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Oracle Open Source Software Declares Independence From Oracle, Becomes LibreOffice 648

Google85 writes "The Project has unveiled a major restructuring that separates itself from Oracle and that takes responsibility for OpenOffice away from a single company. From now on, OpenOffice's development and direction will be decided by a steering committee of developers and national language project managers. Driving home the changes, the project is now The Document Foundation, while the suite has been given the temporary name of LibreOffice."
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  • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:46AM (#33722218)
    I think they should keep the name! I can think of a zillion internet memes that will promote the product!

    What's the deal with the cursor here on Slashdot?!?! Edit ing i s becom ing a p a in i nthe ass!

  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:50AM (#33722308)
    There is a good chance Oracle owns the name. If they break with Oracle (a good idea) they're going to have to leave it behind.
  • by bomanbot ( 980297 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#33722326)
    I think putting the (former) OpenOffice on independent footing away from a single corporation is a laudable goal and a good idea, but can it work this way?

    As far as I remember, one of the problems OpenOffice always had was that most of the developers were paid developers inside Sun who worked on OpenOffice full-time. I thought the code was kind of a mess and hard to decipher for anyone outside, so the project always fought for more volunteers, but could not get many. Has this changed?

    Because otherwise, OpenOffice development, while now technically being independent from Oracle, might still by all accounts be entirely dependent on Oracle goodwill if most of the meaningful development can still only be done by those full-time developers inside Oracle.

    This might work however, if that new-founded Foundation can somehow acquire enough funding to ease away those internal developers as well and continue paying them to work on OpenOffice full-time. I am not sure if that is feasible, however.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#33722342) Homepage

    I wonder how much name recognition Open Office really had, and how much of that was positive. As much as I like the idea of a free open-source alternative to MS Office, and as much as I relied on it for specific tasks, for at least 5 years I've wanted them to fix the bloated mess that it has become. They never have, and many people hate it for that.

    If they can get some real movement under their wings now, and separate out the fat, a break with the OO name might just be the Mozilla / Firefoxification the suite needs.

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#33722374)

    Some of the supporters: FSF, Google, Novell, Red Hat, and Canonical.

    When those guys are with you - it'll happen. My only question is if OpenOffice will become LibreOffice next month with the new releases of Ubuntu, OpenSUSE & Fedora or if it'll wait until spring?

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#33722388) Journal

    Q: Why are you building a new web infrastructure?

    A: Since Oracle's takeover of Sun Microsystems, the Community has been under "notice to quit" from our previous Collabnet infrastructure. With today's announcement of a Foundation, we now have an entity which can own our emerging new infrastructure.

    Basically Oracle told them their lease was up. Yea Oracle! I didn't already have enough reasons to loathe thee.

  • by WhiteDragon ( 4556 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:05AM (#33722574) Homepage Journal

    I seem to recall that the reason they were called instead of just Open Office was because someone else owned the Open Office name. Does anyone know the status of that trademark?

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:09AM (#33722650) Journal

    Oracle doesn't care about their "brand" any more. They only care about profits at any cost. The problem with this economically, is that eventually people see through the hype and start to find alternative products that fill the need. Take a look ...

    Oracle buys Sun, and Solaris instantly becomes next to worthless, except for Oracle DBs and big Corporation purchases.
    Sun gets Java and immediately starts rebranding it, breaking software. Nice testing there Oracle.
    Sun gets OpenOffice and tell the team "go away"

    Oracle is eating itself alive. And that makes the books look good for the short term. We IT guys are already looking for ways to get off your anti-customer products and services. It might take a while, but we're already starting the process

    Hey Oracle ... Nice going.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:10AM (#33722662)

    We're not French and the percentage of the population that understands what Libre means is nil.

    Why would they care what it means? They might have trouble deciding how to pronounce it but I doubt they'll care about "meaning" any more than they lose sleep worrying over what a "google" is. It just isn't an issue.

