Friday Mar 19, 2010

The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office and the Excel issue after uninstalling or upgrading the Plugin

Many people complain about an issue they have with Excel after uninstalling or upgrading the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office: When starting Excel, Excel complains that the Add-In odfaddin.xla can't be found: 'C:\\Program Files\\Sun\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office <old version>\\converter\\odfaddin.xla' could not be found. (...)

I would like to point out that this is not an issue from the ODF Plugin installer, but in Excel itself:

The ODF Plugin installer writes some HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE entries into the registry to activate the Plugin, and these entries are removed when uninstalling the Plugin, or point to the correct version when doing an upgrade installation. But for some reason, Excel will put a reference to the Add-In file odfaddin.xla into the user's configuration (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) when starting Excel after the ODF Plugin installation. This entry - of course - won't be removed from the installer when uninstalling the ODF Plugin.

So to get rid of the annoying error message, you need to remove that reference yourself:

In Office 2007, use Microsoft Office Button => Excel Options => Add-Ins => Manage Excel Add-ins (Go...) => uncheck "Odfaddin". In older versions, use Tools => Add-Ins => uncheck "Odfaddin"

If it doesn't work (which seems to happen at least in Office 2007 after upgrading the ODF Plugin), remove the reference to the old Add-In in the registry directly: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Microsoft\\Office\\<version>\\Excel\\Options => "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office <old version>\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""

In more detail - this happens in the different phases when installing the ODF Plugin, running Excel and then uninstalling or upgrading the ODF Plugin:

Step 1: Installing the ODF Plugin:


  + [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Classes\\CLSID\\{16A1C170-D2C8-423B-AEC6-BAD7A26F1828}\\InprocServer32]
  + @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"

  + [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Office\\Excel\\Addins\\ODFAddIn.Connect]
  + "Description"="Load and save files in OASIS OpenDocument format"
  + "FriendlyName"="ODF Add-in"
  + "LoadBehavior"=dword:00000003 
Step 2: Starting Excel (now Excel creates the entry that leads to the problem):


  + [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Microsoft\\Office\\12.0\\Excel\\Options]
  + "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""
Step 3a: Uninstalling the ODF Plugin (all entries written by the installer are being removed): 


  - [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Classes\\CLSID\\{16A1C170-D2C8-423B-AEC6-BAD7A26F1828}\\InprocServer32]
  - @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"

  - [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Office\\Excel\\Addins\\ODFAddIn.Connect]
  - "Description"="Load and save files in OASIS OpenDocument format"
  - "FriendlyName"="ODF Add-in"
  - "LoadBehavior"=dword:00000003

  still there (of course!):
  "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""
Step 3b: Upgrading the ODF Plugin, instead of uninstalling:

  - @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll"
  + @="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.2\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.dll" 


  still there (of course!):
  "OPEN"="\\"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Sun\\\\Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office 3.1\\\\converter\\\\odfaddin.xla\\""

So if Excel has a reference to the Add-In, Excel should probably simply disable the Add-In when it doesn't exist anymore, instead of complaining over and over again. Or at least ask the user whether or not to keep the entry...

Wednesday Feb 17, 2010 and Solaris 10 listed in eWEEK's Top 25 Technologies Of The Decade

eWEEK names 25 products, applications and technologies of the last decade that have changed the way we work, play and live.

Among them: and Solaris 10.

Friday Feb 12, 2010 3.2 available - a highly recommended update

Eventually, 3.2 is available for download.

This update is highly recommended, not only because of the many security fixes and security feature improvements, but also because of some noticeable performance improvements.

As always, make sure to only download from trusted sources, like The reason is explained here.

Wednesday Sep 16, 2009

Security and Privacy Feature Improvements in upcoming 3.2

I had commented on the Black Hat 2009 OOo Security Paper some time ago.

There have been some points which could be clarified directly, or where I didn't agree on, but there also have been some valid points, where I promised that we would try to address them in OOo 3.2 – what we did.

Issues listed in the article, where improvements to OOo had been necessary

Issue: Encrypted documents - Macros can be added, replaced or removed

Update: In OOo 3.2, you can't anymore add unencrypted macro streams, or replaces existing streams with different (unencrypted) versions.

For compatibility reasons, this check is only done for ODF 1.2 documents written with OOo 3.0 or newer. But OOo won't rely on the ODF version listed in manifest.xml alone, and will also check the version listed in the encrypted content.xml, so people manipulating the document can't circumvent the check by manipulating (downgrading) the ODF version in manifest.xml.

