Open Source

OpenOffice finally forked from Oracle's clutches

The black plague known as Oracle can no longer kill OpenOffice thanks to the Document Foundation's OpenOffice offshoot, Libre Office. Read all about it and respond with your thoughts.

It was only a matter of time. After Oracle purchased Sun, a good portion of the open source community knew that Oracle would ruin MySQL and let OpenOffice collect dust. After all, whoever said Oracle really cared about the open source community? Oracle only cares about making money and, to be quite honest, is just not very good at it. So the purchase of Sun by Oracle (after a deal between IBM and Sun fell through) looked like nothing more than a grab for Java. With this purchase Oracle thought they would become some Behemoth in the server industry. When the purchase happened, the Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said:

“Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system – applications to disk – where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up.”

How'd that work out for your Oracle?

The problem Oracle faced was that their precious database had lost favor in the IT world over the open source rival MySQL. So naturally Oracle wanted to get rid of the competition by buying Sun - which had recently taken over MySQL. But along with MySQL, Sun also held OpenOffice in their portfolio. It is my impression that Oracle had no intention of pressing OpenOffice forward. This is a big issue because, even though OpenOffice had been evolving quite nicely, it still has had a horrible time gaining any traction in the enterprise. To make this worse, there was also threat that Oracle could easily stop funding OpenOffice and instead funnel those funds to products it felt would bring them a better bottom line. Oracle simply has a way of turning everything it touches to mud.

Fortunately a group was quickly (and quietly) formed called The Document Foundation with the sole purpose of building on the foundation created by the OpenOffice.org community and continuing the evolution of this flagship, open source office suite. This new "fork" of OpenOffice is called Libre Office and promises to pick up where OpenOffice 3 left off.

As soon as I heard about the creation of this new fork of OpenOffice, I immediately downloaded the beta and began using it in all of my production work. I knew this fork was based on recent builds so it would be a solid product out of the gate. Both article and novel writing has been handled with the usual grace found in OpenOffice. It works and it works well.

But what exactly does this mean for the open source community? My personal take on this situation is this: Libre Office is the best thing that could have happened to OpenOffice. Why? The development of OpenOffice had begun to stagnate once 3.0 was released. With Libre Office unfettered by the bonds of either Sun or Oracle, the office suite will develop faster and will be more in tune with what the users want and need.

One thing I would really like to see is Java being removed from OpenOffice. I really have no idea what would replace Java, but surely the open source community can either integrate an already created product or create a new replacement for the slow, bloated java.

Although many might argue that OpenOffice will miss any corporate funding or input, it is my belief that, like so many other open source projects, Libre Office will flourish under the careful development of the community best suited to develop open source software.

I would like to ask Oracle to keep their contracts and their lawyers far, far away from open source software. You are a pox upon open source and you have no business where you do not belong (and are not wanted). You have brought about an uprising in the open source community because of MySQL and now you give the finger to OpenOffice. This time, however, the open source community is giving you the finger by forking OpenOffice. So now you can place the office suite on a shelf and let it gather as much dust as you want.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

69 comments
SchultzyBeckett
SchultzyBeckett

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dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

I wonder if the purchase of Sun was also motivated by obtaining VirtualBox? As more and more machines go "virtual", wouldn't it be prudent for Oracle to have a virtual machine solution of its own to sell to its corporate customers to stay competitive?

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

I haven't seen (or skipped over :) ) what the developer situation is at Oracle. If too many developers were lost to the Libre office fork I doubt oracle will find many to replace them. Does anyone know how many developers are in each camp currently?

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

I don't see why this change couldn't happen. I would prefer Python since it's robust, cross platform, and Python apps generally run faster than Java apps IMO. If Oracle wants to let OOo stagnate, then the corp. should cut it loose and let the FOSS community develop it further to keep the suite competitive at least for personal use. I wonder if IBM's Lotus Symphony, based on OOo, will also continue to evolve the the OpenOffice foundation? I think by now that OOo in all of its versions/dialects is simply too popular and widespread to be completely killed off by the bumblings of one corporation albeit a very large one.

RobD60
RobD60

So...what about IBM Lotus Symphony? Doesn't that count as a fork? I've been using Symphony 3 b.2 on Ubuntu and Symphony 3 b.4 on Vista, and I much prefer its UI to OOo.

fred64
fred64

Sounds like 3 choices now... Libre Office, go-oo.org, OxygenOffice. Although any alternatives seem better than Oracle, it would be nice if the 3 could figure out how to play together in this new non-Oracle world. Seems to me they could combine their efforts and accomplish more. Oxygen pretty much adds content on to the existing oo base. Go-oo adds new capability and fixes, Libre plans to support the core? Seems somewhat complimentary to me. Why not work together? Combine resources and ideas? After all, the frustration points within Oracle that spawned them should no longer exist.

e_caroline
e_caroline

It sounds like good news that Open Office is out of corporate clutches. In the world of "real world" word processing a lot of the "improvements and features" that developers dream up for the sake of "more and better" tend to be just bloat that precious few real world users actually need. MS Office is an example of that.... no end of features that almost no one uses nor really needs much. And so the new incarnation of Open Office ought not be all that super-duper of a headache for a modest supply of developers to keep alive. Might even be a "marketing blessing" to have a new name for it.. so the gullibles who equate new with better have an excuse to try it out. My first experience of "Open Office" was its predecessor Star Office.. when still a freebee open source product.