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:16AM (#33722756) Homepage

    I don't see confirmation of this on the website - how "official" is this? The register article and the project website seem to indicate support from a lot of companies, but this seems to be quite the "bolt from the blue", so to speak - have there been rumblings of this behind the scenes?

    From my standpoint, the two projects I was most concerned about when the Sun/Oracle deal was announced were and VirtualBox. There was a lot of noise about MySQL, but PostgreSQL is already out there as a very very viable (some would say better) alternative with a functioning community and long history. OpenSolaris never really became a major force in open source operating systems, so it's not likely to leave a bit hole. However, and VirtualBox both occupy highly user-visible spots in the open source world. has been absolutely key in breaking the "Microsoft Office" lock-in.

    If this is for real the importance of this new project dwarfs the fate of MySQL. I really, really hope that enough resources are put behind the project to keep it viable and match compatibility with Microsoft Office, because if Linux no longer has the ability to easily read most Microsoft documents it will be one of the biggest hits to desktop viability that Linux distros could suffer.

  • by diegocg ( 1680514 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:25AM (#33722866)

    There are more people using OpenOffice [] than what you may think. Just a small example: OpenOffice Tops 21% Market Share In Germany []

  • You mean... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rix ( 54095 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:27AM (#33722910)

    Like []?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:30AM (#33722956)

    Please do include patches/extensions etc from OxygenOffice aswell. []

  • Liberty Office Suite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:36AM (#33723054) Homepage Journal

    May I suggest: Liberty Office Suite as a new name.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:40AM (#33723130)

    Tensions between the open source community and Oracle, a big proprietary software company, can hardly be called infighting in the OSS community.

    I disagree. Like it or not, Oracle is part of the OSS community. A huge portion of the development done on OSS is done by employees of big companies, most of which also write proprietary, closed source software. Apple, Google, IBM, Nokia, HP... well you get the point. Basically, Oracle dumps enough money and human resources into improving Linux and the userspace that they've earned the title of OSS community contributor.

    That doesn't mean they and other companies don't do lots of things counter to the interests of the OSS community in general, when it helps their bottom line; or that this is anything new. It just means maybe you should revise your view of what the OSS community is to be a little more realistic and a little less black and white. Sure there are long haired, bearded hippies working for free in their spare time to make the world a better place. There are also a crapload of on the clock developers getting a paycheck to work on OSS projects used by their corporation to create salable products and services. They're all part of the community.

  • by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:45AM (#33723208)
    I have been a huge fan and advocate of this software for a long time: presenting it to companies, school boards and groups to let them know just how ridiculous it is to spend money on a product where they use, at best, 5% of the features available.

    That said, my energy to support OpenOffice/OfficeLibre it is running out. What I'm seeing is that there is really very little financial support for it (as compared to MS Office, for example) and even less for marketing it. The result is that it does some things extremely well (ODF, importing) and others very badly (BASE). This is not because the people behind it do not care - much the opposite - I've submitted bugs and there have been very positive experiences. The bottom line is that there are just simply not enough brains working on the code because no one is paying them to do it.

    If OfficeLibre is to succeed it needs the following:

    a) A weathly foundation and/or solid source of revenue to keep it going

    b) A professional marketing plan to make it the default choice in Western Schools where it can get mind-share. (Why are disadvantaged kids being taxed to use Microsoft?)

    c) A results-driven steering committee so that goals and objectives are established and prioritized based on USER-driven wishes.

    d) A program to get it rolled out on the Web too - LibreDocs??

    e) Make working on it part of every computer science corriculum.

    The landscape is changing so rapidly out there that, if this is not done soon, I don't see it surviving two years.

  • by vlueboy ( 1799360 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:57AM (#33723388)

    I started having doubts about it when I noticed the branding got changed (Oracle rebranded everything in its favor after the acquisition of Sun.) The new program icons are not color coded, so it's extremely hard to relearn which sub-program you're about to start that new document in. The older one's colors are pretty quick to memorize.

    This gives me more power for ALWAYS saving software installers. I haven't noticed real changes under the hood other than the look's 2010 refresh. I install the old version whenever my kin group needs "Office."

