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Sun Microsystems

Sun Urged to Give Up OpenOffice Control 246

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the set-my-people-free dept.
inc_x writes "Developers from OpenOffice.org are urging Sun to set the project free and bring it under a foundation. Sun's dominance over the project makes other companies such as IBM, Redhat and Novell reluctant to contribute more. Both Mozilla and Eclipse managed to attract an increasing number of developers after the projects were moved over to an independent foundation."
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Sun Urged to Give Up OpenOffice Control

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  • good step (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pavel Stratil (950257) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:46AM (#14668431) Homepage Journal
    It's now clear that Sun understood it's possition in the linux/unix world. It's to open up or die eventually. Will Microsoft ever get this?
    • Re:good step (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cnettel (836611)
      Sun's main selling point has always been a platform, where the hardware and software together gives the client the (sense of an) advantage. This means that Sun may continue selling hardware, with software support just a selling point for that hardware. MS could of course turn to just rely on MSN and Xbox, but it would be a much more radical change than the Sun decision of opening up.
    • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:10AM (#14668685)
      It's to open up or die eventually. Will Microsoft ever get this?

      Probably not, and look at the results: Microsoft is hurting today more than ever! Profits are down enormously due to software piracy by Homebrew Computer Club members and the Harvard IT department just busted them for using their computer time for doing rebuilds of Windows Vista. If this continues Microsoft is going to head into a death-spiral and be out of business within the year. Microsoft needs to desperately find some product of theirs that they can market profitably. Until then I'm afraid it is only a matter of time before Red Hat and others in the Open Source community overtake them in the marketplace and hammer the final nail into the coffin of the dying proprietary software industry.

    • Key difference between Sun and Microsoft: Microsoft on the up and up, has total market dominance, and won't be dead at any point in the near future. I once read somewhere (But don't ask me to substantiate this remark because I can't!) that Microsoft has enough cash on hand that it could stop selling all of its products and keep going for five years without firing anyone. So I don't see how Microsoft could possibly learn the lesson, "Open up or die," when staying closed is doing pretty well for it so far.

      I
      • I once read somewhere (But don't ask me to substantiate this remark because I can't!) that Microsoft has enough cash on hand that it could stop selling all of its products and keep going for five years without firing anyone.

        Assuming that this is true or nearly true (and I believer that is the case), it is in fact an indicator of Microsoft management's failure to make the transition from a small time entrepreneural shop to a major international corporation. Microsoft high level management Just Doesn't Get

        • Not too long ago, MS released several billion (I think) dollars to their stockholders.

          I'm not convinced that hoarding some cash is a bad idea for a business. Clearly MS isn't sticking every penny they make into the bank, but if they were to take all of that cash and reinvest it in a venture that goes nowhere they're in a worse spot than before. By having a large amount of money readily available, it makes the company more stable on the long-term because they remove their sensitivity to market fluctuations.

          M
    • It's now clear that Sun understood it's possition in the linux/unix world. It's to open up or die eventually. Will Microsoft ever get this?

      Sun is really getting it. Before too much longer they will be rebranding Opteron systems and selling them with Linux on them. Or better yet, they might start selling Linux systems at Wal-Mart.

      Sun is really sharpening the cutting edge.

  • should happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:47AM (#14668437)
    The next logical step - should have been done allready. I can't really se OO go very much further unless they go this way.
    • Re:should happen (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:54AM (#14668462) Homepage Journal
      How could Sun then relicense the program for sale as StarOffice? In my understanding, the Mozilla foundation can continue to operate on its own while Netscape Navigator is released because of the MPL license, but OO.o is under the LGPL, and Sun requires all submissions to be signed over to the company so that the program can be dual-licensed. How would this work if OO.o became its own Org, like Mozilla. I don't see it happening unless Sun gives up the StarOffice brand.
      • Re:should happen (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lussarn (105276) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:02AM (#14668485)
        If Sun as you say has the copyright on the complete program today they can relicence it in any way they want. They don't have to use only LGPL, they can even use a BSD licence. I don't see the problem.
        • Re:should happen (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:50AM (#14668609) Homepage Journal
          It's kind of my point that they really can't keep the current license and still sell StarOffice, because they wouldn't be able to take code which isn't theirs and relicense it. They would have to move OO.o to a BSD-style license to still sell StarOffice, right? And that would alienate a large number of developers who prefer the (L)GPL. Sun would also be seeing numerous, virtually identical competing offerings from other companies (e.g. IBM). I just don't see the motivation for Sun to do this. When Mozilla was cut loose, it looked to me to be a way to cut developer salaries, and since the Netscape brand was pretty much defunct (and free!) anyway, there was nofinancial disincentive to move Mozilla into its own org. StarOffice is, as far as I can tell, making "some" money for Sun, still, and is an up-and-comer, not a has-been. My two won (SKW).
          • I agree with most everything of your post except this.

