The open source community behind the free OpenOffice productivity suite is to create an independent Document Foundation and to rebrand its software as LibreOffice.
This move is being seen as an attempt to distance itself from Oracle which has so far declined to donate the OpenOffice brand to the project.
According to the new foundation's first official press release:
"After ten years' successful growth with Sun Microsystems as founding and principle sponsor, the project launches an independent foundation called The Document Foundation, to fulfill the promise of independence written in the original charter"
The Document Foundation has received support from almost the entire OpenOffice programming community, including Novell, Red Hat and Google, leaving only Oracle with the original OpenOffice repository. The Foundation said that it had invited Oracle to become a member of the new organization, and to donate the brand it acquired with Sun Microsystems 18 months ago but that until a decision is reached the LibreOffice brand will be used to refer to the Document Foundation's software development efforts.
Speaking for the group of volunteers involved in the development of OpenOffice, Sophie Gautier, former maintainer of the French-speaking language project said:
"We believe that the Foundation is a key step for the evolution of the free office suite, as it liberates the development of the code and the evolution of the project from the constraints represented by the commercial interests of a single company."
The beta of LibreOffice is available for download on the Document Foundations website and developers are invited to join the project and contribute to the code in the new friendly and open environment, to shape the future of office productivity suites alongside contributors who translate, test, document, support, and promote the software.
I was wondering if this sort of thing would happen when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems.
Oracle = big-money business NOT interested in supporting non-profit open source community.
"Oracle kicks LibreOffice supporters out of OpenOffice" by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ComputerWorld 10/19/2010
Well, that didn't take long. When The Document Foundation (TDF) created LibreOffice from OpenOffice's code, they let the door open for Oracle, OpenOffice's main stake-owner, to join them. Oracle's reply was to tell anyone involved with LibreOffice to get the heck out of OpenOffice.
This isn't too much of a surprise. Oracle made it clear that wouldn't be joining with The Document Foundation in working on LibreOffice.
What I did find surprising is that Oracle turned a fork into a fight. In a regularly scheduled OpenOffice.org community council meeting on Oct. 14, council chair and Oracle employee Louis Suárez-Potts wrote, "I would like to propose that the TDF members of the CC consider the points those of us who have not joined TDF have made about conflict of interest and confusion ... I would further ask them to resign their offices, so as to remove the apparent conflict of interest their current representational roles produce."
These OpenOffice.org council members, who are also TDF leaders, include Charles H. Schulz, a major OpenOffice.org contributor for almost ten years; Christoph Noack, co-leader of the OpenOffice User Experience Project; and Cor Nouws, a well-known OpenOffice developer with more than six years of experience in the project. In short, these aren't just leaders — they're important OpenOffice developers.
They haven't declared yet what they'll do to this de facto ultimatum. It seems to me though that they have little choice but to leave. Certainly Oracle wants them out as soon as possible. Suárez-Potts wrote that he wanted a "final decision on your part" as soon as possible. "It is of [the] utmost importance that we do not confuse users and contributors as to what is what, as to the identity of OpenOffice.org -- or of your organization."
I can understand how Oracle wants to quickly define this matter as Oracle vs. everyone involved with LibreOffice. But it's a really dumb move.
The Document Foundation wasn't so much about setting up a rival to OpenOffice as it was about giving an important but stagnant open-source program a kick in the pants. OpenOffice was and is good, but it's not been getting significantly better in years. TDF wanted to change that.
Oracle thinks it's more important to fight with some of the people who could have been its strongest supporters than try to work with them. Dumb! Cutting off your nose to spite your face is always a mistake.
Of course, this is all a piece of Oracle's "my way or the highway" approach to all the open-source programs it inherited from Sun. Oracle may support open source in general, but it's doing a lousy job of doing what's best for the its own open-source programs.
This is going to come back to haunt Oracle. I fully expect for LibreOffice to replace OpenOffice as the number one open-source office suite and chief rival to Microsoft Office within the next twelve months.
I agree with Steven's last statement. Oracle corporate leaders are just dumb. They just don't understand that open-source means that they do NOT own the source-code for the software. The source-code belongs to the community.