for Open Office and MS Office. Red Hat could have done this too. And those plugins are all open source and hosted on sourceforge.
  • by definate (876684) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:02PM (#17107042)
    Couldn't this be done as an extension/plugin for OO? It would seem that would be more reasonable than a fork.

    Does anyone know if this changes the license for the entire product? Would they then be able to package proprietary code with it? If so this might be an attempt to not only "embrace and extend" but to gain market share from a competitor using a competitors software. (Eg. It doesn't matter if there is a free alternative, if there is a free alternative which is under their control)
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:02PM (#17107048) Homepage Journal
    But I thought the whole point of OSS and the like is that you could extend and modify as you like. If you can then make money on it that's fine, but okey-dokey as long as you comply with the license. At its core its Novell doing just that? Sure they're making themselves pariah's amongst the Linux crowd, but isn't that the kind of risk that OSS is supposed to allow?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:05PM (#17107086)
    It is if the main OpenOffice.org project decides not to accept the contributed code.
    if shipping a package with an unaccepted patch is considered "forking", then how the fuck is this news? most unix systems ship with thousands of these "forks".
  • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kopl (1027670) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:14PM (#17107228) Journal
    It doesn't look it to me. All they did was release plug-in for Open Office. To say that they are forking it is a huge exaggeration. One that apparently fooled you. I see no problem with supporting an additional format, even if it is controlled by MSFT.
  • by BiggyP (466507) <{gro.dcnepoeht} {ta} {hlihp}> on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:15PM (#17107242) Homepage Journal
    Well, if they quietly decided that ODF is unnecessary and made MS "Open" XML the default file format for their builds, that could be cause for concern.
  • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:27PM (#17107382) Homepage Journal
    To me it looks like Novell develops interoperability with Microsoft's new document format. That's a good thing, since nothing is going to stop the format anyway. Embrace? Novell "embraces" Microsoft's format insofar as they support it, which OpenOffice.org already does with the old format. Extend? That would be insane, since it would leave OOo incompatible.

    If Novell can develop good plugins for Microsoft's new format, users could actually switch to OOo instead of upgrading Office. Yes, there's the patent situation, but Microsoft can't do much about interoperability as a convicted monopolist.
  • Re:Aha! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:41PM (#17107548) Homepage Journal
    The agreement with Novel doesn't give Novell any kind of patent license, but rather says Microsoft won't sue Novell customers.

    It's also a limited-time agreement. The indemnity has a time limit. That means that they promise not to sue them now, but nothing is stopping them from suing them later - once they are known to possess offending products.

    You know, kind of like Iraq. We knew they had WMDs at some point because we sold them the technology and much of the materials...

  • by Quantam (870027) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:43PM (#17107572) Homepage
    I've been a fence-sitter for a while, with respect to the accuracy of Groklaw, due mostly to the fact that I'm too lazy to research and confirm the accuracy of PJ's interpretations of the SCO/Linux legalese (which is almost everything I've ever read on Groklaw). This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.
  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:44PM (#17107584)
    People have been forking Firefox by making plug-ins for it.
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iago515 (862958) <Iago515@gmMONETail.com minus painter> on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:52PM (#17107682)

    This is a big step in getting more businesses to accept OpenOffice.org. As you all know, it's one of the problems between the two camps with MS holding the biggest cards. By providing this plugin, it takes one more major obstacle away from businesses/governments using OpenOffice.org.

    Novell SUSE is trying to set themselves up as the desktop Linux vendor, a market that Red Hat has abandoned. To do this they have to make sure that their distro plays nice with MS and other desktop offerings. It's not only a good thing, but necessary. In the medium term OpenOffice.org to be able to open and save in "OPEN" XML format. I'm self employed and if I couldn't communicate with my clients using doc format I would have to get MS Office, no way around it. I'm just happy I'll be able to stick with OpenOffice.org in the future as I'm not holding my breath of all my clients changing soon.

  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:54PM (#17107710) Homepage Journal
    >This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information,

    You won't find a news outlet completely free of bias; that just isn't going to happen. The idea of a bias-free blog (and groklaw -first and foremost- is a blog) is absurd on its' face.

    As to your second claim; that it's not a reliable source of information; I would like to know why specifically you assert that their information is unreliable and what specifically they get wrong.

    Or is it (as I suspect) that you simply disagree with their bias, and have a hard time seperating their bias from the accuracy of their reporting.
  • Re:All forked up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:02PM (#17107794) Homepage Journal
    How exactly did they "fork up" Linux?

    - By opening up the Ximian connector for Exchange?
    - By refining KDE and making it a pleasant environment>?
    - By making SuSE a distro which requires very little (since 10.1 NO) tweaking to get to real work in a heterogeneous environment?
    - By making the installation process so easy it's actually enjoyable?
    - By submitting many, many valuable patches to the kernel?
    - By submitting many, many valuable patches to OpenOffice.org?
    - By making ReiserFS journaling actually work?

    If this is "forking up" Linux, I sincerely hope that they continue to do so. I've been running SuSE 10.2 off and on and it's shaping up to be a wonderful distribution. The first thing I'm turning off is the Novell-style K-menu, then installing beryl (a great fork of XGL), but aside from those 10.2 is great in what I've tried so far. I still like it more than I like kubuntu (and kubuntu is great).

    Novell, keep forking up Linux! :)

    Now, what will 10.3 or 11 bring? That's a different question. Up to now Novell has made wonderful contributions to Linux as a whole, gained a lot of exposure for the environment, and as many people believe (true or not) any publicity is good publicity. Their "covenant" with Microsoft is catching the attention of many PHBs, and are more likely to seriously consider choosing something other than Microsoft thanks in part to Novell's actions. From what I see here only reactionists and zealots are attacking Novell over this rather than taking a wait-and-see approach. I'm somewhat doubtful that Microsoft will seriously try to kill Linux, but use their partnership with Novell as a learning exercise to improve the Windows platform, since if they try to break interoperability, "taint" linux, or exercise obvious patents such as the oh-so "innovative" double-click that the DoJ will be all over them, and the EU will be coming down on them very hard. Being a monopoly which was convicted of abusing their monopoly status, Microsoft still has to be very careful in how they tread where agreements such as this are concerned.

    Wait and see. If next summer's release proves to be incompatible with the GPL, then it will certainly be time to jump ship.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:04PM (#17107816)
    Yes, but they didn't, did they?

    Grokfud for the win!
  • by MrHanky (141717) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:05PM (#17107820) Homepage Journal
    No. The same security update would also break Office's compatibility with itself.

    And interoperability does just make "it easier to migrate FROM Microsoft's standards".
  • Feed the trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bockelboy (824282) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:05PM (#17107822)
    First of all, note that this is not a fork of the code. Novell is developing a plugin to read the OpenXML format, a Microsoft format.

    Let me repeat, They are not forking OpenOffice.

    Hell, the sourceforge project is called "odf-converter", not "Novell's evil plan for OO.o".

    Further, the only way that I could read the press release from Novell in order to interpret it as "Novell is forking OpenOffice.org" is by the sentence which refers to the current OpenOffice.org product as "Novell's OpenOffice.org". That sounds more like a marketing intern not understanding how OOo and open source works out, not a secret decision on Novell's part.

    Finally, I really hate the attitude that many of those contributing to Slashdot has taken toward Novell's current projects. It's fairly one-sided. They are not violating the law. They are not violating the GPL. They are not violating the spirit of the GPL.

    The point of the GPL is that anyone can take your code, change it, and redistribute it, as long as they follow the rules. You can't make a distinction between people redistributing your software who you like and those who you don't like.

    There's a lot of you who are sounding like Bush-style Republicans who want free speech for themselves, but not for those saying things they don't agree with. I bet a lot of you beating up on Novell today for taking advantage of the GPL are the same who beat up on Newt Gingrich the other day when he wanted to restrict free speech on the Internet. Hypocrites.

    If you don't like Novell's contributions, don't accept them; if you think Novell is trying to get OpenXML into OO.o so MS can sue RedHat for patent infringement, think again. I doubt OpenXML is any more patent-ridden than the .doc format, or that there aren't any patent violations in the Linux kernel or OO.o already.

    In other words, Novell can't paint any bigger target on Linux's back than there already is. MS and IBM have so many ambiguous patents that they can sue any Linux user for the indefinite future.

    Believe it or not, Novell may just be trying to differentiate its product so people would buy it over their competitor's product. You know, effectively compete in the business world. That sort of thing.

    Groklaw used to be a place where I could get a detailed analysis of legal issues I didn't understand. Now, it seems to have disintegrated into blind zealotry. Maybe they were trying to be funny in the article, and I just didn't get the joke...
  • This deal may bind Novell and MS in unexpected ways... If/when MS starts to distribute it's tokens for copies of Novell's SUSE linux, you can look at the two as being a combined entity distributing Linux in violation of Copyright (since they're obviously not abiding by the GPL). IANAL, so it's not perfectly clear to me whether you would accuse MS of primary of contributory copyright violation -- but I'm pretty sure that, if they were to sue someone who called on entities like OSDL to support them in their defence, you could end up draw in Novell as a third party co-defendant on the counter-suit.

    If my theory holds, somebody with an itchy pen-finger wouldn't even have to wait for a Microsoft patent suit to sue the pair -- although I'd probably wait for the resolution of IBM's copyright countersuit against SCO for a possibly useful precedent.
    There's usually more than one way to cat a file.

  • No, it would not. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:50PM (#17108272)
    Read up on the DR-DOS and Windows 3.0 beta issue.

    It is trivial to test for specific cases and force "incompatibility" in all others.

    And no, if you're implementing Microsoft's standards on a different platform, Microsoft still controls those standards and can keep changing them whenever they want to.

    That doesn't even bring up any patents that Microsoft has on their formats.

    Again, the focus should be on implementing Open/Free standards, not proprietary ones.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:51PM (#17108286) Homepage Journal
    Again, the unbiased blog does not exist. The complaint I'm hearing seems to boil down to the fact that that her bias doesn't line up with other posters' own biases than anything else. It doesn't necessarily follow that the accuracy of the stories at groklaw are flawed.

    I'm still waiting on the specifics of how the stories on her web log are inaccurate, I'm not in the least bit impressed with meaningless ad hominems ("shill", etc).

    I can understand and respect the idea that her bias leads her to present false conclusions as facts; but so far no one has come up and said anything specific beyond "boo hoo she likes gplv3"; what I'm after is "her bias lead her to report C as Y and to report D as X".

    Everyone's biased, and yes, bias can lead (but does not necessarily lead) to inaccuracys. So, let's hear the specifics

    What specific facts does she gets wrong in her reporting?
  • by Wavicle (181176) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:03PM (#17108396)
    I can see we're going to get nowhere here, so I'm going to leave with a simple "bias doesn't mean reporting incorrect facts."
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:06PM (#17108414)
    I've been a fence-sitter for a while, with respect to the accuracy of Groklaw, due mostly to the fact that I'm too lazy to research and confirm the accuracy of PJ's interpretations of the SCO/Linux legalese (which is almost everything I've ever read on Groklaw).

    So let's get this straight: You're too lazy to research the interpretations of a blog of a paralegal who up front admits that she's a paralegal and her site is full of her personal opinions on the law. You do know that she posts all legal documents from the court cases for you to read, right?

    This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.

    Although you haven't done any research, you're willing to dismiss her opinions because she might have a bias. That's fine. But you're also going to dismiss all the information she he accumulated like motions, orders, etc, because she has an opinion?

  • by pudro (983817) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:14PM (#17108452)
    When I drive past a field that reeks of shit, I don't blame the cows. I blame the farmers that spread it.

    Groklaw may have created it, but they aren't the ones who spread it on this site.
  • by Eco-Mono (978899) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:29PM (#17108550) Homepage
    I don't think the notion of a fork is all that erroneous.
    WALTHAM, Mass.--04 Dec 2006--Novell today announced that the Novell® edition of the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite will now support the Office Open XML format, increasing interoperability between OpenOffice.org and the next generation of Microsoft Office. Novell is cooperating with Microsoft and others on a project to create bi-directional open source translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office, with the word processing translator to be available first, by the end of January 2007. The translators to Novell's OpenOffice.org product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites.

    My worry here is that the add-on itself would be closed-source, and the GPL code would simply be a compatibility layer necessary to run and use the add-on. With that in place the two companies could concievably set up a situation where the mainline OpenOffice sources are playing catch-up with add-on updates that require new pieces of source code to actually use in the standard .Org offering, especially if that compatibility code becomes tangled up in some other feature that OOo is unwilling or unable (due to more obvious and legit patent issues) to make a part of the "real" releases. In other words, it's all legal and GPL-OK, but there's little hope for any OpenOffice other than Novell's actually being able to open the latest version at any point in time.

    That's the point where embrace/extend comes into play. Once everyone on open-source is using NOO instead of OOo, Microsoft and Novell can start adding a tweak here, an improvement there, maybe the occasional formatting bug...

    Eh, maybe it's farfetched but I can't help but think about it.

  • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:04PM (#17108808) Homepage Journal

    This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.

    Wow, you manage to state the blindingly obvious and the draw a non sequitur conclusion, all in one sentence.

    Yes, PJ has a definite, undisguised bias. She started her blog because she's a fan of Linux and F/LOSS. Yes, her analysis of non-legal issues is often deeply flawed and her opinions drive way too much of her analysis. She is neither businesswoman, nor software developer and doesn't understand that much of either -- more than most who aren't experts in those fields, perhaps, but much less than those who are. I wish she'd be a little more reticent to discuss issues she doesn't understand very well, and she used to be, but fame has gone to her head just a little. I see that as unfortunate but understandable.

    Her analysis of the legal minutiae of the cases, however, is nearly always spot-on, and her projections of the outcomes, judges' opinions and general ebb and flow of the cases are excellent. All of which is, of course, completely unsurprising given that she *is* an expert in that area. She's not as expert as a trial attorney of course, but she's expert enough to know what she doesn't know, and frequently gets assistance from lawyers where needed. She also often pulls in assistance from experts in non-legal areas, and knows enough to recognize and use the best.

    Finally, if you just want to look at Groklaw for its information content, that's absolutely unimpeachable. She collects all of the available data about the cases and presents it in its raw, unaltered glory (or lack thereof). And she's extremely good at finding relevant snippets of fact in the mass of data floating out there in the world -- which is *precisely* what she is most expert at.

    If you don't like PJ's rants, ignore them. But if you discount the data collection, legal analysis and projections, you're a fool. Exactly the same sort of fool that she is when she goes off about things she doesn't understand, actually.

  • by JPriest (547211) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:09PM (#17108838) Homepage
    No, you don't understand.


    First off Novell is not part of the agreement, the customers are. So if the mod is covered by MS technology, Novell is in violation for releasing it.

    Lets say for arguments sake that the mod is covered my MS patents and Novell is excluded from liability. If MS agrees to allow Novell to release said technology under the terms of the GPL, they agree to accept those terms. This means that if OO.o adopts the patch, there is nothing MS can do about it as per the GPL.

    Lastly, with all the trouble the EU is putting MS through with documenting their office formats, do you honestly believe MS would get away with dragging OO.o into court for supporting them? Your post is only proof that bias trumps logic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:10PM (#17108842)
    If I am a small/medium sized company interested in selecting OpenOffice over MS Office/Word (tm) then I should be quite happy with this news. At the moment OpenOffice happily opens most/nearly all documents without any problems, it even does Asian/etc scripts without a hitch (long the bane of open source, it seems most programmers never left ASCII country). Now, Office 2007 is on the horizon, and surprise, with it comes a NEW FILE FORMAT.

    What is one to do -- just tell your suppliers (lots of clueless typing pool secretaries here) to get stuffed ; or fork out #of desktops * $(Microsoft Levy) = $lots of cash for a completely unwanted / unnecessary upgrade? Because, honestely, what is there new in Office 2007 that isn't already covered in all of the previous versions? For 99.5% of all communications you just need a glorified typewriter.

    So an import filter -- without a hefty price tag -- would work.

    Now back to our usual patent war (tm) discussion...
  • by panaceaa (205396) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:14PM (#17108870) Homepage Journal
    My initial reaction was the same as yours. But now that I've reflected on the news, and the fact that the "fork" is really just some plug-ins to support OpenXML, I'm not so sure this is a bad thing. What's wrong with having OpenOffice support one more format, especially if it provides better interoperability with the Windows world? It would make it EASIER to use Linux. It would be EASIER to switch to OpenOffice. Where's the evil in that? Would you feel the same way if an open source team of developers worked on the same OpenXML functionality for OpenOffice, similar to how open source people are working on Mono?

    I'm actually surprised that I can't find the evil considering Microsoft's been behind a lot of Novell's announcements lately. But this announcement seems more like something Novell's SUSE team has been working on.
  • by jackbird (721605) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:25PM (#17108934)
    Bias and accuracy are connected to the extent that the bias influences the conclusion drawn from a given set of data. It's possible for a biased person to present facts accurately, even when those facts are in domains in which that person is biased. But if there is a significant bias that is relevant to the reasoning process, the conclusion may be incorrect.

    The thing is, Groklaw has both sides of the coin - a shrill, unabashedly partisan editorial policy; and an obsessive interest in collating, transcribing, and exhaustively dissecting the original sources (it's thanks to a Groklaw regular that the terms of the original BSD settlement became public, for example). Coupled with the track record of PJ's predictions in the case being not only mostly right on, but several moves ahead of the game, and I tend to take her opinions quite seriously, even when I don't agree with her.

  • by Jahz (831343) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:29PM (#17109326) Homepage Journal
    Actually its "forking" either way. The term is slightly ambiguous. It can mean an official development branch OR an independant un-official development based on a copy of the official code. In this case they're definitely going to modify some part of the OO code.

    According to the great and powerful wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:
    In software engineering, a project fork or branch happens when a developer (or a group of them) takes code from a project and starts to develop independently of the rest. The term is also used more loosely to represent a similar branching of any work (for example, there are several forks of the English language Wikipedia).

    So its not FUD, and its not incorrect. Additionally there is nothing wrong with Novell creating an ODF plugin... we already know they signed a deal with the devil, this is not quite as bad. It woudnt hurt for OO to take the open source plugin and make it availible to enhance compatibility with Office in the future. I don't know how OO plugin's work, but I imaging that they don't link against the OO libraries at all, so Novell would not be required to open/free the code at all.

    It might feel wrong, but maybe we should just accept the free help...
  • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:37PM (#17109386)

    Well, if they quietly decided that ODF is unnecessary and made MS "Open" XML the default file format for their builds, that could be cause for concern.

    Sure. And since Debian has its own "fork" of the Linux kernel (i.e. patches that are not yet in the main source tree), we could say that if they quietly decided Linux is unnecessary and made MS Windows binaries the default kernel for their builds, that would be cause for concern. What is lacking is any evidence that this could ever happen in reality, which is why the story is FUD.

    External patches, adding support for a new file format, do not constitute a fork, any more than patching the Linux kernel to support a new device or filesystem does. I'm not sure where you get the idea they're going to make MS's formats the default.

  • by Xenographic (557057) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:49PM (#17109454) Homepage Journal
    > There was a comment about PJ spreading FUD, to which she replied that she was guessing because the details of the MS-Novell agreement aren't public so she has to guess. That's all fine and dandy, but then an editorial opinion shouldn't be reported as a fact.

    Hey now, you work for Novell, disagree with her take on the Novell/MS deal, and now accuse her of bias because of that? I don't think that's very fair at all.

    Anyhow, as someone who has read Groklaw for a few years now (and submitted enough stories from there to Slashdot to prove it), I feel inclined to comment that what she posted on the Microsoft/Novell deal was based on what she does know about the deal. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a non-public deal with Microsoft at this time seems, well, underhanded at best. True, Novell did let Eben Moglen inspect the deal, but they more or less had to given that Eben is in a position to sue them for breach of the GPL. The FSF has also said that the GPL v3 will not allow any deals like the Microsoft/Novell deal, so even from that we know that it may well comply with the letter of the GPL v2, but it doesn't comply with the spirit of it because it helps Microsoft keep alive the FUD of the threat of patent litigation Microsoft cultivated so clearly with the SCO dealings. And we have statements, under oath, from the people who bankrolled SCO about Microsoft's involvement.

    So how to you get off saying she's writing what she did because she doesn't know the whole deal (and who's fault is that that everyone can't see the secret provisions)? Do you not think it's monumentally stupid to have secret dealings with Microsoft after just how quickly they screw over "partners"? Go read that testimony again about how Microsoft left SCO's bankrollers out to try when things turned bad.

    Frankly, from everything we know about the Novell deal, Novell was stupid: stupid to allow Microsoft to use them for FUD of a patent threat, stupid to make a deal that goes against the spirit (if not the letter) of the GPL, and stupid to think that we'd all just go along with this. And that's why Novell will need a forked version: because if they don't keep these things under GPL v2, they won't be able to keep that agreement with Microsoft.

    Don't misunderstand, I can see what's in it for Novell--a fat sack of cash, an opportunity to be the Microsoft-blessed Linux company, and a bit of FUD to both help Microsoft hurt Linux adoption while driving anyone who won't go to Microsoft over to Novell. But I don't see why anyone should go along with it, and I don't see ANY reason to think that the non-public parts of the agreement would change one iota of this analysis.

    Then again, you work for Novell. Care to tell me what private parts of the contract I'm not taking into consideration? Just what clause is in there that makes their agreement something other than a sell-out of the Linux community? What part of it wasn't intended to be used by Microsoft for software patent FUD? Even if it doesn't violate the GPL v2, what about it makes it a good idea?
  • by Budenny (888916) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:36AM (#17110302)
    The point of OpenXML is to raise the entry barriers for competitors. It is a huge complicated spec, that only an organization the size of MS will be able to fully implement. In addition, users will be encouraged to save their data in a format that is itself open, but which incorporates large elements that are not open, and which are not available for other platforms than Windows.

    However, the problem is not that Novell has decided to support it. The problem is that the standards bodies accepted it as a standard.

    Save your documents in something else. Doesn't matter what - pdf or odf will be fine. Not this.
  • by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:26AM (#17110608) Homepage
    I won't go into the Groklaw pro/anti FUD mill but I will address a few things you said here...

    What makes it a good idea? Read what IBM had to say about it. Or Goldman Sachs. It's about interoperability - something Novell built a reputation on starting with the very earliest versions of NetWare. I've worked in IT, and without exception, knowing that I had to deal with Microsoft components in the infrastructure at some point, it was absolutely frustrating beyond belief knowing that I *had* to have them (because people decided MS technology was necessary and refused to look at anything else) and to know that Microsoft was going to make it as difficult as possible for me to use anything in addition to their technology. I fought for *years* to get people to look at better technologies than the stuff MS puts out in order to get the job done in a better way.


    Why is it that whenever some talks "interoperability" it is always the Open Standards following people that have to bow to proprietary ones? ODF is an open standard that Microsoft can (and should) implement easily and freely but they choose to close it up. Novell is OK with that according to their agreement. Why should proponents of open standards be forced, yes I said forced, to bow to a company that only wants to lock people into one product be it Novell's or Microsoft's?

    I look at the agreement as an opportunity. Is there a possibility of badness? Absolutely, there always is when competitors try to cooperate, especially when one of them is notorious for being a bad partner, and who has burned Novell in the past.


    No, the "opportunity" Novell missed here was to take a stand AGAINST software patents. Instead, they chose to perpetuate the fraud known as "method patents" and worse, made a deal with a company known for back stabbing their "partners".

    There are 2 old sayings that I think apply here....

    1) Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me!

    2) Don't piss down my back and tell me it is raining!

    ... they make the assumption that all of the developers who work for Novell suddenly gave up their OSS scruples and are going to "inject trojan code" into the projects they work on. What message does *that* send about the OSS community - that their principles are for sale?


    It is the nature of patents. Code that Novell (or anyone else for that matter) submits to OOo Should be scrutinized to the Nth degree. After all, Novell made a covenant with Microsoft to use their "IP" (whatever the hell that is). I'm not saying Novell's developers would purposely inject bad code, but unless you are willing to get your employer to implement a verifiable "clean-room" implementation for code you are submitting, I for one would err on the side of caution. The cost of defending against patent infringement are too high not to.

    B.
  • by Delirium Tremens (214596) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:42AM (#17110690) Journal
    She is entitled to her opnions. And she deserves thanks for posting the relevent legal documents. But bear in mind that her site engages in censorship of those that don't agree with her "interpretations". It is her site, she controlls the debate on her site, as hard does any right wing radio show host does his. Is she right to do that? Well, it is her site. Just keep that in mind when you read her writtings... In my opinion and IANAB (I am not a blogger) she is spreading FUD as badly as she acusses others of. I make the prediction that when SCO V. OSS is over so will be groklaw

    AC is right.
    PJ's analysis pieces are always an entertaining read, mostly because of all the facts and details she researches and the tone she uses. But she has an ostracism policy that I can not agree with. The world is not black and white.

    Sun is not just Java. And Evil.
    Novell is not just in a partnership with MS. And Evil.
    ODF opponents are not all against standards. And Evil.
    Sony is not just DRM. And Evil.
    Microsoft is not just using submarine EULAs. And Evil. Oh wait, maybe they are.

    As an internet user, geek, developer, opensource and standard supporter, I am a million times thankful to all those guys for everything they gave away or helped build: TCP-IP, NFS, OpenOffice, J2ME, NetBeans, Suse, Evolution, XML, accessibility support for office documents, open Cell platform, ...

  • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:03AM (#17110780)
    It might feel wrong, but maybe we should just accept the free help... If someone offers you a dildo, conveniently pre-lubricated, and even offers to shove it if you'll be so kind as to turn around and bend over... should you "just accept the free help"?
  • by Sancho (17056) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:23AM (#17114262) Homepage
    Why is it that whenever some talks "interoperability" it is always the Open Standards following people that have to bow to proprietary ones? ODF is an open standard that Microsoft can (and should) implement easily and freely but they choose to close it up. Novell is OK with that according to their agreement. Why should proponents of open standards be forced, yes I said forced, to bow to a company that only wants to lock people into one product be it Novell's or Microsoft's?

    Because the "Open Standards following people" are the ones who want interoperability. The people with the proprietary solution want people to use their own solution.

    No, the "opportunity" Novell missed here was to take a stand AGAINST software patents. Instead, they chose to perpetuate the fraud known as "method patents" and worse, made a deal with a company known for back stabbing their "partners".

    There are basically two choices: be capable of opening Microsoft Office documents, or give up. The business world works on Microsoft, and until that changes, Open Office can either work with Microsoft's formats or effectively lose the game.

    I'm not saying Novell's developers would purposely inject bad code, but unless you are willing to get your employer to implement a verifiable "clean-room" implementation for code you are submitting, I for one would err on the side of caution. The cost of defending against patent infringement are too high not to.

    Clean room RE would be better, no doubt. But is Microsoft's document format actually patented? If so, we have more problems than just worrying about interoperability, in my opinion.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

Working...