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Novell "Forking" OpenOffice.org

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the patent-office-dot-org dept.

Software 370

l2718 writes to mention that In the wake of their recent deal with Microsoft, Novell has announced a new version of OpenOffice.org which will support Microsoft's planned Office formal, Open XML. From the article: "The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites."

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Turnabout is fair play (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106804)

I used OpenOffice and it forked me when it corrupted my boss' spreadsheet right before an important presentation

Novel becoming responsible (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107044)

Novel has to become a responsible company if it is to be taken seriously.

It seems that it needs to go its own way whenever it feels that it's using stolen material.

Re: oops correction -- Novell (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107158)

Novell.

The system works.. (-1, Offtopic)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106814)

Thanks daddypants.

Fork Novell (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106826)

Novell can go "fork" itself.

Re:Fork Novell (1)

Lord Prox (521892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107022)

As far as I am concerned, they can go fork themselves. [i-curse.com] In HELL.

Mod parent up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107186)

Novell have forked-up big time.

OMG FP ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106836)

My 1st EV4R !!!

That's not a fork (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106846)

Nice FUD, slashdot.

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

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106902)

It is if the main OpenOffice.org 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.

Re:That's not a fork (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107086)

It is if the main OpenOffice.org project decides not to accept the contributed code.
if shipping a package with an unaccepted patch is considered "forking", then how the fuck is this news? most unix systems ship with thousands of these "forks".

Re:That's not a fork (4, Insightful)

BiggyP (466507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107242)

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

Re:That's not a fork (1)

quakeroatz (242632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107668)

Ya blame Groklaw, we couldn't possibly hold a site responsible for reading the news it links before it is posted.
That task might constitute an editorial job which is purely for "The Man", Neo-Cons and people who don't have Ipods.

Groklaw: Open Mouth, Insert Foot (5, Insightful)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107572)

I've been a fence-sitter for a while, with respect to the accuracy of Groklaw, due mostly to the fact that I'm too lazy to research and confirm the accuracy of PJ's interpretations of the SCO/Linux legalese (which is almost everything I've ever read on Groklaw). This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.

Re:Groklaw: Open Mouth, Insert Foot (4, Informative)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...)

Um (4, Insightful)

Eco-Mono (978899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106852)

Does this look like Microsoft back to its old "embrace and extend" tricks to anyone else?

Re:Um (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107046)

That worked really well with web browsers and Java (until a court stopped it). I think it would be real news if Microsoft or Oracle bought out RedHat and possibly Sun. That would dramatically shrink the world of open-source. However, I think we can live without Suse, even if it was a wonderful distro. It seems that the Zerg have infested it...

N-Tentacled Killer Squid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107208)

Microsoft reminds me of an N-tentacled deep-sea squid. I am referring to the huge monsters that sperm whales catch by diving several miles into the ocean. Sometimes the hooks of the squid remain lodged in the head of the whale after a particularly fierce battle between the squid and the whale.

In the case of the squid, the "N" in "N-tentacled" is a small integer number. In the case of Microsoft, "N" seems to grow as the profits grow. The following is my guess at the formula.

N_in_year_X = net_profits_in_year_X / one_billion_dollars

Re:Um (5, Insightful)

Kopl (1027670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107228)

It doesn't look it to me. All they did was release plug-in for Open Office. To say that they are forking it is a huge exaggeration. One that apparently fooled you. I see no problem with supporting an additional format, even if it is controlled by MSFT.

Re:Um (5, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107382)

To me it looks like Novell develops interoperability with Microsoft's new document format. That's a good thing, since nothing is going to stop the format anyway. Embrace? Novell "embraces" Microsoft's format insofar as they support it, which OpenOffice.org already does with the old format. Extend? That would be insane, since it would leave OOo incompatible.

If Novell can develop good plugins for Microsoft's new format, users could actually switch to OOo instead of upgrading Office. Yes, there's the patent situation, but Microsoft can't do much about interoperability as a convicted monopolist.

Chasing taillights. (5, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107610)

The problem with that is it would just take 1 "high priority" "security update" to break the compatibility. And then all those OpenOffice.org installations are "broken" for their customers. Just stick with MS Office, it's less likely to "break".

Microsoft would be happy to maintain control of the de facto "standard" in file formats. That way they can keep everyone chasing after their last update.

Instead, Novell should be looking at making it easier to migrate FROM Microsoft's standards.

Re:Um (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107418)

If you call making the product more useful to more people an "embrace and extend" trick, then hopefully, they can "embrace and extend" more OSS projects. This is going to be a good thing for users. It really doesn't say all that much for the OSS community that it took getting MS involved for something like this to happen.

Re:Um (2, Funny)

colinbrash (938368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107520)

Does this look like Microsoft back to its old "embrace and extend" tricks to anyone else?

Why, those dirty forkers...

All forked up (5, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106858)

I remember when Novell bought SuSE, people were wondering just how they would inevitably fork up Linux.

Now we know.

Aha! (1)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106884)

Who's running Novell? Ron Hovsepian or Steve Ballmer?

I smell lawyers...

Once Microsoft gets OOo forked, do you think they'll get their patent lawyers to attack OOo directly and/or anyone else running a clean OOo install?

Until this moment, I believed Novell was a victim of Microsoft's treachery. Now, patterns are emerging: Microsoft gets to fork whatever F/OSS they want (ala Novell), probably getting their lawyers to submit a patent for every conceivable change to 'their' F/OSS, thereby OWNING it.

Thanks, but no thanks.

[wraps aluminum foil around skull, muttering conspiracy theories]

Re:Aha! (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107160)

I'm sorry, I don't really understand what's stopping MS from making their own fork of OpenOffice anyways without Novell? Or the Linux kernel, or anything else for that matter. It is open source, right? Can't IBM do the exact same thing (and has, lots of times). Are you worried about MS suddenly making that code go away, or getting people to use their DRM version, or something of that nature? Given the average Linux user's utter revulsion to anything MS, I imagine its going to be a hard sell. I'm sure there's lots of patents MS could try to sue Linux (or, rather, the people using Linux) over right now, they don't have to go extreme lengths to lock it down by somehow adding source code to it. AFAIK, they can't take OpenOffice and somehow break the GPL (is it GPL? I don't know) and start their own version.

Re:Aha! (1)

fangorious (1024903) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107452)

I'm sorry, I don't really understand what's stopping MS from making their own fork of OpenOffice anyways without Novell? Or the Linux kernel, or anything else for that matter. It is open source, right?

Depending on the licensing, and assuming GPL, Microsoft would have to release their derivative build under a free license. I'm not sure of the exact consequences, but Microsoft releasing a build of an OSS project with patent-laden additions would do one of two things: force MS to offer the patent under a royalty free license with rights to redistribute granted in perpetuity; or be enjoined to stop distributing their build due to failure to comply with the license of the original OSS project.

The agreement with Novel doesn't give Novell any kind of patent license, but rather says Microsoft won't sue Novell customers. This has the overall effect that if Novell 'accidentally' ships an OSS product which infringes on Microsoft patents, anyone distributing that product (including Novell) can be sued for patent infringement. The deal between the two just say Microsoft won't sue Novell customers. But in this particular case, if the OpenXML plugin Novell is going to release infringes on any of Microsoft patents (and Novell repeatedly publicly states a policy of not shipping anything which infringes another company's patents) and Red Hat and openoffice.org distribute OOo with the plugin, Microsoft can sue for patent infringement. Hopefully Red Hat and/or openoffice.org would, in such a case, sue Novell to cease distributing such a tainted product.

Re:Aha! (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107548)

The agreement with Novel doesn't give Novell any kind of patent license, but rather says Microsoft won't sue Novell customers.

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

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

Re:Aha! LOTUS!!!! IBM!!!! (2, Informative)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107564)

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

Well... (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106894)

Looks like it's started. How long before everything included with the SuSE distro is a fork with MS-backed goodies added? I hope someone takes some initiative and forks OpenSuSE before that happens. Batten down the hatches, guys :P

What? (5, Insightful)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106918)

When did "forking" come to mean "releasing plugins for a product"?

It's hardly a "plugin". (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107014)

The OpenOffice.org architecture does not support dynamically loaded plugins. Perhaps future versions will include such support, but as it stands now, that just isn't the case.

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

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

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (5, Informative)

Stalyn (662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107340)

Apparently OpenOffice is going to include import filters [openoffice.org] 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.

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (0, Troll)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107498)

No it's a trap. The code that Novell puts in there will violate MS patents. Novell is rushing so that the only "safe" was to use OO is to use theirs. Everybody who uses OO that does not come from Novell will be open to a lawsuit from MS.

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107662)

Meh, as they are now.

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107374)

The grandparent is asking a good question, while the rest of Slashdot is swallowing this FUD. The entire OO project is licensed under GPL. If Novell manages to release the translator as a dynamic plug-in then they are forking nothing. If, on the other hand, they release a fork with a built-in translator, then the translator will have to be licensed under GPL as well. How is that bad?? If they violate GPL then their fork will die overnight.

The parent is right though about the Novell's code being potentially unsafe. It should not be incorporated into the main branch.

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107606)

It depends. Dynamic links are generally not covered by the GPL, as they are not "really" modifications of the code. They are merely calls to an external object, and totally external calls are not usually considered within the remit of the GPL. (By totally external, I mean that no sane person could say that the object was in any way embedded - even at runtime - into the original code.) If you add such a link to an external object that handles Open XML, then the object handling Open XML need not be GPLed, whereas the code that is identifiably OpenOffice would remain GPL.


This would be modular if (and only if) you could remove said link from the code and have it still work. I think the word WinDriver is appropriate here. Microsoft has, in the past, found ways to shift functionality around to break things when not doing things their way, even though "technically" they are not doing so. The hardware in a WinPrinter or WinModem doesn't change when you move it to Linux, it still functions entirely within spec, it's not its fault that Linux lacks the necessary extra code.


Alternatively, Microsoft could overload one of the Open Office functions in a way that makes Open Office run better (or appear to) with the module than without. Or they could make it flakier to use Open Document. There's a million ways they could coerce users into using their module. And, as with the browser wars, all they need is to make themselves appear needed.


Now, will this happen? I'm not sure. Novell seem suspicious of Microsoft, but the test of a trap is not whether you are suspicious of it, but whether you are caught. (Kerr Avon, "Bounty", Blake's 7) It also seems odd that - at a time the community is suspicious of the whole relationship - Novell would be doing this. It seems unhelpful for customer relationships (or anything else) to add fuel to the fire, no matter how innocent the whole thing is. There have simply been too many cases of innocent victims (users and businesses) in the past for people to simply relax. One should not be too relaxed around a vampire, even if they claim to have become vegetarian. (Vegetarian vampire ducks excluded.)


Is this a fork? I don't think it matters what it is - if it's safe, then it's helpful. If it's unsafe, it'll be lethal. The name on the bottle really doesn't count for much.

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (5, Informative)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107468)

The OpenOffice.org 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. [openoffice.org]

Re:It's hardly a "plugin". (1)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107524)

This is an unfortunate design. It's interesting to note that the article claims that Novell will implement Open XML as a plugin in their version of OpenOffice.org. If this is true, and what you say is true, then they must also be implementing some kind of plugin architecture? Or perhaps the article is confusing "patch" with "plugin" - I don't see a source for the article.

This deal has a lot more to it than just adding support for MS Office file formats. It must have more to do with branding. I don't understand these things very well, admittedly. Why would Novell fork OO.org just to add support for Open XML which they'll then contribute back to OO.org? If OO.org accepted the code, then essentially both Novel and OO.org would have the same product.... except that one would say Novell on the splash screen I suppose.

At any rate, I would be surprised to learn that OO.org isn't going to support Open XML in the near future all on its own. They've already had semi-workable support for other MS Office formats, and it seems like this one would be easy to implement by comparison. And I don't think that MS Office and OO.org will ever be compatible enough except in the case of standard word processor/presentation formating and simple spreadsheets. Sure it's nice to have whatever compatibility is available, but until they are closer to being matched up feature for feature, it doesn't get me all excited in terms of business use. I think a lot of people think that all office productivity applications should pretty much do the same thing, but nobody will every agree on which things they should all do; thus if you're going to support the use of multiple suites, you're going to have to dumb the feature set down to only those supported by all suites.

Re:What? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107030)

Yeah, that's groklaw for ya. Good with law, poor with the truth. Like all lawyers I guess.

Re:What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107058)

When did "forking" come to mean "releasing plugins for a product"?

The term is being used presciently. When the plugins are expressly designed to impede interoperabilty and confound everything the F/OSS movement stands for, it's time for a fork. I'd propose that Sun should simply license OO under GPLv3. Fork Novell and fork Microsoft.

Re:What? (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107188)

Perhaps when it acquired quotation marks? In the ever evolving english language, perhaps "forking" means "releasing plugins for a product" and forking means what it bloody well already does mean.

Punctuation Abuse? (5, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107316)

Perhaps when it acquired quotation marks? In the ever evolving english language, perhaps "forking" means "releasing plugins for a product" and forking means what it bloody well already does mean.

Hmm, that reminds me of the trend of tacking on a question mark to a controversial headline in order to avoid claims of inaccuracy. The headline would be something like, "Slashdot Full of Weirdos?" and even if the article concedes that, no, only half of Slashdot posters are weirdos, so it can hardly be construed as "full" of them, the impression has still been made -- especially on the casual viewer who sees the headline, but doesn't read the article.

Re:What? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107194)

Ever since slashdot decided Novell was to be the next SCO, maybe even worse... the Quisling [wikipedia.org] of linux distros. Personally I think that this plug-in should just be in a separate package from the main OpenOffice branch, that should cover Sun's behind and other distros like Red Hat has already given Microsoft the finger... As far as I can tell, the worst we could end up with is good compatibility with OpenOffice, which would hurt MS Office more than anything else.

Re:What? (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107232)

When you change the logo too.

---
"Novell, Inc. delivering hidden patent lock-ins to the Enterprise(TM)"

What do we have to fear? (1)

DaveRexel (887813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106920)

... can this be the spearhead of code-injection, where the main application can be tainted?

Is this the next Great Schism? (1)

whichpaul (733708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106926)

Excuse me while I fork the rest of my life.

wow (2, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106934)

I wonder if there is much more that Novell could do to distance itself from the open source community than a wild backdoor romp in the sheets with Microsoft? Maybe they'll become the next FOSS SCOapegoat?

Re:wow (0, Offtopic)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106988)

backdoor romp in the sheets with Microsoft? Maybe they'll become the next FOSS SCOapegoat?

You had to use the phrases "romp in the sheets" and "goat" next to each other, didn't you?

Excuse me, I need to go find some bleach for my brain.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107240)

Don't blame the messenger... Remember, Novell is the one actually doing this stuff! If it image rings true and makes you sick, its from what Novell and Microsofty are doing, not the ones who tell you about it.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107052)

Give it to me daddy! Fork it to me! Yes, give me your microsofty! yes yes yesssss!!!

Re:wow to borrow from Austin Powers... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107656)

Moneywise, things look pretty shagadelic from where Novell is sittin' & spinnin', suckin' on the ms-machine gun udders.

Watch out for the winding roads ahead, Novell... I see mshaft squirting oil on the road in your path...

But, the Powers question: can we say of Novell "It is SPITZ, or SWALLOWS, baby?..."

Wait for the suit from MS. (0, Troll)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106936)

So if anybody uses this version of OO in debian or redhat will be sued by MS right?

Novell's edition of OpenOffice.org is named... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106942)

... PatentOffice.org !

See Groklaw for details. :-)

Bend Over Novell - this will really hurt (4, Funny)

Spinlock_1977 (777598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106950)

Having the GPL shoved sideways up one's butt has to hurt. Let's ask Novell in a couple of years just how much. With MS's hands on Novell's hips to guide it in, at least it'll be well greased with money.

Re:Bend Over Novell - this will really hurt (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107244)

Wow.. I know it is prudent to be cynical and untrusting of Microsoft or anyone who does something with them but this is getting a little out of hand.

Didn't we have a week of everyone telling Novel that their deal with Microsoft wouldn't hold up to the GPLv3 and novel would have to fork everything and maintain it themselves? Now novel is accelerating the process and protecting themselves by controlling it(when and how) and it is Microsoft's doing because Novel made a deal with the devil.

Embrace, extend, extinguish (3, Interesting)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106956)

I guess Microsoft's "ignore the competitor" strategy has failed, and they're switching to "embrace, extend, extinguish [wikipedia.org] " as Microsoft's claimed to have called their strategy against Java and Netscape. It's interesting that lately Microsoft's been using puppet companies (SCO, Novell) to do their dirty work, rather than adding crappy support for open standards in their own products. I wonder what the legal agreements between Microsoft and Novell/SCO look like?

Re:Embrace, extend, extinguish (1)

tao (10867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107098)

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mohandas Gandhi

Now s/they/Microsoft/;s/you/Linux/ and hope for a repeat of history =)

Re:Embrace, extend, extinguish (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107636)

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Adolf Hitler

Yeah, that worked great for... OOOPS! Guess that strategy didn't work out so well for The Mustache.

ZUNE IS ALREADY NUMBER 2 SELLER IN US (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17106986)

That's right, turd eaters. Microsoft is gonna fuck you up. Better bury that ipod up your asses.

ps: Linux is a failure.

Microsoft is having a formal, huh? (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17106998)

Microsoft's planned Office formal

Finally, a chance to wear my paper clip studs and cuff-links with a tuxedo!

Re:Microsoft is having a formal, huh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107530)

LOL U R SOOO OFUNY

How Is This a "Fork"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107000)

How does providing an additional translator module constitute a "fork"? Looks more like more Novell-trolling to me.

Re:How Is This a "Fork"? (2, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107342)

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.

The first evil spawn of Novell + Microsoft...? (4, Insightful)

ciurana (2603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107034)

I have been an OpenOffice.org supporter and evangelist for many years [computerworld.com] . It saddens me to see Novell do these things because they at once seem good for their business but place people on the road to vendor lock-in once more. The Microsoft formats are closed and incompatible. The sane approach would be to standardize ODF across the board.

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

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

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

Cheers,

E

Re:The first evil spawn of Novell + Microsoft...? (2, Informative)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107180)

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.

Re:The first evil spawn of Novell + Microsoft...? (1)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107618)

Parent is dead-on correct; if you place a restriction on who can use the software, the restriction means the software is no longer "open source".

I'm not fond of the Microsoft/Novell cross-licensing agreement, because it does seem to involve those companies playing games and creating FUD rather than actually doing something to create better software, but I don't see a reason to become paranoid that Novell is suddenly going to pervert the GPL license terms. If they tried, Novell would lose the right to redistribute Linux themselves...so there is no need to try to write some kind of anti-Novell (or anti-anyone) clause into a license.

More useful think that explains this patch. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107538)

groklaw author is not fair at all (5, Insightful)

modir (66559) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107038)

This Novell bashing is absolutely not necessary. All Novell is doing is releasing several plugins for Open Office and MS Office. Red Hat could have done this too. And those plugins are all open source and hosted on sourceforge.

Re:groklaw author is not fair at all (2, Interesting)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107276)

It doesn't matter if the code is open sourced and hosted on sourceforge. It most likely violated MS patents and MS said they intend to sue anybody who USES any software which violates their patents unless it was bought from novell.

So once you download and install this plug in you make yourself a target for a lawsuit from MS. Furthermore the developers who may contribute to the plugins will also be sued (according to the CEO of MS).

Open source doesn't mean jack shit in this case. MS is laying the groundwork for a series of lawsuits.

Is a fork necessary? (2, Insightful)

definate (876684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107042)

Couldn't this be done as an extension/plugin for OO? It would seem that would be more reasonable than a fork.

Does anyone know if this changes the license for the entire product? Would they then be able to package proprietary code with it? If so this might be an attempt to not only "embrace and extend" but to gain market share from a competitor using a competitors software. (Eg. It doesn't matter if there is a free alternative, if there is a free alternative which is under their control)

Not to be contrarian (5, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107048)

But I thought the whole point of OSS and the like is that you could extend and modify as you like. If you can then make money on it that's fine, but okey-dokey as long as you comply with the license. At its core its Novell doing just that? Sure they're making themselves pariah's amongst the Linux crowd, but isn't that the kind of risk that OSS is supposed to allow?

Re:Not to be contrarian (2, Interesting)

physicsnick (1031656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107390)

The problem is that Novell is extending it with functionality that is likely patented by Microsoft. Since Microsoft is offering them patent protection, it means their extensions to OOo, and any other F/OSS they'll likely fork, are not actually usable by anyone not running a SuSE distro. This is the loophole they have found in the GPLv2 that allows them to add proprietary extensions to OSS software. Their extensions may as well be closed source. Novell should burn for this.

Who's the winner here? (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107060)

I am a little un-informed on this issue so please forgive anything that may sound ignorant but.. who exactly is this suppose to benefit? Are they saying Microsoft's new format will now be readable by Linux users in Openoffice and vice-versa?

Maybe it's just me but I fail to see how this would be anything more than some icing on the cake to try and make this deal look good after it has received such negative response from the entire community.

Has this ever been a problem before for people using Linux (or Windows)? Has anybody complained that they cannot share documents and productivity is being lost because of this?

I think they will need to come up with something A LOT better to impress those in the know-how, since this is certainly not aimed at your average Joe in the office. And I don't think a lack of this "feature" would have irritated a Linux user before, and certainly not now.

Here's Another Little Thing They Can Fix... (4, Funny)

distantbody (852269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107072)

...The spell checker, it simply doesn't work...or at least it has never been able to highlight any spelling mistakes, not once. Jusd az wel that mi speling iz topp noch.

why fork to be Open? (1)

netsfr (839855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107114)

If the file format is "Open XML" why do they need to fork just for MSFT?? Did the word Open just change to mean something else?

Re:why fork to be Open? (1)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107314)

Microsoft's use of the word "open" in this case is supposed to denote that it's an openly-documented standard. The claim is that anyone will be free to use it and not be sued with the caveat that a given implementation of OpenXML match their specifications for the standard. Basically, it's a way of saying, "You're free to use the format, but we ultimately control it and you have to meet our specification...and you can't modify it or improve it, because we need to make sure we can always leverage it so as to prioritize our business interests above all else."

More speculatively, one could also say "open" is probably part of the name for hype/buzzword purposes. After all, anything "open" must be good, right?

Re:why fork to be Open? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107670)

Did the word Open just change to mean something else?

Yes, actually! In Microsoft Doublespeak(TM), "open" means "patent-encumbered."

Before you drink the kool-aid (1)

voss (52565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107116)

Novell has had its own version of openoffice for quite some time.

How does Novell intend to improve compatibility
"The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product."
most likely in the extras disc just like they put the drivers for intel wireless cards in the extras
disc.

Actually, their plugin is very simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107136)

void open_document(char* filename)
{
    if (strstr(filename, ".docx") != NULL)
    do { fork(); } while(1);
}

Totally Misleading Headline (3, Funny)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107152)

Summary states Novell will write a plugin for openoffice.org.

Getting the relevant Microsoft license(s) to cooperate with a GPL license will be a new and complex Microsoft "To Serve OpenOffice.org Customers" policy.

It certainly would diffuse some of the friction between the two camps, appease gov't bodies and Microsoft has nothing to worry about from OO.org. There may be some good to come out of this....

That is of course until the "To Serve OpenOffice.org" policy is translated into plain english. When it is discovered the policy is in fact a cookbook! AHHHHHH!!!!!!

MS cant win (1)

trimCoder (954838) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107178)

There is really no satisfying you open source people. MS is embracing a standard that will allow openoffice to integrate with it. The reason open office sucks commercially is because it is crap at integrating with MS office. MS and Novell try and fix this issue, which will do nothing but benefit the distribution of OO and you bitch and moan. Goodness.

Re:MS cant win (2, Interesting)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107454)

MS and Novell try and fix this issue, which will do nothing but benefit the distribution of OO and you bitch and moan.

This is the same Microsoft that a few weeks ago, claimed:

[Novell have] appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us. In a sense you could say anybody who has got Linux in their data center today sort of has an undisclosed balance sheet liability.

After essentially telling people they've started up a Mafia-style IP protection racket, is it any wonder that people might be just a little bit suspicious of anything that looks like Microsoft IP?

plan? (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107214)

Novell is not stupid, so i would think they have some shit up their sleeves
i vote for the underdog

i do think novell is gonna fuck M$ and there will be trials and M$ will have to pay
but then again i don't see the future, we'll see ...

Can they please remove Java, too? (2, Informative)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107218)

Java makes OpenOffice incredibly slow.

the solution is easy! (2, Funny)

adaminnj (712407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107264)


make OO the standard and fork MS.

Brilliant Move, MS (0, Troll)

hklingon (109185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107290)

This is the type of thing Ballmer has in mind, I think, when he's talking of patents, lawsuits, etc. Microsoft can and has special rights to all these formats. I don't see anything inherently wrong in "forking" open office. Especially if their mods can be Freely integrated into open office.

I'd guess Microsoft wants to maneuver Novell and other companies into the situation where they are writing plugins not necessarily covered by the GPL. "Ohh, only Novell Office can understand Microsoft Office formats." In other cases like the MA case Microsoft can say there are other apps that can deal with their formats when in fact it is perhaps smallest slice possible of the whole *office crowd, smaller even than folks using staroffice and other incarnations, that can deal with the formats.

Novell offer Novell Open Office to other distros? Why bother. I bet it is part of their "strategy" for pushing novell.

Novell already has some plug-ins to deal with VBA and they work really well. SLE desktop, from a business standpoint, seems very slick and usable. Novell needs to get their marketing act together, though. Novell seems to have the magical product stack for small businesses but they keep dropping the ball in the PR and Marketing departments. I could do a better job than they are doing! But that is a rant for another time... (I really, really hope Novell/Groupwise turns into an exchange killer. )

My guess is, after having read the article and the links, Microsoft phoned up Novell and said something along the lines of "You know, we invented that language there. VBA. ..." or perhaps Novell approached MS about better VBA integration.

I don't see anything inherently wrong here... but if the goal of Microsoft is in fact to encourage situations where the community can't benefit from one company's advancements, hinder group,cross-company efforts, etc then shame on them.

Why did MS Change Formats? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107302)

Why did MS change the format of their documents in the next version of Office anyway? It seems like the current version was getting to be pretty well supported across the board... what do they possibly gain by breaking compatibility with third party office suites? People that could afford Office will still buy and use office, but everyone else gets screwed. If you're going to switch to a completely new format that even breaks Office 2003, why not adopt the OpenDocument format that's a standard instead of inventing your own new kludgey format?

