Australia fails to take a position on OOXML

EPIC FAIL: Australia fails to take a position on OOXML, abstains on final OOXML vote.

It’s disappointing that while our Prime Minister travels the world with a stated intention to increase Australia’s influence and activism on the global stage, we at home have failed so miserably to come to a conclusion — positive or negative — about OOXML.

As a participant on the working group advising Standards Australia, it is surprising that I only know about this due to a report in the trade press. It is also concerning that (again) the news has been revealed so close to the wire that it is unlikely that any feedback could be provided to Standards Australia, or any action taken.

I am not so much surprised at the outcome as disappointed by the process.

Standards Australia has maintained its “abstain” vote on Microsoft’s attempt to attain international standard status for its Office Open XML file format.


“Unfortunately two clear groups have formed, in part along commercial lines, either supporting or opposing the adoption of OOXML as an International Standard, and despite the more than 1,000 technical issues addressed at the BRM and months of debate, neither side has moved,” he said.

According to Navaratnam this predicament left the standards organisation with no other choice than to maintain its abstain position.

What Navaratnam doesn’t say is that those industry lines were very clear throughout the process: Microsoft vs. a surprisingly broad representation of “everyone else” (including Open Source, proprietary, large multinational, Australian Government and small/medium participants).

Thus, I do not believe that the broader industry perspective on this matter is adequately expressed by the Australian “abstain” position.

Update: Standards Australia have published a media release about the decision, which includes some additional details not mentioned in the story linked above. If anything, it raises further questions about why their concerns did not warrant a “no” vote!

Understanding the Ubuntu package repositories

During a thread about daylight savings confusion here in Sydney, Martin Barry asked the SLUG list why updates to Ubuntu packages go into a separate “updates” repository. John Ferlito suggested that I blog my answer…

I’ve never understood the ${ubuntu_release}-updates thing.

A separate repositry for security I understand due to the need to bypass mirror lag.

But anything worthy of going into ${ubuntu_release}-updates is surely worth putting straight into ${ubuntu_release} ? Or is it just me?

Post-release, that archive is never touched. It means that users get to choose how much damage they’re willing to accept:

  • $release: Don’t touch it, I like consistency, even with my bugs.
  • $release-security: I’ll accept patches to existing versions (and very rare version upgrades if absolutely necessary) in the process of keeping my system secure.
  • $release-updates: Okay, some bugs are worth fixing, and I trust you this much (holds up two fingers like Maxwell Smart).
  • $release-backports: I have something akin to technology ADHD, needing the latest of everything I can possibly get, but I’m a sooky little wuss-fart because I can’t handle running the development branch.
  • $devel: I can take it. Seriously. If you break my X, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. I’ll file and maybe even fix the bugs and I’ll do it even if power management is not so much ‘managed’ as vomited all over the wall. Come get some.
  • Debian: We do the work so you don’t have to.

Amazingly, a number of followups suggest that this summary should form some kind of official description on the Ubuntu Wiki or similar. I’m sure someone in Ubuntu land will be keen to… revise some of my verbiage… should they choose to use it. :-)

GNOME 2.22 and other awesome

Somewhat belated celebration of our latest release, but hey, I just wanted to see the release love continue to roll by on all the Planets. :-) Check out Dave’s release linkage for some bricks and whole bunch of bouquets.

Definitely great to see Cheese (of which I am quite the fan) so prominently featured in the release notes and on the front page. Rock on, Daniel!

Amazingly, something even more exciting in the GNOME galaxy has just concluded… the (by all reports) über-successful GTK+ Hackfest.

Congratulations to all involved… The future looks bright — burning magnesium bright!

GNOME 2.22

links for 2008-03-16

links for 2008-03-08

QoTD: Bill Clinton

Now one of Clinton’s laws of politics is this: If one candidate’s trying to scare you and the other one’s trying to get you to think, if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope.

Bill Clinton, supporting John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign