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.

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 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

Comments on the Black Hat 2009 OOo Security Briefing

Here are my comments on the white paper: OpenOffice v3.x Security Design Weaknesses, Eric Filiol and Jean-Paul Fizaine.

Statements (not quotes) from the article are marked with an italic font. For the original text please refer to the publicly available paper.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

      Some reference to issues described in “In-depth analysis of the viral threats with documents”

The listed GUI manipulations and macros in user space are not in the focus of this new article, so I just want to point to to my comments on that article in my blog.

      Unencrypted, plain documents don't have integrity control, files can be added, including executable (macro) code

Well, ODF is an open standard, so any kind of integrity check would also be well documented. Other ODF application must be able to implement them, so also malicious software knows how the checks look like. And: (proprietary) binary file formats are no more secure - they just make it more difficult (security by obscurity).

In the end, it doesn't matter: If someone adds a macro, OOo will warn, and ask if the user really wants to execute it (which he shouldn't do with documents he can't trust). If the extra content is some executable, it doesn't matter for OOo, since it will be ignored.

      Encrypted documents: Macros can be added, replaced or removed

In OOo 3.0, it's no longer possible to add or replace macros in encrypted documents. When a document is encrypted, all content streams must be encrypted, all with the same key.

Unfortunately OOo only shows a warning for not encrypted streams for ODF 1.2 documents. For compatibility/legacy reasons it's not shown for older documents. We already work on changing this for OOo 3.2, since we recognized that security should have had a higher priority over compatibility here.

[UPDATE: I was mistaken that we actually would show this warning. It's still possible to replace encrypted macros with plain text macros.]

Macros can still be removed in encrypted documents. This can't do any harm, but I agree that this might look a little bit strange for the user, since he believes this shouldn't be possible in an encrypted document.

In the team that is working on OOo 3.2 security improvements, we discussed possible solutions here. I understand that Mr. Filiol is in favor of encrypting the manifest.xml, but this can't be done, because the used encryption/hash algorithms are described there, and the ODF application need to be able to read that. (You should also recognize that ODF 1.2 will allow for using different encryption algorithms, because different countries or companies might have different accepted/allowed/approved algorithms).

Our current idea is to create a hash of the manifest.xml in a separate stream, which is encrypted with the same key like the rest of the document. OOo would then warn when the hash is broken or doesn't exist. This need some more discussion on how to explain the warning to the user, because OOo would warn for all older (encrypted) documents, and documents written with other ODF applications. The user probably will need an option to disable this warning for old documents.

Additionally, we plan to warn when some stream in the archive is not listed in the manifest.xml. The ODF specification already states that only content listed in the manifest.xml is relevant for the ODF document, so this should be fine (in opposite to the encrypted hash value of manifest.xml, which probably needs to be specified there).

      It's possible to remove the digital signature

Fine for me – can be done via OOo GUI as well, and I don't see the issue here.

(In OOo 3.2, it shouldn't be possible anymore with encrypted documents)

Chapter 2 – ODF Format and Security Features

     ZIP and ODF Format and Manipulation Tools

There are many hints on how to prove that ODF files are using zip containers – nobody ever said it would be different. I especially like the hint to the project: “goal is to provide a set of tools to directly and transparently handle and manipulate the OpenDocument format”.

In the context of this paper it sounds like this would become a tool for doing evil things – manipulating ODF documents. Actually, the whole purpose of an open standard is that different kind of tools can make use of it. So it's worth mentioning that the project actually was started from people in our team here in Hamburg. To make ODF adoption easier for other projects.

     Macro location – simple text manipulation of these files would allow to dramatically change the security status of the document

Sure: The intention of macros is that macro authors can do powerful things. Good things as well as evil things. And it doesn't matter which tool I use to create them.

People never should run macros if they are not sure that they can trust them. Full stop.

     Document encryption: It is very surprising to notice that the manifest.xml file is not encrypted

Well, I don't find this surprising, because, as I wrote earlier in this article, it contains necessary information for the ODF application about how to handle the encryption.

