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OpenOffice ousts Oracle
September 28, 2010 8:01 AM   Subscribe

The OpenOffice.org Project has unveiled a major restructuring that separates itself from Oracle and that takes responsibility for OpenOffice away from a single company. ... Driving home the changes, OpenOffice.org project is now The Document Foundation while the OpenOffice.org suite has been given the temporary name of LibreOffice.
posted by Joe Beese (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's good news, given that Oracle are increasingly proving themselves to be massive pricks.
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Fantastic news! I was (well, still sort of *am*) completely worried about the fate of Sun's open source projects, and OO.org taking some autonomy is definitely great to hear.
posted by the dief at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Next up: The new "ribbon" interface.
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


He sure is a smarmy sonovabitch, that Larry Ellison.

Do you think that he finds joy in making so many geeks squirm from the sheer amount of malevolence that he exudes?

I think he does. He found a really tangible way to make the world a more sad and depressing place... and he's shooting for the stars, as it where.

Hell, I would have preferred that Sun Microsystems had gone quietly into that good night.

It's not like we'll ever see any more SPARC based workstations...

What will really happen now to Java, MySQL, BerkeleyDB, etc. ?

We all saw what happened to OpenSolaris.

This move can only be good for the OOo project to continue.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, I use OO.o extensively and this has the potential to really impact my work. Unfortunately it's not clear to me whether that impact will be generally good or bad. On the one hand that they are already integrating the Go-OO downstream improvements is great. On the other hand that the FSF is pushing hard for open extensions is troubling. I've come to depend on Zotero and it's not on their list of sanctioned extensions. For now, I suppose I just have to wait to se how things shake out. I really hope Oracle doesn't hold on to the copyright for OO.o out of spite.

It seems that they have good intentions and I really hope that the Document Foundation becomes another success story along the lines of The Mozilla Foundation.
posted by oddman at 8:21 AM on September 28, 2010


James Gosling: Why I quit Oracle
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


This was probably due in large part to Oracle killing off OpenSolaris. I had some respect for Sun Microsystems, but I've never liked Oracle.
posted by demiurge at 8:27 AM on September 28, 2010


Agreed with the above. If history is anything to go by (Netscape -> Mozilla, XFree86 -> Xorg), it'll only be a matter of time before OOo becomes a footnote. And I always hated that ".org" was part of the official name. WTF?

As for MySQL, lots of people are already transitioning to alternatives like Percona, MariaDB, etc.
posted by kmz at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2010


What will really happen now to Java, MySQL, BerkeleyDB, etc. ?

Yea, that worries me since almost all of the products that I've worked on in my career have depended on at least one of those three.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2010


And I always hated that ".org" was part of the official name. WTF?

The project and software are commonly known as OpenOffice, but this term is a trademark held by a company in the Netherlands co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff and is also in use by Orange UK, requiring the project to adopt OpenOffice.org as its formal name.

Frankly, the name "LibreOffice" is even worse.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:34 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cool beans. Whenever possible, I try to help people transition to Open Office — it's worked better for me generally than any Mac or Microsoft equivalent programs, yet is still pretty easy to get a handle on. Too bad I'm moving more and more towards Googledocs.

But I managed to teach a stranger on the bus how to install Open Office at her office in order to recover old documents that they no longer had the Word install disc for, using just my laptop, and I'm not even particularly techie.
posted by klangklangston at 8:44 AM on September 28, 2010


Frankly, the name "LibreOffice" is even worse.

Yeah, it should be BureauLibre.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


The name LibreOffice is hopefully temporary. They've asked Oracle to transfer ownership of the OO name to the Foundation. Also, they are immediately integrating the improvements from go-oo.org that never made it in to the upstream code base. That should mean immediate improvements across the board for everybody. As I understand it, the major Linux distros have already committed to supporting Libre Office, although I haven't seen anything about how soon OO will be replaced as the default in the distros.
posted by COD at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2010


The name LibreOffice is hopefully temporary.

The commenters in the Slashdot post where I found this news seemed to agree with the article that: Based on Oracle's history of responding to community ultimatums, we suggest you get used to LibreOffice.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, they are immediately integrating the improvements from go-oo.org that never made it in to the upstream code base. That should mean immediate improvements across the board for everybody.

The go-oo.org patches are huge for me in at least one department: upping the rows limit in Calc to match Excel 2007. It was ridiculous that OOo was lagging behind Excel in that respect. Thankfully Ubuntu has that patched in by default.

As I understand it, the major Linux distros have already committed to supporting Libre Office, although I haven't seen anything about how soon OO will be replaced as the default in the distros.