You still can remove all macros streams together, because we still can't protect manifest.xml. Fixing this would need further enhancements to ODF, since we don't want to create an OOo only solution, which would result in OOo complaining about all encrypted documents written with other applications.

Another thing is that you can add encrypted macro streams, but this won't have any effect. The reason is that macro streams can have different encryption keys, because the user can give each basic library an other password. But adding encrypted macro streams doesn't matter, because OOo wouldn't be able to decrypt them, and they also can't be registered in the basic library, because that file is also encrypted.

To resolve the remaining (and probably minor) issue that macro streams can be removed in encrypted documents, different options need to be evaluated very carefully: This can be the protection of the manifest.xml via some signature algorithm, or the encryption of the complete ODF zip stream. That later solution could also be wrapped in an ODF container, so you have a mimetime stream for better system integration, and a place where you can document which encryption algorithms have been used.

Explaining these options and the advantages and disadvantages would be to much for this article – if you are interested in working on this with us, please join the Security Project. Let's discuss the ideas on the Security Project's mailing list, where you should subscribe in advance, because replies normally only make it to the list.

Issue: It is worth mentioning that the META-INF/manifest.xml and META-INF/documentsignatures.xml themselves are not signed

Update: We changed the ODF 1.2 spec (that is the version where digital signatures are covered for the first time). The definition for document signatures now states that all streams in the ODF package, including manifest.xml, must be covered by the document signatures. The only exception is that the signature stream itself might be excluded.

In OOo 3.2, the manifest.xml is part of the document signature now.

Issue: Attacker can add non declared file (in particular one or more malicious macros)

Update: As I already said in my initial comments, it doesn't change much for security whether or not the file is declared in manifest.xml, because manifest.xml could also be updated very easily.

But because it's good practice to make sure that all files are declared in manifest.xml, OOo 3.2 will make this check for ODF 1.2 documents. The ODF 1.2 specification will also state more clearly that all files need to be registered in manifest.xml.

Because older versions of OOo already registered all files in manifest.xml, it might be worth discussing if this check could/should also be done for older documents.

Issue: Let us consider then the case which consists in replacing an encrypted macro with a plaintext (malicious) macro.

Update: As already explained in the first issue above, OOo won't except any not encrypted streams in encrypted documents anymore, independent from the ODF version used in the document.

Further improvements in OOo 3.2 and/or the ODF 1.2 specification

ODF 1.2 now allows for using different encryption algorithms, and all details about the algorithms used need to be documented in the manifest.xml (which is the reason that the manifest.xml itself can't be encrypted). These ODF enhancements have been submitted to the OASIS ODF TC, and OOo 3.2 already implements them. Please note that this only means OOo would put all needed information into manifest.xml. It doesn't mean that OOo would have new built-in encryption algorithms yet.

For other things in the loop, see the Security Project's Wiki pages.

That's great - but I can't find any download for 3.2

OOo 3.2 is not final now – expect the final version to be available end of November.

And please make sure to only download from trusted sources, like The reason is explained here.

Friday Sep 11, 2009

Big Win for ODF

IBM asks all their employees  to stop using Microsoft Office, and completely switch to Lotus Symphony - IBM's office suite which is based on 1.1.

The important thing here is not that all employees should use IBM software, which you would expect anyway (eat your own dog food). The important thing is that the main goal with this is to completely switch to the OpenDocument Format (aka ODF) - the free and open standard for office documents.

I guess this might have some signaling effect for many other companies - ODF is the broadly accepted free and open standard for office documents. Most people wouldn't consider Microsoft's OOXML format as an alternative, and meanwhile almost everyone knows that it's important to migrate away from Microsoft's binary document format - to ease further document processing, to make sure that you will still be able to read you documents in many years, and to avoid further vendor lock-ins.

Right now I could only find German news articles about this, but I am sure English articles will show up later this day.

Friday Aug 14, 2009

Microsoft using Sun Ray Thin Clients

I just stumbled over this interesting article "Microsoft Enterprise Engineering Center Chooses Sun Ray Thin Clients" and wanted to share it with you, because I really like Sun Ray environments.

We also make heavy use of Sun Ray systems in our Team here in Hamburg.

All productivity software is maintained centrally on Sun Ray servers, running Solaris.Other systems are "only" needed for QA and Development tasks.

QA members mainly use visualization to easily access all different kind of operating systems for testing our products. Developers connect to different kind of operating systems running on different physical machines via RDP or ssh and X11, because you would notice differences in performance when compiling large projects like OOo in virtual machines. But virtual machines are also sometimes very handy for developers, when it comes to debugging issues on some ancient operating system, or when an issue only occurs with certain configurations/languages.

