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OpenOffice Is Dying (And IBM Won't Help) 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-this-a-cry-for-help dept.
jfruhlinger writes "OpenOffice.org, now separate both from corporate sponsor Oracle and the Document Foundation's LibreOffice, is in trouble, with its team putting out a dramatic press release detailing the organization's trouble. One missing player in all this is IBM, who has backed OpenOffice.org in the past. One possible reason for Big Blue's silence is that it might be a prelude to the killing of Lotus Symphony, its OpenOffice-based suite." The Apache Software Foundation, on the other hand, insists OpenOffice.org is not at risk.
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OpenOffice Is Dying (And IBM Won't Help)

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  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79.gmail@com> on Friday October 14, 2011 @11:45AM (#37714718) Homepage

    Netcraft is rumored to be monitoring the situation carefully.

  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ksd1337 (1029386) on Friday October 14, 2011 @11:47AM (#37714740)
    LibreOffice is already a better product. Just let it die. There's no need for it anymore.
    • Yeah, for all practical purposes it's dead ever since Oracle interfered.
      • Now we just wait for Java to go the same route.
        • Java.... Java... Do you mean the drink? The drink will never die. The Software will go the way of Cobol and Fortran... Used in legacy format but not use much longer for new or future coding.

          Now, for OpenOffice, it will go the way of WordPerfect. We still will have the need for an alternative to MSFT Office, but OpenOffice won't build to the full effect.
      • by Chapter80 (926879)

        I wonder, re we going to see a LibreSQL sometime soon?

        I'm not comfortable with the Oracle / MySQL direction.

    • Agreed. Who cares.

    • by efalk (935211)

      LibreOffice is already a better product. Just let it die. There's no need for it anymore.

      Will LibreOffice read/write powerpoint? Because I tell you, using OO Presentation was one of the most painful things I've ever had to deal with.

      • by esocid (946821)
        Yes. I like the changes LO implemented. And if I recall, Oo also reads/writes ppt. files.
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:25PM (#37715308) Journal
        The first thing that LibreOffice did was import all of Novell's patches that OpenOffice rejected because of their dubious legal status (they were written with documentation provided by Microsoft under their patent agreement with Novell). So it has better support for a lot of MS Office things than OO.o.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RCL (891376) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `gvv.sr.lcr'> on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:12PM (#37715136) Homepage
      Death of OpenOffice.org will damage LibreOffice, too. Only geeks around me know (and care) about the split, whereas most other users I know just use "open Office" because it's free and don't want to be educated about the situation (they simply don't care). News about OpenOffice.org dying will probably result in them considering the "open Office" idea a failure and switching to MS Office, not LibreOffice, since LibreOffice is a scary and not widely known name.

      You already see that headlines like these make news, and you will see that overall population of Libre/OpenOffice will dwindle if brand is considered "dead".
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by interval1066 (668936) on Friday October 14, 2011 @01:35PM (#37716164) Homepage Journal

        ...most other users I know just use "open Office" because it's free and don't want to be educated about the situation (they simply don't care).

        I think you're right about the "simply don't care" part. But as for the rest, if they are even considering alternatives to MS Office, that's 90% of the battle. The rest is just post-battle triage. The usual scenario I experience is "Hey, where's OO?" followed by "use Libre, its the replacement." ending with "Oh." ~install~.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aztracker1 (702135) on Friday October 14, 2011 @01:54PM (#37716396) Homepage
        I think that OOo should just be moved under the LibreOffice management, and LO rebranded back to OO... just to preserve the branding OOo has built (for what it's worth).
      • They will switch to MS Office as long as they are not paying the bill for it (eg company pays or they pirate). I have found that if they are paying then they most certainly do give a shit about MS Office vs OpenOffice/LibreOffice, and once they do that then they are happy to be told that LibreOffice will be around a lot longer than OpenOffal.
      • by Nemyst (1383049)

        Honestly, the name "OpenOffice.org" probably caused way more confusion than the shift to LibreOffice would ("is it a website?"). LibreOffice already appears in the first page for "open office" on Google, and if OOo dies completely, it'll quickly climb up to the first spot.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Problem is, LibreOffice is a silly name and doesn't send any signals to the public about what it is, and it doesn't even hint to more technical people that it's related to OpenOffice. So if OpenOffice dies it would be a smart move perhaps if LibreOffice changed its name to OpenOffice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you want to be sensational, then yes: OpenOffice.org as a project is dead. Oracle killed it. Deal with it, get over it, whatever it takes to get you through the day.

    But Apache has this great ApacheOpenOffice podling thing that's doing great, and has inherited both most of the OOo code, as well as all of the OpenOffice.org logos, brand, and trademarks.

    So here's hoping people are willing to look at this new Apache Licensed version of the old OpenOffice.org suite!

    P.S. Note comments on the other article an

  • When a project loses interest it dies. That's just how these things go no?

    People aren't using OpenOffice (or there aren't people who are interested in contributing) and are using other suites like LibreOffice.

    Lifecycles happen. Death is part of those.

    RIM is in trouble too, let's get up and help them out as well.

    • When a project loses interest it dies. That's just how these things go no? People aren't using OpenOffice (or there aren't people who are interested in contributing) and are using other suites like LibreOffice. Lifecycles happen. Death is part of those.

      For some projects. However for some major projects the development is really corporate sponsored. It is at times an urban myth that FOSS contributors are a bunch of individual volunteer. Sometimes the corporate employees instructed to contribute to FOSS are far more important. The corporation directing their efforts may have different motivations than individuals.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        It is at times an urban myth that FOSS contributors are a bunch of individual volunteer.

        You are far too nice. That is actually deliberately spread FUD and lies used by people who hate FOSS (like Microsoft) to basically carry out ad-hominem attacks on the developers, users, and software itself.

    • by Chapter80 (926879)

      RIM is in trouble too, let's get up and help them out as well.

      Aren't they too big to fail? Can't we get some large government to bail them out? Canada???

  • Typically when this happens, for the developers to stay afloat, they try and offer software with their bundles (like chrome) as well as maybe a few "extra" features such as daemon tools did, that most people don't appreciate. Then again, they're probably just orphaned and will be picked up by another sponsor shortly. Also gotta wonder how such practices work under an open source license.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They don't. If they tried such a thing, which they won't, someone would just distribute a cleaned up verison.

      By the way, that shit only happens on windows. I have never seen an rpm or deb that pulls in any extra bullshit like that in.

  • by Aknaton (528294)

    Considering the situation with LibreOffice at the time of the transfer, I have to wonder why ASF even accepted OOo from Oracle in the first place.

    • by Rob Riggs (6418)

      ASF will (IMO) take anything any company wants to foist upon it. Look at the RogueWave-contributed stdcxx project [apache.org] (a C++ standard library) that was receiving contributions from the Sun/Oracle compiler team. The developer mailing list [apache.org] has been virtually silent. It's a dead project now.

      The last post was back in June about Pathscale forking it to simplify the development and contribution model. The June discussion is more telling if you realize that one of the participants (Teleman) is from Sun/Oracle.

      I am

  • Ah. Ok. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday October 14, 2011 @11:53AM (#37714860) Homepage Journal

    The point of Open Source is that it is an evolutionary-based philosophy. Branches compete and, in those environments in which a given branch thrives, that branch will continue to evolve. ("Survival of the fittest" is a misnomer as it carries the implication that there is a unique fittest and a unique environment for it to be fittest in.)

    Libre Office is thriving in most of the environments Open Office used to do well in, with KOffice, Abiword and other integrated office packages doing well in their own niches. Saying "Open Office can't be allowed to die" is simply not the right approach. The right approach is to find a niche in which Open Office and not Libre Office or any other office software is the correct solution.

