Thursday, September 30, 2010

OpenOffice.org Volunteers Cut Ties with Oracle

Posted by OurTech Team | Thursday, September 30, 2010 | Category: |

LibreOffice. That's the possible new name of OpenOffice.org. The volunteers that develop and promote the free office software severed ties with Oracle on Tuesday and formed an independent group called The Document Foundation.
OpenOffice.org successfully grew under the Sun Microsystems banner for a decade, but the volunteers believe a new ecosystem will generate more competition and choice for customers, as well as drive innovation in office-productivity software. The group also hopes to lower the barrier of adoption for users and developers. In essence, the group wasn't happy under Oracle.
Oracle acquired the OpenOffice.org assets along with its acquisition of Sun. The Document Foundation has invited Oracle to become a member of the new foundation, and has asked the tech giant to donate the brand name. Until Oracle responds, the group is using the name LibreOffice. The break has been widely lauded by software companies large and small.

LibreOffice Finds Wide Support
Chris DiBona, open-source programs manager at Google, called The Document Foundation a great step forward in encouraging further development of open-source office suites. "Having a level playing field for all contributors is fundamental in creating a broad and active community around an open-source software project," DiBona said.
Red Hat's Jan Wildeboer and Canonical's Mark Shuttleworthy, among many others, also offered support for the project. And Guy Lunardi, product management director at Novell, made a bold statement: "Viva la LibreOffice. Ultimately, we envision LibreOffice will do for the office-productivity market what Mozilla Firefox has done for browsers."
The Document Foundation vowed to build on the work of OpenOffice.org. The founders noted that the group was created in the belief that an independent foundation is the best fit to the community's core values of openness, transparency and valuing people for their contributions.
Oracle's Tight Reins
Oracle has released two stable versions of the open-source software since the Sun merger, but the OpenOffice.org community didn't jibe with Oracle's vision. Oracle couldn't immediately be reached for comment. But Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, isn't surprised that the community is breaking away from Oracle.
"Is Oracle going to run things more tightly than Sun? No doubt. It's a tighter ship. They are going to make some decisions about what to support and what not to support, who to invest in and who not to," Hilwa said. "I wouldn't expect any less from them."
The question is, could Oracle's decision to run a tighter ship ultimately become a problem with its open-source connections? There is already tension between Oracle and open-source communities. Hilwa said it could cause some issues for developers.
"Oracle's DNA is to make decisions around cost and investments and tight control," Hilwa said. "It's not like Oracle to scatter investments and resources all over the place without any specific quid pro quo."

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