Miguel de Icaza plays fast and loose with the facts and history

by Nicholas Petreley

Miguel de Icaza, in this weblog entry says, "Facts barely matter when they get in the way of a good smear. The comments over at Groklaw are interesting, in that they explore new levels of ignorance." This comment rings especially true of his weblog entry. For example, Miguel states...

We have been working on OpenOffice.Org for longer than anyone else has. We were some of the earliest contributors to OpenOffice, and we are the largest external contributor to actual code to OpenOffice than anyone else.

Say what? Who created OpenOffice? Who bought it? Who opened it? Anyone ever hear of Star Division gmbh or Sun? Since when did Novell become the earliest contributor to OpenOffice.org? The earliest and largest external corporate contributor, maybe. I'd like to see some hard facts to back up an assertion like that (not that facts matter, as Miguel admitted), but his hyperbolic boasting of Novell's contribution is obviously overblown. And is a contribution that doesn't make it into the main code base really a contribution? After all, in the same blog entry, Miguel himself makes much of the fact that Novell's OpenOffice.org really isn't THE OpenOffice.org. It's Novell's unique version, patched and modified.

And of course, the code that we write to interop with Office XML is covered by the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (Update: this is a public patent agreement, this has nothing to do with the Microsoft/Novell agreement, and is available to anyone; If you still want to email me, read the previous link, and read it twice before hitting the send button).

I agree. Read that link twice or even several times, and then blast Miguel with an email. First, the fork isn't just about Office XML. It's about things like Excel VBA, which is not covered by the above Microsoft promise. Indeed, here is the only relevant technology covered by that promise:

Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas
Office Open XML 1.0 proposed Ecma standard

So the promise, worded in such twisted language that even a lawyer might not be able to decipher it, covers an old standard and a proposed standard. And this is supposed to reassure us, how?

Sorry, Miguel, but you seem to have been on an ongoing crusade to inject as much of what Microsoft produces into Linux, from Mono to Evolution and now things like Excel VBA. You say it is all in the name of providing interoperability, but at what cost? Add to that the exclusive patent agreement, and the once absurd notion that you're a Microsoft mole with a mission to infect Linux with IP that promotes Microsoft starts to become plausible. Not conclusive by any means, but plausible.

Regardless, I stand on my call for OpenOffice.org and other FOSS project leaders to refuse to adopt any contributions from Novell into the mainstream code base. Let Novell offer all the patches it wants, but keep them out of the projects. Let Novell fork OpenOffice.org if it wants. That's fine. Meanwhile, I urge contributors to the main branch to work on interoperability that does not include Microsoft patents, but includes means of translating things like VBA code into something native - and GPL - to OpenOffice.org.