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Is (OOo), the popular free office application, "a profoundly sick project," as developer Michael Meeks alleges? Or are his comments a poorly concealed effort to promote Go-OO, Novell's version of OOo, as the anti-Novell lobby suggests?

The answers to these questions are important, because the flame war that continually threatens to erupt over them -- most recently, last week -- could have a direct affect on OOo's future, and OOo is a key part of most efforts to promote a free and open source desktop. The trouble is, nobody in the controversy seems to have hold of the complete truth. As often happens when a question is reduced to either-or polarities, nuanced judgment becomes the first casualty, with none of those who are arguing willing to acknowledge that they could be both right and wrong at the same time.

A history of controversy

Go-OO has existed as an informal collaboration since 2002. However, the controversy over the project and its goal only began 14 months ago when it was officially announced. This first announcement was accompanied by a critique of Sun Microsystem's management of that has continued periodically ever since.

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