            And that would alienate a large number of developers who prefer the (L)GPL

            As it is now outside developers need to hand over copyright to Sun, I can't in any way believe they wouldn't prefer a more liberate licence as they gain nothing from GPL in this case.

            But as you say, loosening the grip is a risk for Sun. Hopefully Sun can see some opportunities in the risk too.
          • If it is on LGPL, why can't they use it?

        • If new code went to this foundation codebase, sun wouldn't be able to include it in staroffice (unless they make it BSD, yes, but I doubt they want to do that). So the free OOo will rapidly overtake staroffice features-wise. I doubt Sun wants that.
        • Re:should happen (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:55AM (#14668923) Homepage
          I don't see the problem.

          I do.

            they cant take all the developers work and sell it as theirs.

          THAT is the problem they are having. Everyhing submitted under the GPL by others is NOT THEIRS TO SELL.

          If they want to take the current code and do what they want, then fine. but they cant take all the free programming, wrap it up and call it theirs if they release it.
          • Re:should happen (Score:2, Interesting)

            by pinky0x51 (951042)
            I don't see the problem. At the end it's not a license issue.
            People don't buy StarOffice because they maybe use a proprietary license. They buy it because they want a "product" with a company in the back wo is "responsible" if something goes wrong and they have a phone number they could call. Maybe they like some add-ons like a better spellchecker etc too.

            So Sun can also offers a StarOffice from a community driven OpenOffice. Just take from time to time the latest OOo, call it StarOffice, put it into a b

            • Re:should happen (Score:2, Insightful)

              by MooUK (905450)
              There wouldn't be anything stopping them selling OO.o, or selling support for it (which is, as you said, WHY people buy it - the support) under the GPL or LGPL. There is no reason here for them not to sell it. The GPL does NOT prevent selling your product, contrary to most people's interpretations of it.

              (In other words, the parent is right.)
      • I don't see it happening unless Sun gives up the StarOffice brand.

        So it's all about marketing, then, isn't it?
        • Re:should happen (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Daengbo (523424)
          For Sun, the company, it probably is about whether it's a good financial move for them or not, wouldn't you agree. Since they're the ones making the decision, and not the developers, about whether to move OO.o or not, I expect that marketing will weigh in heavily.
      • I think they should just kill StarOffice. Open up OpenOffice, and just use that. More people would use it, more people would improve it, and it would just be better in the long run. Does StarOffice even offer anything that OpenOffice doesn't? Couldn't they just sell you OpenOffice support, instead of trying to make 2 of the same product.
        • Does StarOffice even offer anything that OpenOffice doesn't?

          I know star office has at least a better spellcheck and a tech support line. They also have some migration tools that I don't think are included in OpenOffice, in addition to better MS document compatibility and conversion. Also is the mail merge in OpenOffice yet? I know that is new in the newest star office. I personally don't see this happening as long as StarOffice is making money. Why close down a stream of income?
      • "How could Sun then relicense the program for sale as StarOffice?"

        Easy.

        They just make a deal with the organization that takes responsibility for OO.o to give them special licensing terms.

      • Re:should happen (Score:3, Insightful)

        by richlv (778496)
        they do not relicense anything. actually, you could take oo.org code, add something and sell it as ohmygodoffice right now. there are companies/individuals that are/were doing this.

        actually, having all copyright dually assigned allowed sun to drop sissl (that is, dual licensing) at launch of oo.org 2.0 an thus oo.org is licensed as lgpl only now.

        http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS3294924491.html [desktoplinux.com]

        there also is a faq linked from that article (and you probably could find a lot of info in oo.org mailing list ar
    • You're so right. OpenOffice is doomed if people can't add even MORE code. It really needs other big companies kicking in their ideas, so we can make it even slower and more bloated. OpenOffice will definately succeed if developers can make it take longer to load up than Photoshop CS2.
  • Never!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:49AM (#14668445) Homepage Journal
    Without Sun's beneficient guidance, how will OpenOffice truely embrace the awesome power and control that can only be offered by Java(TM)!!?

