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Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave 589

Posted by Soulskill
from the pack-your-junk dept.
Elektroschock writes "In an unprecedented move with respect to other forks, Oracle asked the founders of the Document Foundation and LibreOffice to leave the OpenOffice.org Community Council. Apparently there is a conflict of interest, which concerns the Oracle employees."
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Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave

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  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:36AM (#33922250) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft must be jealous that Oracle is the new FOSS hubris king. "They are out-eviling us! We....can't....have....this!"

  • by NaCh0 (6124) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:48AM (#33922288)

    That IRC meeting was painful. Is the reason OOo has been so slow to gain traction in America because nobody on the board speaks english or has the cultural fortitude to face tough issues? Thankfully louis_to was there to get down to business and make something happen.

  • oracle and software (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lexluther (529642) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:55AM (#33922306) Homepage
    First, as usual, the post makes an infirmed attempt at giving the user any help in actually understanding the issue. Second, oracle has really never been successful in giving end-users a reasonably effective piece of software. They make great software and horrible interfaces. Using open office, I think about how great it would be if shuttleworth got into it. It is not as good as word and i say that with regret.
  • by Chicken_Kickers (1062164) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:59AM (#33922314)

    Would it kill the story submitter to give people like me with no background in open source politics some info on what the heck is LibreOffice, why was it forked and is this latest development good or bad? I occasionally use Go-oo to open incompatible files but that's about it. Wikipedia and Libreoffice's website aren't much help either. So, someone knowledgeable, please reply below. Thanks in advance.

  • by kn (167667) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:04AM (#33922332)

    As a complete outsider, having read through the logs, it is hard for me to understand how this could possibly not be a conflict of interest.

    I'm all for some Oracle bagging, as an ex-OpenSolaris user, but the comments so far seem rather unjustified in this case.

    The board seems to be composed of Oracle Employees, and 3 independents (possibly more who were not present?). Comments are made that indicate that some of the Oracle employees have been involved in OpenOffice since before Sun's acquisition of Star Office. The 3 independents have all formed a competing project, and fail to understand how forming a separate project constitutes a conflict of interest. They justify this position by mentioning that they invited Oracle to join the board of their competing project. The concept of some mysterious cloud office is mentioned by one of the independents, seemingly indicating that there is no conflict. Most reasonable people would ordinarily conclude that the independents are crazy; however, due to Oracle's involvement it is apparently they who are in error.

    Oracle may well have been uncooperative or something to bring forth a situation that necessitated a fork, but that hardly makes the current predicament anything less than a conflict of interest.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:10AM (#33922350)

    LibreOffice is waiting for the Debian ftpmasters to review it already:

    http://ftp-master.debian.org/new/libreoffice_1:3.3.0~beta2-1.html

    So it will be in Debian for wheezy. Unsurprising considering Rene is on the LibreOffice founders page.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:21AM (#33922384)

    Yeah, it's their right to keep the name, if the open source people really want to prove that open source is better anyway they should just make the fork better and let the market decide. It was also pointed out that the name actually sucks so maybe this is really a good thing, as long as they don't use that gay LibreOffice name.

    I actually like the name LibreOffice more than OpenOffice. Also, a new name gives them a chance to shed the negative baggage that was associated with the OpenOffice name while still being able to point back to it for creditability.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:32AM (#33922414)

    Technically, remember, that OOo is basically a dressing up and improving of Star Office, started by a German company, so if you want to attribute 90% of the work to someone, I'd put it there, but I don't think, at this point, you can contribute 90% to one entity.

    Granted, Star Office, both program and company, were bought by Sun, but a lot of the work was done well before Sun stepped in and bought it.

    And, I know it's a small detail, but it can matter legally, it's not GPL, it's LGPL. There are differences.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:32AM (#33922416)

    The obvious problem with your view of the situation is
    OO.org is GPL, the part of the copyright and trademarks may belong to Oracle, but not all. As a whole, Oracle does not "own" the project.

    I can understand the move, several community members feel Oracle is going to be bad for the future of OO.org, and the project would be better
    in the hands of a non-profit foundation.

    Besides, there this is not the first fork (go-OO), and it is a sign that the project structure at OO.org is detrimental for the project. A similar, yet different situation
    happened with XFree86. Did you ever try to ask yourself why community members would try to do something drastic as a fork? It is to get rid of the rot.

    The council members would like to stay in the council because they think that even while separate, LibreOffice and others can be part of a bigger community, having similar
    goals but different rules. So all officesuites can be part of the same foundation. I do not see a COI there, this is not a company, but an OS project. The interests of the two project are largely identical. Only the way how to actually do it maybe different.

  • by rta (559125) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:49AM (#33922462)

    I too was struck by the overall unprofessional tone of the discussion. The language barrier was certainly palpable, but what was up w/ all the "joking" and such. louis_to at least put down some statement of what he (and/or his faction) were demanding, but he didn't really explain how or why this was a conflict of interest.

    His statements were a quoted appeal to "gentlemanship" and a statement that he didn't want to "confuse the users". That's fairly weak reasoning. There was, for example, no statement of how the two projects are in competition with each other or any statement about WHAT exactly the users would be confused about.

    I'm not saying that there isn't a COI, but no theory of COI was even advanced in the "discussion".

    From my reading of this it looks like louis_to and mhu were giving the branchers/non-employees an ultimatum to resign by Tuesday (though no specific "or else" was specified). I assume otherwise they're going to be voted off the island?

    (as a purely subjective matter, and perhaps as a result of their making demands without presenting an argument, mhu and louis_to came off as jerks in this exchange.)

  • No force? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by reiisi (1211052) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:51AM (#33922470) Homepage

    You don't know how to read between the lines in this kind of meeting, I'd say.

    I've seen enough of these kinds of meetings to see the evidence of backroom deals. (As I noted above, the jammed input on the COI loop is one obvious bit of evidence.)

  • Understandable move (Score:3, Interesting)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:55AM (#33922486)

    Understandable move from Oracle. Anyone finding out that their wife/husband/life partner is having a side affair would ask them to move out.

    It is really really sad, but I am not so sure about the ethical steps from Oracle's side up to this point. What made these guys create LibreOffice in the first place and why doesn't Oracle answer to that more constructively? Does LibreOffice really have the momentum already to withstand this move or is Oracle using the early stage?

    At this stage we are not in a win-win situation, and things may get worse than the frustrated name calling of a bitter drama-queen feud.

  • Self-destructive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:59AM (#33922496) Homepage

    LibreOffice and co. have been a barely known contender in the free Office market so far, while OO.o has the market pretty much sealed up.

    After this little stunt, and if this trend continues in the future, I would be surprised if OO.o remained the office of choice in Ubuntu 11.04, or really any of the Linux distros who pride themselves on free software. Oracle is destroying its free-software products.

    A naive person might ask why they bought Sun in the first place, if they are clueless about how to manage free software. A cynic would answer that they bought it in order to run OO.o, MySQL and Java into the ground.

  • by micheas (231635) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @04:00AM (#33922504) Homepage Journal

    How much of the openoffice code was created by sun employees?

    Can libreoffice stay relevant without coorperate backing?

    No flames please. I ask because I want to know.

    Nobody will know the answer to your question, because libreoffice has corporate backing of both Redhat (RHT:NYSE) and Canonical Ltd.

    I would assume that Novell will merge oo-go into libreoffice and add their support to libreoffice.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @04:38AM (#33922650) Journal

    The interesting question is how much developers are in each group. X.org was more successful than XFree not the least because a huge chunk of actively contributing devs was with that project.

    With OO.org, I'm not so sure. In the past I've heard claims that most code - especially the core stuff, rather than various beautifications like Gtk & KDE theming, better icons etc - is maintained by Sun employees; that would be Oracle employees now (or most of them, anyway).

    Or to put it simple: if you take the standing member line-up for OO.org and LibreOffice, and then look at the history of their commits for, say, the last two years, and measure the volume of said commits, how do the two groups compare?

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_womble (580291) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:07AM (#33922864) Homepage Journal

    As most of the code was written by employees of companies Oracle bought, Oracle does own the copyrights. They also own the trademarks.

    Of course its a conflict of interests. They are working on a competing product. Its like a Windows developer contributing to WINE.

    I also cannot find any clear explanation of why the fork is necessary. This is very different from XFree86 where there was a clear problem. I would have thought that Oracle has both the resources and the will to rival MS Office.

  • by ledow (319597) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:14AM (#33922888) Homepage

    Answer: "It *IS* OpenOffice. It uses the exact same code even though the company that owns it was bought out by a rival that now wants to control what you do with their version. But the code is free forever, so they can't *make* you upgrade to something inferior (unlike their competitors that we moved away from), so someone has created an identical but still usable version and just had to change the name. That's 100% legal and there will be no arguments or court cases to trouble us over that because our license is perpetual. Your apps will always still work, but the next upgrade might have a different logo on it. Your IT guys don't have to do anything new to upgrade, there are no massive system-wide changes, it's still the same program. The icon design might change on your desktop a little, that's about it, but the file formats are still perfectly 100% the same and the software is still perfectly 100% supported, and still running the same code it always was. But instead of the half-a-dozen uninspired programmers put on the project by the new owners, we have the same community of thousands of programmers that worked on the "old" versions and know the code off-by-heart. We also have the choice to keep using the old code forever, or move to the new version by the new horrible company, or use the new version from the old community, which is kinda why we moved onto Open Source in the first place. Incidentally, how is [sister company]'s upgrade to Office 2010 going?"

  • by the Gray Mouser (1013773) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:19AM (#33922906)

    Call me crazy but I can see the conflict of interest. You fork a project to create a better version. LibreOffice and Open Office are directly competitive products. How many people do you think will use both?

    I haven't heard much about LibreOffice before this, but I know I had to buy a copy of MS Office 2010 for my wife because Open Office mangles the .rtf files she sends and receives from other writers.

    Hopefully one fork or the other will become standards compliant soon.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bangzilla (534214) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:21AM (#33922910) Journal
    Actually it's the folks at SUN who promised to create an independent foundation and then didn't, who owe the explanation. Then again the contributors who poured in their valuable contributions and watched, and waited and hoped are likewise culpable - expectations do not a legally binding commitment make.
  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:46AM (#33922980) Homepage

    Intel, AMD, nVidia, Apple, Synaptics, Pluggable, and XGI all contribute to X.org, and all somehow get along.

  • Just destructive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bigtreeman (565428) <coltree@tpg.com.au> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:58AM (#33923014)

    I have used Star|openoffice since it was first ported to Linux.
    It used to break constantly, saving every few lines was mandatory.
    I thank all free and corporate work which has gone into Openoffice
    and I will now support Libreoffice as Mark Shuttleworth stated at
    http://www.documentfoundation.org/supporters/ [documentfoundation.org]
    I'm sure Debian will not hesitate to jump on board although they are conspicuously absent.

    Sun has years of research, inventions (IP) and acquisitions,
    a cheap buy at any price, but Oracle bought at a good time.
    What a good way to get rid of competing (free, libre) products,
    hands up all the cynics.
    The corporate side of computing always has been grotesque.

    Spread the word about LibreOffice

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:34AM (#33923106) Homepage Journal

    lol, as a European I usually find it painful to discuss with, or read, with/from an American because of their constant wittyness and irrelevant crap that they have to say, I blame Americanization for this painful-to-read chat log ;)

    No, it's the failure of Europeans to grasp American idioms and learn the simpler English grammar rules that make it painful to read Euro-English. Stop translating European idioms directly into English my little cabbage, and it will make my better sense. Correctly, it seems.

  • by QuestorTapes (663783) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:38AM (#33923126)

    > Answer: "It *IS* OpenOffice. It uses the exact same code even though the company
    > that owns it was bought out by a rival that now wants to control what you do
    > with their version

    Excellent point. Viewed that way, this is more like one of Microsoft's product
    name changes than a product change. At this point, there is no difference between
    the products (It's not MS Office, it's MS Office.NET!)

    Changes are likely to be fairly slow for a time.

    There is a legitimate reason to be concerned about the corporate perception on
    this; but it's just a valid to say that LibreOffice is the product you've been
    using, from the same source. That the _CHANGE_ is that _Oracle_ purchased the
    name when they acquired Sun, and _Oracle_ is the cause of the perceived conflict.

    Approached properly, Oracle's habit of overcharging and pissing off people
    (there's a reason Oracle is often called 'Orrible) could aid in driving
    LibreOffice to the front. It's not a lock; but it's too soon to call.

  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @08:50AM (#33923340)

    Their webpage hasn't been touched in 2 years, with most of it static for around 4+ years now. Their last release was in 2008, which was XFree 4.8.0 which apparently mostly just replicated some features from Xorg and fixed some bugs. I can guarantee you the support for any modern hardware is missing.

    Most importantly - no Linux distributions that I'm aware of have used the XFree server in quite a few years now. FreeBSD doesn't use it anymore and I don't think the other BSDs do either.

    Their CVS commit mailing list shows only two code committers in the last 3 and a half years. No code commits since February of 2009. Their general mailing list has only been used by one person since 2008.

    So yeah, it's dead Jim. Everybody moved to the Xorg server, including OSes and distributions and development community.

  • by guzzloid (597721) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @09:15AM (#33923450)

    If that happens (and you may well be correct), I predict that Oracle will follow up by attacking LibreOffice with patent claims in order to re-assert OpenOffice's market position.

    I think it's plain to see that Oracle is not interested in FOSS principles, fairness, "community spirit", free market competition, patent-free software (regardless of Ellison's past claims) or even (as it seems at present) their reputation with us technical folk; they want to be a highly-profitable, dominant force in big-business IT with reputation with management, and screw everyone else.

    Personally, I think (hope) their current seeming disdain for the technical and FOSS community will be a problem for them in the long run, and they will probably end up back-pedalling on their stance to open community projects. I also think they bit off more than they could chew when they bought up Sun, SleepyCat, InnoBase, et al, and may be struggling to know what to do with all the projects they have inherited. After all, it's us geeks who are often in the position to choose which technologies to deploy in an organisation, and it seems there's a lot of us who are going off Oracle pretty quickly.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blaine the monorail (1140679) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @09:21AM (#33923474)

    Libre Office gives an air of smugness like the one that you get from <insert minority here> rights movement, or from vegans and other super ecofriendly people.

    Fascinating how you manage to insult minority rights movements, vegans, "super ecofriendly" people and Libre Office contributors in one sentence :-/

  • by orasio (188021) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:55AM (#33923924) Homepage

    The "cuba libre" drink is said to be the result of US intervention in Cuban independence from Spain.
    It might have something to do with revolutionaries, but not communist at all.
    It also makes you think of Coca Cola, that's a capitalist icon if there is one.

  • by managerialslime (739286) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:36AM (#33924168) Journal

    I use OO as a file-conversion utility (but never for anything else), and was originally dismissive of the amount of attention this thread generated. Over the years, I have supported companies large and small. If you include my direct reports, I have supported thousands of users. Maybe twice in that time have I run into (or heard of) anyone who disclosed that they use OO at home or work.

    So I did a little Googling and was amazed to find that multiple sources ". . . estimated that market share of Open Office amounts to 7% for office use and 20% for home use."

    "http://books.google.com/books?id=B2Wcn_Io9B8C&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=%22market+share+of+open+office%22&source=bl&ots=GU9-1psXXG&sig=K50OV3lD3ot-PPJYa_gv2S6P6dk&hl=en&ei=hw-7TLXUE8H-8AaHntjsBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCMQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22market%20share%20of%20open%20office%22&f=false"

    If accurate, this makes OO a larger threat to Microsoft than Google as each copy of OO represents a bigger threat to one of Microsoft's three significant streams of profitable revenue (Office, Windows, and Xbox) than anything offered up thus far by Google.

    That this "underground" success has happened despite distro companies from Redhat to Ubuntu failing to develop marketing campaigns to bring OO to greater public attention means the opportunity for greater success for OO may still lay before us.

    Right now, iPad and Android users are adopting non-MS office apps by the thousands. Perhaps forks like Libre Office will rejuvenate efforts to finally bring a cross-platform (Windows, MAC OS, MAC IOS, Android, and Linux) office that will simplify support efforts.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:43AM (#33924206)

    I am not sure how it was improperly used, definition 3 fits. Stop being a bitch and trying to take over a word far older then its use in definition 4.

    Definition of GAY (from merriam-webster.com)

    1 a : happily excited : merry b: keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits

    2 a : bright, lively b: brilliant in color

    3: given to social pleasures; also : licentious

    4 a: homosexual b: of, relating to, or used by homosexuals

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westlake (615356) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:55AM (#33924272)

    All this time, the LibreOffice contributors have been waiting for the foundation, assigning their (costly) code contributions to SUN, and watching how SUN released his propietary version using their (costly) code contributions

    I was under the impression that Star Office was OpenOffice.org with Sun's proprietary contributions:

    Proprietary components Several font metric compatible Unicode TrueType fonts containing bitmap representations for better appearance at smaller font sizes
    Twelve Western fonts (including Andale Sans, Arial Narrow, Arial Black, Broadway, Garamond, Imprint MT Shadow, Kidprint, Palace Script, Sheffield) and seven Asian language fonts (including support for the Hong Kong Supplementary character set)

    I would add here that font designs are not trivial. It is not a common skill. The Garamond family of fonts can be traced back to 1540 and is the work of perhaps a half dozen or so significant designers.

