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History of Software Forks Favors LibreOffice

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:57PM (#36482602)

    LibreOffice has already undertaken massive cleanups of OpenOffice.org code. It's pretty obvious which one will survive. Also one doesn't have a stupid TLD in the name (although the other is a bit freetard for my tastes).

    • Re-merge the projects (a la gcc/egcs), name it OpenOffice (without the ".org") and call it a day.

      • by Qubit (100461) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @01:04AM (#36483028) Homepage Journal

        Re-merge the projects (a la gcc/egcs)

        I'd wish you luck, but... you and what army of reuniters?

        name it OpenOffice (without the ".org")

        Riiiight. Ready to buy out everyone with a stake to the OpenOffice name?

        and call it a day.

        sure, it would be easy as pie...

      • by drb226 (1938360) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @01:09AM (#36483046)

        The project and software are commonly known as OpenOffice, but this term is trademarked both in the Netherlands, by a company co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff, and also, independently, in the UK by Orange UK.

        OpenOffice.org [wikipedia.org]

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Well you see there is a "problem" with the theory espoused by TFA. you see those examples they posted? Were only competing with the original whereas Libreoffice (I swear can they pick ANY worse names for FOSS projects? liberoffice, which is what I've heard the majority call it? What's next Goatse email clinet?) has to compete with two well funded office suites, that is of course MS Office and iWork.

        The problem as I see it, and I'd argue this is a failure of the "free as in beer" model in general, is that yo

        • An actually completely open source office suite will not die. Someone is going to fund it. OpenOffice/LibreOffice isn't perfect, but it's a substantial body of work and someone is going to take that ball and run with it.

        • by Risen888 (306092)

          I think you are mistaken in your belief that lack of corporate "ownership" of LibreOffice somehow means no one's going to pony up (in the form of cash and/or paid developers) for it. It's in a lot of companies' interest that LibreOffice continue to succeed. There's no single corporate owner of the Linux kernel, and somehow they seem to do all right.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            It's in a lot of companies' interest that LibreOffice continue to succeed.

            Which ones? (This is an honest question from a 10-year Linux desktop user.)

            • by Risen888 (306092)

              Every company who has sponsorship or other stake in one of the zillion Linux distros that immediately switched to LibreOffice, and every company that uses those distros on the desktop.

            • by Risen888 (306092)

              Oops, sorry, I double-clutched on the post button. I was going to add that that's pretty much how all the big projects work. The idea that free software is all done by college kids and hobbyists is just not the case. Look at all the people who are involved in the Gnome Foundation, for instance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A TLD-in-the-name is a great idea for a cloud product (meaning you type the name in a browser and can start using the product). The problem is that openoffice.org doesn't work that way, it's a desktop office suite.

    • by donaldm (919619)
      I actually use LibreOffice in my job and in the majority of cases it works really well although on occasion (ie. .docx) the Writer does not display everything properly. I even tried to use my virtual machine with MS Office 2003 and could not read the .docx file properly. Thank goodness for Google docs which allows me to save as a pdf file.
    • Not to mention that it supports MS-Works files out of the box and has better OOXML than OpenOffice (not perfect, but at least you can open them). They're actually putting the features in that people have been asking for. I also understand they're going to be working to eliminate the Java dependencies, although I don't consider that a big deal.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:00PM (#36482612) Homepage

    1. If they were going to release it into the wild at the end, they should have done so at the beginning.

    2. They fail to understand the advantage that MS Office integration brings in MS's SQL Server and other server strategy.

    OpenOffice is the one thing that MS sales reps really hate. A few million investment can have a big impact on MS's bottom line.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tftp (111690)

      OpenOffice is the one thing that MS sales reps really hate.

      I haven't seen a MS sales rep in person, so I have no opinion on their feelings. But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

      However OpenOffice, in all of its incarnations, never offered such a thing. It was slower; it had more bugs; it was different; it had its own way to do scripting; its native formats were not accepted by 99% of bus

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Businesses will keep using MS Office because "everybody uses it"

        That's what people used to say about WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. Guess what? Things changed.

