Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Interview with Michael Meeks of OpenOffice.org

Filed under
Interviews
OOo

On the Novell website, there is a page dedicated to the company's Distinguished Engineers. One of these is Michael Meeks, a Cambridge graduate who began his Linux career at GNOME desktop start-up Ximian, and now works as part of Novell's OpenOffice.org team. Daniel James met him just prior to the announcement of the Novell/Microsoft agreement, and opened the interview with his favourite opening question to any free software hacker...

DJ: What was your first computer?

MM: I was encouraged to program by my mother, because she was a Head of Maths, so I had a BBC Micro and was doing simple BASIC programming. Then came the era of type-in games, so you could learn programming syntax. As my typing was not very quick, I had time to consider the constructs. Eventually I was writing assembler, and this led to x86; but all this was with proprietary software, really. Just on top of Windows, or DOS - a little bit of the Novell technologies crept in there, but only briefly. I left school and went to work doing PASCAL programming, on VT420's, VMS on Alpha machines, cross-compiling to 68000 embedded systems, real-time, the lot. Lot's of good stuff there, and quite interesting in many ways.

During my gap year I became a Christian, and at that point I realised my computer was riddled with non-free software, most of it stolen. So we had a big fight about this, me and God, and the voice of conscience was quite clear that this was not what should go on. So eventually, I ditched it to run Linux instead, which at the time was not good news. The hardware support, and anything graphical or visual, was just hopeless.

DJ: So it was a sort of 'forty days in the wilderness'?

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

And now for some good news... How open source triumphed over Microsoft Office in Italy

Microsoft Office may have a global monopoly, but one Italian region rejected it flat out. But, why? In the stunningly beautiful Italian region of Umbria, you'll feel more at home running open source software, rather than the clunky and expensive Microsoft Office suite. Read more

Red Hat, Chilean government hold talks on open source initiative

The head of Chilean regulator Pedro Huichalaf agreed to pass information regarding the benefits of open source software to the ministerial committee for digital development Read more

IT teams are choosing open source - but not just for the cost savings

IT decision makers are increasingly turning to open source over proprietary software because they believe it offers them better business continuity and control Read more

Patent Troll Kills Open Source Project On Speeding Up The Computation Of Erasure Codes

Via James Bessen, we learn of how a patent trolling operation by StreamScale has resulted in an open source project completely shutting down, despite the fact that the patent in question (US Patent 8,683,296 for an "Accelerated erasure coding system and method") is almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea, following the Supreme Court's Alice ruling and plenty of prior art. Erasure codes are used regularly today in cloud computing data storage and are considered to be rather important. Not surprisingly, companies and lawyers are starting to pop out of the woodwork to claim patents on key pieces. I won't pretend to understand the fundamental details of erasure codes, but the link above provides all the details. It goes through the specific claims in the patents, breaking down what they actually say (basically an erasure code on a computer using SIMD instructions), and how that's clearly an abstract idea and thus not patent-eligible. Read more