    How can OpenOffice hope to succeed without object-oriented interfaces with sandboxed wrapper pardiagm extensible intuiative platform-independant mainatainable code... paradigms?

    Only Java(TM) with its mastodonicly magnificant API can hope to keep OpenOffice afloat!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Were movoing to cobol man, COBOL!
    • Re:Never!!! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:12AM (#14668515)
      Clearly Suns strategic long term strategy is to leverage cross-platform turnkey J2EE technologies by employing SOAP on Rails with XMLHttpRequest.

      Wait..BINGO!
    • Re:Never!!! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:58AM (#14668640)
      Your metaphor is confusing. I thought the mastodon was an arctic creature, in the cold wastes of the world, who benefitted and increased their range of influence from having the Sun's influence lessened.
    • Re:Never!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by williamhb (758070) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:14AM (#14668704) Journal
      Without Sun's beneficient guidance, how will OpenOffice truely embrace the awesome power and control that can only be offered by Java(TM)!!?
      That's not as dumb as it seems - for office applications there's not much to be lost in running within a VM, and delegating garbage collection and a few other things to the VM, and eventually gaining more portable binaries by publishing bytecode rather than machine code. (So you no longer have to publish binaries per OS/processor combo, but only per OS. I'm assuming you probably will still be making some OS-specific calls). The objection to Java is simply that the FOSS implementations of the VM are not up to scratch yet.
      • The objection to Java is simply that the FOSS implementations of the VM are not up to scratch yet.

        Pull down fedora core 4, and update to the latest packages.

        The free java stack still isn't 100%, but man its getting close.
        FC4's eclipse & Open Office2 both use it.
  • And doing what they say is quite another. I wonder if Sun will let OO go?
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:15AM (#14668524) Journal
      Considering that over 80% of OpenOffice.org developers are employed by Sun (statistic provided by Novell), I wonder who, exactly, the developers asking for this are. I attended a talk by a Novell OpenOffice.org guy a while back, and his view was that the baroque build system was the biggest reason that new developers didn't get involved, and they had people working on simplifying that.
      • is ~exactly~ what has kept me from jumping in to fix bugs.

        That, and the fact that it takes several hours to compile the product.
  • Fork it (Score:2, Informative)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082)
    As far as I recall from the license, the issue is that under OOo, you have to in essence give up your code copyright.

    But, I also understand that this doesn't stop someone taking the OOo code, removing all the OpenOffice.org references, and releasing it under another name without giving the changes back to Sun.

  • I for one.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimsteri (888700)
    I for one.. Just kidding. I don't actually see why Sun would not agree with this. But on the other hand I'm thinking from the user aspect and not corporation aspect. More developers sounds good for me, usually more and better features. But putting OO under its own foundation probably means less money for Sun?
  • It would make sense. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zenmojodaddy (754377) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:58AM (#14668470)
    If Sun were to sever all ties to the project, and coders are more willing to contribute, that would be beneficial to pretty much everyone - including Sun, since they can still polish up the end product and release a commercial version, no?

    Plus, it might make it easier for someone to take the Mozilla route and split the suite up into smaller components, for those of us who don't particularly need a spreadsheet or presentation tool but would love a lean version of Writer.

    S'pose this is one of those, 'If you love it, set it free' kinda things.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:21AM (#14668533) Journal
      Today, Sun employs 80% of the developers. Novell employs the majority of the remainder. Do you seriously think that there are enough people interested in developing OO.o outside of Sun to make this worth their while? The code base is quite hideous in places - mainly inherited from the Star Division days - and it takes a long while for a developer to really get up to speed. I think most people interested on working on an office quite would rather work on something with a cleaner codebase (e.g. AbiWord, KOffice) than struggle through OO.o.

      I suppose this is one of those, 'if you're paying for it, you may as well keep your name on it' kind of things.

      • On the other hand, if IBM, Red Hat et al are encouraged to commit manpower to the project by a loosening if licence restrictions, wouldn't that help in cleaning up the codebase?

        That's couple of pretty big ifs, of course. Many open source projects, for good or bad, tend to focus on the addition of new features rather than just making the old ones work properly and cleanly, every time; so chances are, more manpower might well be used deployed on tasks other than cleaning and streamlining, despite OOo sorely
  • by bgfay (5362) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:00AM (#14668479) Homepage
    If Sun is interested in goodwill, then this seems a great way to go. If Sun is interested in hurting Microsoft, then this is a great way to go. If Sun is interested in a broader partnership with Google, then this can't hurt that either.

    I'm not as informed about all this as I could be, so who can say what the downsides are for Sun if they release this to a Mozilla-like foundation?

    Anything that keeps OpenOffice going, helps it become faster and less of a resource hog, and further forces open document standards on the proprietary office suites is a good thing to me.
    • by Decaff (42676) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:32AM (#14668560)
      If Sun is interested in goodwill, then this seems a great way to go.

      Open Office is possibly the single most important reason why Linux is useful as a workstation OS. Seems to me like they deserve all the goodwill anyway.
      • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:00AM (#14668644) Homepage Journal
        You can say that (and I use OO.o a lot, too), but I really think that Gnome and KDE's office products would be a lot further along if OO.o weren't in the picture. Much of the rapid development that was happening to bring KOffice along went quiet when OO.o was released, if I remember correctly. I love OO.o, but I sometimes wonder if we would now have a significantly lighter, "cleaner" office suite had OO.o not dropped into the picture when it had.
        • I love OO.o, but I sometimes wonder if we would now have a significantly lighter, "cleaner" office suite had OO.o not dropped into the picture when it had.

          You may be right, but, sadly, I don't think that users want a light clean suite - they want something that looks like MS Office.
          • Well, you have 3 categories of users:
            1) People who want it to look/work like MS Office
            2) People who *need* it to be compatable with MS Office files (for more than just the basic lowest-common-denomenator features)
            3) People who evangelize how it can replace MS Office, but don't personally fall into group 1 or group 2.

            The reasons I'm not using OpenOffice at work are because I fall into group #2. (Oh, and OO.o 2.0 isn't so great on the Mac, at the moment, and my work machine is thankfully a PowerBook with a l
            • 2) People who *need* it to be compatable with MS Office files (for more than just the basic lowest-common-denomenator features) ....
              The reasons I'm not using OpenOffice at work are because I fall into group #2.


              I have installed Open Office as the main Office suite at a medium size company that needs to exchange MS Office documents with other organisations and with customers. I have had very few problems with compatibility.
    • by idlake (850372)
      Sun would cut off the proverbial nose to spite their face. Their proprietary control of Java and their failure to standardize Java through an open process has hurt them big time. They missed the boat with NeWS as well by keeping it proprietary. And they're going to retain control of OpenOffice and annoy people until that, too, will have been replaced by something else.

      Sun is cleverly attempting to drive themselves out of business, and they are doing it ever so gently, gradually, and persistently.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:09AM (#14668505)
    Mozilla, for all the support it has, still hasn't achieved any of their goals. 4 years later it's still essentially NS code, and it's plagued by code nobody likes, and bugs [slyerfox.com] both inherited and introduced.

    With Sun at least you've got one company at the wheel so to speak.
  • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:34AM (#14668569)
    Genuine question - did Mozilla and Eclipse gain developers because they were "set free", or is that just coincidence? (Remember - just because B followed A, doesn't mean that A caused B)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Eclipse has become the dominant IDE because it was set free, otherwise there would have been no other reason to use Eclipse 1.0 over NetBeans or what have you. Because it targets Java programmers you can bet that it definately benefited by this (I see a Java bug in the tool I do my Java coding, I fix it)...

      I'm not sure Mozilla is not so open and shut, devs would have had different reasons for working on it which may have been related to past loyalty to the browser, hatered of IE, or just plain curiousity.
      • there would have been no other reason to use Eclipse 1.0 over NetBeans or what have you

        I used a fairly early release of Eclipse, and (on my machine at least) there were plenty of reasons not to use it - not least of which was that any time it redrew the interface you could practically see it doing so. (In fact you could, if you resized the window) In contrast, JBuilder was much, much faster and just downright more usable.

