Oracle OpenOffice.org vs. TDF LibreOffice
Oracle continues to be at the center of controversy despite their press release stating they will continue to support and release OpenOffice.org as an open source project. Most recently Oracle was vilified by bloggers and the press for asking members of The Document Foundation to resign from OpenOffice.org due to potential conflicts of interest.
Dave Neary, a respected GNOME and GIMP developer, suggests that rush to judgment is not only pre-mature, but possibly incorrect. In a recent blog post Neary stated that the resignation request was made by long-term OpenOffice.org developers and community managers - not by corporate Oracle. He further explained that it was a "proposal," not a voted decision. "There was no decision to expel anyone" and the proposal didn't even gain a consensus although there is a clear divide between the OpenOffice.org council and members of The Document Foundation. Neary says many volunteers are confused and feel like they must make a choice between the two.
In fact, Neary continues by pointing out that The Document Foundation might have instigated the whole thing by implying that OpenOffice.org wasn't being managed and developed properly. Further, in wanting to use the OpenOffice.org name The Document Foundation showed it really wants to supersede OpenOffice.org. And many believe they ultimately will.
Whether the proposal was backed by Oracle or not, some long-term contributors are resigning already. On Friday, October 22, Charles H. Schulz announced his resignation in a blog post. He said it saddened him to have to resign, but was also a relief due to the tension at OpenOffice.org lately. He said the proposal and subsequent behaviors and discussions were unprofessional and showed a complete lack of understanding of Free and Open Source Software. He and others have stated that both projects will now lose out due to a competitive atmosphere instead of the desired cooperation. Schultz said the LibreOffice will now become an official fork since Oracle et al. "refuse to play ball" with The Document Foundation. Schultz will continue to contribute to The Document Foundation.
In addition, Christoph Noack, former OpenOffice.org Product Development Representative, Florian Effenberger, former OpenOffice.org marketing project lead, and Thorsten Behrens, project lead for the Graphic Layer System, have also resigned and expressed regret over the split of the two projects.
In an interview with Muktware.com a representative from The Document Foundation stated that their first stable release of LibreOffice will arrive in November. Although there is very little divergence from OpenOffice.org at this time, version 3.4 will begin to show "new developments and features." OpenOffice.org 3.3.0 Release Candidate 2 arrived October 25.
While many were relieved to hear of the formation of The Document Foundation and LibreOffice as a safe-guard against OpenOffice.org suffering the fate of OpenSolaris, both projects and ultimately every OpenOffice.org user could possibly lose out due to the separation of talent. It will be interesting to see the resulting products in a year or two. Competition can spark ingenious ideas, let's hope this is the case for these two projects.
Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.
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