    To do that, of course, Open Office has to actually do something new. Just doing the same things Libre Office already does better isn't a reason to maintain it. It has to diverge FIRST and then, if that divergence produces something interesting, it will survive because it is doing something interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      Yup. OpenOffice was dead once it forked hard, XFree86 style.

      Oracle separating themselves from OO was too little, too late - by the time Oracle stopped meddling, the project was already dead.

      OO being dead doesn't really matter that much other than the fact that LibreOffice is a rather lame name which will probably inhibit corporate acceptance in some organizations. LibreOffice just has too many idealistic/propaganda connotations in the name - it makes it sound like it came from a bunch of RMS-style nutjobs

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Am I the only one disturbed that the word "freedom" apparently has negative connotations?

        Would "FreeOffice" be better because people would be free (libre) to assume it means free (gratis) if that makes them more comfortable?

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Because you shouldn't be pushing an agenda when you name your software.

          OpenOffice wasn't too bad because Open is such an overloaded and diluted word that no one cares about it.

          Free has negative connotations of "crap"

          Libre has negative connotations of "those people are probably a bunch of zealots like RMS".

          • Re:Ah. Ok. (Score:5, Funny)

            by Threni (635302) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:28PM (#37715336)

            > Libre has negative connotations of "those people are probably a bunch of zealots like
            > RMS".

            Or worse - French.

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            Ah, so mentioning equals pushing.

            They should apologize for shoving their agenda down your throat by forcing the word "freedom" to cross your lips when referring to the software product that you're benefiting from due to the freedom it provides its users.

            They shouldn't change the name exactly so that people can see that "mentioning the existence of freedom" != "RMS-style zealotry".

            And people who can't get past that and avoid LibreOffice as a result of their own prejudice can do without. I'm fine with that.

          • Why would it be assumed they are pushing an agenda? If the name was unrelated to the actual software I could see that (e.g. "FreeHealthcareForAllOffice", "NoHigherTaxesOnAmericansWithAnnualIncomesGreaterThanOneMillionDollarsOffice") but LibreOffice is a reasonably accurate description of what the software is.

          • by gripped (830310)
            They should have called it CubaLibreOffice.
          • Because you shouldn't be pushing an agenda when you name your software.

            OpenOffice wasn't too bad because Open is such an overloaded and diluted word that no one cares about it.

            Free has negative connotations of "crap"

            Libre has negative connotations of "those people are probably a bunch of zealots like RMS".

            As much as it pains me and makes me ill to even think about suggesting this, how about Your Office? I would personally hate the name, but looking at it in a practical and "marketing" sense, it follows along with the "My" trend in naming things to make the users believe that it is all about them.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Am I the only one disturbed that the word "freedom" apparently has negative connotations?

          It sounds a bit much like liberate when most companies don't see themselves as captives. It's more over the top than anything else. OpenOffice is a rather ideal name in my opinion, that it's open (source) and that it's an office (suite). Well minus the ".org" that they had to add for some trademark reason, meh.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Speaking only for myself, the strongest image that springs to mind when you say "Libre" is "Nacho Libre". So naturally I find the product name to be silly-sounding. That said, I am in possession of a demented mind.

          Another good name would be "Airplane! Office" or "The Naked Office". "Austin Office, the Suite that Shagged Me". Nah, too far.

          • by jazman_777 (44742)
            And when people talk about Office I think of "Office Space" or "The Office" or an Orifice.
          • by smithmc (451373) *

            Another good name would be "Airplane! Office" or "The Naked Office". "Austin Office, the Suite that Shagged Me". Nah, too far.

            Or just "The Office". Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant would make better spokespeople than RMS.

      • Re:Ah. Ok. (Score:5, Informative)

        by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday October 14, 2011 @01:05PM (#37715796) Homepage Journal

        My main problem with OpenOffice dying, and continued development on LibreOffice, is that it took years to get the name of OpenOffice recognized and somewhat widely used. With LibreOffice you throw that brand recognition away, which will make it a much more niche product.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      To do that, of course, Open Office has to actually do something new.