    Adabas D database
    StarOffice-only templates and sample documents
    A large clip-art gallery

    Sorting functionality for Asian versions
    File-import filters for additional older word-processing formats (including EBCDIC, DisplayWrite, MultiMate, PFS Write, WordStar, WordStar 2000, and XyWrite (conversion filters licensed from MasterSoft))
    A different spell checker (note that OpenOffice.org includes a spell checker as well) and thesaurus
    StarOffice Configuration Manager
    Macro Converter for converting Microsoft Office VBA macros to StarOffice Basic

    For StarOffice Enterprise Edition only :
    Professional Analysis Wizard
    Wizard to create Microsoft Installer Transformation files.

    There are also differences in the documentation, training and support options, and some minor differences in the look and icons between Oracle Open Office and OpenOffice.org.
    Other differences are that StarOffice only supports 12 languages, compared to over 110 for OpenOffice.org.
    Oracle OpenOffice [wikipedia.org]

    I was also under the impression that Sun had invested about $200 million in StarOffice in an attempt to drive it towards becoming a competitive cross-platform office suite - and that Sun remained the primary source for OpenOffice.org funding, staff, management, and resources of every kind ---

    and that, in fact, contributions of outside developers to OpenOffice.org through most its history have been quite trivial.

  • Re:I'm shocked. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DamonHD (794830) <d@hd.org> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:36PM (#33924476) Homepage

    You casually use a term clearly associated with a minority as a pejorative and claim "no foul"? Bollox.

    Try that trick near me and I'll call the police (or HR if we're in a professional environment) and report a hate crime or similar. Just as if you used the n-word as a pejorative whether referring to a black person to their face or not.

    Technically it is, and even if they don't prosecute I hope they'd end up causing you as much annoyance as you just quite unnecessarily caused me.

    Damon

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:37PM (#33924478) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, but your part in deciding the social mores of the society in which you live is actually quite minuscule. Maybe if you were actually gay, your opinion might have a little more weight, but given that 1) most gay people are offended by that use of the word and 2) you are trying to redefine it based on your own ignorant prejudices, I'm guessing you're not. (Incidentally, that's probably why you are not offended and why you think there's nothing wrong with using the word in that manner.)

    My grandmother, who grew up in the deep South, referred to all black people as n-----s. It was actually quite embarrassing to the whole family, because she would sometimes even do it in open public. If someone asked her not to or pointed out that it was offensive, she would quickly get defensive about it, explaining that it wasn't said in a mean or derogatory way, "that's just what they were always called" when she was growing up, and she wasn't about to change just because someone else now gets offended by it. And many times, she was being honest, the word wasn't said with any particular malice.

    That doesn't change the fact that she was still wrong. Because of the historical context of the word and the baggage that goes along with it, it is patently offensive in today's society.

    A century ago, "gay" meant lively or colorful. Eventually, it came to be applied to mean homosexual, presumably because the lifestyle in which homosexuals were engaged was perceived as stereotypically lively and definitely colorful. However, as the word became more and more associated with homosexuality, it took on the same prejudice against homosexuality that has plagued the community for decades: it came to mean inferior, "sissy," and eventually, stupid. Of course, I'm guessing you know all of this already and I'm just pointing out the obvious, but your use of the word derives its roots directly from its derogatory and prejudicial use in describing homosexuals.

    And that means that no matter how much you rationalize your use of it, and no matter how much you try to pretend like the way in which you used it is completely acceptable, you're wrong, too.

    Maybe it's not a big deal to you. You might think that because I'm heterosexual, it shouldn't be a big deal to me. But when I see a class of normal, ordinary people stigmatized and persecuted and kids literally killing themselves because of anti-gay social pressures, it makes me sick and I won't just stand by and watch. So next time you're tempted to use "gay" in a derogatory manner, grow up or make sure that I'm not in earshot, lest I have to call out your idiocy in public in front of your family and friends.

  • by Kymermosst (33885) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:19PM (#33925192) Journal

    When Oracle moves OOo into paid tiers

    What do you mean moves into paid tiers [oracle.com]...?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:25PM (#33925598)
  • by RichiH (749257) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:46PM (#33927272) Homepage

    > The English word you are looking for is 'Liberty.' And yes, like ~30% of English vocabulary it came to English from French; Liberté.

    Which makes sense as the USA owe their early independence to the... French!

    Brownie points for whoever finds out where the Statue of Liberty came from and why.

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