And as I also stated there, that we think about introducing an encrypted hash value for the manifest.xml, so it can't be manipulated anymore. The other information contained in manifest.xml is not worth hiding, because that information (mainly the stream names) is also contained in the Zip header itself.

     Digital Signatures of documents

     The information with respect to the signature are located in an additional file which is not the manifest.xml

Actually the signature stream is listed in the manifest.xml. Or was this statement about the signature not being stored in the manifest.xml directly?

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

Signing the manifest.xml is on our list for OOo 3.2. Please note that this will introduce the limitation that macro signatures can't be introduced after the document was signed, because this would need manipulation of the (then) signed manifest.xml.

I am not sure about the part with regard to signing the signature file itself. Signing the full file wouldn't be possible, because additional signatures would be stored in the same file, breaking the first signature. Needs more thinking/discussions.

     The digital signature relies on the XML-DSIG norm. However, it is itself not standardized in the OpenDocument format release 1.2 (at the present time no more information is available and the only reference is the version 1.1) yet

Please note the the specification for digital signatures has been integrated into OpenDocument-v1.2-draft6.odt (September 2007). The most current version of the ODF 1.2 specification is the Committee Draft 01-rev06.

     All the aspects related to signature (see page 31 in the paper) could be interesting for any malware which would operate directly in memory and could thus manipulate the signature during its production

Well, if you already have suspicious code running in memory, your system is already compromised and you can't rely on anything in your system anymore. You can read about my opinion about the primo infection issue here.

     Digital signatures combined with encryption: The signature file itself it not encrypted

I recently discussed this with different people. There are advantages and disadvantages in encrypting this file. It depends on your use case. In the end, this can become a privacy issue, but from my point of view, not a security or integrity issue.

     Signature and macros: The document signatures includes all streams, while the macro signature doesn't include the document streams. The document is not protected, being a major design weakness

I strongly disagree, since this works exactly as designed! Companies tend to do a lot of complex things with macros. Very often, these macros reside in templates. People use the templates and fill in some data into the document. If the macro signatures would include the document content, macro signatures would become invalid in the moment the user enters some data. With the current approach, the macro signatures will stay valid in this case. You should also notice that macro signatures have a different meaning than document signatures. They explicitly only sign the macros, not the document, and the document will not show up as a signed document. The macro signatures make sure that macros are not altered, and can be used for macro trust decisions.

     With document signatures, the whole document content is signed, including existing macros. This is a significant evolution since in OpenOffice 2.x, macros themselves were not signed. As a consequence, attacks identified earlier are no longer working, at least directly

Right. It was a wrong decision to only sign the document content with the document signature. Now the macro streams (and all other streams in the zip archive except in META-INF folder) are part of the signature. Please note that this is only for integrity checks – the macros signed with a document signature are not handled as signed macros.

Chapter 3 – Viral Attacks Through Plain OpenOffice Documents

     Simple archive manipulations (using zip/unzip utility and a simple text editor) enable to perform a lot of attacks. If we intend to modify the document payload itself (the document visible text), the principle consists in modifying the information contained within the suitable tags

Well....yes? I really wonder why people should be confused about this.

The ODF standard is defined as an open standard – not bound to certain applications. This means any application is eligible to implement ODF. Most users will use authoring tools like for creating ODF documents. But it's totally OK to use scripts which do automatic ODF/XML processing, or even using stone old VI, where the ODF logic needs to be in the authors head, because VI can only help in plain text file manipulation.

So the scenario described above is absolutely valid and welcome.

     Since no integrity check is performed, the modification remains unnoticed by the user

All kind of integrity checks would rely on hashes. Since the calculation of the hashes would be well documented in the ODF specification, and algorithms would be implemented in many open source projects, it wouldn't make it much harder for malicious code to do not recognized document manipulations. Hashes only help when you can encrypt them – this is exactly what digital signatures are good for.

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

With OOo 3.2, the files will need to be declared in the manifest.xml, but that doesn't change much. For macros this is not really an issue, since they are not signed then, and shouldn't be trusted/executed. OOo will show a warning when loading the document.

Interesting is the part “It is possible to insert stolen data into an file”. (Side note: Why do people call them OOo files so often?! Please recognize that they are ODF files, and there are many ODF capable applications out there).

It's true that you could put any (stolen) content into the document's zip container, but you also can do it by attaching the data to PDF documents, where nobody would expect anything like this when forwarding the file to other people. And you probably can do the same thing with many many other file formats.

The issue here is – again, not the file format or the application, but the circumstance that you already have malicious code running on your system! This code can do anything with the current user's access rights, and there are many more interesting/efficient attacks than controlling an office application.

For the part “attackers can do macro substitution (replace macros with other malicious macros)”:

As I already said – macros which are not signed shouldn't be trusted/executed.

     Any XML compliant modification will remain undetected...

I guess this is already answered...

Chapter 4 – Viral Attacks Through Encrypted OpenOffice Documents

I must admit that I don't understand what chapter 4.1 is trying to demonstrate. The text doesn't mention what kind of document/macro manipulations has been done in the “successful case”. The differences they list (directory names in the zip header) don't mean anything to ODF and the signatures. I can only assume that they used some old documents in their tests. As I stated earlier, some checks are currently only done for ODF 1.2 documents (for compatibility reasons), and starting with OOo 3.2 we plan to do the same tests and warnings also for older documents.

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

This attack doesn't work anymore with OOo 3.0 and ODF 1.2 documents. Again – same checks for older documents to be introduced in OOo 3.2. I am really sorry we didn't do it from the beginning, “just” for document compatibility reasons.

Chapter 5 – Viral Attacks Through Digitally Signed OpenOffice Documents

     Since critical files are not encrypted and especially there is no external secure management of digital signature keys and certificate (use of PKI), it is dramatically easy to forge fake X509 certificate and play man-in-the-middle attacks.

First, I would like to clarify that OOo actually makes use of PKI.

On Windows, the Microsoft Cryptography API is used, and the certificate management and tools are the same like for all other Windows applications. On other platforms, OOo relies on NSS, which means that the certificates are managed via Mozilla Thunderbird, Firefox or Mozilla/SeaMonkey.

In the paper we see an example that someone could collect personal data of “Alice” somehow, and create a self signed certificate using most of the data, to make it look “genuine”. Bob then receives a document which seems to be signed by Alice, and Bob doesn't understand PKI and lets himself being fooled by simply reading the Name “Alice”. He is not checking the public key...

I agree that there are probably many people out there who don't know much about public key certificates and PKI. They don't understand that self signed certificates are worth almost nothing, and that they would need to check the public key somehow.

But actually, OOo 3.0 tells the user when a certificate can't be validated, which is always the case with self signed certificates. It seems that the screen shots in the paper have been done with an old version of OOo. OOo 3.x versions would show an exclamation mark in the signature sign. In the status bar as well as in the certificate dialogs.

Screen shots to show how it looks like in OOo 3.x:

- using a self signed certificate, document window
- using a self signed certificate, signatures dialog
- using a self signed certificate, certificate viewer, general page
- using a self signed certificate, certificate viewer, certification path

Please note that the document is not marked as “(Signed)” in the document window caption, and also note the exclamation mark in all symbols. All dialogs tell the user that the certificate could not be validated. So people should be aware that something could be very wrong.

Instead, they should only trust in certificates signed by some certificate authorities, with corresponding root and intermediate certificates existing in their system:

- using a good certificate, document window
- using a good certificate, signatures dialog
- using a good certificate, certificate viewer, general page
- using a good certificate, certificate viewer, certification path

Looks much more trustworthy to the user, doesn't it?

