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How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Monday, October 31 2005 @ 09:29 PM EST

Andy Updegrove took notes at the MA meeting, and here they are. His overview is followed by real-time notes he took. I know you are dying to know how it went. I'd say there was a decided tilt, but a lot of the problem sounds like misunderstanding ODT. Here's Andy's impression:
Senator Pacheco doesn't understand the difference between open source and open standards (and certainly doesn't understand the difference between OpenDocument and OpenOffice). More than once, he indicated that he thought that the policy would require the Executive Agencies to use OpenOffice, not realizing that there are other compliant alternatives. He also thought that this would act to the detriment of Massachusetts software vendors, who (he thinks) would be excluded from doing business with the Commonwealth.

Honest misunderstandings can be cleared up with more information, so that's the good news. The bad is that no questions from the audience were allowed, and every speaker invited to speak today was against ODT, except for Peter Quinn and Linda Hamel. If the issue is fairness, it sounds like no one in charge was noticibly concerned about that today. More coming. But I know you want to get started. Dan Bricklin says he thinks he got a good tape of the event, and it will hopefully be ready later tonight, so swing on back by.

Update:

Dan Bricklin has his notes up on his website, and the audiotape is ready too, and you can find it on his podcast page. It is in three parts, running a total of almost three and a half hours, and Dan says the sound quality on the first 8 minutes of the first section isn't as good as the rest, so don't let that discourage you.

Dan had a conversation with Senator Pacheco after the hearing, and he says the Senator has some concerns, some misunderstandings about the GPL. He worries that if you build something on OpenOffice, which he mistakenly thinks is the only application to support ODF so far, the GPL's reciprocity requirements will be a problem. He thinks OpenOffice.org is licensed under the GPL. However, as you can see from this license page, OpenOffice.org is not licensed under the GPL. It's under the LGPL, so he can rest easy. Here's the LGPL FAQ. It's the same license the JBoss uses, and they explain why here:

The majority of JBoss Inc. software is licensed under the LGPL or Gnu Lesser General Public License. The LGPL is the most business-friendly license for enterprise IT organizations, independent software vendors, and the open source community itself. It promotes software freedom without affecting the proprietary software that sits alongside or on top of it. The LGPL also ensures stability and consistency by disallowing proprietary forks to the the core software.

Here's their white paper [PDF] on it. JBoss just announced they are working with Microsoft "to enhance interoperability between JEMS and Microsoft Windows Server products," so that should calm everyone down a bit in Massachusetts, one hopes. If Microsoft sees no danger in a partnership with JBoss, why should anyone see a problem with OpenOffice, which uses the same license, "the most business-friendly license"?


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