        • by tftp (111690) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @02:42AM (#36483360) Homepage

          That's what people used to say about WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. Guess what? Things changed.

          If you recall, MS Word (before 1995) was "one of them" - on par with WP and Lotus [Excel] and AmiPro. But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite. Now you could insert Excel into Word (and everything into everything, as long as they are OLE-enabled.)

          This is exactly what I was talking about - a considerable, valuable innovation that instantly put MS Office above all other contenders. Note that Outlook, however good or bad at that time, was also included. This really made it an office in a box - and everything worked together. PHBs loved it, and money flowed to MS coffers, quite deservedly.

          So yes, things change. But they don't change without reason. OpenOffice has to deliver such a reason, and then it will be an instant hit in the market.

          • If you recall, MS Word (before 1995) was "one of them" - on par with WP and Lotus [Excel] and AmiPro. But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite. Now you could insert Excel into Word (and everything into everything, as long as they are OLE-enabled.)

            Well, that created positive value in a way. But they decided to use OLE for embedding all sorts of things which should have been part of the document itself. Example: equations. Why are these embedded as OLE objects? It's impossible to do a global search across equations for a particular expression. It's impossible to do a search and replace if you need to rename a subscripted variable in both text and equations. Oh, it's also a challenge to even refer to variables in equations within the document text in a

            • by gregrah (1605707)
              This is a valid complaint, and I'm sure it would frustrate the crap out of anyone who needs to make heavy use of equations in a document or presentation. However, I don't think that the majority of Office users would even know that this problem exists. I didn't even know, and I "majored" in Mathematics in university (quoted because my university was generous enough to give out math degrees for free to students who completed the compsci requirement).

              To say that nobody in my sales department would know a
              • In my corner of our (large) corporation, we are required to use MS Office for documentation and presentations. The target audience for user documents are engineers and physicists. This leads to much frustrated screaming - not all of it silent - by the authors of those documents, who all have at least MSc and almost half have a PhD. In truth, we'd all rather use LaTeX, but that's not considered to be group-editable by cretins located around the world. The corporate requirement for group-editing is bogus in

            • Of course Office 2010 has in document support for equations in Word. And I'm pretty sure 2007 did too.
              • Of course Office 2010 has in document support for equations in Word. And I'm pretty sure 2007 did too.

                I haven't tried Office 2010 yet. However, I can assure you that Office 2007 does NOT support in-line equations in text. All equations are inserted as OLE objects, as you can see if you unpack the docx or pptx to XML and look at it[*]. You can put an equation object into the middle of a paragraph, but it remains an OLE object which is not a part of the document (in the sense that search & replace in the document would find something in the equation). If you want a symbol in the text (e.g. a character wi

                • Well, I just checked Word 2010 in a bit more detail, and my results were thus: 1) The equation when entered appeared in the document.xml file as pretty human readable XML data, though with a whole bunch of math tags I didn't understand. However - it didn't appear to be OLE (I could be wrong I suppose) 2) The text in equations themselves in Word 2010 seems pretty tied to the Cambrai Math font, for better or worse, so duplicating symbols exactly in text might be as easy as writing them out in Cambria Math,
          • But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite.

            They did more. Office took off along with Windows. For the first time on the IBM PC, here was a set of applications that had a common, consistent UI. Learn to use one program, and you could quickly find your way around the others as well. This was a big improvement over the likes of WP and Lotus 123 where each program had its own UI, and training users to use a new program was a nightmare. WP and Lotus were at a severe disadvantage when porting their apps to Windows, because they now had to conform to the W

          • by JobyOne (1578377)

            Such a reason: it costs zero dollars to buy a license.

            • by tftp (111690)

              Such a reason: it costs zero dollars to buy a license.

              If that was so, commercial software would be dead by now. Why would you want to pay $1,000+ [adobe.com] for Adobe CSx when you can download GIMP and Audacity?

              Finally, here is a a good place for a car analogy. What would you rather drive, a free 1985 Yugo or a 2012 Mercedes CLS if you could buy it for $300?

              As many people already commented, the cost of purchase is insignificant compared to the TOC. A free product can cause very clear monetary losses due to bugs

              • by JobyOne (1578377)

                I understand where you're coming from, and when it comes to a lot of software I agree. I think office software is reaching a tipping point, though, where it is no longer *that* much better to go with Microsoft.

                To extend the obligatory car analogy: Photoshop is a lot like the difference between a free Yugo and a $1000 Mercedes, but Office is more like the difference between a free Yugo and a $300 Yugo with a spoiler and a CD player. Microsoft Office is a piece of crap, and I honestly spend a lot of time figh

      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slashd[ ]fi ... m ['ot.' in gap]> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @02:36AM (#36483326) Homepage

        MS themselves offered nothing drastically better over unix, novell and apple back in the days... What they offered, was a massively inferior package that was also a lot cheaper (also considering the cheaper hardware)... OpenOffice plays them at their own game here.

        Cheaper is most definitely of interest to a business, $130 may not be a lot but $130 * 500 is a significant amount, especially when that cost recurs every 3 or so years and there is a huge push towards reducing cost because of the current financial climate. In fact, the cost of the software often outstrips the cost of the hardware by quite a considerable margin, which is an utterly ridiculous situation.

        OpenOffice may indeed have serious bugs, but then MS also have serious and highly irritating bugs (they are even famous for it)... On the other hand, LibreOffice are looking to be far more responsive to fixing bugs than Sun/Oracle/MS ever were.

        As for native formats, the native formats of OO are fully documented and open, and gradually people are starting to wake up to the importance of keeping any important data in open formats. Keeping your data in proprietary formats is a huge risk to your business, and the only problem is that the people running many of these businesses simply don't understand technology.

        • by tftp (111690)

          MS themselves offered nothing drastically better over unix, novell and apple back in the days... What they offered, was a massively inferior package that was also a lot cheaper

          We are talking about the base OS here. Yes, Windows was cheaper ... what? Cheaper than VAX/VMS? Cheaper than Cray? Fact is, Windows was the only game in town on PCs (aside of DOS,) and the PC market was exploding. Windows had no reason to compete with UNIX - I personally haven't even seen UNIX until - what was it - 1991? - but I ce

          • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @04:58AM (#36483878) Journal

            It must be said, though, that MS Office always offered a plain text format (RTF) so the migration path was always there. Newer formats are zipped XML [guardian.co.uk], so the point is largely moot.

            Oh wow.

            I'm sorry, I don't have time to give this the treatment it deserves, so I'll have to direct you to here [noooxml.org] for a start:

            Microsoft Open Office XML has 6000 pages of documentation, still professionals need better documentation. Open Office XML is the largest standard that was ever put under ISO fast-track procedures.

            The large amount of comments filed by national standard bodies indicates that ECMA did no proper review of the standard proposal. No one printed them yet. However the dispositions for the comments provided by ECMA for the BRM comprise another 2300 pages of bugfixes and deprecated functionality

            Yeah. So XML is great, once I read the six thousand page spec. Why is this better than a binary format again? Having an open spec is helpful, but forget about open implementations -- IIRC, even Office itself isn't compliant, which causes even more problems given that if someone else, by some miracle, implements the spec properly, they still can't interoperate.

            By contrast, while OpenOffice is kind of big and bloated, ODF does have multiple independent implementations, and they do seem to work reasonably well. Even if this wasn't the case, at least you don't have the problem where a bit of functionality is deliberately left unspecified -- large chunks of the OOXML format will mention something (a tag, say) and then declare its actual behavior to be "beyond the scope of this document" or "implementation-defined".

            The same is true of RTF, by the way -- while normal .doc documents have enough issues between versions of Word (often OpenOffice does a better job of opening old ones), RTF does much worse. And if Office can't keep it straight, how is anyone else supposed to get it approximately right?

