Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Linux Foundation Statement on OOXML

Filed under
Linux

On September 2, the comment and voting period will close on ISO/IEC DIS 29500, the draft specification based upon Microsoft's Office Open XML formats (OOXML). The Linux Foundation (LF) has received questions from outside its membership regarding its position on adoption of OOXML in its current form as a global standard, and on the adoption process itself.

By way of context: Central to the mission of the Linux Foundation, is the creation of standards that become widely adopted. In furtherance of that result, the Linux Foundation (then known as the Free Standards Group) successfully submitted the Linux Standard Base (LSB) to ISO/IEC for adoption through a process similar to that now being employed to review OOXML. The LSB has now been implemented by all major distributions of Linux.

As a result, the Linux Foundation is not only familiar with, but has a vested interest in the preservation of the validity and integrity of the global standards adoption process. When that process works well, everyone wins. The modern world has become utterly dependent upon technology, and therefore upon the ability of standards organizations to provide interoperability and other open standards as well. With the conversion of paper documents to digital formats, the world has also become utterly dependent upon the ability of those documents to be accessed in the future. Creation of documents in proprietary formats at best jeopardizes that ability, and at worst guarantees that easy access in the future will be impossible.

Consequently, the Linux Foundation believes it is important for effective and robust document format standards to be developed, and for those standards to be universally adopted. In order for universal adoption to be achieved, it is equally important for the process that creates those standards to be above reproach.

More specifically, the Linux Foundation supports the activities of the Linux Desktop Architects and their work enhancing the Linux desktop. The Linux Foundation believes that Linux on the desktop will become increasingly widely deployed, and therefore the availability of robust, widely adopted – and easily implemented – document format standards are of great importance to those that develop, sell and use Linux in this way.

Finally, the Linux Foundation notes that there already exists an ISO/IEC standard intended for a similar purpose – the Open Document Format (ODF) – that has been implemented in at least a dozen products, both open source as well as proprietary. These products have been developed and released by multiple vendors (including several Linux Foundation members). While the current voting in ISO/IEC JTC1 is based upon the technical merits and issues relating to OOXML, the Linux Foundation believes that the marketplace would be better served by all vendors – including Microsoft – uniting around the implementation and further development of a single, common specification. Given the existence and prior ISO/IEC JTC1 adoption of ODF, and the fact that OOXML (which is a new specification) will require translation of existing documents as well, the Linux Foundation believes that the better platform for that effort would be ODF.

With that as prelude, the Linux Foundation offers the following advice to those that are still considering how to vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500:

1. The OOXML specification is extremely lengthy. Based upon all that we have been able to learn, the review period that has been allowed is insufficient to provide confidence that all issues that may need to be resolved before OOXML could meet minimum quality standards. Accordingly, the Linux Foundation believes that adoption of OOXML, after addressing only those issues that have been identified to date, would be unwise.

2. That said, there have already been hundreds of issues that have been raised. While some of these issues are minor, many are not. The Linux Foundation believes that OOXML is simply not mature enough at this point to be granted approval as an ISO/IEC standard. Many, but not all, of these issues have been summarized here: http://www.noooxml.org/local--files/arguments/TheCaseAgainstOOXML.pdf.

3. ISO/IEC standards are supposed to reference other globally adopted standards where those standards exist. In the case of OOXML, many proprietary Microsoft specifications have been referenced. In some cases (e.g., language codes, vector graphics), Microsoft has used its own, internal codes and specifications rather than already existing, publicly available alternatives. This not only violates ISO/IEC rules, but also puts in question whether implementers can fully implement OOXML without infringing intellectual property rights (IPR) of Microsoft. Will those IPRs be available? If so, upon what terms will they be available? The answers to these questions appear to be currently unknown.

4. OOXML is specific to Windows and other Microsoft products. It is uncertain whether OOXML-based documents will be easily created, saved, and opened using other operating systems – like Linux – and applications, with or without converters or translators. An international standard should be created in the first instance to be neutral to all operating systems and other products.

For all these reasons and more, the Linux Foundation calls upon those National Bodies that have not yet cast their votes to vote "No, with comments." Those comments should reflect their best, neutral, technical judgment, based upon OOXML in its current form. Only by doing so, we believe, can both the future availability of documents, but the integrity of the standard setting process be assured.

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • A Quick Hands-On With Chatty, A Desktop Twitch Chat Client
    Chatty is a desktop Twitch Chat client for Windows, macOS and Linux written in Ja
  • HP Linux Imaging and Printing 3.16.8 Adds Support for Linux Mint 18, Fedora 24
    The open-source HP Linux Imaging and Printing (HPLIP) project has been updated on August 29, 2016, to version 3.16.8, a maintenance update that adds support for new printers and GNU/Linux operating systems. According to the release notes, HP Linux Imaging and Printing 3.16.8 adds support for new all-in-one HP printers, including HP OfficeJet Pro 6970, HP OfficeJet Pro 6960, HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile, HP DeskJet 3700, as well as HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3700. Also new in the HPLIP 3.16.8 update is support for the recently released Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, and the upcoming KDE editions, the Fedora 24 Linux operating system, as well as the Debian GNU/Linux 8.5 "Jessie" distribution. So if you're using any of these OSes, you can now update to the latest HPLIP release.
  • MPlayer-Based MPV 0.20.0 Video Player Released with New Options and Commands
    The popular, open-source, and cross-platform MPV video player software received a new update, version 0.20.0, which comes only two weeks after the previous 0.19.0 maintenance release. MPV 0.20.0 is not a major update, and, according to the release notes, it only implements a couple of new options and commands, such as "--video-unscaled=downscale-big" for changing the aspect ratio. Additionally, the MPlayer-based video playback application also gets the "--image-display-duration" option for controlling the duration of image display, and a new "dcomposition" flag for controlling DirectComposition.
  • FFmpeg 3.1.3 "Laplace" Open-Source Multimedia Framework Now Available for Linux
    The major FFmpeg 3.1 "Laplace" open-source and cross-platform multimedia framework has received recently its third maintenance update, version 3.1.3, which brings updated components. FFmpeg 3.1 was announced two months ago, at the end of June, and it introduced a multitude of new features to make the popular multimedia backend even more reliable and handy to game and application developers. Dubbed Laplace, FFmpeg 3.1 is currently the most advanced FFmpeg release, cut from Git master on June 26, 2016.
  • GNU Scientific Library 2.2 released
    Version 2.2 of the GNU Scientific Library (GSL) is now available. GSL provides a large collection of routines for numerical computing in C. This release contains new linear algebra routines (Pivoted and Modified Cholesky, Complete Orthogonal Decomposition, matrix condition number estimation) as well as a completely rewritten nonlinear least squares module, including support for Levenberg-Marquardt, dogleg, double-dogleg, and Steihaug-Toint methods. The full NEWS file entry is appended below.

today's howtos

Leftovers: OSS

  • Report: If DOD Doesn't Embrace Open Source, It'll 'Be Left Behind'
    Unless the Defense Department and its military components levy increased importance on software development, they risk losing military technical superiority, according to a new report from the Center for a New American Security. In the report, the Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan think tank argues the Pentagon, which for years has relied heavily on proprietary software systems, “must actively embrace open source software” and buck the status quo. Currently, DOD uses open source software “infrequently and on an ad hoc basis,” unlike tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook that wouldn’t exist without open source software.
  • The Honey Trap of Copy/Pasting Open Source Code
    I couldn’t agree more with Bill Sourour’s article ‘Copy.Paste.Code?’ which says that copying and pasting code snippets from sources like Google and StackOverflow is fine as long as you understand how they work. However, the same logic can’t be applied to open source code. When I started open source coding at the tender age of fourteen, I was none the wiser to the pitfalls of copy/pasting open source code. I took it for granted that if a particular snippet performed my desired function, I could just insert it into my code, revelling in the fact that I'd just gotten one step closer to getting my software up and running. Yet, since then, through much trial and error, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to use open source code effectively.
  • Affordable, Open Source, 3D Printable CNC Machine is Now on Kickstarter
    The appeals of Kickstarter campaigns are many. There are the rewards for backers, frequently taking the form of either deep discounts on the final product or unusual items that can’t be found anywhere else. Pledging to support any crowdfunding campaign is a gamble, but it’s an exciting gamble; just browsing Kickstarter is pretty exciting, in fact, especially in the technological categories. Inventive individuals and startups offer new twists on machines like 3D printers and CNC machines – often for much less cost than others on the market.
  • Open Standards and Open Source
    Much has changed in the telecommunications industry in the years since Standards Development Organization (SDOs) such as 3GPP, ITU and OMA were formed. In the early days of telecom and the Internet, as fundamental technology was being invented, it was imperative for the growth of the new markets that standards were established prior to large-scale deployment of technology and related services. The process for development of these standards followed a traditional "waterfall" approach, which helped to harmonize (sometimes competing) pre-standard technical solutions to market needs.

Leftovers: BSD

  • The Voicemail Scammers Never Got Past Our OpenBSD Greylisting
    We usually don't see much of the scammy spam and malware. But that one time we went looking for them, we found a campaign where our OpenBSD greylisting setup was 100% effective in stopping the miscreants' messages. During August 23rd to August 24th 2016, a spam campaign was executed with what appears to have been a ransomware payload. I had not noticed anything particularly unusual about the bsdly.net and friends setup that morning, but then Xavier Mertens' post at isc.sans.edu Voice Message Notifications Deliver Ransomware caught my attention in the tweetstream, and I decided to have a look.
  • Why FreeBSD Doesn't Aim For OpenMP Support Out-Of-The-Box