Chapter 6 – Conclusion: Enhancing OpenOffice Security

My conclusion is that OOo/ODF security doesn't look that bad like stated in the paper.

And with OOo 3.2 there should be some more improvements, as mentioned in different places in this article. Please note that I can't make promises about what things will really make it into OOo 3.2. We are working on it...

The idea in the paper about a special OOo version (“Trusted OOo”) is interesting, but would mean to create an isle. That special version would warn every time you load a document which was created/modified with vanilla OOo or any other ODF application. The extra information in the documents would be lost once edited with some other application.

With regard to allowing administrators to configure security options: This is already possible. Simply change the configuration in the office installation fitting your needs, and mark the configuration items as final. Then the user can't change or overwrite them in the user configuration via UI or direct XML manipulation. And of course you need to make sure that normal users can't write to the location where OOo is installed.

I think I don't have to comment on “closing (security related) parts of OOo”. Beside the fact that it's not an option, would proprietary software make attacks only more difficult, but not impossible.

Comments welcome...

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?

Monday Mar 23, 2009

Kaspersky AV 2009 is wrongly reporting OOo 3.x as vulnerable

Some people contacted the security team because Kaspersky AV 2009 is reporting OOo 3.x as vulnerable (SA30599).

The security issue was already fixed in version 2.41, but KAV 2009 is reporting OOo versions starting with 3.0 as vulnerable again.

It seems that this is just a wrongly done version check. Kaspersky just confirmed to me that this would be an issue in KAV and they would work on that now. 3.x is not affected by this security issue, so you don't have to be worried a can simply ignore the KAV warning...

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

Just a quick note: Some of you might know that we have the ODF Toolkit project on for some time now.

Well, since something like an ODF toolkit should be independend from OOo, Sun and IBM just announced today at the OOoCon 2008 the ODF Toolkit project on (Press release will come some time later). This way, people can contribut to ODF w/o needing to contribute to OOo, and we use the very liberal Apache license.

In the beginning it will start with what we had on the OOo site, and the hosting system is Sun's Kenai.

I am sure many exciting things around ODF will be developed there quite soon...

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...

Friday Oct 17, 2008

Open Source Accessibility Funding

Working on open source accessibility for more than 7 years now, I am happy to see that the AEGIS project will invest €12.6m into accessibility, with the vast majority of it focused on open source solutions.

Leading our accessibility efforts since 2001, I can tell you how difficult it can be to convince people to spend time and resource to work on accessibility related stuff "under the hood", since probably more than 99% of the users won't recognize anything from it.

Now with the AEGIS funding, I am sure a lot of wonderful things in the area of accessibility can be achieved in different projects.

More details about the AEGIS project can be found in Peter Korn's blog, where you can also find some details about Sun's accessibility efforts...

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.

Thursday Oct 02, 2008

odt2dtbook - a DAISY export extension for

If you are interested in DAISY export, this extension for might be your friend. 

Vincent Spiewak and Dominique Archambault won Gold for their work on this extension, as part of the Innovation in Open Source Community Award Program.

Congratulations! :)

Tuesday Aug 05, 2008

Evilgrade and - Online updates realy can be dangerous

Many people are discussing Evilgrade today - a toolkit for exploiting products which perform online updates in an insecure fashion.

The idea of the attack is well described on page 9+10 in this PDF document:

  1. An Application is checking some update server for updates, using some domain name
  2. The attacker has control over the DNS resolution and returns an IP from a server he controls
  3. The application downloads something which should be an update, but in reality is some back door software or other kind of Trojan horse
  4. The application executes or deploys the binaries it received

Step 4 is the real issue here.

All security aware people know that they NEVER should install any software when they don't know the origin, and without verifying the integrity of the package. This can (and should!) be done by verifying hash sums with values you get from the project's download page. Signing the installation packages would make this step a little bit easier and nicer, but we don't have that right now.

So when people should do that, applications of course also MUST do that - unfortunately many, including OOo, don't do it...