        Now, time has passed, and I switched to Eclipse from JBuilder about a year ago, and Ecl
    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:02AM (#14668651)
      Genuine question - did Mozilla and Eclipse gain developers because they were "set free", or is that just coincidence? (Remember - just because B followed A, doesn't mean that A caused B)

      Genuine answer - Alot of developers have clauses in their employment contracts about what they can and cannot do in their spare time in terms of software develoment. In my own case (I had a lawyer check my contract) I can am free to work on OSS projects if they :

      1) Do not undermine the business of my employer. That is the OSS project represents a competing product.
      2) The project is not conntrolled by a competing company or corporation.

      So I am guessing that it was at least partly a case of Mozilla and Eclipse gaining developers because they were 'set free'.

      Some developers have truly draconian clauses in their contracts about the extent to which they can participate in OSS projects. I have even heard of people being forbidden by contract to develop software for anybody but their employer no matter what the circumstance or the nature of the development work (ie. even if it is an OSS project that is solely for their own enjoyment, unrelated to the employers line of business and not for profit). Such clauses would probably not hold up in court, at least not in most EU countries, but corporations include them in employment contracts anyway. The same goes for anti competition clauses, ie. "If you quit and start working for a rival corporation you must remain unemployed for N months before starting your new job". Supreme courts in a nubmer of European countries have have declared such anti competition clauses to be invalid but they keep being included in employment contracts regardless. I suppose employers are counting on their terror value since employees may be reluctant to take the matter to court even if they will win because of the legal cost and the time-demands and hassle of a court case.
  • That's strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips (752041) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:43AM (#14668585) Homepage Journal
    That's strange. We do hear that request from IBM.

    But in fact I heard that most FLOSS developers are turned down by the size and overall (low) quality of OOo code.

    As one developer said on blog (I failed to find that remark again) the thing is only paid Sun developers would work on it. And only because they are paid to do so. Compilation take ages and level of requirements for development is high - that all creates entry barrier to FLOSS developers, most of whome work in their own spare time.

    To put in prospective: what would you want to spend you time on: hacking Linux kernel and then in 10 minutes seeing your changes or waiting N hours when OOo compilation finishes?

    I never looked into OOo sources. But the pace of progress project makes - and the kind of progress it makes - tell quite much about how project is organized. I truly hope that KOffice would be able to run on Wind0ze - in office unfortunately I'm completely confined to the M$ Wind0ze. At the moment only OOo can read the SXW files OOo produces upon import from M$O... AbiWord fails completely to pick up styles in such documents. KOffice 1.4 is quite close to render the files the way as OOo does.
  • Pretentiousness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NekoXP (67564) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:43AM (#14668591) Homepage

    Mozilla has gotten new developers since Firefox, NOT because it's not controlled by AOL/Netscape anymore.

    I wish developers would be less pretentious about their choice of projects. Surely successful projects
    which have significant amounts of corporate backing, both financial and in terms of management, are some
    of the better projects to work on. You have defined goals, a great infrastructure to work in, and nobody
    ever complained about the way Mozilla was being run before The Foundation (in fact The Foundation works
    exactly the same way for every developer in terms of bug tracking, IRC events, software testing and
    releases, as it did during AOL's tenure)

    OpenOffice could get more developers if it had some unsubstantial hype or managed to get a bunch of new
    features it already had (get rid of Java and implement everything the same way, some other way :) but
    not just because Sun would have dropped it. I actually think OpenOffice (like Seamonkey becoming a tiny
    little sideproject in view of Firefox's popularity) would suffer for it.
  • Codebase (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:47AM (#14668601)
    From what I've heard (and seen, to an extent), OpenOffice.org has such a complex codebase that the only developers willing to work on it are those paid by Sun. No one will be interested in learning such a weird and large codebase.
    • It's true. But what is "turning it over" (it's already open source) to random group of people going to acomplish. It's not going to change the fact the codebase is a clusterfsck that nobody wants to touch.
  • In my view OO.org biggest problem is not that SUN pays most engeneers but huge complexity of OO.org. I've heard even some rumors that OO.org contains ASSEMBLER language in some parts!!!

    To make much more flexible whole project needs to become much more modular (which equals trash all existing codebase and start from scratch):
    - file modules (input/output) - in ideal world OO.org would share this part with AbiWord, KOffice etc...
    - "processing" module (document "managment", scripting etc.) - imagine running OO.
    • Might help if you knew what you where talking about...

      OO can be run headless and I do so to generate multiple outputs from web
      forms on a server, doc, word, pdf etc.
    • Sounds good. take a nice clean project like AbiWord [abisource.com] that is insanely fast and stable and build from there.

      It blows my mind how fast and stable that works is overlooked by many developers for the bloated feature-fest of other projects.

      Come up woth a companion spreadsheet for Abiword that works on windows,OSX, BSD and linux and you will utterly kill OO.o simply because of speed and the fact it works.

      many people claim that users WANT the added fluff in MS office and OO.o has. yet 90% of the time I hear peopl
  • by squoozer (730327) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @07:54AM (#14668627)

    I don't really see much of a problem with OOo as it is. It seems to be developing at a fair pace and it is free (at least as in beer which is all I care about). Ok, so it uses Java, so what. I don't generally find Java slow but then I have a machine that is fairly up to date.

    I think part of the problem here is that a good portion of the Linux community runs what most people would consider very old boxes. There is nothing wrong with that but I don't agree that we should hold back development to cater for it. I don't care if an application sucks 200MB of memory as long as it does what I want it to do. If I have a problem with it I'll stick in another GB of RAM to deal with it. There is a limit to this approach but we are no where near it yet.

    • " I don't care if an application sucks 200MB of memory as long as it does what I want it to do."

      You'll probably change your mind when you have 5 or 6 applications sucking 200MB of memory at the same time.

  • by idlake (850372) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:07AM (#14668670)
    OOo is at the same stage as Mozilla was: a functional but bloated and messy codebase and system. Unfortunately, that's what big companies tend to produce (I think it's a consequence of having too many engineers, many of which are mediocre).

    What needs to happen to it is what happened to Firefox: the thing needs to be split up, the GUI and cross platform toolkit need to be overhauled (or even replaced with Gtk+), and Java needs to be exorcised from it.

    And, yes, severing the connection with Sun would be a good thing for OOo, and ultimately for Sun as well.
    • by NekoXP (67564) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:17AM (#14668718) Homepage

      (I think it's a consequence of having too many engineers, many of which are mediocre).

      How do big companies tend to produce that, but you forgot all those huge, bloated, never-controlled-by-a-corporation projects like GCC, XFree86, and suchlike?

      Too many cooks spoiling the broth IS what causes it, but why make the dig at big companies?

      • Too many cooks spoiling the broth IS what causes it, but why make the dig at big companies?

        Because those kinds of projects are commonplace at big companies, while they are the exception for open source projects: most open source projects simply don't have the resources to support lots of mediocre engineers that aren't really interested in the product.

        However, I'm not even sure that gcc and XFree86 are good examples of FOSS development problems. The reason gcc and XFree86 have become so big and messy is pre
    • by jilles (20976) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @09:35AM (#14669218) Homepage
      Agreed. Except the changes that need to take place are probably much more like netscape 4 vs mozilla 1.0 than mozilla 1.x vs Firefox 1.0. Essentially firefox was only about the UI whereas mozilla was a complete rewrite of netscape 4.x.

      Open office consists of close to 10 million lines of code. Much of it is star office legacy code that very few people understand. Because of this legacy, feature development happens at a snailpace and the UI looks like shit.

      A complete rewrite is not a realistic option for Sun. Doing so certainly killed Netscape and their product was a much smaller software product. A full rewrite would take the best part of this decade. A more realistic strategy would be to gradually replace the worst parts of the system. Identify the problematic components and fix or redesign them. Sure the UI sucks but it sort of works. The 2.0 development even made it look semi native on some platforms. Deoupling the components of the suit means that you can evolve them (or kill them off) seperately.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is not only OpenOffice, Linux kernel development also should bring under a foundation and set an example for the open source community. The "Linux" trademark also should bring it under that foundation.
  • More gimme, gimme (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aCapitalist (552761) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @08:10AM (#14668687)
    "In an ideal world open source should not be dependent on the capriciousness of any one corporation," OpenOffice.org project leader Louis Suarez-Potts told vnunet.com.

    It's already not dependant. It's open source. Do with it as you please. IBM already has.

    IBM used the OpenOffice source code last year to create a separate version of the suite as part of its Workplace offering, which is allowed under the application's licence.

    Oops, IBM already forked it, so what is Louis talking about again?

    A fork is considered inappropriate for open source projects, as it forces the developer community to spread its attention over multiple, yet similar, projects.