            I don't know that I'd suggest a business keep their data in ODF, either, but it's a hell of a lot better than OOXML as far as having actual migration paths and being reasonable for third-party software to read and manipulate. The last time I actually tried working with this stuff (just extracting stuff from MS Office and converting it to more-reasonable HTML), I tried parsing the OOXML, only to realize that it was suicide without a library, no matter how small the data I needed was. Switched to ODF and it was still a project, but I could actually read the document and figure out what was going on, without having to read the spec.

            But yeah, "It's zipped XML, therefore it has a migration path!" May as well say, "It's stored in bytes, therefore it has a migration path!"

            • by Anonymous Coward

              ODF is a zipped XML format, that is, it is some XML files in a .zip file. Office Open XML is Microsoft's binary .doc format with some XML wrappers for show. The 6000 page (and still incomplete!) spec is for the binary junk.

              • Yup. Part of the standards process for any data format is to have a cleanroom implementation done that supports at least 90% of the specs within, I dunno, three months.

                I figured out how to create a primitive ODF document from the specs in an afternoon. There are holes in the standard, but at least it's not the nightmare that OOXML is.

          • by mridoni (228377)

            Cheaper is most definitely of interest to a business, $130 may not be a lot but $130 * 500 is a significant amount

            You don't buy retail in quantity 500. Volume deals drop the price to something like $50-70. Besides, you can't simply add costs up, come up with a large number and wave it in the air. If you have 500 employees you have far greater expenses, and you have even greater profit that those employees make.

            There is one more thing in business, it is called COGS [wikipedia.org]. It reduces the effective cost of a tool, and MS Office is a tool. So you have now a competition between a cheap top-notch tool and a free but somewhat weirder tool. What will you, as a business leader, buy? I think the decision is preordained here.

            To be fair it should be said that the US$ 130 price (about the same in EUR) is for the Product Key Card versiion, a sort of not-activated OEM where the supplier of the PC bundles the software and you can optionally activate it buying a so-called "license card". Prices for a full license of Office Home and Business 2010 start from 220$ on Amazon. Not that this matters, given that most businesses are going to buy Open/volume licenses anyway.

          • by gerddie (173963)

            Windows was the only game in town on PCs (aside of DOS,)

            Well, there was GEM [pcmech.com] first shown in 1983.

            ... - but I certainly saw Windows far before that, since I was setting up Windows for Workgroups in 198*.

            Interesting, since Windows for Workgroups was released in 1992 [microsoft.com].

        • As for native formats, the native formats of OO are fully documented and open, and gradually people are starting to wake up to the importance of keeping any important data in open formats. Keeping your data in proprietary formats is a huge risk to your business, .

          While propriety formats can be a problem in some situations* I think in the case of office suites it's a storm in a teacup. The MS office formats are well enough known to get the actual data out and if your aim is to perfectly preserve formatting then you should probablly be using a format that is designed for that purpose (e.g. PDF).

          * such as CAD apps where a change needs to be made to an old design while minimising the chances of changes elsewhere and their associated risk.

          • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @04:17AM (#36483740)
            The MS office formats are well enough known to get the actual data out

            Even MS has no idea what the formats are, and they vary randomly from one version to another. (Eg save from Word 2007 to Word 95 format does not produce a reliable result, and may produce a document that is not even readable by Word 95).

            LibreOffice is better than MS Word when it comes to editing tables, and is more user friendly, according to a lot of the users I support.

            As to exporting in pdf format, sure, once you have the final document we insist on it, but while the document is in development, and has to be edited by people in different locales, its not the answer. (I don't think MS support yo_NG, en_IE and other useful locales anyway.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.) I had my share of such bugs in my time, and that's why I'm not using OpenOffice for business.

        Well actually I had such bugs with MS Office 97, making my life very miserable, but at the time there wasn't any good alternative. I'm not sure about MS Office 2010, but the older ones, were really bad when having like 100 pages with lots and lots of pictures/charts/etc...

        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          No text processor is good with 100 pages full of pictures. Either split it up to one file per chapter, or learn Latex.

      • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NOSpam.davidgerard.co.uk> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @03:47AM (#36483638) Homepage

        LibreOffice is already ridiculously better than OOo on Windows and (IMO) feels nicer on Linux. Not as smooth a user experience as MS Office, but it's clear there's now someone involved who actually gives a hoot about Windows users' experience. (And I'm amazed that, from the observable evidence, OOo clearly didn't.)

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I think it's fairly clear that the whole point of OOo had nothing to do with windows users, but with replacing windows. The office suite was the last obstacle for many shops since everyone and their mom stopped developing for Aieee! Running it on windows is mostly a "first time's free" kind of thing for many OSS developers.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Many technical students write their papers with a modern distribution of LaTeX.
        It's robust, generates beautiful typography and you can easily manage your work with version control systems which also allows for collaborative work.

      • OOO's advantages (free & portable) are of no interest to a business. A copy of MS Office for business costs between $130 [pbdistributiononline.com] and $180. This is not even in the noise - it doesn't register. This is what an hour of work of a not very highly paid engineer costs to a business.

        There's no denying that MS Office is the defacto standard currently and I too doubt that OOO or LibreOffice will see any penetration in business environments whilst the majority of them remain Microsoft shops.

        But

      • Incidentally, my beef with commercial software is not that the applications themselves are binary-only, closed-source applications but that, in many cases, the file formats that they use are proprietary.

        Microsoft really has no right to complain about the number of viruses that have plagued Windows in the past (I've not used Windows 7 but I'll assume it does a much better job of restricting virus spread based on what I've read about it) if they insist on constantly "having their cake and eating it".

        They want

      • ...because frankly, this isn't an excuse if there in fact still are such bugs in OpenOffice. But really:

        Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.)

        If this is really a problem for you, you've already fucked up. You've waited until the last night before the submission date without having something viable. You allow one software bug to threaten "your paper", suggesting you only have one copy in one place...

        It's not like this only happens with OpenOffice, and it seems to rarely happen, period. Supposing it does, any decent university is going to have mu

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          >Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.)

          What? Just substitute "Word" in that sentence and it would reasonably approximate the truth.

          Has the poster of that sentence actually used Word for long (200+ pages) documents copiously illustrated with sections, headings, hanging indents, toc, index, etc.? Word crashes regularly. OO? Not once.

          Yeah, just an anecdote, but I lost quite a bit of w

      • . Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.) I had my share of such bugs in my time, and that's why I'm not using OpenOffice for business

        The only experience I've had in that sort of problem was the other way around: most of the non-geeks I've turned on to OO (and now to the stupidly-named LO) have had said papers corrupted not by the free office suite, but by bouncing between different versions of Microsoft's. Word 2003 at home, Word 2008 at work, XP at Mom's over the holiday weekend and suddenly, none of them will open the damn file.

        Enter The Writer, and all is well with the world again (except maybe 10-20 minutes of re-tweaking the format

      • by metacell (523607)

        I haven't seen a MS sales rep in person, so I have no opinion on their feelings. But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

        For home users, the lower price of OpenOffice/Libreofice is often enough.

      • A copy of MS Office for business costs between $130 [pbdistributiononline.com] and $180.

        It costs so little because of the existence of OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Remember how much it was 10 years ago ?

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Personally I'm guessing that's just as much Microsoft competing with "themselves" in forms of pirate versions and people staying on old Office versions. I've worked with a lot of mid size organizations and never seen one whiff of OpenOffice. Staying on old Office versions? Sure, ancient even. Some of that is of course all the compatibility checking, processes, training and so on but cost is very clearly an issue.

          Same with Vista, according to statcounter it peaked at about 24% of web browsing computers, even

      • by careysub (976506)

        ...But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

        However OpenOffice, in all of its incarnations, never offered such a thing. It was slower; it had more bugs; it was different...

        True OpenOffice was (somewhat) different, though keeping the same basic UI design. But now it is MSOffice 2010 that is different -- they threw out the UI that hundreds of millions of people were familiar with and replace it with the monumentally misguided "ribbon" UI. And - in keeping with MS tradition - they give you no option of using the classic interface - you use the ribbon or nothing buddy - and default to saving everything in new backwards-incompatible formats.

        So now OpenOffice/LibreOffice offers som

        • And yet, the ribbon has been the number one feature that I LOVED about Office 2007 and Office 2010. It lets me get work done SO much faster.
    • If they were going to release it into the wild at the end, they should have done so at the beginning.

      With all respect, I think if you went and read up on the history of StarOffice / OpenOffice / LibreOffice a little, you'd realise how silly it is to make the above comment.

      StarOffice started out as a commercial office package by StarDivision, Sun bought StarDivision and then released the source code to StarOffice in 2000. That allowed OpenOffice to be created and maintained as a free office package by an ext

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        -releasing it in the wild

        Yes, I remember all the Star history. I was talking about from the time Oracle bought it. Poor planning/judgement on their part. They should have taken the community along, assured them that their bugs would be fixed, and there wouldn't have been any need for a fork.

        -It's called COMPETITION

        The very existence of OpenOffice changes the marketplace dynamic. No longer do people have no choice whatsoever. OpenOffice functions as a drag on the profitability of Office, one of the two MS c

  • Why is that same article linked twice?
  • A lesson to learn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Juan (1280214) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:14PM (#36482684) Homepage

    I think every company that acquires an open source project could learn something from how Oracle handled openoffice.org

    The uncertainty and the lack of commitment by Oracle practically forced the community to fork the project. And even after that, Oracle had a chance of do the right think and donate the name to the Open Document Foundation, but they just sat down and done nothing, LibreOffice became a strong fork, and in the end they realized an "asset" that they bought from Sun was basically worthless.

    • by Covalent (1001277) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:29PM (#36482754)
      Agreed. What I can't understand is how Oracle failed to recognize the value of OpenOffice. They sat on an open source software package as if by doing so they could monetize it. Bizarre. But nothing of value was lost. I love LibreOffice and as previous commenters have said, it definitely seems to be improving more rapidly than its predecessor.
      • What if they were still lost in the hall of mirrors and bought sun to KILL the open innovations?

        They couldn't legally nuke forking options so they made the OSS community do extra work to re-spread mindshare etc. I'll leave it to my betters to decide where Java and friends stand.

        What if they bought Sun to kill a threat to the entire Proprietary model?

        • by hedwards (940851)

          That would be pretty dumb to try. People don't typically walk into work and find OpenOffice or now LibreOffice installed, they typically went looking for it and are likely aware of what was going on. Not to mention all the installs that came with Linux distros that had already migrated away from Openoffice in favor of the previous fork.

          Once you've gotten folks away from MS, it's trivial to get them to the more stable, reliable and current fork. Especially if the older one is dying out.

      • by ewe2 (47163)

        I'm sure they valued the software highly enough. What they failed to value were the developers. Ironically, this was Sun's failure also.

      • It's really easy to explain - Oracle are like Microsoft and Apple in that they believe that selling proprietary technologies is their best business model, whether or not you or I believe that to be the right thing for them to be doing.

        Oracle are a database company, a "half-proprietary half-Open" office package would have been seen by them as a weird oddity that just didn't fit into their business model. They don't really compete with Microsoft because even MS-SQL doesn't play in the same high-end database s

    • But then why would anyone have expected anything different the moment it was announced that Oracle had bought Sun?

      Oracle is a database company and Sun provided them with some great hardware and software platforms to throw those databases on, hence the logic behind the purchase.

      But Oracle have never had any interest in working in the desktop applications space so it's no surprise that they have no interest in OpenOffice.