I hope we will have signed packages for OOo soon: While people can work around the issue with verifying MD5, OOo shouldn't contact some server for getting MD5 values, because the server could be compromised. ( I must admit that this can also happen with the user visiting a fake server which looks identical to the original server... )

Signed update packages seems to be the only viable solution to me. Using HTTPS for contacting the update server would also be a good thing. But that alone wouldn't help, since, even if this is quite unlikely, the faked server could also have some valid certificate.

As long as we don't have signed packages, it might be reasonable to use the update check in OOo only to check for updates, and maybe also for downloading them, but not to use the install feature without checking the MD5 sums manually.

MD5 sums for OOo releases can be found here:

This was the technical stuff, so you see the problem is real.

The open question is: How likely is it that someone really will be able to control your system's DNS resolution?

In the inranet of a company it's very likely, but only the IT department should be able to do that (in theory).

For people at home I don't think that the risk is sooo big, but maybe I underestimate that. For home users, it's more likely that they download and run some Trojan horse which does the DNS resolution manipulation locally by modifying the hosts file or running a local DNS server. But then, it's not the next update from some software you have to worry about - you system is already compromised since you did allow some malicious software to run on your system...

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.

Friday May 30, 2008 3.0 on Mac OSX Accessibility

Our engineers here in Hamburg are spending a lot of efforts into the native port of for the Mac platform.

One part of these efforts is to implement the Mac Accessibility APIs, to make OOo as accessible as possible with AT tools.

My colleague Peter Korn just wrote a very good blog about this, so instead of duplication all the information, I recommend reading that one if you are interested in the details.

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.

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

Back from CSUN

Last week I was attending the CSUN conference - probably the biggest and most exciting Accessibility conference in the world.

The different presentations made it clear: Web Accessibility, ARIA and AJAX are still very hot topics.

For Windows Accessibility, IAccessible2 is still making a lot of progress. Some Screen Readers already have support for it, and I hope we will have it in soon.

I gave a small talk in an IAccessible2 session, my presentation can be found here.

Of course I have used the cool PDF export in, which allows you to create well accessible, tagged PDF. Unfortunately, creating tagged PDF is not the default, because of the increased file size. I hope we will change the default eventually. For now, use the "Export as PDF..." menu item in the file menu, which will give you a dialog where you can check the option to create tagged PDF. The tool bar item skips this dialog.

In parallel to IAccessible2 on Windows, we are also working on support for the Mac OS X Accessibility Framework!

We have shown the latest builds to some AT vendors, and it seems they are very exited about this. From what I heard, not many applications on Mac OS X have good support for this right now.

So with all our Accessibility work going on, I am very confident that 3.x will be very accessible on many different platforms, with native support for the platform specific Accessibility frameworks!




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.

Thursday Feb 07, 2008 runs on OLPC!

J David Eisenberg wrote an email to the OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) Adoption TC, confirming that can be used on the OLPC.

So you can use all kind of documents on your OLPC, since has filters for many  different formats!

Needles to say that of course this includes ODF files, even in a stripped down (USB stick optimized) OOo installation, since ODF is OOo's default file format.

BTW: Most likely you don't need the JRE - uses Java only for some of the seldom used Wizards. So if the JRE doesn't fit on your USB stick, just go without it.

Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

Sun ODF Plugin 1.1 now fully working with Microsoft Office 2007!

I just learned from Brian Jones that Microsoft has fixed a bug with Office 2007 SP1, which hindered the Sun ODF Plugin to work with Word 2007.

I gave SP1 a quick try, and - it's working now! 

If you are interested in the details, just look at my older ODF Plugin FAQ and Brian's comments.

This is really great news, and I am sure Brian took care that this would really be fixed with SP1 - thanks for this!

If you already have the Sun ODF Plugin (and Office 2007) installed, just install SP1 and that's it. If you haven't installed the ODF Plugin yet, you can find it here.


Malte Timmermann


« July 2016