CyberTech Rambler

December 5, 2006

Novell forking OpenOffice.org?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:40 pm

Novell said, in a press statement, that its version of OpenOffice.org will have OOXML support and that its OOXML plugin will be contributed back to OpenOffice.org. This lead to PJ concluding that Novell is “forking” OpenOffice.org. While I would not go so far as saying that a “fork” had happened, I did find the statement odd. As a programmer, I would had thought that OOXML support in OpenOffice.org will come in the vanilla version of OpenOffice.org. Thus, this statement could be a result of an unreported struggle in OpenOffice.org itself about OOXML support. Or it could be another corporate FUD. The truth is, for Novell to say that its variant of OpenOffice.org will have OOXML supported and that it will, as required by the license, contribute back to the community the OOXML plugin smack me to be a rerun of Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux. Given PJ’s analysis of Microsoft-Novell’s deal only shows that Microsoft will only give protection to Novell customers if you cross Novell’s palm with silver, one cannot help it but to think this may not be a programming fork for now, but is certainly a “fork” to distinguish between Novell’s OpenOffice.org and the others.

Miguel De Icaza points out that what Novell announced is something everybody does. This is true and it is also my original understanding as well. However, he fails to point out why such a “routine” and “background” work got a “press statement” treatment. Given that Novell is rightly or wronly taking a lot of heat from the open source community as a result of Novell-Microsoft agreement, it sounds stupid for Novell to contribute firewood to this fire.

It might not be a fork right now. I don’t think so, so does Andy Updegrove. however, please do not underestimate the significance of this anouncement. It could be the starting of a fork. Right now Novell is simply adding OOXML support to OpenOffice.org. This is fine, especially if OOXML is delivered as a plugin. OpenOffice.org is actively encouraging people to write plugins for it and if OpenOffice.org do not incorporate OOXML by default, then writing a OOXML plugin is a validation of the plugin strategy and something the OpenOffice.org teams foresees and approved. It is also a validation of the openness of OpenOffice.org. However, it means Novell is at a very small step away to convert this into a “fork”: Novell go the extra nanometer of making OOXML the default in its version of OpenOffice.org. If it does take this step, then ethically Novell will have to “fork” OpenOffice.org because it is not adhering to OpenOffice.org policy on ODF. Novell might also be legally required to “fork” because it might be require to stop using the name OpenOffice.org. This is a bit like the Mozilla in Debian case where Debian package is moving away from calling the browser mozilla because it contains modified code. If this happens, then the significance of this press statement is clear: Novell can later rely on this to argue about that the date “fork”ing occurs is the day of the press release.

So Novell, take stock, WE ARE WATCHING YOU

About these ads

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: