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Novell "Forking" 370

l2718 writes to mention that In the wake of their recent deal with Microsoft, Novell has announced a new version of 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 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 project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites."
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Novell "Forking"

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  • Re:That's not a fork (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:53PM (#17106902) Homepage Journal
    It is if the main project decides not to accept the contributed code.

    But if you think it's FUD, blame Groklaw, not Slashdot. They're the ones who came up with the headline.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:11PM (#17107180) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Any such license could not be reasonably considered "open source." Actually, you might be able to call it open source, but it certainly wouldn't fall under "free software" and wouldn't be compatible with the GPL. So any existing GPL projects would not be able to block Novell unless Novell itself violated the GPL. Any existing BSD-licensed projects could create a fork under another license, but would give up the strengths of the BSD license.

    More likely, OSS developers and organizations will stop supporting Novell by contributing to SuSE, providing support for SuSE-specific bugs in their apps/libs, etc.

  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:13PM (#17107218) Journal
    Java makes OpenOffice incredibly slow.
  • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:23PM (#17107340) Homepage Journal
    Apparently OpenOffice is going to include import filters [] for the OpenXML format.

    If anything Novell is jumping the gun and getting ahead of the competition by including it into their version of OpenOffice before it hits upstream. I wouldn't call such a thing a fork.
  • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:24PM (#17107342) Homepage

    As a previous commenter noted, there really isn't any easy way to add "modules" to OpenOffice. What Novell is doing is submitting a patch adding this (potentially patent infringing) functionality and calling it a module, despite the fact that it would have to be integrated into the source and OpenOffice would have to be recompiled in order to get the additional functionality.

  • Not really a fork (Score:5, Informative)

    by terrymr ( 316118 ) < minus physicist> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:24PM (#17107352)
    It's not really a fork. already said they were in favor of this [].
  • by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:36PM (#17107468)
    The architecture does not support dynamically loaded plugins.

    That's just completely wrong. OpenOffice absolutely loads it's filters via dlopen, etc. Here is a tutorial on how to build them: A link proving the AC is completely making crap up. []
  • by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:43PM (#17107564) Homepage Journal
    How long will you wait to fork/dual-license SmartSuite?

    Linux desperately needs the world to see diversity in office suites. If they are addicted to ms office, but hesitant to plunge into OO.o, then maybe IBM/Lotus Development can FINALLY lay aside the sword, shields and maces for a while and try to merge the best bits of SO/OO.o/Lotus SmartSuite. OO.o DOES have some cool stuff, but it has NOT got:

    -- Lotus Approach, your award-winning END-USER, non-programming-required relational database (and it NEEDS updating, not just maintenance and stabilization fixes... SURELY by now your "stabilization-seeking customer base of some 10 million could use a rejuvenated Lotus SmartSuite before they give up and cave in to ms' constant attempts to woo them); Approach has made it a pleasure for me to develop all sorts of prototype databases that would be mind-numbingly impossible to do in the current tools SO & OO.0 have, despite the fact that Star Office has been around since, what, 1995, and 2000 before the first major code shift? And, SmartSuite has been around only a little before that.

    -- Lotus Word Pro, your slick, kewl, tight-n-crisp interface word processor. OO.o, again, has some cool stuff, lots of cool stuff, but it's compound document (main and linked) interface is horribly, gut-kickingly, BUTT UGLY. Word Pro's icons and tabbed document interface combined with SO/OO.o's updated code base (well, if it could be stripped of 48 seconds of that load time...) would give the holding-out camp something to leap for in Linux.

    -- Speed. Yep, Lotus Smart Word Pro, no documents, loads in about 6 seconds in Windoze 98, in Win4Lin, in my PCLinuxOS-based 800-MHz K-7, 256 MB RAM Gateway Select from year 2000 computer.

    Please, IBM, I can accept that you don't want to be called on the carpet for "harming Open Source", but if Open Source were fully-commercial, Base and Kexi and others tyring and trying to be end-user databases would look like Approach, File Maker Pro and Alph 4/5 by now, SATURATED with features in a smooth, cohesive, ambitious, award-winning layout like Approach has won for multiple times.

    I am sure people here are TIRED of me harping the Approach & Word Pro thing, but I am sure of those who scoff, maybe only 1% has SEEN, USED, and DONE anything meaningful WITH/VIA Approach and Word Pro. For example, I have built a virtual HR database and screenplay/dialog database, single-handedly in Approach. It will eventually do what most of the other screenplay tools do, but obviously, with a database engine, access to the interface and user-level innards, it says something about Approach. Yeh, a database as the back end allows all SORTS of things a word-processor-based tool simply cannot do out of the box, or would require vast amounts of code to effect.

