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Sun Microsystems

Star Office to be Community Sourced, confirmed 167

rwest writes "The latest from, an article Sun to offer Microsoft Office competitor for free. The interesting bit is about half way through, where Brian Croll, a marketing director in Sun's platforms and software group says that "In addition to giving the software away for free, Sun will make the original programming instructions, or 'source code', available under the Sun Community Source License". " This comes after yesterday's speculation about whether or not this would be open sourced.Update: 08/31 02:45 by H :NY Times also has an piece talking about the creation of Star Office as a Web app.
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Star Office to be Community Sourced, confirmed

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  • The first posts that I see here and quickly scanned don't seem to fully grasp the significance of this event.

    Ignore the open source issues, Java is dead, and "Sun screwed us over" stuff for a minute. The stranlgehold that Microsoft has on the desktop is not the OS, it's the office suite. There hasn't been a viable competitor to MS Office yet. Sun acquistion of Star gives this company cash and a respectable name behind it that CIOs, VPs, and managers can mention in an IS Strategy meeting without getting fired.

    Merely having a competitor will affect Microsoft. Having it Office compatible is cherry. Having it web-served makes it cross-platform. Sweet. It's free. Damn. MS Office goes the way of the browser.

    Take off your open source googles for a minute. This is the silver bullet.

    (By the way, thank you M$ for integrating the browser into the OS !! :-)
  • Yeah, like open sourcing Netscape Communicator made Netscape become a succesful company again, completely changed the face of web brwoser scene, and totally kicked Microsoft's butt.

    Apples and oranges. Netscape release a pile of largely useless source code, which wouldn't even compile. It is only now, over a year later, that it is even beginning to approach some semblance of usability. That is not the kind of project that is likely to attract developers or users.

    StarOffice, on the other hand, is already pretty solid, and Sun probably wouldn't need to remove much code before releasing the source code.

    My point is that since they're releasing under the SCSL, they're basically conceding that they're not going to make money from StarOffice. So, since they've already decided that, they might as well go ahead and Open Source(tm) it, to gain the additional benefit of wide distribution.

    There's just no point in doing it half way.

    Either way, I've (actually my company) already paid for my copy of StarOffice, so it's not going to affect me personally.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

  • While I don't think Sun is perfect, I doubt that they have the curious combination of utter ruthlessness and rotten-quality products that's made MS so hated. We might fight them anyway out of principle, but I suspect it will be more of a friendly fight. At least that's my hope.


  • Is it a coincidence that today the share price of Sun Microsystems [] went up while Applix [] and Corel [] went down? News.Com noticed stock price changes on opened-source Star day [].

  • The Novell comparison really isn't fair. WordPerfect Office always was and still is considered a very competitive product with Microsoft.

    The short story is that Novell screwed themselves over by forgetting to ship a product that supported TCP/IP until 1998. One can hardly blame WordPerfect for that. The long story involves their bumbling with System V UNIX and tendancy towards meglomanical delusions. (Well, maybe the Sun comparison is not that far off...)
  • Looks like to me Sun is keeping their eye firmly fixed on the tree, and
    thereby missing the forest. They appear to be struggling to retain the direct
    money making potential of star office, at the expense of an opportunity to
    get into a market from which they are effectively blocked.

    In releasing this under a license which prevents even indirect commercial
    usage, they are guaranteeing that 98% of the computer-using populace will
    never see it. They will have complete control & money making opportunites
    on a piece of software used by less than 1% of the populace. Software
    available for free download is of great use to me, and of none
    whatsoever to my mother. Unfortunately for Sun, the intersection of the
    people for whom a free download is meaningful and those heavily concerned
    about the office suite, is very nearly the empty set.

    Releasing under GPL would be much more effective. Most importantly, it would
    allow vendors to bundle it in with their low cost alternatives. For instance,
    a company like e-machines could shave off a significant portion of the total
    cost of their systems by shipping a free gnu/linux OS with a free Star Office
    suite. My mother is never going to ftp the file from sunsite, but if it comes
    preinstalled on her machine, is easy to use, and interoperates with
    her boss and friends, she will make the switch without even realizing it.

    So what's in it for sun is the interoperability thing. Right now, they cannot
    even get their foot in the door. I myself maintain a Windows partition on
    my laptop specifically for power point, even though I own ApplixWare for
    Linux and find it completely adequate for the same task. The reason is that
    my boss often wants my slides, and importing and exporting to MS Office works
    in theory, but not in practice (the color is messed up, embedded charts are
    lost, etc).

    You can be sure MS will keep it that way too. Right now, MS Office is the
    defacto "standard" of office suites, simply because that's what the public
    at large uses. With KDE, Gnome and the greatly improved Linux install,
    Windows will soon lose the main argument of their OS over the technically
    superior Unix: my mother can install and run it, even if her VCR is still
    blinking 12:00 12:00 12:00

    The best way of defeating an opponent is to prevent him from taking the field.
    This is what MS gets to do when they control the office productivity
    environment so completely. Other office suites must survive on the
    perimeter, spending desperate hours trying to achieve some sort of MS
    compatibility so that they can sell themselves as "MS office compatible" so
    I will buy their product in the hopes of being able to interoperate with
    management. MS can change the undocumented internals of the storage format
    anytime they feel like a competing office suite is interoperating too well.

    So, if Sun released the software under a license that supported bundling by
    third party vendors, they would start themselves on the road to having an
    office suite that could gain enough of a following to break the MS stranglehold
    on the office format. The win for sun is not that someone is using their
    office suite, but that their hardware could again be a viable option for
    someone wanting to interoperate with the rest of the world. To get this kind
    of market saturation, though, you need to start somewhere where the quick
    answer of "keep buying MS Office" is not easily supported. Low-end
    machines selling for rock-bottom prices are clearly such a market, and one
    can credibly believe that this market could eventually reach enough
    end-users to challenge the MS Office hegemony.

    Once Sun is a viable hardware/software alternative again, they can push their
    thin client ideas for large businesses much more effectively. So, the direct
    money they would make from selling the product would be $0.00, but they might
    just prevent themselves from waking up one day to realize they have too few
    customers left to support their business, because everyone bought wintel due
    to compatibility issues.

    All of this argues that Sun needs to rethink their financial policy in regards
    to this license, but it is my contention that this is not enough. What they
    (and everyone besides Wintel) should want is that this thing is released under
    GPL. With GPL, Sun could expect development help from such disparate
    companies/orgs as IBM (so their PowerPC could make a viable laptop), Compaq
    (ditto for alpha procs), Red Hat (strong selling point for Linux),
    Dell (low-cost machine for my mother), Gnu foundation, KDE, and the rest
    of the hacker community.

