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Oracle Open Source News

33 Developers Leave OpenOffice.org 500

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
dkd903 writes "We all knew it would come to this, and it has finally happened — 33 developers have left OpenOffice.org to join The Document Foundation, with more expected to leave in the next few days. After Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice.org fell into the hands of Oracle, as did a lot of other products. So, last month a few very prominent members of the OpenOffice.org community decided to form The Document Foundation and fork OpenOffice.org as LibreOffice, possibly fearing that it could go the OpenSolaris way."
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33 Developers Leave OpenOffice.org

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  • Bravo.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shoeler (180797) * on Monday November 01, 2010 @02:59PM (#34092854)
    Bravery in the face of a difficult choice. It's very telling when people who so clearly believe in the project and its open source roots defect in these numbers.

    Oracle may yet be the end of Java too. Stay tuned.
  • by assertation (1255714) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:09PM (#34093006)

    I love Java and have programming in it since Applets were the hot deal. It is matched by none as a server side language. However, being honest and not a fan-boy it isn't that great for GUI apps. LibreOffice people, please remove Java from Open Office. If you do, it will jump in popularity. Right now users have the choice of Open Office either performing clunky because of the Java based wizards or turning the wizards off, which people actually do want to use sometimes.

  • Got funding? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:10PM (#34093026) Journal

    Just curious.

    -jcr

  • by assertation (1255714) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:10PM (#34093034)

    I don't mean to be ignorant or trollish, but isn't this a good thing for Oracle?

    Oracle wouldn't make any money out of Open Office and now ( or soon ) they will not have the burden of it.

  • by tjwhaynes (114792) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:15PM (#34093100)

    ...in no time, with 300+ variations. This is what I hate about OSS. The moment someone isn`t too happy, they get the fork off and duplicate the work and dilute any chance of completing the damn thing, rather than working things out.

    The moment someone isn't too happy? Read the history! Developers have been ranting about the closed shop that surrounded the copyright assignments required for contributing to the OO.o tree for years. The go-oo fork was set up as a rational way to keep track of contributions from people who weren't happy to give their copyrights over to Sun, and I think it's fair to say that most open-source contributors were more comfortable with Sun than Oracle. Forking a project this big is not something that developers take lightly and it takes extreme situations to make one happen.

    There are plenty of examples of successful forks out there. Because OO.o version 3.x is LGPL v3.0, and I assume that TDF will stay with the same license, TDF will be able to take whatever OO.o adds, at least while the forks stay close together. However, unless OO.o starts taking code without copyright assignments, the reverse is not true. It is entirely probable that LibreOffice will be become the preferred product, at which point Oracle is going to have to make a call on whether it wants to work with TDF properly, or watch OO.o wither.

    Cheers,
    Toby Haynes

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:17PM (#34093152) Homepage

    I don't mean to be ignorant or trollish, but isn't this a good thing for Oracle?

    I've been trying to figure out if this is a strategy by Oracle, or a side-effect they don't really care about.

    Oracle is only interested in things that make them money. Something free, not so much. Now, we know they want Java because they've invested a lot in it. And, they want Sun hardware so they can have the revenue stream and ship Oracle appliances on a nice shiny support contract.

    But I can't tell if Oracle is being ass-hats because they want to, because they're incapable of being anything else, or if there's an end-game for them in it. It seems like they're alienating everyone who works with the products they've bought at an alarming rate.

    I'm not sure if gutting OO.org is good for them, bad for them, or such a trivial impact that they don't care.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:24PM (#34093272)

    Oracle wouldn't make any money out of Open Office and now ( or soon ) they will not have the burden of it.

    They won't have a diversity of products anymore either. Nothing but an overly expensive database, being squeezed at the top by DB2 and squeezed at the bottom by all the open source projects. Eventually, inevitably, they'll go "poof" and disappear. IMHO couldn't happen fast enough. They are actually in the same position Sun was, squeeze at both ends until they go poof. Maybe that sort of organizational knowledge of how to ride a sinking ship is why they wanted to buy Sun?

    Now if they had kept the office suite, they could have sponsored a MS Access clone-ish solution inside OO.org that transparently and trivially at a click could upgrade from something free like mysql to their flagship Oracle database for a backend. Or maybe pay to integrate Oracles feelers as deeply as possible into the rest of OO.org. After all an application that had to swallow java web applet language and "survive" could probably have Oracle DBMS shoved down its throat. That could monetize quite profitably, but now it'll never happen...

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:25PM (#34093276)

    Yes, there is a dead fork and a live fork. Oracle owns the dead one.

    That's probably, but not necessarily, true.

    From TFA it really sounds like these 33 people are members of the project but not members of the OO.o project that were paid by Sun.

    So: will the free fork progress more than the Oracle fork? Normally I'd bet on people being paid to build onto a project like this at this phase of its lifecycle, but given Oracle ownership? Really, who knows.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:30PM (#34093382)

    This happens every time: When one company buys out another, they first reassure customers that it will be business as usual. Then they look for stuff to kill off, to get some savings to compensate for what they forked out to buy the company.

    Ellison is not the only one who does this.

  • by lowrydr310 (830514) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:33PM (#34093416)
    I just want something that works, is NOT from MS, and is dirt cheap or FREE (even better!). When it comes to Word Processing and reading/editing .doc files which everyone still seems to use, I found OO to be cumbersome and not always 100% compatible with .doc/.docx files created in MS Word. I found Abiword [abisource.com] and never looked back.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:35PM (#34093448) Homepage
    Am I the only one with serious case of Oracle-vs-Free-Software drama fatigue? At a certain point I stopped caring about the projects and languages I used to think I cared about, and kinda wished that somebody would just give me an executive summary in a few months (eg "Java's dead, we're all back to using COBOL now"), so I can just get back to work.

    Also, are full-blown office suites all that relevant anymore? Aren't the only places that still heavily rely on those the same ones that will never (ever) migrate away from MS Office 2000?
  • by sosaited (1925622) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:36PM (#34093488)
    Google Docs is a web-based service. OpenOffice/LibreOffice is a MS Office competitor with increasing market share, especially in Europe.
  • by sosaited (1925622) on Monday November 01, 2010 @03:47PM (#34093646)

    Sounds good in theory, and I know Google loves the odf format popularized by OpenOffice, but wouldn't that run against Google Docs?

    Not necessarily. Considering that Google Docs is a web-based solution, if they do support an OSS office suite, they can integrate some Google Docs features with it to gain some users. They jumped in the Browser market but still support Firefox (which in turn brings visitors to their search engine)

  • by treeves (963993) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:02PM (#34093824) Homepage Journal

    FYI, Haagen Dasz is not from any language. Marketing types invented it. I suppose it sounds/looks like some Scandinavian language, but it's really just made up.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:03PM (#34093848) Homepage

    They wanted Sun because their OS and hardware are a good platform for their database, which is where their money comes from.

    I fear we will lose Sun as general-use machines and have them replaced as being only for running Oracle. I know people are already getting burned with Oracle basically saying "unless you're on a support contract, you get nothing for your existing machines". If anything, they might drive people to replace Sun's with something else sooner.

    They want Java because their primary commercial competitor, IBM, is heavily invested in Java, so it gives them a solid inroad to luring IBM's customers away and breaking compatibility with IBM's Java solutions.

    Well, that and the fact that all of Oracle's stuff is written in Java. They've got a massive investment in Java that need to maintain.

    They just wanted MySQL just to kill it.

    I believe that.

    I just don't think that this acquisition will be good for the industry, but only for Oracle; certainly not for the customers of the former Sun. In the long run, it might make things crappier overall.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:05PM (#34093874) Journal

    If anything that just makes it an even better example... it was deliberately made to sound foreign.

  • There may be hundreds of variations on GNU/Linux, but the kernel and the important core parts (like X) do have an official "upstream" development process, which most individual distributions derive from and contribute back to. Development of the important parts is not as diluted as it may look: While there are a lot of flavors, they are not worked on in isolation.

    In some areas there are a few direct "competitors", like Gnome and KDE, but in these cases there are usually only 2-3 popular choices. That degree of fragmentation is average in the commercial world as well, and it's kind of beneficial to have a few alternatives to pick from.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:20PM (#34094076)

    They should use whatever Firefox is using, since it:
    1) Is close enough to native that 95% of people won't notice they're not-native.
    2) Correctly supports accessibility features on every OS it runs on that has accessibility features.

    The second point is the most important, there. Make sure whatever widget set you choose supports accessibility!

  • LibreOffice is already taking the go-oo patches. And many people weren't even aware that go-oo has existed for years, and was already the preferred product. Many Linux distros ship go-oo and call it OpenOffice. End users don't even know the difference.

    Isn't IBM a OpenOffice contributer? What would happen if IBM decided to back LibreOffice instead? Oracle would have paid the coin for Sun and OpenOffice, but IBM could largely direct and help control LibreOffice development without spending a dime to "own" it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:25PM (#34094154)

    They just wanted MySQL just to kill it.

    I'm not so sure about this. I heard a very solid reasoning, to why Oracle wants MySQL. MySQL is not competing in the same market of databases as Oracle. Microsoft wants to get in to compete with Oracle.

    Oracle can use MySQL, to compete with MS database solutions and prevent MS from ever entering their market.

  • Re:Bravo.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rgviza (1303161) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:58PM (#34094590)
    Actually you kind of have it backwards. Most of us _had_ to learn java and chunk out crap code because our IT organization shoved J2EE down our collective throat. They took perfectly good programmers and saddled them with it.

    The happiest day of my life was first day of my current job, when my boss said, "yea I noticed you have a lot of J2EE experience, in addition to the stuff we were interested in. Forget about it. Java is complete shit and you won't be using it here."

    Guess what. We still get shit done. For me, working with java was a lot like picking fly shit out of pepper with boxing gloves on. There are much better tools for the job, like your brain, C++, and your favorite scripting language, which amount to a pair of tweezers to do a very specific job.

    I actually had times when an application encapsulating a simple process wouldn't deploy to the app server and spent a week troubleshooting every aspect of the app server, jvm etc etc etc, I could have coded it in c++ and been done with it in a day. I hope Oracle burns java beyond recognition. It belongs in the bit bucket. Java is quite possibly the biggest mess in IT history. It delivers on NONE of it's promises. I don't say "hate" much, but I fucking hate java and everything it (and it's evangelists) stand for.

    Basically you trade one issue, lack of skilled programmers, for another, lack of skilled administrators, who end up working 24x7 troubleshooting java deployment problems. Why? You can't develop skills to cope with crap that constantly breaks with every minor environment release.
  • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Monday November 01, 2010 @04:58PM (#34094594)

    Wait, you are saying that choice is a bad thing? Having more choices is bad, how?

    While it may seem self evident that more choice is always better, the reality is less than clear cut. See The Paradox of Choice [wikipedia.org]. Consumers equate more choice with more freedom and therefore it must be a good thing, right? However, more choice can lead to greater anxiety and decreased satisfaction in the ultimate selection. Many of us have experienced that feeling of helplessness, however brief, when faced with thirty different varieties of ketchup in the supermarket.

    Of course, that isn't to say that choice is inherently bad or that one size should always fit all. However, there might possibly surely be a sweet spot, beyond which greater choice and increased fragmentation become counterproductive. Whether or not this poses a problem in the open source community is an exercise for the reader.

  • Re:Bravo.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:00PM (#34094620) Journal

    You know, it's funny. I've been using OpenOffice at home for quite a few years. I converted from Office 2000 during a reinstall some years back because OpenOffice was a lot smaller at the time.

    When I ran it on Windows XP, it was a dog to start up. Nothing like the "5 minutes" cited, but 30-40 seconds is just a ridiculously slow startup time for a word processor on then-modern hardware. Once started, the applications seemed to run quickly enough, so I could just leave Writer or Calc open when I thought I might need to use them again soon (or use the "OpenOffice Quickstarter" or whatever the hell it was called that loads all the components into memory and keeps them there, but of course that made Windows restarts take longer and took up memory I had better uses for). Honestly, I accepted that as "the cost of free" and moved on, because my version of MS-Office was 4-5 years old at the time so OpenOffice gave me lots more features and it was free.

    I converted to Linux Mint last year, and I'm still constantly amazed at how quickly OpenOffice starts up in Linux. I can usually see the splash screen, but not for long, and sometimes not at all.

    This is not a "Linux versus Windows" fanboi argument. I use Windows (XP) and work, and I've tried Windows Seven, and both are capable of great speed with well-written software. Yet both make OpenOffice seem laggy and doggy and slow. When I try the same software in Linux, it's fast.

    I'm wondering if there is something with the libraries they are using for their Windows port or poor compile choices or something that makes such an incredible difference. Maybe the people who write it don't really want it to work well in Windows? That might make a little sense for GiMP, since they have a third party (thanks, Jernej!) who does their not-officially-supported ports to Windows. But that wouldn't make sense for OpenOffice, since the whole point is to compete with MS-Office. Why would you want it to be slow?

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:27PM (#34094950)

    Err, yeah that suddenly makes it better? Oracle is being overly litigious. Its no coincidence that Apple gave up on its own VM short after this lawsuit.

    But it is a coincidence, and that doesn't mean that was the motivation behind Apple's move. Apple made its announcement about deprecating Java when it announced the Mac App Store. I could hazard a guess that Apple wants to steer development into Objective-C.

    One problem with your theory is that Apple will continue to support Java until 10.7 is released. If Apple was reacting to Oracle's behavior I would believe that they would immediately cease all support. Another problem being that Apple licensed the technology from Sun/Oracle so why would they care if Oracle went after Google? Especially since Google's Dalvik competes with Apple's Objective-C in the mobile app space. If anything, you'd think Apple would support Oracle even more. I can even look at it from a different angle, maybe Apple doesn't want to support Java because it's being used as a development platform for Android Apps. The motivation would still be against Google not Oracle.

    I think the truth is less conspiracy derived and more mundane. Apple probably lacks the man power to support a language that they have know real financial interest in. The release schedules for OS X updates and iOS updates seem the lend support to the manpower theory.

    Not to mention, Steve Jobs has said that they had trouble keeping up with the Java releases and believed that Oracle could do better. As bad as Jobs has been about being blunt in his emails, I think I'll stick with the lack of resources theory.

    Not to mention if this patent was valid, which I doubt, why didn't Sun sue? That's right because Sun was a responsible company.

    Maybe because Sun was having financial problems of their own, and starting a court battle with Google may have complicated their sale. Don't forget Sun sued Microsoft over Microsoft's handling of Java. Why would Sun act differently toward Google? How does protecting one's own intellectual property make a corporation less responsible?

    I see FUD here and its from you. Face it, Oracle killed Java, everyone is scared of being sued by them and their VMs are total shit software that are responsible for over 50% of browser based malware from analysis of various "crimepack" malware stats.

    Java is dead? Who announced that? Wishful thinking perhaps? Does the thought of Java dying provide imaginary restitution for Google being slighted by Oracle? Why is it assume that Google has no culpability?

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday November 01, 2010 @05:57PM (#34095350) Homepage

    The funny thing is even though Oracle hasn't discontinued squat (in fact they're putting out the OO 3.3 Release Candidate), people think they're discontinuing OO.

    The reason is just that Oracle gives off a "Deathstar"/Darth Larry vibe.

    Even so, no need to jump to conclusions. BDB is still available as GPL, and so is Inno. Oracle should hire a FOSS liason to bottle-feed press releases to the community, though.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Monday November 01, 2010 @08:24PM (#34096790)

    Last time I checked, 80% of all OO.o contributions were from people paid by Sun.

    And now none of them are because there is no more Sun. Of the former Sun employees who now draw a paycheck from Oracle, I fully expect that a goodly number are considering their options at this very moment. I do not doubt that some of them will find better positions with one of the more community oriented player. Regardless, now that the heavy hand of Sun bureaucracy is removed from the code base the fun factor of the project should improve tremendously.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday November 01, 2010 @08:30PM (#34096846)

    How exactly is Oracle going to continue contributing to OpenOffice when most of their developers have quit?

  • by RingBus (1912660) on Monday November 01, 2010 @08:55PM (#34097038)

    I use and can't live without:

    JDownloader
    PS3MediaServer

    both Java programs that are absolutely wonderful and better than any other native programs I know of. And I love being able to switch between Windows and Linux and have both those programs work exactly the same.

  • by vegiVamp (518171) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @03:02AM (#34098562) Homepage

    Oracle may be squeezed at both ends by DB2 and the open source alternatives, but they are definitely squeezing back, too.

    On the low end, don't forget that they now own MySQL. Right now, it seems as if they're actually getting things done, too, so that's not looking too bad. Personally, I'm hoping they take the obvious road and add some Oracle features and compatibility, which would both make MySQL a bit more powerful, and would allow Oracle-the-company to offer MySQL customers an easy upgrade path when the need arises.

    On the high end, there's obviously DB2. The latest Oracle toy, however, is squeezing back: they've used their Sun acquisition to develop what is basically a full-stack solution: you can get fully tuned quarter/half/full/multiple racks with RAC DB *and* storage, which even has block selection optimisation on the storage box level to minimize traffic on the infiniband interconnects. I haven't seen it in action yet - it doesn't quite fit in our current IT plans for the next few years - but they claim a speedup of several factors compared to 'standard' installs. It'll be interesting to see if this can match DB2 for scale.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @06:16AM (#34099102)
    Unfortunately, they seem to be doing this with Grid Engine (formerly Sun Grid Engine). What was once open source is now closed, and the license has changed to a 90 day evaluation (and then pay) format.

    Oracle has lots of avenues for choking off Sun open source projects, and has lots of laywers. Don't count them out to play dirty tricks. If they can just tie up OO for a couple of years, then it will die, and it would take that long to get through the legal system if they start claiming IP.

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