    Regrettably, tho I want to dual-source my app, I cannot until I have a sponsor co-patent it with me so that after patenting, Open Source (or anyone for that matter) can USE or COPY it but theoretically no one can then re-patent it and try to take away from ME (and my intended audience) what *I* spend years created.

    Are there any like-minded foundations or sponsors out there? Two bangs here:

    -- The Approach hammer slamming down on the hammer to revv up the Linux/Open Source-based offerings
    -- Yet another screenplay tool/application to offer to those tired of ms word-based/only-supporting applications

    And, it wouldn't HURT if any prominent Open Source attorneys would vett the purported sponsors of foundations to make sure there are no wolf-in-sheep's-clothing undermining operations going on.

    How about it, IBM? Wanna be first in line to sponsor and help patent it so it's TRULY safe for the Open Source community to use it without fear some jerk would patent MY work to undercut us? I don't need 100% patent control of it, just be named and it written up so it is not ruined by hyper-commercial-minded types.

    Captcha: hostile
  • by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:52PM (#17107674)
    Yes, sadly this is what Groklaw has become. I think some of PJ's article posts when she came out against the general linux kernel community and its objection to GPLv3 are also shining examples of groklaw bias. Her hypocritical cries "unfair" to a couple responses just killed the shine on groklaw to me.

    I guess we at least learned one thing. She isn't a shill for IBM (Stallman on the other hand...)
  • by roca ( 43122 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:55PM (#17107716) Homepage
    Except that in a separate covenant they agreed not to sue anyone using the Office XML spec.
  • Re:That's not a fork (Score:5, Informative)

    by Curtman ( 556920 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:36PM (#17108148)
    if shipping a package with an unaccepted patch is considered "forking", then how the fuck is this news?

    Novell forked [] years ago. Here [] is a press release from back in March that says:

    SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is the first fully supported enterprise desktop to deliver 2.0, the leading open source office suite. OpenOffice includes a powerful spreadsheet program, business presentations tool and word processor. The Novell® edition of will support many Visual Basic macros, closing one of the chief compatibility gaps between and Microsoft Office. 2.0 can save and open documents created in Microsoft Office formats including Excel pivot tables, and it is the only office suite available today that fully supports the OpenDocument file format, the new public standard for document files. Because OpenDocument is a public standard maintained by the open source community, it eliminates vendor lock-in by ensuring information saved in spreadsheets, documents and presentations is freely accessible to any OpenDocument-supporting application.

    Miguel [] has a blog entry about this too.
  • Ximian did it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shawn is an Asshole ( 845769 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:27PM (#17108534)
    Before Novell bought them Ximian forked OpenOffice. The site ( is gone and I haven't been able to find it on Novell's site. The WayBack Machine has it [], though.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:48PM (#17108686)
    Just how does this qualify as a Fork?
    Its Standard proceedure for an open source development project.
    They are GIVING it back to the community under the same license
    as they go it.

  • by bucky0 ( 229117 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:15PM (#17108878)
    Absolutely not. It's true for trademarks, but patents don't have the requirement that the holder defends it. That's why companies have been able to have 'submarine patents' where they patent something, wait untill its usage becomes widespread, then sues everyone for tons of money.
  • by Kopl ( 1027670 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:16PM (#17108884) Journal
    Open Office is LGPL, not GPL and there is a version of what you are talking about called Star Office, only it's owned by Sun and not Novell. I currently trust Sun more than Novell though.(Feel Safer?:P)

    They don't seem to want to do that though. Here Novell seems to only be touting the fact that OpenOffice [] will be able to work with OOXML, not NOO, or even that they offer this while others don't yet. The code to the plugin [] is already open source also. Such as with any non-copyleft licensed project they could do what you said, but this is no sign that they are.
  • by Zantetsuken ( 935350 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @12:42AM (#17109414) Homepage
    Novell developed OOo? This is news to me - I thought it was Sun (Microsystems) that open-sourced their Star-Office suite (so that now Star-Office is a commercialized version of OOo). What in the name of Java did I miss here? I don't think I mis-read any of the literature on OOo - and another thing, if Sun made Java which is supposedly a crap language anymore (by /. anyway - not that I know, I'm not a programmer), and OOo is full of Java - wouldn't it be full of Java because Sun wants to keep Java in *something* so they can say that Java isn't dead? (again, not that I'm saying Java is in fact dead, but like I said, it sounds like most /.ers wish it was)

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.