Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Sun Microsystems

Sun May GPL StarOffice 235

Lennie writes: "To my surprise I read here: 'Sun Microsystems is expected to announce this week that it will make StarOffice available as open source. Sun plans to release the suite under the GNU General Public License, which is promoted by the Free Software Foundation and is considered by many to be the purest of the open source licenses.'" Despite its reputation as bloatware, semi-free software and as the tack that Sun sets out for Microsoft, StarOffice is probably the suite that has done the most to allow migration from various MS applications, and free is a nice prelude to Free. If Star Office is GPL'd, it could have great trickle-down effects on AbiWord and other Linux office software.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sun May GPL StarOffice

Comments Filter:
  • I don't see why anyone would want to go after MicroSoft;) After all their business practices reek with ethics.
    Kate

  • This is one of the best things that could happen for Linux.

    Though personally I'll believe Sun uses the GPL only when I actually see it.

    --
  • I love Staroffice. Hopefully the first things that could be done would be to seperate the apps from that ugly desktop! 99% of the time I just want to run the word processor. It'd be nice to be able to pass it a command line switch to just start the word processor without the other 75% of the bloated package starting up as well (think Netscape Communicator x 20). That and working on the Word filters would make it one of the killer office apps for me. There would be no more starting up MS Office in VMware anymore.
  • My father, who has been a network user since the 70s, when he had an Arpanet address, has resisted moving his entire department to Linux for one reason- the lack of a useful reference manager like Endnote.

    To my knowledge, there is still no comparable feature in Star Office. This is the dealbreaker, as far as he's concerned. You'd convert yet another chunk of the government to Linux usage if you could point out a program with this functionality that can connect to a GUI word processor in the environment.. How 'bout it?

  • You really love staroffice? I found it to be slow as anything, kinda crappy with any other non-native format (and not just Office files), and generally kind-a lackluster. Did I miss something? I also cant stand their database progam. Whats it called again? I gave it a good try, and created a decent sized db for my office off it and it really really provided poor performance once it got past 25,000 records. I switched back to Win Nt and Access and my performance for the same data and format was at least 50% better. Maybe its worth a second look after all...
  • But see, that's the thing...StarOffice may be huge and bloated, but it has a huge amount of functionality. If, by opensourcing it, either a) a non-bloated version comes out, or b) the other gpl office suites use some of the code to further their developments, then this is a Very Good Thing(TM).

    Basically, what this means is that we could get a *really good* free office suite in the forseeable future.

  • by Pac ( 9516 ) <paulo...candido@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:08PM (#929028)
    I have been using StarOffice for a while now, both under Windows2K and Linux.

    I started using it under Windows 2K when I noticed the new licensing scheme for Office 2000. It will force you to register online, or cease to work at all. As I am in no particular urge to feed Redmond's databases, I dumped it and started using SO in a mostly Windows shop (my current client).

    I concede that my machine has lots of memory, but StarOffice works fast and well.

    I haven't experienced any serious bug and no file-format problem whatsoever. My most serious complain is about StarOffice wanting to be my browser too, and making windows believe it is now offline (in a LAN connected to a T1) everytime SO starts.

    If SO goes GPL, I would expect it to get better support and better add-ons, and certanly keep updated with Office file-format tricks (a serious problem in a mostly MSWord world).
  • > It is offically unimportant to people how bad or crappy a program is as long as it's GPL'd.

    If it's GPL'd and of general interest to Linux users, it probably won't stay crappy for long.

    Rather, I should say it will become "less crappy" (cf. "sucks less").

    > One last thing, is the GPL really considered to be the free-est license around?

    No, public domain is the freeest (sp?!?). The GPL only guarantees that derivatives will be just so free as the original was; no more and no less.

    --
  • My concern is that the import/export filters may be under NDAs or restrictive licenses that wouldn't allow them to be open sourced. It's just a thought, I could be wrong.
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:11PM (#929031)
    I do understand that point... but really.. how many times will a program that must have a huge codebase be 'fixed'. For a small program, (less than say a 100,000 lines) maybe its pratical. But for a beast, unless its really really well documented and well written (which judging by the product,it doesnt seem to be) it probably wont be worth the time.

    I mean to say, I guess you have to have at least a decent product before you can 'fix' it. I mean the problems with Star Office arent exactly minor, you know. Mostly they arent bugs, just major design flaws etc. Thats all I meant. Just the fact that's it GPL'd doesnt mean its worth the download.

    Just a few thoughts.. but thanks for not flaming me
  • > he lack of a useful reference manager like Endnote.

    Is that anything like bibtex? If so, you already have the relevant GUI WP in the incarnation called "LyX".

    If not, please elaborate on what Endnote is.

    --
  • Is there any way that Corel can make money selling an Office Suite for Linux?
  • In about a year time after it is release after everyone picked it apart for the parts that they like. There will a great office suite out there for all u*nx and windows. That can cause a big problem for Microsoft. Also if some figures about a way how to sync with an Exchange Server then Microsoft will have an even bigger problem.
  • It will force you to register online, or cease to work at all. As I am in no particular urge to feed Redmond's databases

    Do you mean to say that you didnt own it or didnt want to register it? Because MS has versions that dont force you to register online. Additonally, they do have a way that you can avoid registering online? Not really the topic or important, I was just curious as to your situation - i was in a similiar situation?

  • by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:14PM (#929036) Homepage Journal
    Hate StarOffice if you will (heck, be my guest), but this is a good thing for a variety of reasons.

    1. It stops the not-for-consumer-apps cynics out there who have been spouting off that the gpl is "fine for behind-the-scenes stuff" but will never cut it in the consumer app field where actually selling seats is the prime revenue source.
    2. It shows that Sun is actually willing to put some effort into being the "good guy" in the open source crowd. Let's face it, poll your average free software geek about Sun and you get some pretty damning responses: Sun's "open" license is a sham, java's slow and bloated, the hardware is too expensive, Solaris belongs in the Smithsonian... etc. Sun wants to be friends with those people really badly because they're the future CIO's of this world and they want those CIO's to want Sparcs. Simple. The last two years have seen Sun try some half-baked measures to get some respect and, by and large, they haven't worked. Now they're trying a full-baked one. And that's good news for everyone.
    3. If you have a lot of spare time on your hands, and want to give StarOffice a bit of zip then maybe we'll all have a serious contender to that "other" office package.

  • If you wonder how that fits into this thread... well, so do I. I meant to post it at the top level.

    --
  • I have been using StarOffice for a while now, both under Windows2K and Linux.

    Then maybe you can answer my questions.

    • Is StarOffice really bloatware, or is there just a lot of code because it does so many things? In particular, how much "bloat" is input/output filters to make it actually useful?
    • Does it produce output that MS Word users can include without further massaging? Or does it produce "close, but not quite" results?
    • Does it produce something that would let me be a "stealth StarOffice" user?

    I use MS Word because I have to (contractual obligations that I can't evade) not because I want to. Fortunately the cost of Word, which if not bloatware itself certainly runs on bloatware, is borne by somebody else. If I could evade using Word, but nobody in the contracting office would be any wiser, I'd do it.

    tc>

  • Isn't this really old news? I thought Eric's handling of the situation was heavy-handed too, but we're talking about something that happened 6 months ago.

    I'm not happy about the totalitarian aspect of Chinese communism, but at the same time I don't want to confuse the P.R.C. government with the Chinese people.

