LibreOffice, Oracle Lock Horns

No matter how much I loved OpenOffice, I always hated the snail like progress. In comparison to Microsoft’s Office Suite (apologies, I don’t remember the name as I stopped using it some 7 years ago), OpenOffice laked the development in design department. How do I know that when I have not used it? I saw screen shots of Microsoft Office suite ;-) I liked IBM’s Lotus for the design, but alas it is proprietary, so I can’t use it. OpenOffice remained a flintstone age office suite (it worked great, it was rock solid stable – but there was nothing that excites you).

So, when LibreOffice was launched, I was excited. I am even more excited to see the dynamic development cycle. The Document Foundation is working very hard to make LibreOffice which openOffice never was.

When the LibreOffice was announced all major distros and big companies came out to support it. Ubuntu, Fedora, openSuse made LibreOffice their default office suite. Half of the battle was already won. With all major distros ditching openOffice and embracing LibreOffice, the future of openOffie was dark and uncertain.

Novell, the Microsoft’s right hand, also made a switch and changed its commercial office suite offering to LibreOffice.

Oracle & OpenOffice
I don’t think Oracle wanted OpenOffice at all. I was dreaming of Oracle polishing OpenOffice beyond expectation and attack rival Microsoft’s office Suite, but Oracle has its hands full attacking open source itself.

The fork of openOffice in form of LibreOffice sealed the fate of once much loved and now oblivious office suite. Now, announcing openOffice as a community driven project what is Oracle trying to achieve, when it did nothing to defend OpenOffice against Microsoft video campaing attack?

1. Trying to weaken /divide the LibreOffice community by attracting them towards ‘community’ driven openOffice?
2. Trying to wash hands of profit-less openOffice?
3. What will happen to the funds, why would Oracle an aggressive profit making company let competitors like Red Hat, Google, Novell use OpenOffice which is being developed by Oracle’s funds?
4. If Oracle can release openOffice as community project, why is the company attacking open source projects like Android — double standards?
5. What does community mean to Oracle — Look at the Hudson project or Java, where Apache resigned from the committee?

I don’t know what Oracle wants but I am not surprised. From the time of Sun’s acquisition I was uncertain of the future of openOffice at Oracle as it doesn’t fit in the Oracle’s business plan.

Post Oracle’s announcement of releasing openOffice as an community driven project, which many would consider as an attack on community driven fork LibreOffice to break some members.

The Document Foundation has counter attached. In a blog post the LibreOffice committee has invited contributors to join the LibreOffice:

“With the last months the community around LibreOffice and The Document Foundation worked hard to establish policies, processes, infrastructure and all the things you need to deliver a high quality software. One of our basic principles is that we will acknowledge this merit and allow all the contributors to become official members of our community.

All members will have the right to run for a seat in the Foundation’s Board of Directors, elect the board and drive the future of our projects.

From now on all of you can apply for membership via our webform. The Membership Committee is eager to receive your applications.

Please help us to process your request quickly. Read and follow the form’s introduction carefully, provide a good description of your contributions and list at least two contacts who can confirm your contributions.”

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About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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