Using such an environment, it doesn't matter where you work. At home, in the office, in some other Sun office around the world. Your session will travel with you, it doesn't matter where you log on. No PCs in the office, no noise.

I really like it...

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Sun ODF Plugin 3.1 for Microsoft Office

A new version of the ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office is available.

As I wrote in the last ODF Plugin announcement, the Plugin nowadays uses the same version number like the underlying version, so this version is now based on 3.1.

Some people asked for it, so I have added the possibility to disable the update feature and the registration feature.

Since the registration will only be triggered once after installation (and you don't have to register!), and the update feature never executes automatically, disabling these features is probably only interesting/needed in enterprise deployments. See the FAQ for details.

Wednesday May 27, 2009 Connector for Alfresco CMS

People using Alfesco, the Open Source Alternative for Enterprise Content Management, might want to try our brand new OOo extension "Sun Connector for Alfresco CMS".

It was just released today, feedback welcome.

Thursday May 07, 2009 3.1 released - download the genuine and FREE version now!

The final version of 3.1 is available for download now!

A lot of new features and improvements make it really worth updating to this new version.

Important: Make sure to download genuine from a trusted site!

Almost daily, the Security Team receives mails from people who downloaded from commercial sites and had to charge for that in advance, or are asked for some kind of key or serial number when they want to install.

Selling is allowed, and is fine as long as you get some extra service, like a CD, printed handbook or support. Unfortunately, some people and companies try to make easy money with, without providing any extras, and these download sites are often in the first hits when searching for OOo downloads.

If you are not sure whether or not a download site can be trusted, simply use is very easy to remember, and mirrors make sure that you don't have to care about optimal download locations yourself.

Thursday Apr 30, 2009

Using the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office with Office 2007 SP2

ODF is now nativity supported if MS Office 2007 with Service Pack 2.

Nevertheless, people asked if it would still be possible to use the Sun ODF Plugin also in Office 2007 SP2, because the ODF quality might be better.

I just gave the final version of SP2 a try, but only to verify that the Sun ODF Plugin still can be used. My intention was not to figure out how good the native ODF filters in SP2 are.

OK, I must admit that I couldn't resist to quickly figure out what would happen with tables in presentation, because I know that SP2 only implements ODF 1.0.

Tables in presentations got specified in ODF 1.2, same holds true for formulas in spreadsheets. As expected, you might want to continue using the Sun ODF Plugin if you need these features.

If you want to use the Sun ODF Plugin for ODF documents, instead of he new built-in filters:

  • Don't open documents via the Windows explorer. You must use the file picker in MS Office
  • In Word, make sure to use the filter "ODF Text Document (\*.odt;\*.ott)"
  • In Excel and PowerPoint, use the "Export ODF" menu or tool bar items

In Excel and PowerPoint, using the new built-in filters is more convenient, because you can simply use open/save, instead of the extra UI. But the fact that the filter in Excel doesn't support formulas let me think that this filter is quite unusable for most users... (Don't get fooled when testing it: Formulas written with Excel will work when loading the same ODF file in Excel, because the information about the formulas is preserved with the help of some MS Office specific XML tags, which no other ODF application will recognize)

Alternatively, now that you are interest in ODF, you might want to give a try, in case you not already did so...

ODF support in MS Office 2007 with Service Pack 2

Service Pack 2 for MS Office 2007 is now publicly available.

The biggest improvement from my point of view: Support for the Open Document Format (ODF).

It's a native Filter in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so you can use ODF as your new default file format there!

Of course Microsoft only did it for business reasons, because otherwise they could not continue selling Office to governments or companies where ODF is mandatory nowadays.

But in the and it doesn't matter why they did it - more important is that they did it, and that this is another step in ODF becoming the open standard file format for Office documents.

I didn't test the filters, so I don't know how good the quality is. But if people start to consequently use ODF now, I am sure the filters will be improved constantly, as well as the ODF specification in case that something is missing what is needed to store certain Office features...

Monday Apr 20, 2009

Oracle to buy Sun

Well, I always believed that Sun would be able to survive without being bought by another company.

We have great products, hardware as well as software, and we only have done poorly in making money with the products, or with service contracts for our (open source) software products...

Now it seems I will never figure it out, since Oracle will by Sun.

We have just been informed about this some hours ago, and its in all news now.

Right now, I don't know enough about Oracle to make me a picture whether or not this is (for me) better than IBM buying us. IBM is interested in, so probably also in Sun's OOo team here in Hamburg.

What about Oracle?

Friday Feb 13, 2009

About the update feature in the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office

One of the questions I receive quite frequently is whether or not it would be possible to disable the update feature from the Sun ODF Plugin.

Well - from my point of view, this wouldn't change much, because the update feature doesn't look for updates on it's own, nor would it download or install anything itself.

I tried to explain that in the FAQ, but it seems someone decided my explanation would be too long or too technical, and shortened the item in the FAQ.

For those who want it explained a little bit more, here is my original FAQ item:

Q: Can I disable the auto update feature?

A: No. The auto update feature just checks whether or not a newer
version is available, but it doesn't download or update anything on it's
own. Also the check is never done automatically, but the user has to
select it manually. When a newer version is available, the same download
web site will be presented to the user like when he would look up for a
new version there. Download and installation is the same procedure like
for users who don't use the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office yet, so
there are no additional other mechanisms involved which a system 
administrator might want to restrict.

Makes sense?



Friday Feb 06, 2009

Sun ODF Plugin 3.0 for Microsoft Office

Finally, a new version of the ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office is available!

It's been a while that we have released version 1.2 - but hey, why is it called 3.0? Did I miss version 2.0?

Well, the answer is very simple. I thought it would be a good idea to give it the same version number like the underlying version of

This way, people know exactly which versions of the conversion filters are used.

The conversion between ODP/PPT and between ODS/XLS is exactly the same like in the equivalent version of

The conversion between ODT/DOC is basically the same, but might differ in some case because the Word Filter API is based on RTF, so there is an additional conversion involved.

This version of the plugin supports ODF 1.2 and loading ODF template files. The conversion filters have been further improved.

Friday Dec 19, 2008

Configuration Viewer - a new and very useful extension

My colleague from the NetBeans team (who happened to be my SEED mentee), just uploaded his new extension for

It's the Configuration Viewer extension.

This useful extension lets you see all key/value pairs from your configuration - even those that are not accessible via the user interface. It distinguishes between configuration items stored in the shared configuration layer and the user's custom configuration. A little checkbox on the bottom of the dialog helps you for quickly identifying configuration items which are storade in the user's configuration layer. With the Export button you can export the currently displayed configuration items into a text file.

After installing the extension (which needs Java to run), you can find it behind a new menu item: "Tools / Configuration...".

If you think this is a useful extension, let Stan know via a comment - maybe he will then continue working on it, adding other cool stuff like editing the configuration items :)

Monday Nov 17, 2008

StarOffice 9 arrived

Finally, StarOffice 9 is available.

Basically it's almost the same as the recently released 3.0.

The most important differences are indemnification, and up to 3 warranty support calls included in the retail version. Some people also like our hotfixes and patches that we provide for StarOffice only, while you always have to do full installations for new OOo releases.

It's really up to you whether you want to use StarOffice or - in the end we are happy to offer different levels of services contracts for both products.

Wednesday Nov 05, 2008

China again

I am just attending the 6th conference in Beijing.

It's more more than a year ago that I visited RedFlag 2000 to teach them different things from OOo architecture, and some things in Beijing changed meanwhile, mostly because of the Olympic games.

There are many more subway lines, and the new ones are really modern.

Interesting that you have to put your luggage into some X-Ray machine when you enter the train system. I guess they started it for Olympics games, and didn't give up afterwards.

I have the feeling that the traffic situation has improved. People are still driving like crazy, and as a pedestrian you better be very careful, but it seems there are less cars – people probably prefer the train now, which is fast and really cheap (~ EUR 0,25 for a one way ticket, distance doesn't matter).

I will stay here until the week end, because we will have some guided tourists tours then. I have seen most places on my last trip, but: Last time I was here on my own. This time, I am here with 35 colleagues! This will be fun, and I tend to compare it with a “school trip”.

More to come...

Tuesday Oct 21, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin

I am just attending the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin.

After more than 17 years of mainly C++ software development, I thought this would be a good opportunity to get more in touch with all this Web 2.0 technologies and products.

I just enjoyed the keynote (which was held AFTER the workshops) from Tim O'Reilly.

After that, six start ups had the opportunity to talk about their new products.

One of them was aka-aki. This is an interesting product, I think. Nothing I would need personally, but I am sure kiddies, teens and students will love it.

It's also interesting from the technology standpoint of view - can use blue tooth, GPS and/or GSM cell information for phone/friend detection.

Aka-aki will launch tomorrow here in Germany, this fall internationally.

3000000x3 version 3 is available for 1 week now, and was already downloaded more than 3 million times!

And this is only what we can count - it doesn't include torrents and other ways of distributions.

More information and links in this blog.

Thursday Oct 16, 2008

Review of 3

You might be interested in the Computerworld's review of 3.

"...Given that the full suite is free, this is one of the best deals you'll find in all of computing. It'll do just about anything you expect from an office suite..."

Just one point I would like to clarify: The statement "... It won't, however, work with the newest Office 2007 formats such as .docx..." is not 100% correct. You cannot save as docx, but you can open docx files.

So this gives you the ability to salvage all the documents you created with your pre-installed MS Office 2007 trial version, which only stored your documents in this format and you don't know how to open them now w/o buying MS Office ;)

Beside the review itself,  the blog has many users comments worth reading...

Monday Oct 13, 2008 3 is there... somewhere!

Well, when you try to get it from the official site ( NOW, you probably won't see it because too many people are trying to get it now.

But it's there, and the new release comes with many new exciting features.

The biggest addition probably is the native support for Mac OSX, but there are also many other great new features like a PDF import, import of Office 2007 documents, a multi page view in Writer, native tables in Impress, a Solver in Calc, and much more...

When the web site is fully back to live, you should find a feature guide here

So the new version is absolutely worth updating your old installation, or finally start using at all.

Wednesday Jul 23, 2008

Sun Java Communications Suite 6 - now with Convergence AJAX client

Jim Parkinson has just blogged about the availability of the new release from the Java Communications Suite.

Our messaging server is already well known for being rock solid and for it's great scalability.

The new release offers interesting new features for mobile messaging (LEMONADE support).

For me, as an end user in this case, the most interesting new feature is the web based mail and calendering client - Convergence.

If you are interested, you can find many more details in Jim's blog.

Thursday Jul 17, 2008

StarOffice 9 Beta 2 available!

StarOffice 9 is ready for beta testing.

If you want to give it a try, you can download it here

One of the biggest "features" is the native Mac support. This is something the people really wanted to have for a while now. You can find some interesting blog postings about the efforts on GullFOSS.

Some people might be more interested in the new PDF import, or the nice presenter console.

Writer learned a dual page view and has improved handling of notes.

Impress has native support for tables now, as defined in ODF 1.2.

Calc has some features for collaborative editing, a new solver tool and improved charting functionality.

You see - many improvements worth updating to the new version.

Monday Jun 02, 2008

Big Buck Bunny and

You might have seen all the news about the new open movie called "Big Buck Bunny".

I just got aware that it was rendered on our platform!

This is great. You can find a description about how they made use of our computing platform in this article.

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Office 2007 won't support ISO's OOXML

Reading the announcement that Microsoft will implement ODF in Office 2007, it's also interesting to read that they will NOT support the ISO version of OOXML in Office 2007.

Note that, for good reasons, also doesn't claim to support OOXML, but to implement import filters for the MS Office 2007 document formats.

The new filters will become available in 3.0, which is already available as a beta version.



Microsoft to implement ODF in Office 2007

Here are the news!

Sure we can't know how good their ODF support will be, but it's great that they start a native implementation for ODF now, coming with SP2 first half of 2009.

Seems, for now, they only plan to have ODF for Word.

If this is not enough for you, you are still invited to use our free ODF Plugin for MS Office, which gives you high quality ODF support in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Monday May 19, 2008

A better Favorites Menu for

Some time ago I posted my solution for a favorites menu in

This worked fine for me, but was somewhat like a quick hack. You had to configure the menu items in a basic Script - no GUI was assisting you in this.

But somebody got aware of it, and started creating a neat bookmark solution with some GUI.

I just gave the Bookmarks Menu Extension a try and decided to get rid of my own script -

Monday May 05, 2008

Sun ODF Plugin 1.2 available now

We have just released version 1.2 of our Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office.

There are many improvements to the filters, especially in Word, so it's  really worth downloading it.

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

Document Freedom Day

Today is Document Freedom Day

This is great. And because it is about open document standards, it's mainly about ... yes, the Open Document Format (ODF), as you can read at the Document Standards page.


Thursday Mar 06, 2008 goes LGPL v3! will switch to LGPL v3 with the upcoming OOo 3.0 Beta.

Beside that, we will also exchange the old Joint Copyright Assignment (JCA)  with the Sun Microsystems Inc. Contributor Agreement (SCA), which has some advantages for contributors. This change is effective immediately.

More details can be found here.


Malte Timmermann


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