    Now, none of these communities is interested in working on a piece of software,
    only to have Sun tell them they can't sell it, must pay for selling it or
    can't release it freely. However, if they GPL the software, everyone knows
    they can get back the investment they put into the software, so all interested
    parties would be free to help in development. This in turn allows Sun to
    spend less money directly developing Star Office, and thus saves them the one
    drawback to this approach: not making money on something you pay to have
    developed. With such a wide variety of companies with vested interest in
    seeing the project succeed, you have perhaps the only available defense
    against the deep pockets of MS.

    The key to success in this approach is to make the tools as easy to use as
    possible (this implies it is at least as good a product as MS Office; I'm no
    fan of MS, but I'll tell you MS Office is a very good product nonetheless), and
    to get enough market share that MS doesn't win just because I need it to share
    my stuff with other people. This market share will need to come from many
    different places, low-end market, people using alternative OS's, alternative
    machines, etc. With a completely free, GPL'd office document with an open
    standard file format (XML) in place, the issue of compatibility is effectively
    eliminated, giving Sun, SGI, Compaq/DEC, etc., their chance to rise or fall in
    a free market.

    I see the release of a GPL'd Star Office as a possible inflection point in
    the history personal computing, with cross-platform viability being available
    for the first time to the personal and small business user. The release of
    the code under the Sun license is instead an opportunity much more like
    Mozilla: some moderate media exposure (roughly equivalent to paying for some
    commercial air time), and perhaps an opportunity to receive more detailed bug
    reports. But as for great development assistance from the community at large,
    or an entry into the market Sun is starving on the sidelines of, this license
    is inadequate to the task.
  • Hopefully it will be easier to port to BeOS and other operating systems now. Bad license? You really think it's worse than its original license? give me a break
  • If I can save my hypothetical company $5 million and still get all the functionality my users want, wouldn't I want to do that?

    And you forgot the upgrade fees. It's $500 to start with and then $75-100 per year (on average) for periodic upgrades.

  • I agree. This is really sweet. Don't forget that MS-Office accounts for more than 50% of MS's _revenues_ (probably a lot more of their profits). They can't afford to give away their office suite for free. Judging by the price, they've invested hugely in Office 2000 too. If Sun plays their cards right, I believe that they can drive MS out of business, or certainly put them deep into the red this year at the very least. I hope they go for the kill.
  • Actually Star Office already has around 4 million registered users, which is more than a small dent in the market. I can't see how its market won't expand hugely, especially if it's bundled with Linux distros and with Solaris, and runs on every major platform. (Now that it's going open-source, LinuxPPC and MacOS ports can't be too far away.) It's interface is very similar to Office 97 (but it's better of course) so switching pains are unlikely to be relevant. I predict plenty of red ink in MS's future unless Sun goofs badly.
  • at least as far as widespread acceptance of Linux. Applications 'boring'? Maybe so, but cloning other peoples killer apps, spreadsheets etc. is what garnered M$ their legions of loyal followers. Honestly, it's going to be tough to displace entranched technologies - like using a Linux WinFrame/MetaFrame client to run a window full of M$ Office suite in X, it's pretty sweet. Licensing? I've decided both M$ & their users are largely pretty much criminals anyway, they DESERVE each other - I try to stay out of there and just make a buck when possible.

  • You can bet your but it will be with MS extensions. I have never heard of MS taking a cool standard and not trying to f*ck it up with there own proprietary crap. This way MS can say, "Yeah, we support the XML open standard!" The part they won't be saying is, "You just can't use any XML documents with anything other than our programs." This would be par for the course for MS.

  • I didn't see anything disputing the use it at home but not in the office policy which Star Division has been $O proud of. I am assuming that this restriction is to be lifted as the article states "to everyone". All I can say is NO MORE .DOC->.HTML with no reverse path (without bouncing it to the house, but I never did that). Yea!!!
  • by Brian Knotts ( 855 ) <> on Tuesday August 31, 1999 @04:35AM (#1715514)
    Yes, like others here, I don't much care for Sun's license, but...

    Even though it might not do exactly what we want it to do, let's look at what it may otherwise accomplish.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAICT, the license does allow you to use the product, even commercially, free of charge (as long as you don't use more than 500 copies, if the picoJava rules apply to this).

    In the past, StarOffice was free to use for non-commercial use, but you had to pay if you wanted to use it legitimately for work (my company bought it for me, $169, not bad, really). This meant that there was insufficient incentive to migrate from Microsoft Office.

    Free, however, is a nice price...especially when you have 10, 20, 100 people using Office. This could definitely put the hurt on Microsoft by "cutting off their air supply," since Office is their cash cow.

    Normally, this would be a bad thing; however, right now, with the desktop monopoly Microsoft holds, anything that reintroduces competition into the desktop market is a Good Thing, IMO.

    Perhaps Microsoft will now get a taste of what they did to Netscape.

    Maybe in a few years, AOL will buy them, too. He he he.

    I'd still like to see Sun reconsider, and offer StarOffice under a GPL-, X11-, or MPL/QPL-type license.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

  • Well at least its better than the binary shit that office produces now. XML is meant to be readable by human beings and this will at least give us an opportunity to get a nice spec of what the fileformat exactly supports. I wonder if their DTD is available?? Or don't they use one (I think that ms xml parser was non validating but i'm not sure)
  • This is the first time I got interested in Sun-s licence, so I went there and read it. (Disclaimer: IANAL!)

    AFAI understood, the SUN-s licence is very nice for SUN, but unpleasant for everybody else as it basically says:
    "We have published this programs source so You can work on it and make it better, but if we ever change our minds we may revoke the licence anytime. In particularly, you aren`t allowed to use the code or parts thereof for other projects."

    I must say that I prefered the old Star-Office licence, since it was a straight commercial licence with "free for private use" attached to it, which was very easy to understand. SUNs "would-be-free" licence is much worse, since it camouflages itself as beeing much more than it really is.

    As it is, SUN may hurt M$ (not so bad), kill Corel and Applix (bad- less choices left) and diminish the level of interest for various free-office projects in the next few years. It may also lead to various problems if someone starts writing the GPL-ed word-filters (for word) which are actually based on the filters from the Star-Office. I hope I am wrong.

    My confidence in SUN would be much bigger if they would GPL the input and output filters - They may keep the rest of the program under any licence they like AFAI am concerned.

  • StarOffice, on the other hand, is already pretty solid, and Sun probably wouldn't need to remove much code before releasing the source code.

    Solid or not, StarOffice is huge. It takes a considerable amount of effort to study source code of this magnitude. How many open source developers are willing to do it, before they're able to code even a tiny little feature in this suite. My guess is not many.

    OTOH, StarOffice might be a model piece of software, extremely modular with clean interfaces that allow you to contribute by only studying one part of the software. But unfortunately, I doubt very much that StarOffice is such a piece of software.

    Seems to me 95% of open source software developers want to get right into hacking code, and any amount of studying they'd need to do before getting to that phase, is just going to turn them off the project, be it licensed under Netscape, Sun or whatever license.


  • This is probably one of the best tests of the open source concept...Can something as boring as an office applications suite attract the interest of the development community the same way that Linux has?
  • Seems that the Sun download server is quite busy ... Anyone know of mirror site ? Anyone at Sun reading this ? Official mirror site could be a good idea ?
  • Get the info for reading/writing MS formats, throw it into Koffice, AbiWord, ect.....

    And we have GPLed universal office suites. yay!

    Civ CTP is awesome! Thanks Loki!
    Romans 10:9-10 []
  • People who would rather pay a little or look at some adverts to write a letter to their gran than shell out $x00 for MS Office. I barely use a word processor, and fond as I am of LaTeX, I don't like it for certain purposes. I *might* use such services, depending on how they are set up.

    Seriously, there are a lot of people betting serious money on this "application publishing" stuff, and there does seem to be a market.
  • They aren't OPEN sourcing it, they are giving it the boneheaded license they've used for their other "no where to go but into the ground" projects. Who wants to work for free to increase Sun's profit margins? The use of the term "community" in the license is laughable.

    Where do you get off with this stuff ? They get money, they also get to enforce compatibility. For some technologies, they let you ship non-commercial releases. Big deal - its their code, and with Java at least I can see where they are coming from.

    Since when do the second fastest growing programming language in the world, one of only two Unix office suites of any quality, and one of a very few genuine efforts at universal plug and play have nowhere to go but the ground ? You mean they can't make money ? Do you really think they'd make money if they made them open source ?

  • I have used Star Office and find it an excellent
    tool, although a little overweight (IMHO).

    Don't you just love Sun.
  • Plus maybe they'll push other office suites (read Microsoft) into supporting XML as the new Word format.
  • What do you think the X in XML is for?

    You define your own tags depending on what you what the innerText to be "marked up" as.

  • Yup, I noticed that, after having read the other three replies that point out the same thing. ;-)

  • I see this as a thing that was bound to happen. Stardivision was never a major player in the league where Microsoft and Corel play, and as such, they were never going to get much market share, no matter how good their suite may be.
    Now, when Sun's making StarOffice open-sourced, there is a reason to go with it. We, in the community, know that it (StarOffice) will continue to develop and expand - perhaps not into bloatware (which is what it would be like in the future if the recent development path was to be continued), but into a very useful set of tools, integrated with our beloved windows managers and desktops.

    I see this as a great big step for the OS community. Now we can get a fully functional, proven, open source office suite as OSS.

    Perhaps RedHat or some other of the major distributions will assign some developers full-time onto this and get us on our way as quickly as possible. That would be the ideal scenario, since all the "home hacks" will need a professional central point in order to develop fast and in a professional way.

    Major props to Sun on this one.

  • by perry ( 7046 ) on Tuesday August 31, 1999 @03:55AM (#1715537)
    They aren't OPEN sourcing it, they are giving it the boneheaded license they've used for their other "no where to go but into the ground" projects. Who wants to work for free to increase Sun's profit margins? The use of the term "community" in the license is laughable.

    I'm especially worried because the New York Times story about the purchase indicates that Sun intends to use this as a way of pushing their silly thin client plans. Word processing over the web! Gack.

    If they really want to kill Microsoft, they should just open source StarOffice FOR REAL and support development. The benefits would be astounding. Sun, of course, will never do this.

    This is the same company that buldozed System V into the offices of users who wanted to stick to BSD, who unbundled their compilers from their OS, etc. They don't ever back down when they make a mistake.
  • I know very little about XML, but isn't the definition of those new tags included in the document so that all XML parsers can implement them? What the other poster talked aboout was extending the actual XML _specifications_ not using the sepcs to create new tags.

    Look at it this way. MS added a keyword to Java, breaking their code on non-MS J++ machines. Whatever functionality they _claim_ they provided with this new keyword could probably have been implemented by adding a new class or something, working _within_ the Java standard, not extending it. So with XML, they can add whatever tags they want, since that is the flexibilty of XML, but they will prolly add some "new, improved" XML command or keyword, and call their format MS-ML++ or something.
  • If that's true, why did Sun pay over half a billion dollars for the company?

    That seems like a lot for a project that appears to be as revenue-free as they come. Not that they shouldn't have bought it - the price just seems amazingly high.


  • You can't use GPL viral infected code to integrate with a proprietary program.

    CSL is only for the Source. There'll be a seperate license for the binary.
  • Sure they could do it, but who would actually want to use it?
  • I really doubt it.

    Hopefully it will encourage them to let Star Office corner the market on FeatureBloat, while they concentrate on lean, mean discrete (but interoperable and extreemly useful) applications.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Free software developers don't volunteer their time for the sake of helping megacorporations. They do it to help the community. They don't go for this Community License bullshit. It should either be GPL or better. Half-assed licenses far more open than Sun's tend to fail.
  • But surely the days of installling 100s of Megabytes of software is becoming redundant.

    Does it really matter if Star Office is Open Source or not - Open Source Developer's time would be better spent writing an alternative.

    For example: Writing a component-based office suite that can be 'micro-installed' and/or installed on a server. That way all the rarely used 'features' of the suite can reside on a server or CD-ROM.

    It will be easier to manage development of smaller components(I guess thats where Gnome comes into it) rather than a 'big-ass' source tree.

    Awww..I dunno I'm rambling and I have the flu...maybe I'm just talking bulls***...

  • The thin client model is for the enterprise... For a company with 2000 end users in a building where everyone pretty much only uses an office application, email, and groupware, do you really need a PC where a lot of things can mess up or go wrong? A cheap thin client with no moving parts can save companies tons of money in support.

    The paragraph you quoted did say that work on all new versions of Star Office will continue, including Linux and Windows versions.

    As for office applications on the web, if you rarely use spreadsheets or presentations, why should you install a few hundred meg on your hard drive, if you could create something on a web page, save it/print it locally? If you use it all the time, then yeah it'd probably be better to have it on your hard drive, but for the occasional user, something web based would be perfectly sufficient.
  • Clearly in the short-term, they're claiming that development won't stop for the current version.

    In the long-run, it's anyone's guess. If the server model is successful, they'll try to ween people off of the fat client model, but if it flops like the last time they pushed the thin-client, the current version may be the only thing to survive.
  • It doesn't meet the open source definition []. The opinion of the Old Spaghetti Factory [] is hardly relevant.

  • The point is not that it uses XML as a document format. XML can be used to serialise ANY object.

    The question is,

    Will it be easy to interpret the XML DTD that Word 2000 uses.
    M$ could use a completely unintelligable DTD so as to make understanding the document structure as easy as trudging through the Word '97 .doc files.
  • One way of 'extending' is...

    <bytes number="0x20" style="hex">

    <bytes number="0x20" style="hex">
    whereas another is

    A document </title>
    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. </mainbody>

    One is understandable -- the other is not.

  • I don't have a probelm with that.
    One is human readable - the other is machine readable.

    The later is probably still faster so i don't see why ms would ever do the former - but presuming they do - doesn't mean it's impossible to work out what's done.

    stuff like *.doc and *.xls is documented too.
  • With respect to MSJVM. It's the only reason why I develop in java now days.

    without microsoft's keywords - java sucks.
    with ms keywords - i can call native routines easy as pie - without writting a wrapper dll and the likes.
    I can also call COM & ActiveX objects easy as pie.

    It's not like noone else can't implement these features - the keywords aren't secret you know. The way to do it is - but it's not hard to work out how to do it...hell given time, i could do it.

    JDirect kicks JNI's ass.
  • Sun hates Microsoft for being worth BILLIONS more than sun for their inferior OS's. In addition, Micro$oft keeps fscking with Java.

    Why pay hundreds of dollars for Office 2k when people can get the SAME functionality from SO. As long as Sun keeps SO clean and reliable. Microsoft will lose their coveted OFFICE market share.

    SO would be an incredible opportunity for School systems considering what little money they have for software purchases.

    The future is looking bright indeed.

    bash$ cat /dev/brain/logic > /dev/ass/toilet

  • Novell tried to do the same thing 3-4 years ago with PerfectOffice (ok, it wan't free, but hear me out). One of the reasons this didn't work is that Novell wasn't accustomed to competing in this market. As a result, Netware suffered, Novell lost focus. They ended up losing their shirt and are now only beginning to recover.

    Sun is already having problems delivering on the promise of Java and the Network Computer. How can Sun feel confident enough to compete with a product in a market they have NO experience in and not get creamed by M$?

    Do you really think that StarOffice will ever make more than a small dent in the market? Oh, it's free? Who cares?!?! MSOffice is also free, as far as most people are concerned! It comes with EVERY computer sold in the world.

    Do you really think people will switch office suits in droves to save a few bucks in software expense only to be burdened with added training and integration? M$'s browser didn't rapidly gain market share only because it was free, it was because it started coming with Windows and AOL started handing it out.

    Sun should learn from other companies' mistakes, not repeat them! They need to quit obsessing about Microsoft, and get Java to the level where it can actually be used as a viable alternative for writing client software.

    Waiting to be flamed.......
  • Think of the potential revenue that will come indirectly from this. If companies like the idea of saving money by converting to a thin-client model (of a server and cheap desktops with very little support), this can help Sun's revenues significantly. Sun is a hardware vendor firstly and a software vendor secondly. Over the course of years, (through sales of support + hardware) Sun will make much more than what they paid for Star Div.
  • Amen. With the (l)users I'm working for, a thin client environment would be *perfect*. Having 'real PC's' on every desk just gives me a headache. And considering the cost of all the M$ bs on our systems, going thin client/staroffice would probably save 80% of our budget. ~mindlace
  • Exactly, how many Windoze boxes are sold with the prepackaged OS and some Office product(or Works), both of which are part of the M$ tax.

    Now (since commercial use is no longer restricted) you can offer a pre-installed Linux bot WITH an Office (and e-mail and a browser) product at NO additional cost to the end user, or the manufacturer. That shaves at least $100 off the cost, making low-cost Linux boxes as useful (in the home) as Win ones with a much lower price needed for profitability. Is there anyone doing this?
  • .

    Why would Microsoft suffer from this? It has money to make money from; software shouldn't be interesting to them at all IMO.

    If you're planning on killing Microsoft, then kill Bill Clinton first (metaphorically speaking, you'll have to push some 150,000 others down a large staircase too -- hey, I here someone knocking on the door), not Bill Gates.

    And what's wrong with Microsoft anyway? It's a great company, why else would it get all our money?

    It'd be somewhat more appropriate to ask what's wrong with capitalism :-)

    Bye, and thanks for your interest

    it's the smoke that comes from a fire

  • Oh, and I forgot to say. I use Java for the language. Not for crossplatformness.
  • Piracy. A lot of M$ behavior is predicated on the idea that people WILL install illegal copies if M$ doesn't make it inconvenient, which gives us sysadmin problems. E.g., you must have the paper license to enter a code from to install a package. Also I'm thinking that is the reason vendors rarely offer refunds for an OS that comes with a new PC, even tho there are words to that effect in the license - M$ KNOWS that people will just leave the OS installed and try to get a few bucks back from the vendor, so it's just not common practice. Oh, plus the people I work with will install unlicensed copies (on their laptops, etc) at the drop of a hat, they steal stuff for their home pc's, etc. As sysadmin for this outfit, I seriously need to find some legal protection from the company I work for! I put up anti-piracy posters and stuff but people just scoff at them like scarecrows. They just have the attitude, "everybody does it". A recent new hire actually put that in their description of a previous employeer: "software policy: one person buys a copy and everyone else uses it". The evidence is pretty clear to me! QED: M$ is under justice dept. investigation, and their users aren't much more ethical either when it comes to IP, most of them don't even UNDERSTAND it, so naturally the honor system of licensing is going to fail, it's unenforcable.

    Growing pessimistic.
  • Well, they are not going to open source it, so it can hardly be a true test of the open source concept.
    I've seen a lot of kvetching about the Sun license, but no explanations. Just why does Sun's license not qualify as "open source"? Does the OSF agree (or has anyone even asked)?
  • An announcement just dripping with potential implications, to be sure. I read between the lines a little and note the following.

    For its part, Microsoft says it's not troubled by the move. "We do not feel threatened," said Andrew Dixon, group product manager for Microsoft Office. "This move by Sun really has no bearing on our product development and marketing efforts."

    Microsoft feel that their current predatory -- sorry -- highly competitive pricing/licensing practices with respect to their sales of Office (particularly OEM sales) are sufficient to keep the screws on their customers. They also feel that they have sufficient leverage to play the "change the file formats so that the competitor's software becomes flaky" game.

    While Sun will allow anyone to redistribute the software, those who sell it will have to pay a fee back to Sun, Boerries said. That has ramifications to companies such as Red Hat which sells Linux bundled with accompanying software.

    "If you're distributing free to the community, you don't have to pay. If you're charging, we get a distribution charge," Boerries said. "In my opinion, it's the fairest model in the world."

    Oh, rapture! Now we suffer special-casism. What a millstone. You won't see Sun Star Office appear anywhere on a Debian CD image with this particular restriction. It might not be such a bad idea for Red Hat, though, in a cynical kind of way. Consider: Red Hat puts Sun Star Office on their CD set; Red Hat is then obliged to pay a fee to Sun for every set sold, but presumably the fee is small, and they can add it into their shelf price. But lo! All those other cheapbytesey copiers of Red Hat discs run into a problem. Now if they sell copies of the disc, they have to pay tribute to Sun also! Red Hat can make reselling copies of their discs far less attractive, thus (presumably) increasing the percentage of buyers who go for the genuine article rather than a cheap (but identical) copy.

    As for this "Community" license thing, well, I suppose it's better than no source at all. I don't expect it will attract any real open source developers, and I would suggest they continue to focus their efforts on the various real open source office suites. But hey -- from an ordinary end-user's perspective, Sun Star Office for zero dollars sounds better than MS Office at any non-negative price.

  • Redhat is trying to bill itself as a service company, rather than a software company. I wonder if Sun will prevent them from packaging StarOffice with their distributions. If they do, they're fools. The only way to get people interested is to make it easily available.

    Converting the file formats into XML is probably the most intriguing part of the announcement. Of course the extent to which that will matter depends on the state of XML parsers. I'm wondering if a certain behemoth's parser in the NW will work on Sun's format...

  • hehee i liked how you put "waiting to be flamed" at the end of your post.

    I guess i would tend to disagree with what you said to some extent. Though what you said is partially true, with M$ coming out with new versions of their software every two or three years may companies think that to stay ahead they have to "upgrade", well this is SO's chance. When the next round of "upgrades" is supposed to take place, (possibly with Office 2000) many companies may decide to try to save a few bucks and go with SO. This would be good, and i will be happy.

  • The computer makers would love to offer an alternative to Microsoft Office; but if they tried Microsoft would punish them by charging them full price for Windows.

    Indeed they would. However, we need to look at what is tying the users to Windows: it is largely Microsoft Office (yes, games are important, but individual games have significantly less staying power than Office, and are presumably not used heavily in offices).

    If RedHat, Caldera, and the rest (apart from Corel, naturally) bundle StarOffice (I don't know if RedHat or Debian's policies allow this, given the SCSL), you suddenly have a relatively easy to use office platform that has software licensing fess of $0. Windows is no longer a "must have" under circumstances like this.

    So, let's see: Microsoft's solution for a 20-seat office is, oh, $5000 (at least; that's assuming no NT server, no Exchange, etc.). This, combined with Linux, costs roughly $0. Gee, tough decision, especially given StarOffice's compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats, and relative operational similarity (read: trivial training costs).

    This is IE vs. Netscape all over again, except the revenue is larger, and it's happening to Microsoft this time.

    C'mon, you must know as well as I do, that IS people all over the world are just looking for an excuse to introduce Linux on the desktop. They're tired of having to deal with Microsoft's crap, and are just bored with it all. This gives them a solid piece of ammunition that they can use to argue for Linux/UNIX on the desktop.

    This in itself might not accomplish that, but a very large piece of the puzzle just got put into place.

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  • Microsoft is not worried, because this isn't going to cut into their sales much. Even at $500/user, MSOffice provides a more featureful set of functionality that the end users desire. The price of an Office license isn't very much by comparison.

    And I see few intelligent companies who are going to evaluate these two products and go "Ok, sure StarOffice is slow and lacks features... BUT It's free!"

    However the people who are going to be hurt by this are Corel and Lotus. Especially Corel, as the people using those products are doing so more because of the price point than because of the functionality offered.

    Ohwell. Maybe some day Scott "Captain Ahab" McNealy will get his white whale. But it seems in the meantime he's intent on killing everybody who is trying to help his cause.

  • For years Microsoft, seller of operating systems, has been stealing application developers by bundling applications into the operating system. This has cut down on the application market.

    At this point, for many buisness users, a WinTel box is an application support device required to run the Office Suit application.

    Sun by making available a free Office Suit has now effectivly bundled the Office Suit with any hardware. This is supposed to make Windows, Microsoft Office and the Intel plateform they all run on irrelevant and increase the sale of Sun hardware.

    Effectively Sun is trying to pull a Microsoft on Microsoft. This should be really interesting to watch. Can you hear Bill Gates roar?
  • The answer: Yes. Many companies lease computers for a couple years, then get new ones. Letting the leases expire and instead "upgrading" to a thin client (which costs MUCH less in hardware AND in support) isn't yanking out existing infrastructure, it's doing what they would do anyways. Just, upgrading to a better model. They can decrease their support staff (help desk, pc gurus) and have a couple people answering phones (for help on the "how do i..." more than why do I get a BSOD) and a person to watch over the server(s).

    I can see the cable companies combining the cable modem with the tv top box (Time Warner has one that you use your remote and access the tv listings, programs your vcr, and lets you get pay per view movies, and on-screen tv listings as you change the channel) and offering the email, word processing, web surfing, etc. functionality to it. You don't even have to BUY the cable modems (at least with TW) or tv boxes these days, you rent them which is included in the monthly service. No more buying PCs for the joe schmo user. The computer becomes just another appliance.
  • > Even at $500/user, MSOffice provides a more featureful set of functionality that the end users desire.

    You're assuming two things: 1) that StarOffice won't be advancing in functionality and 2) a majority of users actually take advantage of all the whiz-bang features in the latest versions of MSOffice.

    Don't forget the "good enough / cheap enough" maxim. If the product does enough for low end needs, but at a much lower cost, it will take hold. And it starts to slowly move into the middle and high end markets. It just has to survive long enough to do so. MS is able to do this because it has the money to subsidize such projects. But open source or non-revenue products work just as well.

    We keep seeing this over and over in the computing industry (hardware, dev languages, MS's entire business model and product line). Why can't people grasp this? MS should be worried, because this is happening to their two biggest cash cows now (OS and Office).
  • What does this deal mean for other thin-client productivity software, such as Applixware []? This office suite was completely written in Java (afaik), and Applix has opened [] the source code. I tried the demo a few months ago, and I thought it worked pretty well, even through a 28.8 pipe.

    I've never come across any mention of Applix in the news. Anyone familiar with Applix's level of success, or with other competitors?

  • I agree. There are a couple factors here. The first is Microsoft is improving the "Webability" of their products. For example, everything I've read about MS Word 2000 is the HTML features are much improved (better HTML output, more accurate to the original document, etc.).

    I thought I had read that MS plans to put XML into Word to allow users to work with a signal document that can be viewed on a web site or just used as a normal Word document. If this does happen, then there's a major opening for Star Office.
  • Maybe it will be ported to BEOS... there's an idea.
  • The source code for this is to big. The suite is over 70Megs, the source must be more. Sun tried releasing there OS Solaris for $15, and it does not seem to have caught on as they expected. I have a copy, but am much happier in Linux, as it is just more user friendly from the start. This is just there attempt at combatting Microsoft, and most Linux users see this, I tihkn. Just my opinion, thou.
  • Red Hat puts Sun Star Office on their CD set; Red Hat is then obliged to pay a fee to Sun for every set sold, but presumably the fee is small, and they can add it into their shelf price. But lo! All those other cheapbytesey copiers of Red Hat discs run into a problem.

    That's very disappointing; I was afraid there was some commercial distribution catch. I understand that Sun wants to recoup their investment, but...

    If they stick to this type of licensing, StarOffice will remain a relatively insignificant piece of software. If they Open Source(tm) it, it could change the face of desktop computing, and could generate more hardware sales for Sun than they can ever hope to make from distribution fees.

    I really hope ESR and Bruce Perens can have a chat with Sun, and talk some sense into them.

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  • Sun does not seem to get it. People are not keen on downloading their word processor. Sun seems to think everyone on this planet wants a server based software.

    Sorry, but get with the times that is wrong. The person who buys a Word Processor or Spreadsheet needs it for work. And hence they will have the horsepower, etc, etc...

    And lets be honest, nothing is for free. There is always a cost one way or another. Especially when it comes to a corporate...
  • Sun has a history of playing Microsoft's game by the same rules. Remember Open Windows? NEWS? "Embrance and extend" applied to the X Window System -- perfectly within their rights, but an effort to tie customers to their platform via proprietary extentions to an existing standard. Solaris 2.x is an example of this philosophy applied to System V UNIX, with results that range from humorous to downright irritating. The difference is that Microsoft played the game with much greater success than Sun.

    The Sun SCSL was IMHO responsible for Java becoming just another language, rather than the Microsoft-killer cross-platform environment it had the potential to become. Sun has squandered opportunity after opportunity to court the Open Source community and leverage it's talent pool. It seems to be a control issue with them more than anything else -- they end up giving away the product (i.e. little or no revinue) but they forgoe the contributions the Open Source community could have made to making their product(s) better and more widely used, simply to keep absolute control of the spec. Not only have they shot themselves repeatedly in the foot from a purely practical perspective, but politically they have squandered an immense amount of good will they once enjoyed (as the standard bearer against the Microsoft Monopoly -- a role that has since been taken over by Linux) and replaced it with deep suspicion and a fundamental lack of confidence among Open Source users and developers which they will not easilly be able to overcome. Most distressing of all, they don't appear to learn from their mistakes. As a result, I am not at all optomistic about the medium and long term future of Star Office now that it is in Sun's hands, and I believe it would be a mistake for the Linux community to pin its hopes to that product.

    On the commercial side we have Corel Office Suite on the horizon. In addition we have KOffice and Gnome Office emerging on the Open Source front. I think it is here that the Linux community should be concentrating its efforts and resources. This is an area where Red Hat, with its newfound wealth, could truly make a significant difference. The Office Suite of the future does need compatability with archaic file formats such as Microsoft Office, but as importantly, it needs to be unencumbered and open source (preferable GPL, but any Open Source license would be preferable to the SCSL IMNSHO). Perhaps RHAT could hire a team of programmers to write libraries for manipulating Microsoft Office and Wordperfect file formats, linkable by any Open Source project. An alternative license could be marketed to Corel and others who wish to make commercial offerings, allowing an even greater variety of Office Suites to interchange file formats in a coherent and compatible way, and providing an easy migration path from MS Office to whatever Office Suite the consumer desires.
  • Reading the SCSL license [], commercial use is restricted and requires a special Commercial Use License agreement, with a "fill-in-the-blank" for royalty-per-unit payments.

    "Commercial use" is defined two ways in the glossary of the license. First, internal deployments of more than 500 units are commercial use, so only small to medium sized businesses will qualify for the "Internal Deployment Use" license. Not that I see many large corps switching to StarOffice anytime soon, but it's worth noting.

    Second, commercial use is defined as use for "direct or indirect commercial or strategic gain or advantage." Based on that, I don't believe hardware manufacturers could pre-install StarOffice without making payments to Sun.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not to spoil the purity of this rant with facts, but Sun didn't take a compiler out: there never was a compiler bundled with the SVR4 base Sun was working from. Sun would've had to put one in. That would've cost them money, and as disgusting as this sounds, they probably would've wanted to see return on their investment. The fiends. So what did they do? They split off the development work, created a new cost center, and charged the people who wanted to buy it. Maybe not a total win, as they did piss some people off by doing so, but "ass-raping?"

    "But," you cry with despair, "what about the BSD compiler they used to ship?" Ahem. It wasn't really a very good compiler, was it? It was buggy, non-optimized, and non-ANSIfied. This was the same compiler GNU zealots would look down their nose at as they ran to grab the latest version of gcc (note to those playing at home: do not try looking down one's nose while running. Leave this to the experts.)

    So, yes, life would've been just peachy if Sun had included a compiler in their SVR4 port. But it's hardly an ass-raping for them not to have done so. Just get the gcc compiler you were probably using with SunOS anyway and get over it. You don't need a compiler to build gcc; get a prebuilt one, then rebuild it if you're so inclined.

    And no, really, most Sun users don't need a C compiler. You need one; I need one. Developers need one. Sysadmins need one. SAP-boy over there doesn't need one, nor does Ms. EDA. Sun has one they work on, and charge for it. You and I can choose not to buy it. OSS and capitalism are not mutually exclusive; they live and breathe in the same space, and people get to choose which they like. Bold prediction: neither one will kill the other. Ain't it grand?

    "At the core," Sun is like MS in that they're both for-profit corporations, but this is like saying that Ed Sullivan was like Ed Gein in that they were both carbon-based life forms: there's a lot of room in that definition. Read "The Microsoft Files" and see if there's anything Sun's done that even compares to Redmond's business as usual.

  • Sun's decision to unbundle a compiler from their operating system was lousy, but probably driven by the fact that many people use Sun workstations for non-programming tasks.

