Daily Archives: February 28, 2005

OpenOffice .doc format 4

Although it might not seem obvious this is a big open source topic both for technical and other reasons. On a technical level although OpenOffice/StarOffice can execute, read, and write .doc format documents there are some problems. For example I have found that OpenOffice 1.1.2 using a default install of Red Hat Linux 8 is not too bad, but does have a bit of difficulty with the layout of Tables.

Things get even more confusing with Fedora Core 3 and OpenOffice 1.1.2, which tends to expand say a 13 page document created with Red Hat Linux 8 and OpenOffice 1.1.2 into a 15 page document. I think this maybe to do with the CUPS print manager, which is the default install since Red Hat 9. To confuse matters further OpenOffice 1.1.4 and the beta 2.0 version will do something different again even when used with Red Hat Linux 8.

One way around the example problems given above is to create a pdf version of the .doc document. OpenOffice 1.1.2 will compress such a document into a fairly small file. This will usually end up being quite a bit smaller than if StarOffice 7 or early versions of OpenOffice are used.

Another technical solution might be to run Microsoft Word on Linux using WINE or Crossover Office. However some OSSG members could object to this because of course the source code for Microsoft Word is not Open.

At the time of writing this seems to be the most appropriate, but not fully ideal forum, for this article. In any event I suppose it could be argued that the almost de facto insistence by many organizations to put everything into .doc format is potentially a barrier on the communication of open knowledge.

Mark Elkins

EU Software Patent Directive Proposal 2

According to an article in Computer Weekly (2005, 25 January, p.10) the proposed EU Software Patent Directive states that software that does no more than operate in a computer cannot be patented. It has to have a technical application to be patented. Therefore software that controls an aircraft would be patentable, but that used in a business process to book a flight on it would not be.

From an Open Source perspective this potentially means that a patent search would be required each time software for a technical application is created to ensure no legal infringement takes place. This might be seen as placing a straitjacket on creativity by some or a much needed control on plagiarism
by others.

What do other OSSG members think or know about this proposed EU Directive?

Mark Elkins