Jaqui
Jaqui

git. they using git for version control though at least they are smart enough to make a source tarball available, unlike most git repo based projects.

jimmeq
jimmeq

I am not a businessman and don't play one on TV. It would however, make sense that Oracle promote ooo as an alternative to mso. ooo 3.x is finally enterprise ready, so it could be used to their advantage to compete with ms. With the Oracle name stamped on ooo, it might gain some inroads.

quique67
quique67

It seems to be a Pan European effort... Besides a brazilian It is a European Effort... USA is lagging for the last years... and lagging more and more

Justin James
Justin James

... you make so many errors in actual facts that it hurts your message. "Oracle only cares about making money and, to be quite honest, is just not very good at it." Funny, because Oracle makes MASSIVE amounts of money. Look at all of the acquisitions they do. The cash is coming from somewhere. Oracle is great at making money. The problem is, the way Oracle makes their money is fairly disgusting and exploitive of their customer base. "The problem Oracle faced was that their precious database had lost favor in the IT world over the open source rival MySQL." This is not true in the slightest, unfortunately. Too many mission critical applications run on Oracle to say that it lost to MySQL. What *did* happen over the last 10 years, is that Oracle is no longer the only game in town, and that the small potato applications and customers moved to MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server. But if you are a bank, insurance company, airline, government, etc., MySQL is *no substitute* for Oracle (although PostgreSQL *is* and I would appreciate it if you'd get off your MySQL soapbox and get on the PostgreSQL soapbox) at a technical level. Period. It pains me to say it, but if you need ultra performance and reliability, Oracle is your go-to option. So Oracle's differentiator is speed and reliability, and that's why they can charge thousands per CPU core (or socket, I forget their exact licensing) while MySQL is free. Or to put it another way... MySQL and Oracle are not competing for the same customers, and as soon as MySQL got traction, Oracle knew they couldn't compete without slashing their margins and just walked away from small apps. "... I immediately downloaded the beta and began using it in all of my production work." Beta's shouldn't be used in "production work". ;) "One thing I would really like to see is Java being removed from OpenOffice." If you look at the OO site, its usage of Java is fairly minimal, and in sections that generally won't impact performance. Everyone loves to blame OO's speed issues on Java, but the reality is, it's just poorly written code. Java is plenty fast (10% speed gap *at most*), the issue is the code. Personally, I'm not a fan of working with Java, but at the same time, I can be honest about the facts around it. J.Ja

kpthottam
kpthottam

By 2015 a totally non oracle open source 'java' like language will emerge. Given Oracle's ways I can see this happening sooner rather than later.

jmbrasfield
jmbrasfield

"You are a pox upon open source and you have no business where you do not belong and are not wanted." Amen As a long time user of OpenOffice at home and work, I was dismayed by Oracles take over of Sun and the open source products contained within. I am sure that it will be the death of them all. Best of luck to those that will now pick up the open source ball and run with it. I will be installing Libre Office as soon as I can.

kitico
kitico

I'm sorry, but you need a proof reader. You did get your message across, but the text looks as if you composed this piece when you were really tired and not fully awake.

ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898
ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898

I too think Python would work good instead of Java. It is used as a scripting language in Corel's Paint Shop Photo as far as I know (and was in Paint Shop Pro when they took it over).

njugunapn
njugunapn

You asked what programming language could replace Java and I think python could fit the bill.

rodzilla666
rodzilla666

If people quit equating "Open Source" with "Free" and donated a few bucks here and there towards future development of the software they use, Open Office/Libre Office will never die!

davidbteague
davidbteague

I plan to stay with OO.o until Oracle makes clear what they intend for OO.o. If Oracle joins the Document Foundation, donates the OO.o name and logo, and contributes to the development, I'll stay with OO.o. When (if?) it becomes clear they will not, I will move to LibO and never look back.

walrus
walrus

Your argument is persuasive, but I wonder if the legal battles aren't looming.

Zwort
Zwort

I'm sitting on the fence for now. With effort they may get there, but as you and a respondent have indicated, they'll have to junk Java.

SAPtech
SAPtech

Oracle has become the new Microsoft as far as techie loathing goes - well done Larry!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I immediately downloaded the beta and began using it in all of my production work. Really, without even testing it? Will Oracle not want $ for the Java used?

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