    So just leave it in! It's not doing any harm there, is it? Apart from a small amount of disk space.

    The reason - and it is a good reason - is that Sun could make more money by making people pay twice to get the compiler. This is the problem when deciding what proprietary software to include on your CD: If you leave things out as Sun did, then your customers complain that you are just trying to screw money out of them. But if you include lots of goodies, as Microsoft does, you can be accused of monopolistic practices ('bundling') and forcing people to pay for things they don't want.

    Some people consider it 'unfair' that, for example, the C compiler is included as standard, because then 'some people are paying for something they won't use'. Marketing departments would no doubt use this argument when justifying their market segmentation schemes. This is nonsense of course, since the cost of the CD is the same whether it includes the compiler or not. The job of the vendor is simply to get as much money as possible, and you can usually do that by witholding some things, like C compilers, from low-end 'products'. Hopefully, if there is sufficient competition in the marketplace, this won't get too grotesque.

  • SunSoft.
    Where all good software goes to die.

  • Second, commercial use is defined as use for "direct or indirect commercial or strategic gain or advantage."

    How about a button on the desktop or command in your help manual that says "type this to install"? Would these breach it? It would basically be the same as them downloading it. It might be splitting hairs and bending licences, but thats a lot of what the software business is about, just ask M$.

    If you can't I don't see this ever gaining a large scale audience and basically being of no use to the OSS movement in general and home users in particular. I'm talk about the "mom" type home user of course.

    (No, I haven't studied the license, and I guess siccing some lawyers on it before going ahead is a given. (insert mult-page rant about too many laws and lawyers here))
  • I think word 2000 already supports XML (probably with ms extensions though)
  • This is a fantastic day to celebrate for the open source movement... but let's be a little wary of this move by Sun.

    Sun certainly isn't into giving things away for free - they are a company that's been brought up in the culture of American free market business.

    They are doing almost the same thing Microsoft did to Netscape - offer the competitor's product for free to try and leverage your own product. Hey - I think this is great that MS is getting a taste of what they do to others. But if the motive behind Sun open sourcing Star Office is for this reason, then its only to the community's benefit because Sun will benefit too.

    This is quite obvious, but I point this out because I think it might conflict with the general ideaology of open source.

    But, it IS a step in the right direction, but we should be careful not to allow ourselves to become blind to the motives of these companies - they want to make money.

    It's certainly a WIN/WIN situation for Sun and the community - so let's keep on our toes and make sure it stays that way! Keep coding Abiword and KOffice ... the more free software the better!!

  • I was a proponent of IBM's failed OS/2, which offered a powerful GUI that beat the hell out of anything Microsoft has yet to offer IMNSHO. Its failure in the marketplace was often attributed to the lack of application support for the OS. The Star Office suite was developed for OS/2 originally, but seemed too little too late. Note though, that in Germany, where it was developed, OS/2 retains a large percentage of mindshare.

    This might be more attributable to IBM's having gotten pre-install agreements from a major box manufacturer, something that they were never able to get in the US. Now, with major hardware manufacturers falling over themselves to offer Linux as a purchase option, coupled with a well-known company such as Sun offering a supported office productivity applications, this is exactly what Linux needs to keep growing. Do note that I'm making the assumption that more boxen running Linux is a good thing....but in this forum, I'd kind of assume that a shared belief :)

  • This sort of thing is arguably more important that Linux itself - Operating Systems come and go, but it's applications that stick around.

  • Will be at :
  • Yes why not. Nearly everybody uses office like applications to do stuff like wordprocessing so there's definately an interest to fix bugs and add features.
    I think suns license is a nice compromise between GPL and propietary software. It allows some freedom to developers without sun losing ownership of their investment. Of course from an opensource perspective things can't be open enough but from Sun's perspective that probably doesn't matter.

    Would anybody who's more into licenses then I am comment on what the differences between the two licenses exactly are?
  • by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Tuesday August 31, 1999 @04:03AM (#1715618)
    Here's a link to the Sun Community Source License [], in case (like me) you're not sure of exactly what that means...



  • Nah. I think what you really want is a common, universal document standard. With a document standard in place, import and export filters become a thing of the past. A document created by one office suite could then be read/written by any other office suite without filter errors.

    Just like, if you follow SMTP standard, it doesn't matter if you and I use different e-mail products -- we can still exchange mail.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't see this as a good day at all. I believe this basically stops all work on the version of Star Office we use (the "classic" version). Sun says they will be supporting it for now, but don't believe them. Their plan is to develop the Java version for thin clients. And they haven't given anything to the community, their license isn't even close to being open source.

    I've had to deal with Sun for years, and at their core they're no different than MS. Their business strategy has always been to lock people in to their platform and then use licenses and support contracts to rape their customers of every penny possible. The only interest Sun has in Linux is finding ways to exploit its popularity to increase its own market share.

  • This could get interesting.
  • An A.C. wrote:
    Look at Dell, they won't even advertise that they have Linux.

    Dell certainly makes little mention of this in current advertising, especially in magazine ads. However, I think you'll see this change in the near future ... current Dell catalogs (produced by the company I work for) make some reference to it, but only in regards to the Dell Precision line of workstations (which Dell spells "WorkStations" in homage to Adobe and others) and even then the reference is small. (I do make sure that we use the copyright symbol in it, though!)

    But since rumor has it that Linux will be available on PowerEdge servers and preloaded on the OptiPlex line as well (possibly not soon on Dimension, as the components tend to be more bleeding edge and often less Linux-supported), you will see the grudging trickle of admission ("OK, ok, you can get Linux preinstalled on Dell machines.") grow progressively wider. I hope so, because I'd like to write it.

    You know what I think the most effecting thing to do would be? Call some Dell 800-numbers and politely ask about Linux availability. They'll get the message, just as soon as it goes through 39 MBAs and 107 interns;)

    Dell is a big boat to turn (conservative, lots of mgt. folks, many divisions ...), but like Microsoft, they have enough savvy to at least be interested in what customers want, and sometimes they can deliver.


    (Opinions expressed are just that, of course.)
  • Look at it this way, Microsoft took hold of the OS market when IBM gave them the lead way back when. They then used the OS to get the application market by keeping the API's moving and allowing the app division access to the OS (Office updates OS dlls). They now own the desktop office applications market and that helps them keep control of the desktop OS. They each feed each other. Microsoft was threatened by Netscape because the browser was almost a OS environment and a application interface and could have made the OS an abstraction. Now Sun is going to break the Office application hold by giving away a very good suite at a time when Microsoft has been increasing the cost of MS Office. Soon Microsoft won't have the apps market to keep the OS dominant and finally Java can step in to level the playing field and simplify user experiences. In 5-10 years we may be fighting Sun but I'd rather deal with that fire when it occurs and put this fire out pronto. It (Microsoft) has been out of control for over 5 years.
    Thin clients will make Sun tons of $$ in server system sales and maybe even some client sales.
    My $.02
  • Sun (and Oracle) have been saying for a year or two that the "network is the computer", but nobody's yet managed to articulate why thin clients are convincingly better than what we have now. Sure, they're easier to administrate, but are they so much easier to administrate that it's economical for us to yank out the existing infrastructure and replace it?