    *cough*, bullshit.

    "If OpenOffice did become independent we would be interested in talking to Sun about it, but it's not holding us back in any way," he wrote.

    So IBM officially doesn't care one way or the other, so what are Louis' real motives. That's easy. It's all about corporate hatred and biting the hand that feeds you.

    • That's easy. It's all about corporate hatred and biting the hand that feeds you.

      I think he is saying that OOo would actually benefit from a little less feeding because it is rather obese already.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In my opinion this is utter nonsense.

    Its like saying that Linus should give up on the kernel and move all the decisions about its development in a seperate group. Wake up call: that is not going to work since it will only slow down development. I know its but a movie, but to give the geeks something they can relate to: The endless debates in the senate (Star Wars - first trilogy) are actually based on real-life politics. If the system works, don't change it.. Second puzzle: is it these people to do about th
  • Is it really necessary to start yet another foundation for a single project (along with all of the overhead involved in maintaining that foundation)? Isn't there an existing foundation that the code could be released to and reap the benefits of one fundraising arm, one set of lawyers, one (well, however many) web server, etc. Fedora foundation might be the best fit for the code, but would likely make Sun cringe. But why not the Mozilla Foundation? I'm sure there are other out there that I'm not thinking
  • Problems with OO.o (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ajs318 (655362)
    OpenOffice.org began life as StarOffice, a closed-source product. The closed-source heritage becomes obvious when you study the code: there are things in there that whoever wrote them, was evidently banking on nobody ever seeing them. OO.o 1.x would not even compile at all on 64-bit, and even on 32-bit the make output is riddled with warnings.

    What's really required is for somebody to sit down and start afresh in reimplementing the whole of OpenOffice.org from scratch. Whilst it's nice to talk of code
  • by ahmetaa (519568) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @09:36AM (#14669222)
    i am always buffled with the ignorance of the people who thinks Java is causing the problems with the OpenOffice project.
    - Java is used in a small amount of the OpenOffice (database and some less known seperate components). i wish it would be used more. Especially in the GUI part, check NeoOffice if you want.
    - Bloat is caused by the C++ side of the application. And not Sun's fault it was already rotten when Sun bought the company.
    - Complexity is caused by the C++ side of the application. it would be hell if they tried to use C++ for all the database part.
    - People thinks everybody will rush to participate code if it would e an organization are dreaming. if Sun does not pay, it will be in the hands of one or two stinky hacker. coding C++ code is no feast especially for this magnitude of the project. Firefox has a bunch of core developers and one million people who just rub the developers back, thay are suffering grately. Eclipse is lucky on that side because they use a better and easier programming language (Java).

  • Let's face it, OOo is pretty lame. I hate to say it, but it's true. The user interface is simply atrocious (ever tried using outline numbering? Or perhaps you could try outline numbering instead? Yup, two different features with the same name. Neither of which works properly.) For complex documents (eg legal agreements) I'm reduced to accessing my firm's Word 2000 installation under Citrix. :-(
    • Strange, I have been using OO Writer since it was StarWriter 5.0 for DOS and the outline numbering has worked for all legal documents I have made. I have also used it on a doctorate paper and countless technical documentations. I will grant you one thing, the dialog that allows you to use this feature shoud get a mayor rewrite. As you have singled out one feature you hate in OO I will do the same for Word 2000: File format! While this is not truly open (free and documented) its just a data grave where each
  • by antonallan (952630) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:12AM (#14669482)
    A lot of the people here have high hopes for OpenOffice to be the killer app that could bring enterprise users to Linux. Hence the many suggestions and ideas about what Sun should do with it.

    But to me, the key is not OpenOffice but OpenDocument. With the widespread adaptation of an open document format, in a few years people will stop caring what Office suite you are running - just like I don't care about your brand of email client, I just assume you can read the emails I send you.

    For that reason, Suns ownership of OpenOffice has been all for the good - they could probably not have justified the expense to their shareholders if they had just given it all up to a foundation - and we should all be very grateful. Now we have ODF, we have a working implementation (OO.o), and all FOSS developers can choose to work on their Office software of choice, as long as they are ODF-compliant, which will in the end lead to real choice for all of us that are mostly users.

    As for Sun keeping OpenOffice or giving it to a foundation - who cares?
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xander26 (952882)
    It seems to me that there is a double agenda here. This is what I hate the most about the open source community. They think all software should be open, regardless of what the developer of the code actually wants. Mr. Torvalds (I applauded btw, when he stuck with GPL v2) can release the Linux kernel under what ever license he wants to, since he's the one who developed it. Likewise, OOo is Sun's baby, and they should be able to do with it what they want. Now, before you all think I'm a troll I like open
    • However, it should be up to who ever owns the code...and in this case, it's Sun. This is a free society right?

      Absolutely, but it's also free to ask them to give up those rights. No one is forcing them or infringing on their rights, the developers that work on the project are 'urging' Sun to create a foundation. OpenOffice is a good product, it would be a shame to fork it so other big companies would feel more comfortable increasing thier contributions. The best thing for the community as a whole would
  • by benmhall (9092) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:28AM (#14669589) Homepage Journal
    Wow. They release the best office suite for Linux/Unix, not to mention the only truly cross-platform office suite, under the LGPL and it still isn't enough. No, they have to set up a foundation.

    Come on.

    The only reason for the Mozilla Foundation was because AOL/Netscape wanted to stop bleeding money into a project that was giving them nothing. Sure, it's been a good move for Mozilla projects, but Sun's ongoing commitment to OpenOffice/StarOffice just shows how strongly they believe in the project. If OpenOffice was languishing, then it might be time to ask them to step aside and establish a Foundation. This is clearly not the case. Moreover, OpenOffice's license is very cut and dried. You can easily fork the project (as has been done with Workplace and, to a lesser extent, with NeoOffice.) Heck, you can even fork it and setup a foundation. Good luck replacing those Sun engineers, though.

    OpenOffice is hugely important to Linux, Unix and Open Source in general. For the most part, I think that Sun has been doing an outstanding job with the code. Why ask them to further distance themselves from the project now? It's not like they're doing it a disservice. (As was arguably the case with Netscape/Mozilla.)

    And another thing, people taking potshots at OOo 2's use of Java in Base should realize that this was yet another significant contribution to the project from Sun. Base, even with it's faults, works very well. In fact, it has already allowed me to use MySQL/OOo in place of Access at work. Sure it uses Java, but this was done for legitimate reasons with an eye on compatibility. The proof of this being that Red Hat et al. were so quickly able to port Base to the gjc. I highly doubt that the relative ease of this task was a coincidence.

    Really, that this has come up at all is a true shame. I fear that it shows that even if Sun were to open source Java, people would still find some way to complain. Sun certainly does some strange things, but their contributions to OpenOffice have been nothing short of fantastic. They should be commended for Giving Microsoft their first real competition in years.
    • by hritcu (871613)
      Sun's contribution to open source is extremely valuable, and so it's IBM's. I really hate to see the two undermining each other's efforts. They should know better.

      As for the slashdotters ... they will always find something to pick on, no matter what the subject is.
  • by Augusto (12068) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:41AM (#14670204) Homepage
    I thought the goal was to get more companies to open source products?

    Sun has spent a lot of money on this product, and now people are demanding that they give this up too? I don't get it. Wouldn't this discourage people from opening up their projects to OS?

    You can already fork this and do your own thing right? There's no incentive for Sun to "give up" more control over this, unless they want to fire a bunch of developers Sun pays for to lower their costs.
  • by hritcu (871613) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:45PM (#14671449) Homepage
    ... from the IBM P.R. department with the title: "IBM urges Sun to give up OpenOffice control"

    The truth is that if a high enough percentage of the OpenOffice.org people wanted to break up with Sun nobody could stop them - they could just FORK. But wait ... more than half of the OpenOffice.org developers are Sun EMPLOYEES! So how could _OpenOffice.org_ want "Sun Microsystems to give up control over the OpenOffice productivity suite, and donate the intellectual property to an independent not-for-profit foundation" (quote from the article)? And what developer would consciously use a term like intellectual property [gnu.org] in the first place?
  • Remove java (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mnmn (145599) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:01PM (#14671602) Homepage
    I think Sun is really being urged to remove Java from OO. Its the main reason why OO is always slower than MS Office 2000. We dont enjoy java being shoved down our throats, and just a clean C/C++ interface with GUI wrappers that will work with any GUI will do.

    OO is a great project, but it doesnt quite smack of freedom as does gcc.

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