I know, because they're greedy sons of bitches and they need to make a profit for their shareholders by selling new versions of Office. I know that's the real reason, but it just doesn't seem logical from a computing standpoint.

Re:Why did MS Change Formats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107542)

They used to change the format every release of Office just to force you to upgrade so that you could read documents that were being sent to you by owners of the new releases. Licensees objected strongly enough to that they had to stop.

For what most people do most of the time (letter, memos, simple docs with a couple of images, etc.), there hasn't been a reason to update to a new version of office in a long time. So now they can claim to be the good guys "Oh we're just changing to support an Open standard" - force current licensees to upgrade and try and make sure that the alternatives are one step behind.

People on slashdot are Sofa King stupid (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107310)

This isn't Novell "forking" OO.o, this is OO.o refusing to accept contributions from Novell because everyone thinks they are "evil" mow. Talking about software with Slashdot users is like trying to argue evolution with a bunch of Christian evangelists.

Not really a fork (5, Informative)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107352)

It's not really a fork. Openoffice.org already said they were in favor of this [techweb.com] .

That was so last month. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107654)

The Axis of Evil have revealed their true colors since then.

Change the Novell Icon (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107364)

I was just thinking it may be more appropriate to change the Novell icon from the big red 'N' to a picture of Admiral Ackbar. I don't think it would be necessary to caption it with "Its a Trap," that internet meme has been around for a while. The Bill Gates Borg icon could use an update as well.

Forking hell! (0, Troll)

daybot (911557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107388)

!111one

Finally, thank goodness... (3, Interesting)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107406)

Finally, thank goodness...

This actually gives OpenOffice a real chance - not only to be competitive but to offer a document format that has some power in its abilities.

Like I argued before with the whole OpenDocument controversy, the file formats and standards in play in the OSS world are just not robust enough to handle the current generation of documents, let alone even try to handle future concepts of what document storage could entail.

Whether OpenOffice takes advantage of it or not, the potential to maintain and use technologies that are standard in the MS world of documents like Ink and extended media content are now possible.

This is actually a win win for both sides of the fence. MS doesn't have to spend development money on a version of Office for the growing OSS OS world, and the OSS OS world can now freely be just as strong of a competitor in the business world. Basically, companies that can afford MS software will continue to do so, and smaller entities that cannot afford the price to buy into MS technology can go Open Source and not have to worry about document compatibility.

With Wordperfect also adding the MS Open format, the market once again has a choice in quality and price of the production product and won't have to worry about losing features based on the solution they choose.

If OpenDocument would have just been more 'open' about robust features that are covered in the MS OpenXML document specifications, we would see it be the standard everyone would be happily using.

However with OpenDocument it was quite unreasonable to expect MS to move to a document format that would stripe away 30% of the features that their products provide. I don't know why this was so hard for the OpenDocument crowd to understand, especially when MS was already in the process of creating an open standard that DID include more advanced document capabilities.

If we are lucky, now we might even see OpenOffice and Wordperfect move to add more feature rich concepts into their products to take advantage of the information they now easily read and store in the MS OpenXML format. Imagine everything from Ink to Sound and Video that are all even text searchable(via recognition), as you can already do with Microsoft Office products.

Whoever tagged this as itsatrap is right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107476)

Open Sores is a trap, stick with dependable Closed Source software. The only reason why Linsux isn't haxored into is because it's unstable and the fucktards don't want to make their precious Linsux look bad.

Boycott the XBox 360 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17107516)

People who dislike Microsoft's unethical actions should boycott the XBox 360. Microsoft's transgressions far exceed that of Sony.

If anything, buy a Wii instead.

In other news (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107584)

People have been forking Firefox by making plug-ins for it.

I just gotta say ... (2, Funny)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17107628)

... stick a fork in it; Novell is done.
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