    Bruce

  • Oh, I "own" it or at least the company I am currently working for has one of those all-out licensing schemes with Microsoft. But I think this kind of thing is outrageous. I (or the company) paid for the software. I shouldn't be harassed to tell MS where and when and by whon it will be used.

    Also, I haven't investigated if there was any other way to register or if I could avoid the online registering procedure. I dumped and installed SO. I just said No... :)
  • 1. It stops the not-for-consumer-apps cynics out there who have been spouting off that the gpl is "fine for behind-the-scenes stuff" but will never cut it in the consumer app field where actually selling seats is the prime revenue source.

    Does it? Buying a binary-only office suite with a limited number of users, and then releasing it under the GPL as it fades away is hardly a ringing endorsement of Open Source development... And you said "selling seats" - Sun never sold StarOffice, did they?

    I mean, I'm glad it's going to be GPL'd and all, but I'm not sure it proves or disproves any theories about Open Source in general...

    ---
  • It'll be nice if it really happens. Before we criticize StarOffice too much about its technical problems, let's keep in mind that the Free Software community could probably deal with those problems pretty well.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Good guy. Smood Guy. Junk software is, well, junk software. I am writing a book with vi/POD and filters. Why? Because I can't bear using MS products and I can't stand waiting for StarOffice to warm up and Koffice to stop being "Hello World".

    Maybe some freak will optimize the hell out of StarOffice. But you'll never bury the shitty interface.

    Look, this could be a Good Thing but until then:
    =head

    =cut

    Filter to PS. Send to publisher.

  • That depends on a lot of things, including the modularity of the code and the usefulness of its comments, etc. Best-case scenario I see is that it gets cannibalized: that, for example, file format import/export filters and image import filters will be useable by other projects (including my personal favorite, AbiWord.) Worst-case scenario: Mozilla

    I don't mean to say that Mozilla is bad, it's doing really well now. But just dumping the source into open-ness didn't work. It was a mess, it was unuseable and unsalvageable. Essentially it had to be completely ransacked for useable components (note: I'm not in the Mozilla dev effort, so I am interpreting their remarks and the remarks of people associated with it, so I may well be amended. I don't think my interpretation of the reality of the situation is completely off the mark, though.)

  • True, but it would be even cooler to see the Exchange platform made obsolete in favor of crossplatform protocols like POP or IMAP and SMTP.
  • Forget about freeing Start office. I want to see the Corel guys bite the bullet.

    They are going down the tubes, they know it, we know it. Before the money men come in and try to salvage (ie sell off) all they can I would like to see them gpl all thier software

    Kind of like a last stand against the enemy, knowing that thier death might allow the battle to be won, for theire fellows to win the day...

    Unfortunatley I belive they really don't care about the idea of OpenSource. Rather it's just another advertisement for them, and likely they would rather thier software die with them than give it away!

  • by ericsink ( 211807 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:27PM (#929047) Homepage
    I am excerpting this from a message I sent to the abiword-dev mailing list.

    I have speculated for a long time about what might happen if someone decided to take an existing, mature office suite and make it truly Open Source.

    I haven't exactly been sitting on the edge of my seat. It has seemed likely that someone would do it eventually, but the event has just never seemed very imminent. It's clear that Microsoft, with 95% market share and over 10B annual revenues, has no incentive to make their suite Open Source. Corel has far too little clue, and IBM/Lotus have far too much.

    The only glimmer of hope has been Sun, which seems to have a practice of being smart during the even-numbered years and downright silly during the odd-numbered ones.

    An Open Source version of StarOffice would open up a remarkable number of opportunities. In the hope that this rumor is revealed to be true, I would like to applaud all of those people at Sun who contributed to the execution of this bold, visionary decision.

    And frankly, I'm insulted that none of those people called me. :-) Granted, I doubt that our little 28-person company is even a blip on their radar screen. However, as founder of the AbiWord project, SourceGear has a lot of experience in the world StarOffice is about to join. In fact, I daresay that there is no one else on earth who knows more about losing money on Open Source office apps than I do. :-)

    I think that the response from the Open Source community is an important opportunity, and I would like to offer my unsolicited advice regarding the appropriate tenor of our response:

    1. Let's welcome Sun, not flame them. Trust me folks -- this is a bold move on their part. If you have never been in a position of real accountability for a business, making the decisions which directly affect the lives of your employees and stockholders, then you may not immediately recognize this kind of choice for what it really is. These decisions require great courage. If Sun makes any little mistakes in their launch of StarOffice-GPL, then please try to keep the minor things in their proper perspective.

    2. Let's not gripe about how bad StarOffice is. Yes, I have actually used StarOffice under Linux. Yes, I know the GUI has a look and feel which is very Windowsy. Yes, I know the suite is enormous and bloated. None of that matters.

      The point is that Sun is making the only decision which will allow StarOffice to become better. It's never about where you are -- it's about where you are going.

    3. Let's not gripe about how bad StarOffice will be. Yes, it is very likely that the GPL-ed version of StarOffice will be even worse than the app which is currently available. This is because I seriously doubt that they will be able to GPL all of the functionality.

      For example, I'm fairly sure that StarOffice is built upon a Win32 compatibility library from Bristol. They can't GPL that. The spell checker is probably not theirs. In fact, most full-featured office suites today are built using a bunch of third-party components. If the first source code tarball from Sun is even buildable, I'll be surprised.

      But I won't be complaining about it. Doing so is not going to benefit anyone.

    4. Let's not fret about the potential negative impact to projects like AbiWord or Gnumeric. These projects can go on, and I believe they both will. Does StarOffice use an XML-based format? Is their word importer as good as ours? Is their app integrated with GNOME? Does it fit on a floppy disk?

      Even in an Open Source world, there is room for multiple efforts. Many of the people who work on AbiWord or Gnumeric are doing so for the enjoyment or experience. StarOffice will meet different needs, and there is nothing preventing both projects from reaching their goals. In fact, the existence of StarOffice is more likely to benefit AbiWord and Gnumeric than it is likely to cause harm.

    5. Let's not start predicting the death of Microsoft. Stuff like that does little but damage our credibility. Anyone who thinks that Microsoft Office sales are going to plunge toward zero next month simply doesn't get it.

      There was a recent published interview with someone from the Kylix team at Borlaprise. This guy gets it. He said things like, "Our success does not require Microsoft's failure", and, "When television came along, radio didn't suddenly go away."

      It is possible that this GPL release of StarOffice will eventually cause some impact to the proprietary players. However, we need to speak not in terms of extinction or annihilation, but in terms of reduction of margins.

      And we need to give it time before the effects start to be visible. Microsoft's product manager for Office is not scared, and [s]he doesn't need to be.

    6. Let's cross our fingers and hope that the rumor is true. :-)


    -- Eric W. Sink
  • I work for a large company that provides world class unix solutions, and its not Sun. Alot of our management can't seem to figure out what Unix is, much less Linux. Go figure. Anyway, they send email attachments for word, excel, powerpoint, etc. Star Office has been invaluable to me in maintaining a unix only environment that is both productive and cheap and easy to maintain. Now, if they GPL it, I'll also be completely legal.
  • Startoffice is Soooooooo crappy that nobody could or would want to fix it. Except maybe your herd of cats. :-p

    It remains a kit of useful parts that Microsoft and others can just include into their code.

    Looks like Sun's investment is sunk.

    Pretty much proves what others have been saying... that only the dying embrace Open Source/GPL/whatever.

  • Well I understand why you are angry about the licensing, but can you really blame MS?

    Considering that they are a pay for software company, I think its quite clear that they have an interest making sure the people with the software are only the people with the proper license.

    I agree its outrageous, but when even huge companies (Compaq, GM, etc) have problems with licensing, it just proves that MS needs something like this. Something like 40% of all MS products in use are stolen - maybe they would only be a 300 lb gorilla if they didnt have to invade your privacy due to theft.

  • Talking to vendors of Linux office suites, one of the biggest problems seems to have been that commercial vendors have been reluctant to implement some features in MS Office clones (foremost, VB/VBScript compatibility) for fear of getting sued on intellectual property grounds. Putting StarOffice under GPL and creating a plug-in architecture may be a good way of addressing this.
  • by shagoth ( 100818 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:31PM (#929053) Homepage
    The GPLing of Star Office does not bode well for it's viability. Why? Well...

    1. Sun is now admitting that the idea of giving away a free office suite is non-viable and they are opening the source as a way to divest their engineering resources. Don't expect help from Sun in this area.
    2. Cross-platform support will die. Open Source projects of significant magnitude just don't happen on the major GUI OSes. StarOffice for Windows will lag far enough behind StarOffice for Linux that it won't be the cross-platform solution that it is touted as today.
    3. This might even spell the death of StarOffice. GPL has produces a whole bunch of useful code, but the inevitable branching of the project will kill the corporate acceptability of StarOffice. Branching has proven inevitable on all but the simplest of projects.
    4. If all that's not enough, GPL'd projects don't generally produce good end user software in terms of UI. Granted StarOffice pretty well sucks now in this regard, GPL won't help.

    Assuming Sun goes forward with GPLing StarOffice, we can all pretty much stop watching it.

    Just my controvertial $.02.
  • GREAT!

    *evil laugh*

    Now I can write my own GPL'D paper clip and own the world.

  • You know....last I heard they were supposed to port Star Office into an Internet application. I guess the code is:
    1) A wreck and/or
    2)Sun cannot compete in the software space.

    I do not know a single person who uses Star Office and by the time Linux gets a working office suite, MS will have moved on to .NET.

    Once again Linux will be playing a gee wizz thats a good idea catchup game.
  • by Pac ( 9516 ) <paulo...candido@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:33PM (#929056)
    Is StarOffice really bloatware, or is there just a lot of code because it does so many things? In particular, how much "bloat" is input/output filters to make it actually useful?
    Well, the computer I use at work is a PIII 500 with 128 MBs of RAM. I can use SO confortably along with JBuilder, IE 5, Outlook Express, sometimes Acrobat Reader, Erwin and Rational Rose. None of these applications are particularly small or memory effcient. The filters work well and I don't think they take all that space.

    Does it produce output that MS Word users can include without further massaging? Or does it produce "close, but not quite" results?
    As far as I can tell, it produce files identical to Office 98. I haven't really tested it with Office 2000 files, but I think it does well too.

    Does it produce something that would let me be a "stealth StarOffice" user?
    Well, that is exactly what I am, except that I warned everybody about what I was doing. I haven't had any problems.
    You could probably start isntalling it and trying to read the files you receive. Then try sending them one, and see what happens.
  • I understand your point quite well. But it seems to me that at least 50% of the arguments I hear to switch to/use *nix only is that it is simply better. Better features, better compatiblity, better standards adherence, etc. (The other 50%: its free).

    I've even been called 'unwashed' for using MS products. So my point is - why should I or anyone else us a product that's "not as good as the MSware" just cause "its better than nothing" just so I can use linux? I agree that this is a *step* in the right direction of SO, but why should anyone use a product just because its for a nix product? Since when is better-than-nothing a good standard for choosing software?

    If money is not an object, or less important (which for many large corporations, software costs are barely measurable in the overall picture) then why should they choose a linux-so-so product over a windows gold-standard product? I am not sure of that answer...

  • Sun has been saying they'll Open Source Solaris, Java, StarOffice, the Human Genome, and the Secret to Life, the Universe, and Everything for years now. We've seen little to no actual materialization of these promises.

    Forgive me for sounding skeptical, but I'm not going to believe this until I've got the source code on my hard drive, complete with GNU "COPYING" file, and had it compile successfully.
  • by Mr. Adequate ( 138862 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:37PM (#929063) Homepage

    It is offically unimportant to people how bad or crappy a program is as long as it's GPL'd..

    Exactly. You have just stated the GNU Manifesto For Dummies (tm). That's because if you don't like the way a GPL'ed program works, you can fix it. And even if you can't, somebody else will conceivably get so pissed off with it that they fix it and let you piggyback. Not so with closed source.

    Some other company who realizes that their product is dead and decides to GPL it, would they get big time headlines?

    That would depend on the relevance of the product, or rather the nature of the product. A fairly full-featured office suite being GPL'ed is certainly news. YAArkanoidClone probably isn't.

    One last thing, is the GPL really considered to be the free-est license around? I am not expert or even that informed, but I was understand that the BSD license took that title??

    Both place restrictions on the way the source can be used after opening; that's why they're licenses, after all. The GPL allows the original author to say, "Take this stuff, play around with it, but remember to share afterwards". Since the resulting changes are therefore available to all, the GPL is more free in an utilitarian sense.

  • The worries of Microsoft are not of my concern. The point is, how far can they take it? From my point of view, not very far. I switched packages. If StarOffice grows up to be a real alternative, will Microsoft be able to keep up with this kind of privacy invasion?

    And I will not even start to argue about the whole "intelectual property" concept here, because I am sure other post in this page will cover it better than I could (isn't it always so when the letter G, P and L appear together in a headline?).
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:40PM (#929066) Homepage
    One last thing, is the GPL really considered to be the free-est license around? I am not expert or even that informed, but I was understand that the BSD license took that title? Anyone offer a little help with it?

    Are you deliberately trying to start a holy war?

    Honestly, though, which license is the most free is as much a question of what you consider to be free as it is an objective matter of what each license allows. The BSD license does, in fact, allow people to do more with your software, so you could claim that it is thus more free than the GPL. OTOH, one of the things that it allows is for people to make non-free derivatives of your software, which the GPL does not allow. Some people thus claim that this makes the GPL better because it preserves software freedom, which the BSD license does not.

    The real issue about licenses is why you're planning on freeing the software. I think that in Sun's case they're making the software free because they don't want to spend as much on development as it would probably take to make a version of Star Office that's as good as they want. My general impression is that their long term strategy is to develop a version of Star Office that will be managed by an application server- presumably in many cases run on Sun hardware- and replaces the need for separate copies on each desktop. They have probably decided that they want to develop it more rapidly than they can with in-house resources, so they want to open the source and let other people hack it.

    With a BSD-style license, though, some of those people could turn around and make a closed source derivative that would compete with Sun's variant, which is presumably what they want to stop. Thus the GPL, which preserves a fixed level of software freedom, is probably better suited to their purpose than a "free-er" license like BSD that would allow non-free derivatives. IOW, the GPL is better suited to their purposes because the way in which it is less free than BSD is exactly the lack of freedom that Sun wants.

  • ...on any platform is that it is monolithic. Can't run the spreadsheet without loading the whole damn thing.

    With this news, that may change soon.

  • by angry old man ( 211217 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @02:45PM (#929069)
    bagh. Who needs any of these fancy schmancy office suites?

    Back in my day, we didn't have integrated office applications. If we wanted to plot some data, we wrote a fortran algorithm that created a graph. If we wanted to type a paper, we used LaTeX. Our integrated office suite was VI along with all of the associated compilers.

    Nowadays, all these wishy-washy office types think that they need a bloated graphical office suite. I think they need to get off there innovative lazy butts and learn VI. Then they will be productive!

  • after reading slashdot and all the opinions about open source, the GPL and user friendliness, i've forgotten why i like linux in the first place. it seems everything is scattered all over the place and linux has become just another idol.

    so what if star office is GPL? so what if it's coming from sun? the whole point is that it's a tool and we can use it. it has code we'll be able to see and we can fix it. WE, not them.

    if sun benefits from us, so be it. we get the code and we use it to help us make better tools. that's what i'm using open source for. to learn and get a hold of my system.

    ugh.

  • Good guy. Smood Guy.

    I believe the original yiddish would be "Good Guy, Schmood Guy."

    I can't bear using MS products

    I don't blame you, however the reality is that a biiig chunk o' "society" regards MS Office (that's pronounced Mizz Office, I believe) as being the defacto standard of crunchy office goodness. If they're willing to believe that, then maybe they're willing to accept the "treadless Panzer" that is StarOffice as a reasonable alternative. Remember frymaster's 27th law "what you, as a geek, regard as good software, they, as end users, don't."

    I am writing a book with vi/POD and filters

    I wrote my first and only book (unpublished, no good) in a stack of staple-bound scribblers with a pen (black, biro-style). Of course, now I can tell my friends that waaay back in '88 I wrote a novel on "a wireless notebook".

  • by Pac ( 9516 )
    If it is true, I would really like to see all the people that keep saying how crappy and bloated Star Office is lend a hand to fix it.

    Hell, I would certanly like to help. If there is something the software base needs now is a application that can seamlessly substitute Word and Excell at the secretary's (or, in political correct terms, "executive assistant for coffe grabbing and bill paying") desk. Which company would then keep paying U$800 a sit for the other package?
  • Microsoft will more than likely speed up the process of porting its suite of Office applications to Linux. The talk of such a project has been in the rumour mills for some time. I do not see StarOffice competing at all with MS Office on the Win32 platform, but Linux is were MS would love to upset the balance of nature.
  • Considering that the MS file format also contains a unique identifier for each installation, registering your details with Microsoft also implies that any .doc file you create with your copy can be traced back to you.

    So, say you write up a "New Manifesto for Violent Technological Overthrow of the US Republic" using Word. Your .doc file gets around, and you get a following - including one from the FBI who happen to be able to access MS' registration database to find out just who authored the .doc.

    Registering is a lot more insidious than you think. If you register at all, use fake information.
  • I wonder if they'll GPL the old code. You know, Star Office 4.0, the one that, unlike 5.2, ran on OS/2? Seperate apps, smaller footprint, not managed by Sun, couldn't get much better than that.


    "What do I care, if life ain't fair,
    If you look at me real sore.
    I've paid my dues and you should too,
    as a son-of-a-bitch to the core"
  • Maybe, but it doesn't change nothing in my feelings about the whole thing.
  • by drix ( 4602 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @03:10PM (#929084) Homepage
    StarOffice has not gained significant acceptance because it is a BEAST to run. The thing slows to a crawl on my 64mb P3-400 laptop and results in nearly constant disk swapping. This is because, among other things, StarOffice implements its own Window manager, widget toolkit, etc. The first thing that StarOffice needs to do, if GPL'd, would be to tear out that annoying Win98-clone WM and implement it using standard gtk or Qt API calls. StarOffice is an incredibly mature and featureful product that, in spite of its performance issues, has proven pretty stable. Lack of a competent Office suite for Linux has proven one of the last barriers to mainstream acceptance, and SO is in a good position to erase that. But all of that is a moot point if no one can run it.

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Endnote is a bibliographic database that started out on the Macintosh a decade ago. It works with to MS Word kinda like how BibTex works with LaTex, with keyed references, citation formatting, etc. It's a lot more sophisticated than BibTex -- with modules for online databases -- but there is a decent Linux equivalent. I've converted most of my old EndNote databases to BibTex and am currently using Pybliographic to manage them. The conversion from EndNote isn't perfect (EndNote and Pybliographic seem to disagree in the correct Refer format for a book) but good enough for me. Going from Pybliographic back to EndNote, however, works like a charm. Hence, there's nothing lost in trying Pybliographic with Lyx instead of EndNote with Word.
  • It will force you to register online, or cease to work at all.

    Are you sure you're not talking about Star Office?

    I remember having to get down on my knees and ask nice-like for a serial number before I could even install it on my machine.

    If I remember right, it asked for personal information before proceeding.
  • Why would you ship around a Word .doc file? Print it to PDF and distribute that. Or save to HTML, then go inside that and clean it up some to remove any traces.

    Then again, I suspect I'm talking to someone with a hat lined with aluminum foil... never mind...
  • by i, Mac ( 1975 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @03:28PM (#929094) Homepage
    > If Star Office is GPL'd, it could have great trickle-down effects on AbiWord and other Linux office software.

    Why does the OS community always think of commercial companies opening their software in terms of 'take, take, take?'

    I've seen it with Apple, Darwin and OS X first-hand. Apple releases a BSD-license OS and immediately, Slashdot shouts "They should Open Source the Mac OS so we can take X and Y!" Now, Sun decides to GPL StarOffice and the Slashdot comments 'maybe this will help [insert competing OS Office Suite here]'

    Maybe the other office suites will improve as a result. I hope so. However, the Open Source community consistently projects the attitude that Free software from corporations presents nothing but a feeding ground for carrion birds.

    Why can't you improve StarOffice itself? Why do you flaunt your open hostility to commercial ventures that have chosen to support you?

    Of course, the OS community thrives on sharing code, and I'm not criticizing that aspect. I am criticizing its tendency to follow, not lead: How many projects announced on Freshmeat or hosted on SourceForge exist as 'Free' alternatives to already existing proprietary software? Does the OS community all act like buzzards, picking the good meat from commercial open source ventures and leaving the bones when they finish?

    I read several of the Darwin development lists and I see that there are a significant number of people who actually do contribute to Apple's open source efforts. The majority of you, however, think only in terms of raiding and pillaging, out of some staunch anticommercialism, even when the company supports your cause.

    The Open Source Community will never lead as long as it continues to follow. Shining lights do exist, but the vast majority of Open Source software owes its existence to someone else's innovation, someone else's creative process, and someone else's hard work to develop the idea originally.

    Realize that a much more innovative atmosphere can exist when you spend your time exploring new ideas and ways to improve the software that go beyond other's ideas, than when you spend your time stealing ideas and code from the next new OS project to come from Sun.
  • StarOffice 5.1 (pre-Sun) required registration information. StarOffice 5.1a (Sun's rebranding plus minor bug fix), didn't. SO5.2 also does not ask any registration questons.

    Now, to download it from Sun you need to sign up with Sun and get a login ID. I use an account I set up last year to register for a Java tool kit.

  • by PiMan ( 2859 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @03:43PM (#929097) Homepage
    > I've seen it with Apple, Darwin and OS X first-hand. Apple releases a BSD-license OS and immediately, Slashdot shouts "They should Open Source the Mac OS so we can take X and Y!"

    Well, Apple took BSD and Mach from the free software community. If you want sharing, why shouldn't we get something back?

    > Why can't you improve StarOffice itself?

    In my mind, taking the StarOffice filters or abilities, putting them in a small, GTK-based word processor like AbiWord, and using that, is improving StarOffice. It takes out the bad parts and uses the good parts. It's also helping AbiWord, it's taking out the bad parts and using the good parts.

    > Of course, the OS community thrives on sharing code, and I'm not criticizing that aspect. I am criticizing its tendency to follow, not lead: How many projects announced on Freshmeat or hosted on SourceForge exist as 'Free' alternatives to already existing proprietary software?

    Hopefully, a lot. Every piece of proprietary software without a free version is an idea for a new piece of free software. Why _shouldn't_ there be clones of them?

    > Does the OS community all act like buzzards, picking the good meat from commercial open source ventures and leaving the bones when they finish?

    You suddenly jumped from taking ideas from proprietary software to taking ideas from commercial open source software. Big difference.

    Remember, it works both ways. If the free software community so rabidly "takes" from StarOffice, why can't StarOffice "take" from the free software community?

    > The majority of you, however, think only in terms of raiding and pillaging, out of some staunch anticommercialism, even when the company supports your cause.

    I don't see anyone "raiding and pillaging" Red Hat or VA. I don't see anyone "raiding and pillaging" Apple, either - at least, not anymore than Apple did to BSD.

    If Apple truly supported free software, we'd see all the code for MacOS. As it is, they're using free software as a base to build their main product off of, returning parts, but not all. That's more raiding and pillaging than taking parts of StarOffice, keeping them free, but putting them somewhere else.
  • I can see this work well if Staroffice is modified and improved along the same lines as the linux kernel, tightly controlled under a small group of people who are VERY familiar with source code, and recieve code enhancements from others outside the group. If the addition or modification is worth incorporating into the office suite then it is done and a new version is put online. Just imagine: Staroffice 6.0, 6.1, 6.1.1.
  • 1) As we saw earlier today [slashdot.org], PDC was not so good and the developers were not very receptive to the whole .NET idea (and to the idea of having to learn yet another language). Expect O'Reilly sales to hit the skies during the next weeks and the FSF download sites to scream under the added trafic.

    2) The Supremes (the judges, not the 70's disco group) will be back from vacation and will take a look at judge Jackson's work. They will find it worth its weight in kilograms and let the company be broken. Then Microsoft A and B will hit the courts to see who gets .NET, since it is not an operating system nor an application.

    3) The free-software community, taken away by its manifest destiny felling, will get Star Office, AbiSource and whatever and make all of them into the meanest office package in town. Every Fortune 2000 company will have to install it or face a class-action suit from its shareholders for spending money in bloated payware.

    4)Wishful thinking is one of our better developed mental function. :)

  • Yeah it sure helped mozilla. Wheres the browser again? I could care less about alpha and beta releases. Its been two years and no finished product, while IE continues to dominate with over 70% market share.
  • I'm sure it felt very bold from the perspective of the people at Sun making the decision.

    I rather doubt that Sun can turn StarOffice into a profit center of its own, regardless of what kind of license they use. From that perspective, they didn't risk much, so not much courage was required.

    Still, it's hard to overstate the level of inertia inside companies that are as old and large as Sun. (Yes, I know that in the context of the market as a whole, Sun is terribly young and small, but we're talking about tech companies here). I'm certain that someone made this decision over a substantial amount of internal opposition.


    -- Eric W. Sink

  • by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @04:53PM (#929118)
    "1. Sun is now admitting that the idea of giving away a free office suite is non-viable and they are opening the source as a way to divest their engineering resources. Don't expect help from Sun in this area."

    It is likely true that they see they can gain engineering resources that they wouldn't otherwise have because of usage of the GPL. Whether or not Sun will help, remains to be seen.

    "2. Cross-platform support will die. Open Source projects of significant magnitude just don't happen on the major GUI OSes. StarOffice for Windows will lag far enough behind StarOffice for Linux that it won't be the cross-platform solution that it is touted as today."

    Hmm.. you mean - like Mozilla, Crystal Space, GCC, and Abiword? These are all cross platform, and all major projects, the non Unix versions may sometimes lag in the features, but they tend to propogate to all of the differnt platforms with significant speed.

    "3. This might even spell the death of StarOffice. GPL has produces a whole bunch of useful code, but the inevitable branching of the project will kill the corporate acceptability of StarOffice. Branching has proven inevitable on all but the simplest of projects."

    Yes projects do fork, but there tend to be major official branches, and if support is offered for a specific branch, that is the one that the suits will go with. Also, forks can, and often do remerge. Whether forking is corporately acceptable, remains to be seen.

    "4. If all that's not enough, GPL'd projects don't generally produce good end user software in terms of UI. Granted StarOffice pretty well sucks now in this regard, GPL won't help."

    That is a traditional failing, one that is being addressed in both KDE and Gnome. Traditional Unix/Linux GUI's were difficult to make and modify, and handrolled by each new programming needing a GUI. With programs like Glade, good GUI design and prototyping become much easier and consistant. Thus we are likely to see Linux apps become more user freindly and usable as things progress.

    LetterRip
  • I am criticizing its tendency to follow, not lead: How many projects announced on Freshmeat or hosted on SourceForge exist as 'Free' alternatives to already existing proprietary software?

    There's an important flip side to this; look at how many pieces of proprietary software started out as clones, or even descendents, of free software. The idea of taking ideas from one world and applying them to the other is a very, very old one, and its hardly a one way street. If anything, it's been a lot harder to make free versions of proprietary software than vice versa because the proprietary companies can start on the backs of free code (what the GPL was intended to stop).

  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @05:15PM (#929125)
    I share your concerns, but I think you may be overly pessimistic. Here are a few of my thoughts on the same subjects:

    >1. Sun is now admitting that the idea of giving
    >away a free office suite is non-viable and they
    >are opening the source as a way to divest their
    >engineering resources. Don't expect help from Sun
    >in this area.

    Giving away a free office suite was not gaining them much in the way of hardware sales, which doesn't do Sun a lot of financial good. I don't think that was ever the reason they did it -- I think they did it to annoy Gates. This move should annoy Gates even more -- thousands of programmers working on a GPL office suite that is fairly mature has to be scary for MS. MS Office is their Killer App. -- the only other thing they have is Exchange, which is facing increasing competition from Domino and OpenMail.

    The UI sucks. It made sense to take over the desktop some years ago, but let's face it the desktop is becoming homogenized pretty fast. The heavy interface is no longer necessary.

    Maybe Sun wants to divest their engineering resources -- have them go work on Java, XML, Solaris, whatever. That's ok. I bet the people most familiar with the design will continue guiding and contributing to the open side.

    >2. Cross-platform support will die. Open Source
    >projects of significant magnitude just don't
    >happen on the major GUI OSes. StarOffice for
    >Windows will lag far enough behind StarOffice for
    >Linux that it won't be the cross-platform
    >solution that it is touted as today.

    Tell you the truth, I think the cross platform support will increase. XFree and Gnome have spread far beyond the X86 platform at this point. If the basic UI of SO gets fixed, and Gnomified, this could be a cross-platform bonanza, at least on the free side. Perhaps somene will use one of the free crossplatform toolkits (like wxWindows) to do the platform dependent work. That would keep things stable.

    In all honesty, I don't think a lot of places would seriously consider using SO on a windows machine if thay already had Office. But I do think a lot of places might consider running SO on Linux if the whole ASP/online registration thing continues.

    I don't think people realize, the way Bill Gates realizes, that internet software could become like the video store -- your company uses MS Office for $.50 cents an hour, etc., and you get "popups" for security patches, upgrades, etc. that prompt for your credit card number -- Net connection required to even use the S/W. I suspect a lot of companies will switch entirely to Linux and SO when this stuff hits the 'net.

    Sensitive parts of the government will have to switch to something standalone to do their work, for example. I don't know of any security model that would let someone do analyses on advanced military aircraft or nuclear weaponry over an ASP based web app model. The security people just can't allow that.

    >3. This might even spell the death of StarOffice.
    >GPL has produces a whole bunch of useful code,
    >but the inevitable branching of the project will
    >kill the corporate acceptability of StarOffice.
    >Branching has proven inevitable on all but the
    >simplest of projects.

    Funny, I know of only a couple small projects that have branched, and they only branched because the Author wouldn't accept patches or didn't like the mods. In one case, the Author stopped working on the project, refused to answer emails about bugs, and took the GPL code off his webpage. Someone else took over, on a new webpage, and the original author started screaming "branch!" -- but that's not really a branch, IMHO.

    If you mean that GPLing SO will make Sun lose control of SO, I agree. But I see no reason for it to branch that heavily. There are no Gimp branches, for example. This was always a behind-the-scenes project for Sun, it's not that big of a deal.

    >4. If all that's not enough, GPL'd projects don't
    >generally produce good end user software in terms
    >of UI. Granted StarOffice pretty well sucks now
    >in this regard, GPL won't help.

    We had a 400 pg. Word document at work that was BSOD'ing NT on a P3/500/128 mb. machine. I was able to load and scroll fwd. and backward through the document with SO on a P1/200/32 mb. box using SO. Mangement still wouldn't let us use SO -- and I admit some of the formatting was wrong.

    Gnome and KDE seem to be decent user interface software, and both are GPL'd. Both are improving rather strongly, I'd say. Some of the g[fill in the blank] programs -- gphoto, gimp, gnumeric, etc. -- don't have bad UI's at all. gimp could use some work :-)

    I've never throught the SO interface was "bad" -- at least not at the level of the child apps. The MDI thing that wraps all the child apps has to go! Only a few people I know actually like that.

    I think GPL will help the UI. I just bet that within a few releases of a GPL'd SO, the root interface will be completely redone.

    >Assuming Sun goes forward with GPLing StarOffice,
    >we can all pretty much stop watching it.

    ...and start using it.

    >Just my controvertial $.02.

    ...your $.02 has been "controvertally" raised to $.04.
  • When one 'takes' in terms of the GPL, it is a case of 'raising all ships'. If/when Star Office (SO) becomes GPLed it will be able to take advantage of a large number of resources that it otherwise would not have available. Those that use SO code to help the open office projects, will almost certainly contribute back bug fixes to the SO code base. There will also be those that will help Sun to get rid of many of the problems that are currently experienced with SO.

    As to your comments as to 'vultures of commercial software'. True, there is a great deal of immitation in free software - but largely, this is making available equivalent software on Operating Systems for which that software is not available (and thus provide potential users with one less objection as to why they cannot use said operating system...). Or, it is providing software for those who have moral qualms with using nonfree software (as in speech and/or as in beer.)

    You state "The majority [...] think only in terms of raiding, and pillaging, out of some staunch anticommercialism, even when the company supports your cause."

    While it is true that there are those who are "staunch[ly] anticommercial". I don't feel you have a basis for claiming a majority of those interested in free software/linux/slashdot readers, fall into this category. If you were to characterize as "staunchly antifree" then I'd be more inclined to agree, but those are not one and the same. Incidentally, I am neither, but given a choice I prefer free (mostly as in speech) software, because I have the potential/opportunity to fix and/or enhance that software as the need arises. Something that I can rarely do with commercial software.

    LetterRip
  • that only the dying embrace Open Source/GPL/whatever.

    That does seem to be true with existing companies moving previously closed source projects to open source (projects that start as open don't fall into this, only someone truely ignorant could claim Apache/Linux/Perl/etc are dying). However, be that as it may, it can still only help existing open source projects, so heck, dying or not, we'll take 'em. :)

    Finkployd
  • Your observations are conveniently one-sided. Don't forget that Apple Enterprise (nee NeXT Computer) took took took from the GPL world, one example being proprietary changes to the Objective C runtime -- and it took years of whining to get them to honor the license. If your honest, you'll see greed everywhere, not just in the /. community.
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @05:28PM (#929131)
    whot?

    AFAIK, most of SO is written in C++.

    I tried running SO on Linux about three years ago, when the JVM pickings for Linux were rather slim, but it ran and the performance was almost acceptable.

    I seriously doubt any major portion of SO is written in Java.

  • Even in an Open Source world, there is room for multiple efforts.

    I love it. Ask an Open Source advocate why all software should be free and he'll say "to avoid duplication of effort". Ask him to explain why the release of a superior product won't destroy his business and he says "there is room for multiple efforts".

  • 5.Let's not start predicting the death of Microsoft.

    If there's one thing I really don't think we have to worry about, it's that this will cause Slashdotters to start predicting the death of Microsoft. :-)

  • i.Mac wrote (in part):

    "Maybe the other office suites will improve as a result. I hope so. However, the Open Source community consistently projects the attitude that Free software from corporations presents nothing but a feeding ground for carrion birds. Why can't you improve StarOffice itself? Why do you flaunt your open hostility to commercial ventures that have chosen to support you?"


    Whoah! :) I wrote the lines you object to, and I feel misinterpreted.

    I can't flaunt open hostility toward anybody at all about Sun GPLing StarOffice, because I save my hostility for my zen-rock-garden social life! ("25y/o SWM, reasonable looking and employed, seeks curious, down-to-earth pixie with" -- oh never mind) I'm happy / pleased / surprised / impressed that they're even thinking about releasing it under an other-than-closed license.

    As to it helping other projects, well ... that wouldn't detract from SO, would it? There's risk (or several parallel risks) they take by releasing it GPL -- but SO is also free then to take code from AbiWord and other GPL projects. The street runs both ways! The license tiffs among the various One True Free Software Licenses are *nothing* beside the stark difference between Free (whether that means BSD, GPL or some other TLA to you) and proprietary.

    Re: Leading, not following -- this may be a glass half empty glass half full type of issue, but it seems to me that a GPL'd star office will possible inspire several / many other efforts the same way Mozilla has -- perhaps it will provide the glue that an otherwise stuck project requires (as someone else has pointed out, import filters would be very helpful) or the inspiration to one-up SO in one or more vital aspects. No more harmful than WOrdPerfect and Word jockeying by adding things they think users will like. (Except with Free software, if you think the result is overburned, you can fix it to the limit of your time and inclination). Your description makes software sound like more of a zero-sum game than I think it really is, particularly with sharing-encouraged licenses.

    Standing on the shoulders of giants and things like that is the end result I hope emerges, because I selfishly want to find / contribute at least some kvetching to a good Free word processor. I mentioned AbiWord because I like it's style and speed, but it would be even better if the unimplemented featuers *were* implemented. If I'd said "perhaps now SO can inherit some of the great design and ease of use of AbiWord," would that have jarred the same nerves? To me, they're morally equivalent ideas, I just see one as being closer to my ideal than the other. ymmv ...

    From the vultures' nest,

    timothy

  • Sorry. It was unfair to label you as the archetype for the Open Source Advocate. In fact, it's unfair to do that to anybody.

    Nevertheless, such a character does exist. Much like the "average joe" he is nobody yet everybody in the Open Source movement. At least, that is the way me and many others perceive it.

    I'm intrigued. If AbiWord doesn't make money, what enables you and your cohorts to continue producing it? What is SourceGear's insentive to transfer revenue from a source (which must exist) to a sink?

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @06:19PM (#929148) Homepage
    One problem with Sun is a tendency to make software free about the time it abandons development on it. Sun used to sell two visual development tools for Java. Both are now free, unsupported, and obsolete.

    I hope this doesn't happen to Star Office. It's needed.

  • I'm begging for troll/flamebait status here, I just know it, but it needs to be said...

    I have noticed that without organization and project support of GPL'ed code, the codebase dies and we all get upset.

    Remember how excited we all got when they open-sourced mozilla? We all downloaded the source, went through the basic compile process and got a flimsy piece of crap (no offence Mozilla folks). Encouraged and motivated, we... Sat on our hands.

    What happened? The management of the project was basically weak, and lacked community buy-in IMHO. The whole thing suffered (and still suffers, to some degree) from lack of leadership and a solid and focused development effort. Where is that great open-source browser we hoped to achieve? And after how many years of being open-sourced? (clue: it's been out there for nearly 30 months)

    Contrast this with well-managed, truly noteworthy open-source project such as the linux kernel, apache, etc.

    I swear people, MS will bury soffice if this is handled badly... It's a given. Where will MS Office be in two-and-a-half years?!?!??!!?!!! soffice will be a non-issue if we assle around with it for two-and-a-half years.

    We need excellent project management and an organized development effort for this to succeed. I have never seen it mentioned anywhere, but I suspect ESR was embarrassed as hell after he talked Netscape into releasing the source, and the community dropped the ball (or at least that's how it seemed to me). It was setup very nicely, the quarterback had the ball, made a beautiful pass straight into the endzone... But nobody was there to catch it for the touchdown.

    Everyone whip out your copy of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, turn to page 75, and read the section titled Epilogue: Netscape Embraces the Bazaar. Specifically, read the last three paragraphs of this section on pp. 77-78. I personally regard the last paragraph as "We will get other chances." Well, this might be it, boys and girls.

    Sorry if I sound negative; but honestly, I want to see this succeed, and I take it very, very seriously. PLEASE, somebody figure out how and where this will be managed, and fast, or it will be another mozilla.

    IANAD (I am not a developer), but I'll do all I can to support this (bug reports, OS-level admin stuff, etc.) and to make this work. So should we all, because we have to, if we're gonna win.

    Thanks for reading,
    DragonWyatt

  • That's what the Qt folks are saying and a certain radical fringe is trying to deny that truth. IMHO you are right, but not in the NSHO of Stallman and the FSF (both of which I do have respect for). Their claim is that libraries are just as much modules as are modules. I firmly disagree, but c'est la vie.
  • You do realise, do you not, that AbiWord has little profitability anyway? It's GPLed. This can only help it, as there may be some features of StarOffice which it can pick up. IMHO StarOffice looks much nicer, and it ahs incredible import capabilities, but it runs like a dog. AbiWord runs nicely, but it has that gtk-I-wanna-look-like-Win-3.1 feel:-(

    Were I not completely at a loss for free time, I might put some work into that...

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @06:59PM (#929155)
    Not too terribly long ago, John Dvorak ran a column decrying office suites on the grounds that before the office suite, you were free to pick the best-of-breed for each type of application. (Of course, this was back when there was a selection to pick from.)

    What we really need are open API and file format specifications, and preferably file formats based on XML. If there were some competition where individual suite components are concerned, you might not see Access, an app that's almost too buggy even to load itself into memory, stuffed in with Excel (which is fairly stable) and Word (somewhat less stable).

    While I'm certainly eager to see M$ dismembered by the DOJ, I'd also be happy to see them forced into publishing their APIs and file format specs.

  • No, it started out life as a pure OS/2 application. There was (and maybe is) an attempt to write a Java version, but SO has always been C/C++.
    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • SO was an OS/2 application first. Then Star Division wrote a Windows-OS/2 multiplatform library and moved the codebase to that. Then they ported that library to X.

    So, you can't just "tear out that annoying Win98-clone WM". SO essentially is a Windows application running on top of its own incompatible flavor of Wine; porting it to gtk or Qt would be as much work as moving an MFC app to gtk or Qt.

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • I love it. Ask an Open Source advocate why all software should be free and he'll say "to avoid duplication of effort".

    Huh? I have never heard this. Here is what I have heard.
    "So that software won't suck", "all bugs are shallow to a million eyes" and my favorite "because freedom is better"
  • Frankly, I'm a fair bit disappointed that there has not been much interest in GCC alternatives like TENDRA and lcc , as there is room for people to take some different approaches, learning some things from each other, thereby having better long term results than merely having one development stream.

    I'm quite glad that GNOME and KDE and GNUstep are using different tools and languages to try to solve the "GUI problem," as they can find different aspects of the solutions thereof, and can be more aggressive in their experimentation as they do not risk "disaster for all" should they try something and fail.

    And the above two points ignore the factor that despite their duplications of effort, they may all the same be avoiding larger multiples of duplication of effort. After all, in the MS-DOS world, there were literally dozens of spreadsheet and word processor packages, and it is really only out of quite rapacious behaviour on the part of Microsoft that package counts on Windows fell to more like a half-dozen. (MS Office, MS Works, Lotus Suite, Borland/WP Suite, with, likely, some others that few bother thinking about...)

    Duplication of effort does diminish; there used to be about a dozen "Quicken Clone" projects, many of which have consolidated into working on GnuCash. [gnucash.org] There used to be two GCC projects, which have consolidated to one.

  • Ok, that answers the how, but not the why. If SourceGear was just sick and tired of dealing with proprietary MS file formats, and had enough spare developers lying around to do something about it, I can certainly empathize with that (while maintaining my long-standing preference for non copyleft licences of course, but that is another kettle of fish).

  • For the record, I personally don't think duplication of effort is a bad thing at all.

    It sometimes goes by another name: Diversity.

  • "I have been reading dotslash for over a year and have decided that most of the posters here are either in highshool or at best very limited work experience (not a flame - there are some very intelligent posters here - but they are outweighed 10:1 by non-intelligible types)."

    So, being in high school implies a "non-intelligible" type?

    That kind of sucks. Because I thought I had a chance at being of the intelligent posters if posted intelligently. I am glad you straightened that up for me, because I was just about post more garbage on this forum, you know; one of them "non-intelligible" posts.

    Otherwise, I agree with you about the downhill trend of slashdot. That is, once you ignore the bigotry.

    Best Regardsm,
    Kevin Holmes
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @08:41PM (#929168) Journal

    One last thing, is the GPL really considered to be the free-est license around? I am not expert or even that informed, but I was understand that the BSD license took that title?

    After considerable investigation, I've decided that the license underwhich you received your education is the most free license.

    To date, I have yet to hear of any school asking you to sign a EULA or even read any kind of an agreement at all pertaining to what you could or could not do with your education. You can even claim that what you know is your own knowledge, unless it's a famous piece of knowledge like the theory of relativity.

    Seriously? Public Domain is usually considered the most free license, followed closely by non advertising BSD, then advertising BSD. There are several other advertising licenses that permit use in both closed and open sourced applications (such as the IJG license). Then we have copyleft licenses that allow closed-source linking, such as LGPL. Then we have pure copyleft (GPL). Then we have restricted open source (SCSL, MSRL), closed source, military projects, black military projects, "I could tell you but I'd have to kill you", and "you're dead".

    A lawyer was recently consulted to see where the Artistic License might fit on this spectrum. We'll get back to you as soon as he stops laughing.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Sunday July 16, 2000 @08:49PM (#929169)
    The Open Source Community will never lead as long as it continues to follow.

    Being the most innovative kid on the block may look good on the resume, but it only really matters in a world of restrictive intellectual property laws. The whole point of free software is to demolish IP boundaries so that the collective creativity and intelligence of the world's developers and users can be pooled to the benefit of all without being hindered by proprietary restrictions. If the free software community did nothing but plunder the work of other people and use it to build the cheapest, most flexible, easiest-to-use, and most reliable software around and did it without coming up with one idea of its own, well, mission accomplished.

    Anyone who wants to get into a pissing match with Sun, MS, or whomever about creativity and innovation is certainly free to do so, but the main purpose of both the Free and Open Source software communities is the sharing of knowledge. Hot-dogging is a personal imperative, and really irrelevant to the world at large.
  • Version 5.1a (the previous one, the first after Sun bought the company) was the last one for OS/2.

    I wonder if a GPLed one could be ported again to the platform. Sun blamed IBM compilers for not being able to compile 5.2.
    __
  • all these ... office types ... that ... need a bloated graphical office suite ... need to ... learn VI. Then they will be productive!

    Yes, all those business types, spending their time trying to get their three data points into excel, then into a chart, then the chart into a powerpoint slide show*, when what they really need is a piece of chalk, a blackboard, and training in voice projection! It seems** that the only tangible result of the office app madness has been office colleagues swamping each other with reports.

    Too many reports about nothing that nobody has time to read. Instead of writing a concise three paragraph statement, people spend twice the time fiddling with presentation.

    Your post has been moderated 'Funny', but it's a real issue. I guess ms poured those $2Bn research dollars*** into writing reports in their own office app. about their research....

    * Does office even do this..? I've never used office... :-)
    ** See Landauer, Thomas K. "The Trouble With Computers"
    *** A statistic 'quoted' somewhere in a /. post...

  • For example, I'm fairly sure that StarOffice is built upon a Win32 compatibility library from Bristol. They can't GPL that.

    Didn't StarDivision use their own library called StarView? If Sun bought this along with StarOffice, StarView might be in the deal as well as SO.

    This would be rather interesting - a cross-platform GUI lib, for Windows, Mac, Linux/Unix plus formerly OS/2 (don't know if it's still supported). And it's been show to work rather well...

    I'm sure people will tell me how much it sucks as compared with GTK or Qt, but do they support as many platforms?

    My personal f1rst p0st to /.

  • Actually, StarDivision (the company that wrote StarOffice and was bought by SUN) wrote their own cross platform GUI library called StarVision (if I remember correctly). It's quite nice from what I remember (there was a developers version of this library available commercially at one point and I saw an introductionto it at the time). C++, Windows, Mac, X and also (back then) OS/2 compatible.

    So presumably there would be no problem at opensourcing that.

    However, back when I saw this, I don't think it supported X yet, so they may have chosen to use Bristol's library, yet that would have been a somewhat strange decision to take.
  • I'm not talking about innovation in terms of coming up with the next feature that's going to make you more money. I _do_ commend the Open Source movement for producing, for the most part, quality software. I do commend it for redefining the way software is developed.. (Ironically, that's innovation in itself.)

    My comment was that innovation can and should exist here in the Open Source community as well. We should all strive to move the computing world forward, not for the mere benefit of hot-dogging but for the benefit of the users.

    Again, I am impressed tremendously by the OS community. It has done many great things, but if it ever were thrust into a position of leadership (strange to think about, being a collective and not an individual) in the industry, the community would need to innovate in order to keep the industry afloat.

    That's all I'm saying there.
  • I hate staroffice. But it is a necessary evil. And I agree with you.

    s/any desktop functionality//g;
    s/any underdone window manager functionality//g;
    s/do it all in one place//g;

    And use what is left. Which is not that bad.
  • But the version of Star Office that Sun puts under the GPL initially will always be under the GPL and a fork can take place correct? In this case if Sun closes it off, then the last version that was GPL'd can continue under new revisions and Sun would have no control of this fork.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • I've been using StarOffice for close to two years at work. The next "killer app" that Linux has to overcome is being able to read and write Office files. So far, Star is the only application that can do this with any sense of quality. Sure there are problems, it's bloated, slow, and has a nasty GUI. So what? It does the job that I need - read and write .DOC and .PPT files.
  • I'm surprised it took THIS long for Sun to finally make StarOffice licensed under the GNU General Public License.

    After all, by definition the GPL should include the source code; given that we're seeing StarOffice included as part of a number of commercial Linux distributions they should have done this months ago.

    It's going to be very interesting to see how well StarOffice does against WordPerfect Office in the Linux market.
  • As a user of LinuxPPC as well as Linux on an Intel box, I would love to see StarOffice GPL'ed. Currently there is no port of star office to LinuxPPC, although it should only require a new compile. Fortunate for me, I don't use office applications much in my job, I do all my technical writing in framemaker and LaTeX. Sheldon
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Monday July 17, 2000 @04:52AM (#929211)
    I'd hazard Apache as a good example. Apache is an EXCELLENT rock solid server, whose developers are working fast and hard to integrate and support new technologies. But there really isn't anything revolutionary about Apache (well, there doesn't really need to be anything innovative about it). OS is GREAT at building the best implementations of current technologies. But I think it is the "greedy" cathedral-goers that are the cause of a lot of "innovation" (read: creating-stuff-the-customer-would-like-for-money).

    In my opinion there is room for both cathedrals and bazaars and they complement each other.
  • I see windows, I see buttons. It can be ported.

    --
  • Being innovative matters in ways beyond IP laws. Even if IP laws were discarded, software would still be subject to a global free market -- where the innovative get paid well for their services, and the average get paid not-so-well.

    That is very true, but also only relevant to the individual developer(s), not to the community of users. C has been very useful to me and to many other programmers; the arc of Kernighan and Ritchie's careers affects the usefulness of C in no discernable way, however significant it may be to them, personally. My point wasn't that innovation doesn't matter, just that while it may matter a great deal to a developer, it is often a secondary consideration for his or her users.
  • I see windows, I see buttons. It can be ported.

    Thanks for volunteering.

    --

  • It figures. But the .NET services could be argued to be OS services, a integral part of Windows .NET. It would not be the first time we see that reasoning, would it?

    But then again I was just joking... :)
  • What?
    Star Office is very configurable. Now, I've not tried to not install everything (i.e. remove major components) but I know you can uncheck them if you don't want them installed. I spent quite a bit of time checking and unchecking very specialized components of the StarOffice family...

    Maybe you need to go through the custom install again?

Always look over your shoulder because everyone is watching and plotting against you.

Working...