It was pretty lightning fast when XFree86 pulled their licensing shenanigans, if I remember correctly. That whole saga is still pretty amazing to me. The open source world smacked down the overwhelmingly dominant provider of a fundamental part of most Linux/BSD systems, and now I don't know anybody who still uses XFree86. It's like the fall of 3dfx but accelerated.
posted by kmz at 8:54 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


IIRC there was talk of replacing it with GoogleDocs for one of the netbook distros a while back, but nobody liked the idea and it got dropped.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 28, 2010


Well, I was trying to be positive, but yeah. I certainly wouldn't put any money on Ellison being easy to get along with here.
posted by COD at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure Oracle is going to shed a tear for losing the valuable strategic asset that is a bloated clone of a bloated office suite. That only runs on a single client computer. I like OpenOffice too, it's pretty good for open source, but the idea that any for-profit company would have spent money on it is pretty mind-boggling.
posted by Nelson at 9:00 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Open Office always seemed slow and bloated when I tried to use it. Granted, the version of word I use was slow and bloated when it came out, but that was 10 years ago and it's pretty snappy now.

Honestly I think the idea of single desktop "office" programs running on machines with files and the whole thing is kind of out of date. Google docs might not have all the features but it makes sharing documents and collaborating way easier. You can actually have two people editing a spread sheet at the same time.

Someone should start work on an open-source web-based "office" suite. Users could either just log on and use it like Google docs, or host it on their own servers. I'd love to see a modern take on Access. Which really did put databases in the hands of regular people, and a somewhat easy to understand query builder.

There are probably things like that out there, but the ability to visually design databases and queries and forms directly on the web and put them out there could be helpful for "knowledge worker" types.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2010


There are probably things like that out there, but the ability to visually design databases and queries and forms directly on the web and put them out there could be helpful for "knowledge worker" types.

Have you checked out Wavemaker?
posted by fleetmouse at 9:11 AM on September 28, 2010


And I always hated that ".org" was part of the official name. WTF?

Evidently, Sun got served with a C&D over a lurking trademark dispute and tagged the ".org" onto the product name as a work-around.

I hope The Document Foundation thrives. Personally, OpenOffice.org is one of those projects I really wanted to like but never could fully embrace due to nagging incompatibilities with MSWord (one time costing me about 16 hours of work), the ugly and almost-useless bibliographic support, and the way that it copied many of the worst design flaws of MSWord while offering worse performance in many cases. Professionally I'm stuck with MSWord, but personally I split between the ugly Google Docs and the enlightened Scrivener.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2010


Next up: The new "ribbon" interface.

Yuck, don't remind me. My work is moving from MS Office 2003 to 2010 next month.
posted by wcfields at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2010


Although I really think they should take a branding clue from other FOSS projects and rebrand away from both the "Open/Free/Libre" and "Office" marks since they invite comparison to MSOffice rather than standing on their own merits.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:24 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Driving home the changes, OpenOffice.org project is now The Document Foundation while the OpenOffice.org suite has been given the temporary name of LibreOffice.

Microsoft's Office division is probably breaking open the champagne today. They now more or less own the mindshare of how "office open" and all derivations and permutations of that name get worded. The whole point of that naming scheme was so that Microsoft could confuse users, and Oracle pretty much just lost the game. Congrats, billg, you won.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:27 AM on September 28, 2010


Pretty happy having my word processor on my client machine, thank you very much.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly, the name "LibreOffice" is even worse.

Yeah, it should be BureauLibre.


L'Office?
posted by mmrtnt at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2010


Yeah, it should be BureauLibre.

L'Office?


DER KOSTENLOSDOKUMENTMACHER!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:49 AM on September 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


Next up: The new "ribbon" interface.

I have both MS-Office and OpenOffice on the Windows partition of my laptop and use OO 90% of the time because of that horror that is the "ribbon".
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on September 28, 2010


Heh.

I kind of like the ribbon.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why Oracle, not Sun, sued Google over Java

Interestingly it doesn't give "because they are motherfuckers" as a reason.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly I think the idea of single desktop "office" programs running on machines with files and the whole thing is kind of out of date. (...)
Someone should start work on an open-source web-based "office" suite.


I'm miles away from this mindset, and I don't think I will ever come around: It's my data, on my hardware, doing the stuff I want. Software as a service depends on way too many factors to be able to cover everybody: You either need to be part of a large enough organization, so you can support deploying and running your own, or you will have to agree to have your data under the (greater or lesser) control of a third party. Companies go under, advertising revenues dry up, marketing departments come up with boneheaded ideas, for people with a more than casual relationship to their documents all these are real risks that seriously compromise the desirability of SaaS.


Also, LibreOffice, really? They couldn't think of anything better?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:35 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


As good as the FOSS community is at developing quality software, they sure do a poor job at choosing names. Hopefully LibreOffice will be temporary, and will be replaced by something better (either OO.org again, or better yet something that doesn't suck at all - maybe they should have a branding contest...)