      If anything, Sun were never really THAT serious about StarOffice/OpenOffice, it always se

    • by Risen888 (306092)

      Agreed and agreed, and the really amazing thing (to me, anyway) is the astonishing speed at which it happened. Oracle dicked around just a little too long and got the rug pulled out from under them. I think it really helped LibreOffice that a lot of people were itching for a chance to get away from the situation we were in with Sun having de facto single vendor control over OpenOffice, so even by the time the Oracle/Sun deal went through, people were ready to jump. Once LibreOffice was announced it was all

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If a project were like a rocket ship, then a fork might cause the parent to accelerate based on Newton's third law. I think the author was trying to find a geek-friendly metaphor for a zero-sum game.

    When you have two competing projects like this, with no parent corporation to throw its weight or resources behind one or the other, then the side with the better technical leadership wins. Technical leadership is not just one skill and doesn't have to be provided by just one person. It includes, among other

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @12:03AM (#36482866) Homepage Journal

    Apache will provide the LibreOffice folks with a copy of the OpenOffice code base that is under a license which removes any possible obligation they might ever have to Oracle regarding the code, unless they do something incredibly stupid (like failing to attribute or reproduce the license at all as Katzer did in Jacobsen v. Katzer). LibreOffice can choose to use that code base or not.

    If we really want to lay blame, it's not just Oracle's. Sun Microsystems didn't ever achieve a viable community for OpenOffice. There were operational and technical reasons, but the one that might have been most important was the requirement to sign your copyright over to a company that might take the work private the next day, with no quid-pro-quo at all.

    In 1999 or so, Danise Cooper called me to explain what Sun would do with OpenOffice. I explained at that time that they needed to have some sort of quid-pro-quo for code donors, even if it was only a covenant that Sun would keep their own development available under a free software license for some time or remove the contribution from their version. This was not implemented. It was difficult for independent developers to see a reason to work with Sun.

    • by siglercm (6059)

      +1. My (possibly deficient) understanding is that Sun often refused to incorporate patches or other community contributions, even when their licensing was agreed to. Then came Go-OO via Novell, a project to patch Sun's OO.o source and turn out an improved and extended product. This is the project that got me excited about OO.o. LO is the designated successor to Go-OO, hence my personal interest.

      But the problems started with Sun refusing to accept input from the community which they contributed to be hel

  • I've always had OpenOffice installed on my machines, although I default to MS Office for the usual reasons.

    When I upgraded Ubuntu to Natty it installed LibreOffice, and I have to say that I'm very impressed. In a nutshell, it feels finished, something that OO never achieved.

    LO is still not entirely MS Office compatible, but for many things where that compatibility isn't essential it's my first choice.
  • by jrumney (197329) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @01:07AM (#36483034) Homepage
    Selective quoting of history can be used to predict whatever future a magazine thinks will sell the most ads.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @01:18AM (#36483080)

    LibreOffice is superior to Open Office in my experience. It is faster, It opens complex M$ Office documents and complex power point presentations more cleanly (assuming you have fonts installed.) It is a definite upgrade from OO.org. One problem. OO.org has brand recognition. Big time. It established itself as a market force. LibreOffice will need to establish that all over again.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Which would make this a good time, to get the spelling right. It should be LiberOffice, not LibreOffice. They should be using the Latin root.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      ...It opens complex M$ [penny-arcade.com] Office documents and

  • Someone needs to write up a blog article drawing random conclusion from handpicked examples of the success of forked projects, based on their names. Since both project names are retarded, I wonder what effect we can extrapolate that project names have on project success.

    Write your article with flair and with, and /. will link to it, driving add dollars^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmonetization your way. And we the /. community can discuss an even more inane correlation.

  • I hate to fill a spot on somebody's buzzword bingo card, but this strikes me as an excellent opportunity for coopetition. If Libre Office and OpenOffice follow relatively similar development paths, but compete on implementation and refinement, it would be an excellent opportunity for exploring alternative solution strategies while cross-pollinating the results.

    The fundamentals of OOo/LOo are pretty solid. The major components are well established -- the biggest wins on the horizon are about optimization, ha

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NOSpam.davidgerard.co.uk> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @04:01AM (#36483690) Homepage

    XFree86 died when the community got up and left. Even with free hosting, the remaining XFree86 partisans couldn't keep it alive and lost interest.

    Before that, the X Consortium - backed by the might of industry - died when no-one could be found to participate in it ... because XFree86 was where the action (i.e., community) was.

    Citizendium forked from Wikipedia, recruited a pile of academics, then Larry Sanger drove them away [rationalwiki.org]. (And then the cranks moved in [rationalwiki.org].) When someone said "chaps, CZ is dead" and tried another fork, they called him ... a "traitor" [davidgerard.co.uk]. This from the project that was a fork itself.

    XOrg is under the MIT X11 licence, but seems to get plenty of contributions back - because it's where the community is. An open source licence with centripetal force from the gravitational pull of the community.

    Wayland's lead developers and all the people pushing for it in Fedora are X.Org developers. They're not "traitors" to X, they're people with their eye on the target: a good open source desktop.

    EGCS won by the community getting up and leaving GCC.

    LibreOffice won when the community got up and left Oracle. Oracle and IBM's approach in trying to claw it back is gibberingly, hilariously misconceived. (And Rob Weir blew his cred irretrievably lying about what the FSF had said and directing abuse at the FSF rep who tried to correct his lie. Once a shill equals a shill.)

    OOo=XFree86 with a sponsor. Yay sponsors. Can IBM employ enough contributors to single-handedly make up for the enthusiasm to be found at LibreOffice? I really doubt it.

  • by melonman (608440) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @04:40AM (#36483800) Journal

    So how about Emacs/XEmacs, which was arguably the first great open source fork? Both projects are still around, but I don't get the impression that the fork (XEmacs) has run away with the ball by any stretch of the imagination.

  • It is not that well known, but IBM have been maintaining and improving a fork of OpenOffice for years now, under the Lotus brand. It's called Lotus Symphony. I've been using it for some time and find it very capable and polished, at least compared to the mess of a UI that I remember OpenOffice to be.

    How does LibreOffice compare to Symphony? Anyone tried both?

    • I have both. Over all Symphony is a easier, especially the menu configurability. I've had Symphony for years, so familiarity is there. My primary use is writing. There, OO is flagging. Several major bugs, most notably the losing of chapter information on occasion, but most visibly, the auto-cap doesn't. I checked LibreOffice recently and both bugs still existed.
      • by siglercm (6059)

        Bugs are filed against LO, please? One thing that's been impressing me about LO is that the devs try to keep up with bug reports and actually fix ones that aren't filed in error. They care about improving the product by fixing bugs, as well as cleaning up the code base and adding, improving functionality.

  • At this point, I care much less about which of the two code bases survives than I do the name. PLEASE lose the damn "Libre" name! We spent many years getting people to use, understand, trust, and remember the name "OpenOffice". Throwing it away, if there is ANY possibility of using it, is incredibly stupid. Believe it or not, the [horrible] name "LibreOffice" is already causing more damage to the credibility of the software in the eyes of non-technical users than any bug or fork has ever done.

    Oh, and if

  • by gilgongo (57446) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @05:00AM (#36489962) Homepage Journal

    The history of OpenOffice has been utterly depressing in so far as they've just aped Microsoft Office. Maybe that had to happen if OO was to gain any of MSO's user base, but I hope that LO will break out of the cloud of crap that is MSO.

    For example, there is no reason whatsoever to default to throwing away your work. The convention of opening up a new document and THEN having to save it is utterly ridiculous! In fact, there is no reason to have a "save" command at all. All user input should be sacred, and every keypress should be saved. Another example is the crazy arrangement of menu items (made worse by the "ribbon bar" in MSO) that attempts to cram every command into a menu structure. A word processor is for most people a tool of reasonably frequent use, yet even after many years of using MSO, I still can't remember where the word-count is, because I use it hardly ever. I also constantly forget how to bring up the styles library or insert a picture. Instead of a labyrinthine menu, why not have a search (with command completion), and leave the menu for those who want to browse?

    This comment is way OT though, so I'll stop.

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