      Rewriting software from scratch isn't as easy as you think... :)

      • by jd (1658)

        Why rewrite? Plenty of functionality they could add. Proper DTP support, support within Calc for the numerous maths and stats libraries out there, better document revision control, hooks for FlightGear so that the wordprocessor properly emulates the Easter eggs in MS Word, etc.

  • by quangdog (1002624) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .godgnauq.> on Friday October 14, 2011 @11:54AM (#37714876)
    First Jobs, then Ritchie, now OOo?

    They just want to be like the cool kids.
  • These two are not as linked as everyone wants to report. I believe Lotus Symphony was developed from OpenOffice 1.0, before the license changed. The code base has changed greatly since. Lotus Symphony is closed source, and can't take anything from the existing OpenOffice unless IBM owned the copyright to all the code completely and had the right to change the license. And even then, the two code bases are far enough apart that it probably won't be that worth while.

    The existing Lotus Symphony would likely have to get thrown out the window, and they'd have to port their UI and file formats to the existing OpenOffice codebase.

    I think it would be better for IBM to embrace LibreOffice, but offer a cloud interface. Imagine if they served it up in a Citrix style from the web. Google Docs doesn't cut it beyond basic tasks.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Google Docs doesn't cut it beyond basic tasks.

      That was true in the past, but becomes less and less true every moment. They even support macros and custom spreadsheet functions now. It's no excel, but I gradually find myself moving stuff over to it.

      • by afabbro (33948)

        Has GDocs added features recently? Seemed rather stagnant over its life to me (like most Google products - initial enthusiasm and then they lose interest and go do something else).

        Personally, without something as fundamental as indents in spreadsheet cells [google.com] it is useless to me. And to many [google.com] other [google.com] people [google.com], it seems. I realize it's only one feature of many possible ones, but it's an example of what happens when you have a company providing your software as opposed to a community. Their priorities (and attent

    • by xenoc_1 (140817) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:44PM (#37715566)

      They're more linked than you think. IBM Lotus Symphony is now based on OO.o 3x code, has been since 2009. Now I believe 3.3 or at least 3.2 after the early-2011 Symphony FixPack. Other than the IBM-built UI, a lot of Symphony is open source or built on open source. Even the UI is based on Eclipse. IBM added some import/export filter improvements, which I think they gave back to the community. If they didn't then, they did 4 months ago, when IBM donated the entire Symphony codebase and rights to Apache [ibm.com]. Also reported right here on Slashdot [slashdot.org], which is of course why nobody here seems to know that.

      I strongly prefer Symphony for everyday use over LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org (essentially indistinguishable until recently, from a user and UI perspective). I like the tabbed interface a whole lot better than having a bunch of windows running around. We geeks castigated IE for years until they adopted tabbed browsing; how come we meekly accept non-tabbed office suite interfaces? I've got LibreOffice on my PCs, but I also have Symphony, and I have Symphony set as the default for all ODF formats and Microsoft Office formats that are supported by Symphony.

      I'm working on a novel. Writing in in Symphony. Chapter I'm writing is in one tab, other chapters for referbacks are in others, character notes and plot notes, dialog snippets in yet others. Just more intuitive than different windows. Also, each new tab eats less resources than a full new window. For regular everyday life stuff, the same tabbed interface helps with a budget spreadsheet in one tab and reference docs in others. Sure, could do this in separate windows. But we could all be using single-page non-tabbed browsers too.

      Symphony does not include the OpenOffice.org Base, Math, nor Draw modules. If I need them (unlikely), I have LibreOffice's improved versions of them to use. The only two features (arguably one feature) from OpenOffice.org / LibreOffice I miss sometimes is the Open Read-Only option in the file dialogs, and the toolbar button to switch from editing to Read-Only mode. In Symphony the only way I've found to open something read-only is to deliberately open it first in Symphony, Microsoft Office, or LibreOffice, and then open it a second time. The second time will be read-only due to the file lock.

      I'd love to see the Symphony interface and other enhancements become the new UI for OpenOffice.org, or perhaps "Apache SymphonyOffice" to get away from the "we're not the now-who-cares OpenOffice commercial company which is why we need the stupid .org in our actual product name" problem. Bake Base, Draw, Math back into it along with some of the features that IBM took out (R/O pretty please?). You get a strong alternative to Microsoft Office, with an updated UI compared to LibreOffice. Rather than the confusing situation of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org being identical in appearance (yeah, minor toolbar changes) and a confused outside-the-geekosphere public. LibreOffice and Symphony would be different enough to attract different audiences. Somewhere down the road they might even be able to work together again, because their products wouldn't be looking 99% identical and thus direct competitors with no reason for both to exist. The Symphony changeover would give that reason.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirstea d . o rg> on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:01PM (#37714968) Homepage

    This article links to another article whose authour is just SPECULATING that IBM may be dropping Lotus Symphony. I can find no evidence that IBM has said any such thing, nor can I even find any leaked information to support this.

    Conclusion? Yet another unsubstantiated blog post promoted to the front page of Slashdot with no fact checking. And people wonder why the readership of /. is in decline....

  • I always found OO slow, bloated and visually unappealing. I forgave it though as I assumed it had been developed by students.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I just thought they were doing a good job copying MS. :)

      PS: I'm joking, but if I'm working on OpenOffice, co-workers will sometimes stop in their tracks and say, "Hey, how did you get the old Excel back?" when they walk by my cube. So it can't be THAT ugly...

  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:06PM (#37715030) Homepage

    The article is conflating the Team OpenOffice, e.V. non profit with the OpenOffice.org open source project.

    Team OpenOffice, e.V, was the fundraising arm of the OpenOffice.org project, set up as a non profit so they could legally raise funds for things like conferences. It was always independent of the open source project.

    The OpenOffice.org open source project, the code, the trademarks, the domain name and the website, have moved to Apache, where work continues: http://incubator.apache.org/openofficeorg/ [apache.org]

    It looks like the Team OpenOffice, e.V. guys are publishing alarmist material in order to raise money. That is a standard fundraising technique. What about the children, the baby seals, the environment? Who will save them now that the big bad oil companies/loggers/tech corporations that are out to get them. Send money now or the kitten dies.

    • by hduff (570443)

      p>It looks like the Team OpenOffice, e.V. guys are publishing alarmist material in order to raise money. That is a standard fundraising technique. What about the children, the baby seals, the environment? Who will save them now that the big bad oil companies/loggers/tech corporations that are out to get them. Send money now or the kitten dies.

      Children, baby seals, the environment and kittens do not believe in freedom. They take your freedoms away from you. Bad kitty.

    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      They are not getting the right effect. Articles with titles like "X is dying", usually have a self-fulfilling value to them it they get enough traction.

  • It's almost impossible to get it off of products, even when they are still not part of Oracle.

    RIP SUN Microsystems.

  • a prelude to the killing of Lotus Symphony

    I fail to see a down-side to this.

    • a prelude to the killing of Lotus Symphony

      I fail to see a down-side to this.

      Indeed. Symphony is a truly putrid product. The only thing it accomplishes is letting IBM fool itself into believing they won't have to shell out for Microsoft Office licenses.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:11PM (#37715120) Journal
    "This means IBM and any other Apache OpenOffice.org project member can innovate the OpenOffice.org source code for their own purposes and not be obligated to give back to the mainline OpenOffice.org code, since the ASL is a non-copyleft license. IBM and other OpenOffice.org contributors will also be able to re-license OpenOffice.org code under any license they want, including a proprietary license, should they wish."

    TFA's analyst appears to be under the impression that IBM would see this as a good thing, and would therefore be more likely to want to support OO.org. I'm not sure that makes much sense.

    Aside from the horribly mangled use of "innovate", the ability to take code proprietary is only sometimes valuable. It can be valuable if you have the sole right to do it(ie. in the case where it is mostly your project, and you have a copyright assignment policy for contributors, which gives you the option to maintain a proprietary commercial version with some additional features or whatever without any significant forking from the public version). It can also be valuable if you have a different product, 100% proprietary, that needs some feature available in the non-copyleft code, which you can just incorporate. If neither of those is true, though, the ability becomes rather less valuable, possibly even of negative value, in practice.(observe, for instance, the places where Linux ends up in products vs. the ones where BSD does)

    Given that the business of trying to make money from the direct sale of office suites that aren't Office is something of an uphill battle, the right of all and sundry to throw their slightly differentiated proprieterized forks into the ring is likely to be of negligible commercial value. If(as I strongly suspect is IBM's case) your real interest is in a combination of selling server/groupware stuff and attempting to prevent MS from using desktop software as a beachhead to sell their server/groupware stuff, the largely theoretical ability to make money from selling shrinkwrapped proprietary spins of Apache licensed code is far less valuable than throwing your lot in with whatever branch of ODF-supporting software sucks least and shows the greatest promise of surviving long enough for ODF to evolve into a real format, rather than a snapshot of OO.org's behavior with aspirations to openness.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:45PM (#37715576)

    1) Simple things like "copy one row to another" regularly crash OpenOffice for many users. The reaction on the forums? "Dink around with Java for a few hours, tweak some clipboard settings and pray, etc." That's not the mark of a product ready for office consumers.

    2) GoogleDocs. Where's the "share this with my colleagues and let them make updates" function in OpenOffice?

    3) Poor formatting of Microsoft Office documents. Sure, you can read incoming Microsoft Office documents, but OpenOffice has a way of uglifying them by not quite rendering or saving things in a compatible manner. (When I saved a doc from OpenOffice, I only saved as PDF, never doc - just couldn't trust it!)

    4) UI. Who the hell came up with the color picker? Why are commonly used functions buried? Did anyone on the OpenOffice project ever sit down with someone who spends 8 hours a day cranking documents or did they just work off a list of matching features somewhere?

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > 1) Simple things like "copy one row to another" regularly crash OpenOffice for many users.

      Lack of insight from a support forum might be due to the fact that this sounds less like a genuine problem and more like weak FUD to those of us that have been using the product a long time on a daily basis in corporate environments as an adequate replacement for msoffice.

      Anything that is !office will trigger screeching resistance from Lemmings that have enough problems using a commercial alternative, never mind F

      • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:05PM (#37716512)

        The Lemming attitude about tools on Windows was always terribly annoying and seemed to sabotage the single biggest advantage of MIcrosoft as a monopoly vendor (namely that "it has everything").

        I gave LibreOffice to my mother. I just told her it was the latest version on MS office. She will never figure out differently.
        Why is it that strange incompatibilities in different versions of MS office are accepted, but an incompatibility in a free alternative is unacceptable?

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Ignore the AC. However, if you have specific bugs that you've isolated and can describe, have you tried submitting these to either the OO.o or LO bug trackers? This is the best and easiest things anyone can do to help open-source, as getting involved enough to "fix it yourself" takes a big commitment usually, but filing a bug only takes a few minutes and can help the developers find problems they didn't know existed.

  • LibreOffice was created as a fork when Oracle when all corporate asshat with OpenOffice. There's no point in dumping resources into two open source office products anyway. I don't see the problem here.

  • I'm old enough to remember when the original Symphony was developed - when Lotus was an independent company. Lotus 1-2-3 had a fairly strong following, so they decided to move into the integrated office suite arena after all the big kids had already done so. Symphony never gained a whole lot of traction; but apparently IBM (who acquired Lotus' remains) thought the name was cool enough that they eventually reincarnated it as an OpenOffice-based suite. If IBM kills the current incarnation, I'm sure the name w

  • And nothing of value was lost. I've always been underwhelmed by OO anyway.
  • May the fork wars begin!!

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