[lpi-discuss] Re: BS' final comments on 'spam filters' -- Sun, not Novell

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Wed Dec 13 20:16:03 EST 2006

Anselm Lingnau <anselm.lingnau at linupfront.de> wrote:
> I don't claim that Novell is »evil«.

Fair enough.

> They do what they think is best for (a) themselves and
> (b) their customers.

Fair enough.

> Basically, IMHO, Microsoft has pulled a fast one on Novell.
> Sun seems to have had better luck so far.

No, most Linux advocates have a short memory.  When the Microsoft-Sun
alliance was signed almost 3 years ago, there was a similar, but
shorter-term rabid response.

The main driver beyond the Sun agreement was Microsoft's re-license
of Java, 1.4 at the time, and the foundation of .NET 2.0.  The last
version they had rights to was 1.1, the foundation of .NET 1.x, and
it was well behind in services.  The additional focus was ADS to/from
Sun One.  A nice bonus for Microsoft was that they got a much needed
"reverse engineering/support boost" for Office 12 (2007), because
Microsoft's own MS Office import/export for older versions
(especially 2+ versions back) suck pretty hard compared to
OpenOffice.org, Corel, etc... and the switch to OpenXML for 12 was
going to force the issue.

The main driver beyond Microsoft's license with Novell was sheer,
partner/solution provider demand.  Microsoft's core partners were
losing sales because they offered no Linux solutions (especially with
discounts).  Another, additional reason was that Novell/Ximian has
some major companies developing Mono Classlibs (HP, Intel and others
to name a few) -- and just like Sun before it -- it makes sense for
Novell and Microsoft to collaborate to ensure Mono and .NET are
on-par.  The additional focus, much like Sun, was ADS to/from
eDirectory interoperability.

> Right. What else is new?

Okay, so we _are_ on the "same page."  ;->

> And so it is. However we need to consider that any OpenXML support
> in OO.o so far is pure vapourware. The code does not exist yet,

That's not what I've heard.  Of course that's second-hand, but I
understand that Sun has been involved for some time now.  It really
has to do with the amount of collaboration Microsoft-Sun has had on
ODF and Office 12 since the beginning of their agreement.  Again,
that's all I've heard "second hand," so it could be BS.  But it makes
perfect sense, especially since Microsoft admitted that they have to
use "export/import filters" for all Office 8-11 (97-2003) support,
and it's still far from perfect.

> hence cannot infringe on Microsoft IP or be licensed this way
> or that. You've been talking about existing support for
> »Microsoft formats« in OO.o that require a patent license from 
> Microsoft, so presumably you mean .DOC and friends, for which 
> Microsoft has made no such announcement.

Where you been?  (why do I keep having to say that? ;-)

Microsoft has _repeatedly_, in the past, _threatened_ litigation over
using its formats.  Given that _fact_, what does OpenXML change?

The only thing OpenXML changes is that fact that -- regardless of
licensees -- Microsoft (again, with the counsel of Red Hat), has
declared the IP on OpenXML royalty-free.  So it's actually _better_.

Now Microsoft has _not_ handed over the IP on OpenXML to anyone,
unlike Sun handing over ODF to OASIS.  So they could pull that
declaration at any time.  But from a legal standpoint, their public
declarations and license is _at_least_ better than what we have on
all MS formats _prior_ to OpenXML.

No offense, but you have made several statements time and time again
that are made from a standpoint of naivity and ignorance on
_recent_history_.  You sound a lot like the "more rabid" Linux
community that I have to consistently educate.

> Of course Microsoft needs to push OpenXML for OpenOffice.org --
> they're running scared in front of OpenDocument! They desperately
> need to convince the world that good old .DOC can (and should)
> stay now that it is XML-based, 

OpenXML is *NOT* Doc!  Not in the least bit!

A _major_ driver for OpenXML is _portability_, especially 64-bit. 
Talk to some of the MS Office for Apple developers and they will tell
you that they have to have "export/import" filters for their own
formats from Windows.  And "going back" is very difficult because the
Windows version doesn't have them.

Technical Summary (Data Alignment):  MS Office for Windows, prior to
12 (2007), uses direct binary records/structures to read/write. 
While that's allowed on x86 with no alignment (byte-by-byte), it is
very much _not_ allowed on PowerPC, or x86[-64] OSes that enforce
32-bit or 64-bit byte alignment (which even MacOS X does on x86). 
Data alignment hell is the hallmark of the the MS Office suite -- for
Microsoft's own developers (especially the Apple ones).

You see, that's the _core_problem_ that Microsoft has _never_
addressed.  It's also the "root cause" for their document longevity
issues beyond 2+ versions, or sometimes when just patched in the
_same_version_.  I.e., an Intel compiler change ends up changing a
structure and how it is read or written to/from storage mid-release! 
Now Microsoft has gotten "better" about that since the old Office
4.x, 7 (95) and 8 (97) days.  But it still inflicts major document
loss in 9 (2000) on-ward too.

Now with OpenXML Microsoft is _still_ allowing objects to be
"embedded."  Microsoft originally termed this "Binary XML."  So it's
very likely that major features will still be "binary" in the format.
 But given that it is _strictly_encoded_ (Base64?), it does solve the
portability and document longevity issues.

> rather than be forced to implement OpenDocument, a format that
> they do not control, in Microsoft Office. So they want to make it
> easy for people to commit to OpenXML while they're not as forward
> about their existing formats -- they put up a »patent covenant«
> covering the Office 2003 XML schemas (which are different from
> OpenXML), promised to do the same for OpenXML, but so far have
> declined to do it for the non-XML document formats. 

Oh, I'm fully aware that the Office 11 (2003) XML schema was a
XML in Office is largely for _add-on_ projects interfacing.  At
Boeing, we had a serious problem having a "fat client" controlling
the factory floor (don't get me started).

Office 12 (2007) is quite different.  They are really addressing
their own, internal problems, with the format.  That includes
_chucking_ the old format, and using "export/import."  I.e., _unlike_
Office 11 (2003) and earlier, they do _not_ use the existing MS
Office formats by default.  Again, why?  Because they are
_unmanageable_ -- utterly _unmanageable_ by Microsoft itself.

Now yes, the future problem will be when they use this "Embedded,
Binary XML" inside of it.  It wouldn't surprise me if the OpenXML is
"incomplete" and a number of "core structures" go in the OpenXML as
this, additional "Embedded, Binary XML."

> From Microsoft's perspective, the worst-case result would be for
> everybody to standardise on ODF as an XML-based document format
> and support .DOC only for legacy reasons.  This is what they need
> to avoid at all costs.

Agreed.  Especially since 47% of companies are still running Office 8
(97) or 9 (2000).  Corel WordPerfect and Open/StarWriter read/write
those formats _better_ than Office 11 (2003).

> We're not talking OpenXML here. There *is* no OpenXML code in OO.o
> as of now, so OO.o cannot infringe on any Microsoft IP on these
> grounds.

But there *ARE* support for *EXISTING* and quite _unlicensed_ (except
for maybe HP, IBM, Novell and Sun) MS Office formats.  They are
_no_different_ than OpenXML in this regard -- _except_ Microsoft
didn't declare those "royalty-free" (even if there's a big asterisk
attached) like it did OpenXML.

> So far Microsoft has not come out and said »Listen up, everyone:
> The .DOC support code in OO.o violates our US patents nos.
> such-and-such and this-and-so, so please pay us $x per distributed
> copy if you want to go on distributing it and do not have another
> agreement with us.« Once they do this, OO.o can no longer be
> distributed under the LGPL.


You have made assumption after assumption after assumption.
I have corrected you time and time and time again.

On IBM.  On Sun.  On many other things.
Please *NOW*ADMIT* you don't the facts.

Instead of just taking taking what I say and acting like you "knew it
all along."  I'm getting rather *TIRED* of that!

You obviously weren't around for the Microsoft-Sun license.
You obviously weren't around for the jump in OpenOffice.org usage.

Microsoft has threatened and threatened, but done _nothing_.
In fact, they are _still_ threatening on legacy formats!

At least here, for OpenXML, Microsoft has a formal (again, with Red
Hat's assistance) "royalty-free" usage policy.  How far it really
goes, I've laid out legally (i.e., MS, unlike Sun, didn't donate the
IP to a 3rd party).  But it _is_ something.

Now, will you please _drop_ the _shaky_ legal standing that MS
formats prior to OpenXML are not being enforced, or at least being
threatened to be enforced?

Especially given the fact that virtually _all_ companies releasing
_any_ MS Office compatible suite has a license to them?  Corel, Sun,
etc...  Again, Sun _protects_ OpenOffice.org.  Yes, they can't secure
rights for anyone and everyone who makes derivatives, but they _are_
protecting as they can best.

That's the reason why Microsoft has not sued to this point.
And it's the same reason why they won't over OpenXML either.

> I don't deny this at all. As I said, Microsoft has a considerable
> interest in getting OpenXML out and accepted, so it is hardly
> surprising that they're making a big effort here to push it.

No, that's _not_ what I asked you to stop denying.
Quite re-writing what I said.

> It has been said that Microsoft's worst enemy isn't Linux but 
> whatever previous version of Microsoft's own software 
> is in the field. AFAIK, OpenXML is only supported by Office 2007,
> so by declaring OpenXML the One True Office Format Microsoft
> exerts pressure for everybody to upgrade -- which is a game that
> they have been playing for the last 20 years or so, and which is
> more important than ever given that, according to what I read,
> the advantages of Office 2007 compared to its predecessors
> otherwise appear rather less than compelling.

Again, that has _nothing_ to do with what I asked.
(cut rest of section on "common sense" not related to what I asked)

> Sigh. First off, the FSF does not license Sun to do anything, nor
> indeed needs to. They merely came up with a legal document, the
> LGPL, that Sun has decided they will apply to OO.o distribution.
> That was Sun's own decision as the copyright holder. (If the FSF
> had had any say in it they would surely have gone for the GPL :^))

First off, you seem to be continually contradicting your prior
statements.  Just in the previous post you said Sun was not free to
modify the LGPL since it was copyrighted, and that Sun had no right
to distribute it under the LGPL.  Now you're dancing around that in
the _same_way_ I originally explained it (instead of just agreeing
with me in the first place).

Second, are you speaking on behalf of the FSF?  Do you _know_ what
they wanted?  Or better yet, do you know _why_ Sun made it LGPL? 
They wanted _any_ company to be able to integrated it into its Office
suite -- including Microsoft.  Furthermore, Sun gets
_every_single_contributor_ to sign a "contributor agreement" so they
_absolutely_ own OpenOffice.org and do what the hell they want with
it.  Including giving the code to Microsoft under a non-LGPL license
via their broad cross-licensing agreement.  ;->

Lastly, and you talk about "Novell backtracking," yet that's what
you've done in this _entire_ thread each and every time I've pointed
out something you didn't know about.  I honestly think you're
"debating on a whim," instead of just agreeing that this has
_nothing_ to do with Novell, and the OpenXML situation changes
_nothing_ in OpenOffice.org as it exists today.

> Secondly, you're absolutely right again.

Now that's more like it!  Oh, strings attached ...

> Sun can distribute OO.o any way they want. However, the point of
> the LGPL is that the *receivers* of the code from Sun can *again*
> distribute the same code, identically or in modified form, under
> the LGPL. ... cut ...

We've been over this.  The Linux kernel is guilty.  TrollTech is
guilty.  Just about every major Linux component is guilty of Section
7 or 11 violations in some way at some point of code.

> ... cut ...
> Which is what *I* said.

Which you have danced around and around and around just to not agree
with me.  At several points, you made statements that _contradict_
your follow-ups.  The fact that the LGPL is "copyrighted" by the FSF
and Sun can't change it, etc... (which I noted in another post is
more about trademark and enforcement, if it really wanted to ;-).

We started with Novell, which (thank God) you've finally dropped.
Now we're going over and over on Sun.

Can you agree that you started this thread _not_ on "good ground"
with your knowledge of Sun, IBM, the kernel, GPL/LGPL
copyright/trademark, etc...?  And even if not, I'm glad you finally
"came around."  ;->

> Unlike Novell, HP and IBM and Sun are not Linux vendors.

First off, Sun *IS* a "Linux vendor!"  Sun's Linux is based on a
license from SuSE (previously Red Hat, without a license and misuse
of the trademark, long story).

Secondly, just because a company has a secondary focus, and does not
offer a "retail box" of Linux as a "product" has *NOTHING* to do with
whether they are a "Linux vendor" or not!

In fact, in that regard, where do Novell's revenues come from? 
Non-GPL/Non-Open Source-related sales like NetWare and eDirectory and
related services.  So _how_ are the different ... than say ... Sun?

Man, I'm really, really, _really_ tired of trying to educate you
(please, I do _not_ want to "debate" you) when you consistently
profess _great_ignorance_ on what you know.  From IBM to Sun to
everything else.

Novell is _irrelevant_ when it comes to OpenOffice.org
Stop joining the "Linux McCarthies" in demonizing anything they do.
Please join the _professionals_ that actually _know_ "the facts," and
apply them to _consistent_ technical, legal and business advice.

> They would arrange (and have arranged) cross-licensing with
> Microsoft as a matter of principle, whether or not they had
> anything to do with Linux at all. 

Huh?  Do you know anything about the companies you speak of?

> Therefore it is appropriate to compare Novell against other Linux
> vendors rather than hardware manufacturers like HP, IBM and Sun,
> for which Linux is a welcome windfall but not in any way part of
> their core business (if Linux had never happened they would just
> as happily be selling machines running Windows, Unix, VM, or 
> whatever, but take away Linux from Novell and, given 
> the state Netware is in, not much will remain -- same with Red
> Hat). This means, in the first instance, Red Hat, and I've
> discussed the difference between the two and the reasons why I
> think Novell entered into the Microsoft deal in an earlier
> message.

No, if you are going to compare Novell to Red Hat, you *MUST* compare
HP, IBM, Sun and others to Red Hat.  This isn't "oh, you don't count,
so go on protecting our IP while you add it to Linux -- oh, Novell,
you do count, so you're held to a 'higher standard' even though you
horde no IP."

Give me a break!  Agendas, agendas, agendas ... please stop the
madness!  Please!  @-ppp

> Of course one should also check how other Linux vendors measure up.

Here's my definition ...

  "Did you contribute GPL/LGPL code?
   What GPL/LGPL code did you contribute?
   Did you violate Sections 7 or 11, respectively?
   What IP are you hording?"

Red Hat:  The ultimate friend, major core GPL projects maintainer.

Novell:  Very good, recent history, newer GPL offerings.

Sun:  The #1 GPL/LGPL donator now (OpenOffice.org, but especially
Java), hoping to see you like Red Hat soon!

HP:  Very good in the enterprise software space, founded several

IBM:  WTF are you?!?!?!  IP-laden kernel submissions, very few open
source projects all, virtually _none_ GPL/LGPL.  It's good you
finally opened 500 patents -- but that's "just a start" and "not
nearly enough."

> One might, for example,

One might, for example, let the actual _donations_ stand on their

You don't have to redistribute Linux to be considered a "Linux
vendor."  Especially considering probably the #1 Linux seller, by
units/installations, to date is ... anyone ... anyone ... anyone ...

  TiVO!  ;->

Now start thinking in _those_ terms.  ;->

> and like you I think Mark Shuttleworth took rather a cheap
> shot at Novell -- for all he's done he isn't exactly an
> open-source paragon, either.

It's worse than that.  He has an "agenda" for his own company, and he
_took_advantage_ of the "Linux McCarthies" thinking Novell has an
"evil agenda" to push that "agenda."

It's kinda what you're doing here.

I'm a *HUGE* Red Hat fan.  I have *NO*LOVE* for Novell's products, or
Novell's donations in the face of Red Hat.  *BUT* Novell _has_ done
its part in sharing IP, sharing GPL code and _abiding_ by Section 7
and 11 of the GPL/LGPL.

IBM, on the other hand, is the _absolute_worst_.  You didn't know
that.  Most people in the Linux world don't know that.  I don't
"hate" IBM.  I only "fear" IBM.  As I said before, they are our
"partner," _not_ our "friend."  And the best way IBM can "calm my
fears" is to _pledge_ to use its IP to protect Linux, _including_not_
where it conflicts with their agendas against competitors.

IBM hasn't done that, hence my "bias."

Their "termination" of Caldera-SCO in 2000 and subsequent actions
(before the lawsuit, which became a mess and SCO is now a company
that deserves to end with extreme prejudice) is a perfect example.
How IBM treats HP and Sun scares the bejesus out of me, even when the
community is a favor (like on the kernel).

HP has.  Novell has.  Sun has (quite unbelievably so).  They
companies put the community _first_ in their _actions_ when it comes
to Linux.

> However, so far Novell is the only Linux vendor to try and curry
> favour with Microsoft the way they did.

Again, if you're "no not you HP, no not you IBM, no not you Sun, no
not you embedded vendors, no not you networking companies, no not you
everyone else" ... "yes, only you Novell and Red Hat" ... of course!

I personally think you're "definition" is inappropriate.
The people _putting_ Linux in are _not_ merely Novell and Red Hat.
And that _includes_ developers.

In fact, Mozilla and OpenOffice are _the_ forefront of "consumer"
usage in software.  One is MPL.  The other is LGPL.

> The others' stance is, mostly, much closer to the »come out 
> and fight if you want« that I alluded to in an earlier message,
> and given Microsoft's history of stabbing their partners in the
> back when they aren't looking I personally happen to think that
> this is wiser in the long run.

And in that case, Sun is the example you should look at.

Unlike most "Microsoft partners," Sun is *NOT* selling Microsoft
infrastructure.  Novell is no longer either.  In fact, that's "old
Novell."  Welcome to the "new Novell," much like Sun.

Sun has survived countless Microsoft actions.  That's because again,
unlike other "Microsoft Partners," Sun is _not_ building on Microsoft
infrastructure.  In fact, it's easy to see how Novell "took a note"
from them.

Novell, like Sun, doesn't live in a vacuum.  Developers need
interoperability.  That's why Sun has its cross-license with
Microsoft, just _like_ it did before in the late '90s.  Same deal
with Novell now.

> Coming back to the original bone of contention -- our esteemed Jim
> Lacey's declaration that »the two organizations [Novell and LPI]
> share similar strategies in promoting the adoption and growth of
> Open Source«.  I can agree with that as far as seeking strong local
> partners is nothing but good business sense for organisations like
> LPI and Novell, which act globally.  However, personally I would
> rather see LPI promoting Linux in its own right rather than as
> something that requires Microsoft's help in patent licenses, 
> code, or money in order to be acceptable in the real world --
> the way Novell appears to think.

Oh, and Red Hat is very "open" with its training?

You see, it's easy to "demonize" just about everyone.
So *STOP* doing it!  Just *STOP*!

Novell, like Sun, like HP, like IBM and just about every other major
firm short of Red Hat actually works in the "real business world." 
And that means you have to sign agreements.

Ballmer had his FUD.  Microsoft legal basically gagged him.  Novell
came out and "smacked reality back into Microsoft," and Microsoft had
to turn around and say "yes, Ballmer mispoke, please don't sue us for
breach of contract."

That's it!  Over!  Done!

Oh, no, wait!  We've gotta join the "Linux McCarthies" and slam
everybody -- including LPI -- in the process.  Yeah, I'm sorry, but I
really think 97% of the Linux community would be better _gagged_.

> Countless people have laboured for more than a decade to 
> put Linux where it is now, and Linux does not *need* Microsoft,
> period.

What does this have *ANYTHING* to do with Novell?
Again, *NOTHING*EXCEPT* "Guilt by association."

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Linux is far more "under
the threat" of "another Linux vendor" (sorry, you're definition is
ignorant) than Novell.

But don't take my words for it.  Ask the kernel team!  Ask the FSF
lawyers who negotiated the IBM deal where they opened 500 patents. 
Ask people who actually *WORK* on the Linux projects.

The ones that crank out code.
Not the "hot air" that you seem to join with.

I admit I produce a lot of "hot air" too.

But a _lot_ of people that actually produce code, and implement major
Linux installations like myself, actually agree.  And that includes
many good people from Corel, Novell, Red Hat and others.

> Jim L. might have said »share *some* strategies« just to avoid
> this ambiguity, which, as close as it occurs to Novell's
> announcement of its Microsoft deal, gives an impression that the
> LPI could arguably have done without.

Jim, I have to "agree."  LPI should _not_ have partnerships with
anyone that deals with Microsoft.  That means everyone but Red Hat. 
You need to somehow work with Red Hat, even though they have their
own training program.  You shouldn't deal with anyone that has
agreements with Microsoft.  It looks bad.

Guilt-by-association is deadly.
I mean, God forbid, remember when you had the SCO logo on the site?

Think man, think!
All that matters is that you listen to the rabid community!
They know "who is good" and "who is bad" better than us!

> After all, as a nominally vendor-neutral organisation LPI should
> not even remotely appear to endorse a single Linux company's
> strategies or actions.

Ummm, I don't think LPI did that.
But you seem to be doing that quite well.  ;->

> (For example, I would just *love* to be able to repeat in public
> what Glenn (McKnight) said to me about our LPIC-1 training
> materials.  Unfortunately I don't get to do this, for obvious
> reasons.) One might almost be forgiven for thinking that, PR-wise,
> Novell got suckered by Microsoft and LPI got suckered by Novell :^)

Novell, are you now or were you ever a member of the Microsoft
agenda?  And who are your collaborators?

LPI, are you now or were you ever a member of the Microsoft agenda? 
And who are your collaborators?


> Finally, just so we have something to discuss that has nothing to
> do with Microsoft: How come Novell is coming on so strong in favour
> of LPIC-3 rather than create their own guru-level certification on
> top of Novell CLE? Red Hat does it, and surely Novell could if they
> wanted to? After all, they've been telling us all along that LPIC-1
> and LPIC-2 are nice to have, but that the Novell CLP/CLE tests
> really separate the men from the boys (so to speak) :^)

If LPI could afford to do Novell-like practicums, I'm sure they would
do it.  But that's another story.  And one I don't like you for

No offense, I might be a jerk in e-mail, but at least I'm
professional to not stoop to the type of statements I see above.  Let
alone I don't think you realize how far you are into the "Linux
McCarthyism" that I've started warning people about recently.

It's self-defeating.

Yes, there were communists in McCarthy's time, just as Microsoft is a
real threat now.  But at some point, how far do you take the "witch
hunt"?  And how much do you ignore the _real_ threats to IP issues in
Linux?  Just like in McCarthy's day to freedom?

Bryan J. Smith   Professional, Technical Annoyance
b.j.smith at ieee.org    http://thebs413.blogspot.com
     Fission Power:  An Inconvenient Solution

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