    Sun is a server company, and has been for years. And they make great stuff in that area. But they've made a lot of false starts in the desktop market (such as the Javastation) and folks should be wary.
  • Look before you flame. All his posts (like mine) start out at 2, because we've been moderated up a lot in the past. You start at 0 if you get moderated down a lot. That's just how it is. You can tell because there's no adjective next to his score.
  • I agree with your comment that StarOffice is overweight. This is not down to feature-bloat, but the fact that StarDivsion saw fit to create their own widgets that largely emulate the Windows 9x look and feel. Perhaps there are sound reasons why they have done this (portability?), but a switch to a common, lightweight toolkit would be good.

    I'm shouldn't advocate one toolkit over another, but Qt and GTK+ seem the obvious choices. Qt especially if they want portability. And that's coming from someone who personally prefers coding in GTK+.

    If I recall correctly, StarOffice used to use Motif up untill version four.

    Chris Wareham
  • Unless Sun has some sweetheart deals that aren't being mentioned, I don't see that RH or any distro is going to bother much with this. Star Office is "Open" only until you try to make any money off of it. It is not at all free software.

    RH's business model is to make money off open source. They develop free software to improve a product that they can freely sell and build goodwill in the community. Pumping money into Star Office would not accomplish either of these. Sun would own their code and Slashdoters would laugh.

  • Has anyone heard if they will ever port StarOffice Server to Linux? Could it be now that it is under the community license? I could place this in many, many places if this is the case.
  • Well, they are not going to open source it, so it can hardly be a true test of the open source concept. But maybe their "community license" is "close enough" to open source to get some of the benefits anyway.

    I don't think we will see significant outside contributions unless they go all the way with open source, but they might see some minor fixes contributed by users.
  • Given the level of activity on both KOffice [] and the GNOME Workshop [], I don't think that there's any question that office applications suites can certainly attract free software developers.

    The question remains, will StarOffice under Sun's "Community" license attract developers? I'm doubtful -- how may outside developers actually work on projects that Sun has already applied this license to? AFAIK, it's even less than the number of non-Netscape programmers working on Mozilla [].

    So I don't see this as a "test" of the open source concept. Put StarOffice under GPL/LGPL, or even the MPL, and this might qualify as a test. But right now, this looks more like "free beer" than "free speech." Not that free beer isn't nice, but it's not the same...

    "Cleverness kills wisdom"
    -- G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong With The World []

  • So what is Sun up to? Are they helping the OSS community or trying to get one back on MS for screwing up Java?

    Probably a bit of both I think. But I reckon MS will still be ahead in the running unless Sun make Star Office 'enterprise' ready so that it runs on Sparc, IA32, IA64 68K etc. It would be cool if they put in other features like document management or other groupware stuff. Then they could _really_ challange M$.

  • Sun's not doing this because they want an office suite for Linux or Solairs. They're doing it so they have a place to start developing a thin-client Office suite for the Network Computer concept that they're still hung up on (read : way to sell more Sun servers). Star Office as we know it (large, MS-Like office suite) is going to eventually atrophy, simply because Sun doesn't really care about it (regardless of the 'Openess' of this, it's still basically Sun trying to enlist developers with thier silly Community License).

  • Sun's decision to unbundle a compiler from their operating system was lousy, but probably driven by the fact that many people use Sun workstations for non-programming tasks. The first place I worked at used a massive Sun setup to drive an optical jukebox system and their print shop. Funnily enough, they are still using the pre-Solaris SunOS - although that's because the jukebox software is no longer supported and wont run on Solaris.

    As for the switch to System V, there are the compatability libraries. I've even found that Solaris is more likely to have the BSD function calls (albeit via wrapper libs) than FreeBSD. If you don't beleive me, then try compiling an application to use BSD style regexps. On Solaris it happily compiles. On FreeBSD it's deprecated ...

    I'm amazed at how consistent SVR4 is, especially when comapred to BSD Unices, so I can easily forgive Sun's switch.

    Chris Wareham
  • What's the likelihood of StarOffice (or KOffice) ever getting as far as XML, in anybody's opinion? could be nice if it did. Anybody close to the development team out there?

    Might it do TeX/LaTeX conversion as well as M$Word, which would be really nifty? (for a start I could save a bunch of time on reformatting stuff other people give me).

    Is the spreadsheet up to scratch yet? I'm not talking about all the graphics and macros stuff, just a good symoblic maths spreadsheet for manipulating data before feeding into gnuplot.

    Last time I looked (admittedly a few years ago) it was pretty terrible, and I vowed never to go near it again. Also, it keeps popping up on different OSes as the M$Office killer, and always kinda fades.... so before I go install it and forsake xemacs can anybody tell me if its good and stable and nice?

    (e.g. embedded graphics boxes and playing nice with them, cross references, indexing and numbering)(and lets keep on topic and not tell me about other software we all already know about but don't use)
  • I think Mandrake is already moving in this direction by hiring a couple of the KOffice developers as full-time. KOffice looks to be promising but there is still a lot of development that is needed before the first stable version is released.
  • What does this deal mean for other thin-client productivity software, such as Applixware? This office suite was completely written in Java(afaik)

    Applix's office software antedates Java, and I hadn't heard that it'd been rewritten in Java; where had you heard that it had? (I assume that you were calling it "thin-client" software as you thought it'd been written in Java.)

    and Applix has opened the source code.

    Unless I missed something on their site, the only thing they've open-sourced is their extension language; they haven't open-sourced Applixware as a whole.

  • Hexadecimal MS word code embedded in XML?


    I hope they won't go that far...
  • I wonder people who said 'Java is dead' ever
    write a single line of Java code or ever write
    any kind of code at all.
  • Sun also does Community Source Hardware []. In a nutshell, if you have the tools and the knowledge, you can brew your own picoJava or SPARC workstation on a chip. :-)

    Caveat: I'm not qualified to offer expert legal advice, however if you are a (hardware) designer and don't work for Sun [], I strongly suggest that you have your legal department (Intellectual Property advisor-person) look over their (or anyone's) licenses before you download any of the "open" cores.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes