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

Google's Upspin Debuts

  • Another option for file sharing
    Existing mechanisms for file sharing are so fragmented that people waste time on multi-step copying and repackaging. With the new project Upspin, we aim to improve the situation by providing a global name space to name all your files. Given an Upspin name, a file can be shared securely, copied efficiently without "download" and "upload", and accessed by anyone with permission from anywhere with a network connection.
  • Google Developing "Upspin" Framework For Naming/Sharing Files
    Google today announced an experimental project called Upspin that's aiming for next-generation file-sharing in a secure manner.
  • Google releases open source file sharing project 'Upspin' on GitHub
    Believe it or not, in 2017, file-sharing between individuals is not a particularly easy affair. Quite frankly, I had a better experience more than a decade ago sending things to friends and family using AOL Instant Messenger. Nowadays, everything is so fragmented, that it can be hard to share. Today, Google unveils yet another way to share files. Called "Upspin," the open source project aims to make sharing easier for home users. With that said, the project does not seem particularly easy to set up or maintain. For example, it uses Unix-like directories and email addresses for permissions. While it may make sense to Google engineers, I am dubious that it will ever be widely used.
  • Google devs try to create new global namespace
    Wouldn't it be nice if there was a universal and consistent way to give names to files stored on the Internet, so they were easy to find? A universal resource locator, if you like? The problem is that URLs have been clunkified, so Upspin, an experimental project from some Google engineers, offers an easier model: identifying files to users and paths, and letting the creator set access privileges.

RPi-friendly home automation kit adds voice recognition support

Following its successful Kickstarter campaign for a standalone Matrix home automation and surveillance hub, and subsequent release of an FPGA-driven Matrix Creator daughter board for use with the Raspberry Pi, Matrix Labs today launched a “Matrix Voice” board on Indiegogo. The baseline board, currently available at early-bird pricing of $45, has an array of 7 microphones surrounding a ring of 18 software-controlled RGBW LEDs. A slightly pricier model includes an MCU-controlled WiFi/Bluetooth ESP32 wireless module. Read more

The Year Of Linux On Everything But The Desktop

The War on Linux goes back to Bill Gates, then CEO of Microsoft, in an “open letter to hobbyists” published in a newsletter in 1976. Even though Linux wouldn’t be born until 1991, Gates’ burgeoning software company – itself years away from releasing its first operating system – already felt the threat of open source software. We know Gates today as a kindly billionaire who’s joining us in the fight against everything from disease to income inequality, but there was a time when Gates was the bad guy of the computing world. Microsoft released its Windows operating system in 1985. At the time, its main competition was Apple and Unix-like systems. BSD was the dominant open source Unix clone then – it marks its 40th birthday this year, in fact – and Microsoft fired barrages of legal challenges to BSD just like it eventually would against Linux. Meanwhile Apple sued Microsoft over its interface, in the infamous “Look and Feel” lawsuit, and Microsoft’s reign would forever be challenged. Eventually Microsoft would be tried in both the US and the UK for antitrust, which is a government regulation against corporate monopolies. Even though it lost both suits, Microsoft simply paid the fine out of its bottomless pockets and kept right at it. Read more

Digital audio and video editing in GNU/Linux

  • Linux Digital Audio Workstation Roundup
    In the world of home studio recording, the digital audio workstation is one of the most important tools of the trade. Digital audio workstations are used to record audio and MIDI data into patterns or tracks. This information is then typically mixed down into songs or albums. In the Linux ecosystem, there is no shortage of Digital audio workstations to chose from. Whether you wish to create minimalist techno or full orchestral pieces, chances are there is an application that has you covered. In this article, we will take a brief look into several of these applications and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. I will try to provide a fair evaluation of the DAWs presented here but at the end of the day, I urge you to try a few of these applications and to form an opinion of your own.
  • Shotcut Video Editor Available As A Snap Package [Quick Update]
    Shotcut is a free, open source Qt5 video editor developed on the MLT Multimedia Framework (it's developed by the same author as MLT), available for Linux, Windows and Mac. Under the hood, Shotcut uses FFmpeg, so it supports many audio, video and image formats, along with screen, webcam and audio capture. The application doesn't require importing files, thanks to its native timeline editing. Other features worth mentioning are multitrack timeline with thumbnails and waveforms, 4k resolution support, video effects, as well as a flexible UI with dockable panels.
  • Simple Screen Recorder Is Now Available as a Snap App
    Simple Screen Recorder, a popular screen recording app for Linux desktops, is now available to install as a Snap app from the Ubuntu Store.