It was a sad week for many in the open source community following the International Organization for Standardization’s approval of Office Open XML (OOXML) as an international standard, and cries of outrage and disbelief could be heard all across the Linux blogs.
“If you define interoperability as a single vendor’s format to promote operation with that same vendor’s dominant product, you can declare victory,” wrote Red Hat’s legal team Wednesday on its blog.
Rumors of procedural anomalies or even outright cheating were rampant — not surprising, given that the European Union itself is reportedly investigating — causing many to speak out against the integrity of the process and the standards organization itself.
“If OOXML passed without cheating, fine. I would have no objection to that,” wrote Thomas Teisberg on the Linux Loop. “If, however, cheating is reported and ignored, I do have a problem with that, and that is what is happening,” he charged.
“The implications of letting this go without making the ISO either show that there was no cheating or admit that cheating did occur go beyond setting a precedent of allowing the rules to be broken,” Teisberg added. “It also encourages Microsoft to continue their unfair practices. We cannot afford to let this go.”
Indeed, it’s hard to feel enthusiastic about a standard approved “while its main advocate stands accused of bribes and misbehavior during the approval and voting process,” and when that advocate pushed it through “under the specter of continued EU investigation of its abuse of its monopoly” in the process, Slashdot blogger yagu told LinuxInsider.
“I’ve read too many reviews on this process and the final approval of OOXML smells bad,” yagu said. “Were OOXML the best standard it might be palatable, but it’s an amazing exercise in obfuscation.
“I can deal with integrity, and if the approving standards group renamed itself as something more descriptive — say, ‘Rubber Stamp Organization’ — I’d be more comfortable with the results,” yagu added. “As it stands, they are supposed to be the ‘standards’ bearers. Instead, they seem more the ‘yes’ group.”
The crowds have spoken; now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing if the EU investigation bears fruit.
News Flash: OpenMoko and Win Mobile!
In other news of the weird, alert blogger Kevin Dean recently called our attention to the fact that OpenMoko has announced that it plans to support Windows Mobile starting with the release of its new unit, dubbed the “Neo Pocky.”
Alert readers may have trouble believing such an announcement, and no wonder, because it was an April Fool’s Day joke! Ha!
April Fool’s Day may be over, but we here at LinuxInsider wanted to give those who missed the joke the first time around another chance to fall for it — all in the interests of lightening the post-vote mood, of course.
News Flash: No Fedora 10!
Other important news flashes that came out on April 1 included news that there will not be a Fedora 10: “After many years of trying out the ‘community’ thing, we feel that we’ve grown apart, and it’s best to let go,” wrote Red Hat’s Jesse Keating on the Red Hat blog.
“We will be reviving the Red Hat Linux Project brand and restarting our releases with Red Hat Linux Project 1, or RHLP-I (Pronounced ‘relp’),” he explained. “We’re also moving to the Roman Numeral numbering scheme so that we will never have to face a decision on whether to have a ’10’ release or to change the project name again.”
Can you believe that one? No? Good!
Coming Soon: Jabbering Jackass!
Then, of course, there was the even more incredible news on the Linux Loop that Canonical is already hard at work on Jabbering Jackass, an Ubuntu release planned for April 2009.
“With Jabbering Jackass, we will be working on creating a stubborn … I mean stable … user experience,” read the e-mail description purportedly leaked on Teisberg’s site.
Also included in Jackass, apparently, will be “a feature never before seen in any operating system, a cuddly cartoon donkey, something like the Microsoft Office Assistant, that will help you get work done,” the description read. “For example, if you make a mistake, the cuddly donkey will pop onto the screen and bellow, ‘You jackass!'”
Ha! Sounds like a winner!
Microsoft Code Released!
Last, and perhaps least believable, was sonoftheclayr’s news on lxer that “in an unforeseen move Microsoft has announced the release of the Windows 95, 98, Me and MS-DOS source code for today only.”
That, most certainly, will be the day.
OK, well, back to reality, we’d be remiss not to mention discussion across the blogs of Adobe’s decision to join the Linux Foundation, which generated a fair amount of commentary on Slashdot, lxer and others.
Though certainly newsworthy, however, the news didn’t exactly generate universal enthusiasm.
“I don’t think it’s very important,” said Dean, a blogger on Monochrome Mentality.
“We already know Adobe knows GNU/Linux exists, and they’ve even released some software for it, proving it’s at least a market not to be ignored,” Dean told LinuxInsider. “But really, them joining does very little to change anything, in my opinion.
“I don’t care about GNU/Linux adoption; I care about Free Software adoption,” Dean added. “As a GNU/Linux user, BSD getting more Free Software support is immensely more valuable to me than GNU/Linux getting non-free support.”
Similarly: “Adobe joining the Linux Foundation doesn’t even register on my radar,” yagu asserted. “It’s about as heartening as hearing that Microsoft is now doing open source — it’s a non-event until Adobe’s actions match their memberships.”
Adobe has long lagged behind in offering products up-to-date for Linux, yagu added.
“I’d welcome their participation, but it’s definitely a wait-and-see scenario for me,” he concluded. “The only beneficiary in this is Adobe.”
‘An Emerging Member’
On the other hand: “I think Adobe joining the Linux Foundation is reflective of its interest in the Linux market,” Raven Zachary, senior analyst and open source practice head with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider. “It means Adobe is serious in its support of Linux, and that it sees itself as an emerging member of the Linux community.”
Adobe’s Linux version of AIR, meanwhile, “is going to help drive adoption of Linux desktop usage,” Zachary added.
“As large vendors like Adobe begin to look at Linux as an opportunity, we’ll see others vendors do the same,” he concluded. “Adobe could certainly do this without joining the Linux Foundation, so this reflects its desire to be more actively involved in the platform.”