But it's still a better name than The Gimp. (Yes, it's a backronym. I get it. It's still a bad name.)

Anyone who hates the ribbon should try Mac Office '08. Then you will go find the ribbon, and embrace it with tears in your eyes and ask it where it has been in your life. The ribbon in Office '07 took me a bit to get used to (because I knew the old menus so well) but now I can't wait for Mac Office '11 so that I can have a ribbon again. Anything is better than the detached, undockable floating toolbars in the current version.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly I think the idea of single desktop "office" programs running on machines with files and the whole thing is kind of out of date.

We have miracle machines in our pocket and the best thing we can think to do with them is a 50-year-old service model, a reinvention of X11, and application suites that are far from well-designed or best of breed?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:00 AM on September 28, 2010


But it's still a better name than The Gimp. (Yes, it's a backronym. I get it. It's still a bad name.)

Yeah, I work at a nonprofit focused on kids with disabilities. I'm a big promoter of open-source software, and at least once every couple of weeks I'll be saying something like, "Oh, instead of Photoshop I use this great free program called The Gi...uh...well, it's just like Photoshop, and it's free, and...uh...it's a graphics editor and...uh...I think I forget what it's called, but if you think you want to download it, let me know and I can e-mail you a link to their website."
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:05 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've heard some bad things about Sun's relationship with the rest of the community so hopefully this will actually help it.

I don't think LibreOffice is that bad a name. At least it doesn't have a TLD in it.

I like having things installed on my computer: I can use them when in the car or on a bus, even when I'm in say, rural Ontario far from any wifi and with spotty cell coverage at best, or when the internet is down. I also don't have to worry about service outages or such.

I would like someone to implement versions in the same way that Wordpress or such does so that I don't have to manually save V1.odt or V23.docx quite so many times....
posted by Canageek at 12:06 PM on September 28, 2010


I wonder what this means for NeoOffice. Probably nothing. I'm a big fan of that project.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:21 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great. Now if you can leave 80% of the useless features and enormous bulk with Oracle too, I may actually use it.
posted by dno at 12:26 PM on September 28, 2010


I guess LibraOffice isn't such a terrible name, seeing as how CancerOffice was already trademarked.
posted by Nelson at 1:38 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like someone to implement versions in the same way that Wordpress or such does so that I don't have to manually save V1.odt or V23.docx quite so many times....

Heh. Maybe they could implement some kind of OpenSharepoint or something...
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on September 28, 2010


Ars Technica has come out with an article discussing what this means for the ecosystem: Like their earlier article that I linked it is in favor of the split and hopes this will increase developer interest.
posted by Canageek at 1:46 PM on September 28, 2010


Open Office always seemed slow and bloated when I tried to use it.

Part of the reason for that is that most of the performance fixes that are in Go-OO (see some of the graphs on this blog, for example) were never incorporated into an 'official' build.
posted by robertc at 4:08 PM on September 28, 2010


Officelibre would be awesome but only if the default color scheme is lime
posted by variella at 4:10 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


That whole saga is still pretty amazing to me. The open source world smacked down the overwhelmingly dominant provider of a fundamental part of most Linux/BSD systems, and now I don't know anybody who still uses XFree86. It's like the fall of 3dfx but accelerated.

I don't think that's a very good comparison. X.Org simply forked the last version of XFree86 prior to the unwanted license change. The vast majority of XFree86 developers defected at the same time, so X.Org is the same codebase and same developers just under a different name and with different management principles. Nobody was smacked down, except possibly for David Dawes who alone continues to put out releases of XFree86 that nobody uses. It's not like the XFree86 code died or went away, you're still using it today. That is nothing like what happened to 3dfx, were a company made poor decisions and misjudged the market, and consequently went out of business. It would only be comparable if all but one of the 3dfx employees decided to quit and form a new company manufacturing the same hardware designs under a different name (never mind that that would not be possible since 3dfx designs are not open source.)
posted by Rhomboid at 4:34 PM on September 28, 2010


The vast majority of XFree86 developers defected at the same time, so X.Org is the same codebase and same developers just under a different name and with different management principles.

I don't think that's a very good description either - a large part of the reason for the fiasco in the first place was that very few active contributors had commit rights. After the split there were many more developers on the X.Org side.
posted by atbash at 8:03 AM on September 29, 2010


Did anyone else find that the moment Oracle's logo appeared on OpenOffice, it became as unstable as a drunk on a seesaw? Seriously. Multiple crashes per day, usually on close/quit. I'm sincerely hoping that LibreOffice doesn't do that.
posted by Hogshead at 4:04 AM on September 30, 2010


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