When news of Oracle's intended acquisition of Sun Microsystems broke long ago, many people wondered what that would mean for OpenOffice, the most widely adopted full desktop implementation of ODF. But Oracle immediately imposed a company-wide "no comment" policy on that topic, so everyone has been wondering what the answer might be ever since.
So like many others, I expect, I’m trying to get my brain around Oracle’s reasoning in deciding to charge $90 for a formerly free ODF conversion plug-in developed by Sun Microsystems. That downloadable plug-in was intended for Microsoft Office users who wanted to import ODF-compliant documents created, most obviously, by users of the free, open source OpenOffice.org (OOo) version, or of Sun’s StarOffice, the for-sale, supported productivity suite based on the free OOo code.
Moreover, it’s not just $90 you’ll need to fork over – the plug-in is only available in packages of 100.
In reviewing my RSS feed this morning, I found this interesting blog entry by Alex Brown, titled Microsoft Fails the Standards Test. In it, Alex makes a number of statements, and reaches a number of conclusions, that are likely to startle those that followed the ODF-OOXML saga. The bottom line? Alex thinks that Microsoft has failed to fulfill crucial promises upon which the approval of OOXML was based. He concludes that unless Microsoft reverses course promptly, “the entire OOXML project is now surely heading for failure.”
Regular readers of Standards Today will be aware that hundreds of organizations that develop and promote standards have been formed using a legal and governance model that leads them to be referred to as "consortia." But think for a moment and tell me if you know what kind of model would be wise to use to set up an organization to support any other type of largely virtual activity?
That's interesting, isn't it? Silence would have answered the same question in the standards development community thirty years ago, too. But then a few pioneer consortia were formed, and the word spread. As it did, the structures used to form and govern consortia became more refined, and best practices evolved and became better known by word of mouth. The same phenomenon is happening today in the world of open source development.
By now you've probably read endless takes on the news that Elliott Associates, one of the oldest hedge funds, with over US $16 billion under management, has made an unsolicited offer for Novell. Almost all of these articles have focused on whether Elliott means business, what they'll do to Novell if they are successful, and whether another (and perhaps ultimately successful) bidder will enter the scene.
I haven't seen any article yet, though, that describes in detail how the high stakes game of tender offers is played, and how the usual process maps (and doesn't) to a high tech company like Novell. So I thought I'd provide an overview for those that haven't had occasion to follow a tender offer in the past, and also my thoughts on what may happen over the next several months in this particular game of cat and mouse.
A long running case of great significance to the legal underpinnings of free and open source/open source software (F/OSS) has just settled on terms favorable to the F/OSS developer. The settlement follows a recent ruling by a U.S. Federal District Court judge that affirmed several key rights of F/OSS developers under existing law.
That case is Jacobsen v. Katzer, and the settlement documents were filed in court just after 9:00 AM this morning. Links to each of them can be found later in this blog entry. The brief background of the case, the legal issues at stake, and the settlement details are as follows.
I don't usually post twice a day, but today was opening day in Barcelona of the Mobile World Congress, the biggest mobile show of the year, and the announcements were popping thick and fast. One of those announcements unveiled a new mobile platform called MeeGo - a new open source contender in the race to power the broad array of devices that are rapidly proliferating in the mobile marketplace. And, I'm happy to say, MeeGo will be hosted by The Linux Foundation.
We've been working for some time on this, and we're very pleased that the project has now gone public. The LF press release can be found here, and the Intel version of the joint Intel-Nokia release is here. As usual, both are also pasted in below for archival purposes. I think you'd also find LF Executive Director Jim Zemlin's blog entry worth a read, and I'll quote from it below.
As you may recall, the Linux Foundation last year ran a video contest that drew a lot of entries, many of which were not only entertaining, but had surprisingly high production values as well. Last year's invitation was to use the popular "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ad series as an inspiration, and you can see the winning videos here (all of last year's entries can be found here).
Well, it's that time again, and LF has just annnounced this year's contest theme, rules and deadline. The announcement is here, and also pasted in at the end of this blog entry. This year, the invitation is to submit what a Super Bowl ad for Linux might be like, if there was ever to be such a thing.
As you may recall, the CodePlex Foundation indicated in January that it expected to name a permanent Executive Director within a few weeks' time. That has now happened, and in the "small world" department, the new ED happens to be Paula Hunter - someone I've known for years, and worked with several times in the past. The full press release is below. Paula is someone I like and respect a lot, and a great choice for CodePlex.
As you'll see from the announcement, one of Paula's prior jobs was as the Executive Director of UnitedLinux. UL was a client of mine, and that's where I first met Paula. And if you've never heard the saga of UL, it's a rather fascinating story.
The last issue of Standards Today focused on XML - the underpinning of ODF and hundreds of other standards - and one of the most important standards ever developed. Here is the editorial from that issue.
One of the many intriguing concepts mooted by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest with polymathic insights (his academic explorations range from paleontology to the meaning of the Cosmos) is the "noosphere." In de Chardin's vision, the reality of the world encompassed not just the geosphere (inanimate matter) and biosphere (all forms of life), but an ever expanding nimbus of knowledge representing the fusion of the minds and knowledge of all humans.
Those that know me know that I firmly believe that there is a Monty Python vignette, or at least a catchphrase, for every occasion. On this occasion, that catchphrase is, “And now for something completely different!”
How completely different, might you ask, as if on cue? Glad you asked. Quitecompletely different. More specifically, what you will find here is a cybersecurity mystery novel called The Alexandria Project, originally shared here in serial form, in the grand tradition of yesteryear, when authors like Charles Dickens presented their latest works in weekly or monthly (often cliff hanging) chapters.
Quote of the Day
“Open standards are simply better for developers”
-Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG, announcing the SIG's first standard
Microsoft bullied MPs over government switch to open source standards Carly Page The Inquirer May 29, 2015 - Microsoft bullied MPs over government switch to open source software
MICROSOFT reportedly threatened to move its research facilities out of the UK if the government went ahead with plans to promote open source standards....Cabinet Officer Francis Maude outlined plans at the time to shift the UK to the .odf Open Document Format and away from Microsoft's proprietary .doc and .docx formats.
Maude said: "The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.
"I want to see a greater range of software used,..."As reported at Bloomberg, Steve Hilton, who was the prime minister's director of strategy until 2012, revealed at an event that..."Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said we will close them down in your constituencies if this goes through," Hilton said. "We just resisted. You have to be brave."... ...Full Story
Standard Knowledge for Robots NIST Techbeat May 29, 2015 - What do you know? There is now a world standard for capturing and conveying the knowledge that robots possess—or, to get philosophical about it, an ontology for automatons.
Crafted by a working group of 166 experts from 23 nations, the IEEE Standard for Ontologies for Robotics and Automation (IEEE P1872) is designed to simplify programming, extend the informationprocessing and reasoning capabilities of robots, and enable clear robot-to-robot and human-to-robot communication....The working group’s core ontology for robotics and automation, or CORA, is an important step toward achieving this shared understanding. It establishes a formal way of representing knowledge that robots possess to perform tasks in their particular area of activity such as manufacturing plants or hospitals. This “common ground” enables efficient and reliable exchanges of information and integration of new data....With this structured base of knowledge, a manufacturing robot, for example, will know what tasks it can do, how much it can lift, whether it can work around people, and other performance-defining features. So when a new order comes, the robot will be able to assess whether it can do the required work.... ...Full Story
SAC Reveals Next Steps of Enterprise Standards Reform USITO.org Weekly May 28, 2015 - On May 19, the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) Local Standardization Department (i.e. SAC Department of Service Industry Standards) hosted the second meeting reviewing the pilot work of the enterprise product standard self-disclosure system. SAC Deputy Director Cui Gang attended the meeting and outlined four SAC key tasks for further reform work:
- Release soon the Guiding Opinions of Establishing Enterprise Product and Service Standards Self-disclosure and Supervision System
Initiate the revision work of the Enterprise Standardization Management Measures
- Strengthen standards information services for enterprises
- Provide training of the new enterprise standards system... ...Full Story
Vatican library: open source for long-term preservation Gijs Hillenius EU Joinup May 27, 2015 - The combination of open source and open standards ensures long-term preservation of electronic records and prevents IT vendor lock-in, says Luciano Ammenti, head of the IT department at the Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) in Vatican City.
Open standards and open source solutions are a key part of the Vatican Library’s long-term digital conservation project. The library stores tens of thousands of manuscripts and documents, including the main ancient sample of the Greek version of the Bible, monastic collections from the medieval period, the Codex Borgianus and a fifteenth-century copy of the Mishneh Torah.... ...Full Story
How open data is transforming the business landscape Benn Rossi Information Age May 26, 2015 - Despite pledges by the G7 and G20 to boost transparency by opening up government data, fewer than 8% of countries publish data sets in open formats and under open licences on public sector budgets, spending and contracts.
Realisations about the potential of open data have grown steadily in recent years as successful examples of its use have emerged. The internet and other technological developments have led to an explosion in the amount of data collected – the case for open data is to make it publicly available for anyone to use to create social, environmental and economical impact... ...Full Story
ITU marks 150th anniversary with global celebrations Press Release ITU.org May 20, 2015 - ITU celebrated its 150th anniversary on 17 May, marking a long and illustrious history at the cutting edge of communication technologies....ITU was established on 17 May 1865 with the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in Paris to facilitate the transmission of telegraphy across international borders. ITU was initially headquartered in Berne and moved to Geneva in 1948, soon after it became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1947.... ...Full Story
The merger was put to a vote on GitHub by io.js developer Mikeal Rogers, who initially proposed the merger in February, and the io.js technical committee voted to approve the merger yesterday. According to Rogers, the team will continue releasing io.js versions while the convergence takes place, but after the merger is complete, the io.js working groups and technical committee will join the Node.js Foundation under renamed titles....The Node.js Foundation was established with the help of the Linux Foundation back in February, and had its important organizational structure and stewardship questions hashed out at the Node Summit soon after. ...Full Story
Biometrics Institute forms new alliance Planet Biometrics May 18, 2015 - The Biometrics Institute, Mobey Forum and Natural Security Alliance have revealed plans to cooperate on promoting the use of biometrics in digital services.
The new tripartite group will hold an inaugural meeting on biometrics for non-government services in Paris on 1 July.
The international Biometrics Institute is an independent association working to bring the industry together as a whole including end users, suppliers and academics. Mobey Forum, meanwhile, is an association empowering banks and other financial institutions to lead in the future of mobile financial services.
Natural Security Alliance has developed biometric authentication standards that make user transactions possible which guarantee the sanctity of biometric data and privacy.... ...Full Story
Linux Foundation's SPDX Workgroup Announces New Open Compliance Standard Press Release Linux Foundation May 15, 2015 - The SPDX® workgroup, hosted by The Linux Foundation, today announced the release of version 2.0 of its Software Package Data Exchange® (SPDX) specification, which includes a three-dimensional view of license dependencies that will make exchange of open source and license data more simple and compliance with open source licenses much easier....New features include the ability to relate SPDX documents to each other, making it more useful for a broader range of uses, including exchanging clear data about software and modules in companies' supply chains. For example, with SPDX 2.0 a device manufacturer can easily understand what open source software has been used to build the device components, what versions of that software are being used and what modules have been integrated. This allows companies to more efficiently understand the open source compliance obligations or vulnerabilities and address them before shipment.
The relationship view of license dependencies is made possible through new features that include a deeper level of description and context in files and packages, including those external to the SPDX specification. This allows managers to better understand the open source code in their products, as well as third-party open source code bases that have been integrated with the existing software. This helps to create taxonomy for modules that can be used not only for compliance but identifying potential security vulnerabilities....The Software Package Data Exchange® (SPDX®) specification is a standard format for communicating the components, licenses and copyrights associated with a software package. The SPDX specification helps facilitate compliance with free and open source software licenses by providing a uniform way license information is shared across the software supply chain. The SPDX specification is developed by the SPDX workgroup, which is hosted by The Linux Foundation.... ...Full Story
OGC announces standard for concise description of Earth coordinate reference systems Directions Magazine May 15, 2015 - Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) membership has adopted the OGC Well-known Text (WKT) Representation of Coordinate Reference Systems Encoding Standard.
Well-Known Text (WKT),...describes a compact machine- and human-readable representation of geometric objects....The text strings specified in the new standard provide a means for humans and machines to correctly and unambiguously interpret and utilise a coordinate reference system definition.... ...Full Story