A couple weeks into the LibreOffice project, and the room is really beginning to come together. Let’s try to summarize what’s been happening:
- October 13 marked the 10th anniversary of Sun freeing the StarOffice source code and creating the OpenOffice.org project. Luis Suarez-Potts sent this email on behalf of the OpenOffice.org community. The Document Foundation released The Next Decade Manifesto, outlining the goals of the foundation and the LibreOffice project.
- LibreOffice Beta 2 was released on October 14.
- On the 15th, Petr Mladek announces that “We are going to switch from the OpenOffice.org to the LibreOffice code base on openSUSE.” He does not specify this will happen in openSUSE 11.4, but that presumably depends on when the first finished release is done. Meanwhile, openSUSE users can play with Beta 2 and subsequent beta releases by adding the LibreOffice:Unstable repository to their system.
- Mailing lists for news, discussion, and support (among other things) for LibreOffice are now available. Have to say it’s hard to find this page.
- Assorted other contact points (IRC, social networks) can be found here. Not entirely the easiest thing to find either.
- A LibreOffice Forum is (minimally) active, while the OpenOffice Community Forum will continue to support all flavors of the suite.
- Jean Hollis Weber believes the OOoAuthors documentation team will also support both projects.
- On the other hand, Oracle doesn’t seem to see things that way. and the OOo Community Council meeting on October 14th was at least a little … tense. Suarez-Potts and Matthias Huetsch both called on council members who were also part of the Document Foundation had a conflict of interest, and should choose which project they wanted to be part of. Ars Technica has a very good summary. In the comments on the article, I think “EmancipateTheCode” has an excellent explanation of what might have happened, had Oracle opted not to be so confrontational:
Having a community edition that can serve as a test bed for new features without damaging the main product is also a good idea. Look at Red Hat‘s Fedora and RHEL. New features are hammered out in Fedora before they enter into RHEL. Red Hat directly benefits from having a community version of it’s project.
There are any number of models that Oracle could have taken with the TDF. The easiest would have been to follow in Red Hat’s footsteps and use LibreOffice as a test bed. The could have allowed the fork and brought the improvements back into O^3, which would in turn go into StarOffice (which Oracle still sells.)
It will probably come as no shock to discover that I welcome all new open source software projects, especially for the desktop. More projects means more choices for the user. If they can’t reconcile (which I still don’t completely rule out), I hope LibreOffice challenges the remaining OpenOffice team, the KOffice team and everyone else in making innovative, useful and amazing productivity tools for all of us.