    I had spread OpenOffice since version 1 with very little success with the technical people (and their less-technical friends that know who to ask to just pirate MS Office so they can keep all the features.) They always turn me down when I offer to replace their expired trial of Office with something that is not MS Office.

    Shame, because they must put up with MS's constant GUI changes --see the 2007 ribbon. The problem with my less technical friends happily using OOo is that "Libre" is a little-known loan word in English and will destroy my years of publicizing "Open." Spanish-like words are a bad idea for PR in the United States unless you work for Chevy and have "Silverado" naming your product line.

  • Risk and Opportunity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @12:06PM (#33723522) Homepage

    If this does result in a complete change in the way OpenOffice (or whatever it ends up being called) does project development, it's both scary and a big opportunity.


    1. Keeping up with document formats in Microsoft Office products is a difficult, time consuming process. Other open source office projects have never matched's support for MSOffice files, and arguably that strength alone is responsible for's success in the open source world. Implicit in that support is being feature-rich enough to be able to work with said documents, of course, which is also a lot of work. This kind of support, especially on something unsexy like office document formats, REALLY REALLY BENEFITS from paid people working on it. This is my single biggest concern going forward.

    2. Code expertise. It has been years since I took a look a the OpenOffice code, but unless things have changed dramatically I have always heard that it was huge and required a LOT of time to become a productive contributor - definitely not organized into small, distinct parts. If the formerly paid developers can't devote their time to it as much/at all (which I wouldn't blame them for, we all need to eat) we could be looking at a substantial learning curve for the community.


    1. The relatively closed nature of the project seems, at least from my admittedly remote vantage point, to have resulted in a rather spectacular "not invented here" effect. OpenOffice has a great deal of functionality, but to the best of my knowledge there has never been any serious attempt to make independent libraries packaging that functionality for use in other applications - this is a shame. Perhaps even in principle you can't split office functionality up that way, but the KOffice team seems to have had some success doing so - perhaps this would be a good time to have an "XFree86->Xorg" style "break it into pieces" re-think of the architecture? Investigate whether and where it makes sense to break out OpenOffice functionality into libraries, contribute abilities to other projects' libraries and use those, or just flat out replace internal code with use of external libraries. Maybe OpenOffice really does need to be as huge as it is, but I'm rather suspicious of that.

    2. REALLY hoping someone can make an OpenOffice fork/port/whatever that makes full use of the Qt toolkit. Instead of just getting the look of native widgets (which is what I understood efforts to date had been doing?) actually use the real Qt widgets and let the Qt toolkit handle that part of things. Probably requires major reworking of OpenOffice, but moments like this tend to be good times to take new directions like that. Let Qt do what it does so well and handle the cross-platform GUI widgets, and focus on the Office stuff.

    Obviously not expert opinions as far as the codebase is concerned, and there may be reasons some of these things are bad ideas or won't work, but with luck and effort perhaps we can see actual major improvements (the integration of the Go-OO work is certainly a great start!) and some good will come out of all of this.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @12:33PM (#33723986)

    If Oracle said that they could have it for $1000 I would tell them to turn it sideways and shove it up their asses. Oracle has basically given the finger to FOSS so why deal with them at all unless they are truly willing to give up something of value?

    Well... The only reason OpenOffice exists is because the company that Oracle purchased spent money to purchase StarDivision and its StarOffice, open sourced the source code, and form

    You act like FOSS did all the work and spent all the money.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @12:39PM (#33724084)
    but if you read James Gosling's recent comments of how Oracle is run, then you'd have a good idea that it is unlikely to release They are seriously focused on making profits and run by a pyramid shaped management hierarchy which is _very_ narrow at the top. I'm pretty sure Larry knows the value of the Star Office and OpenOffice. They have already changed the name of Star Office to Oracle Open Office so that should be another clue about how they value the Open Office brand.

    LibreOffice is _not_ a name they should keep but it does have to both sound right and feel right. If anything, they should have started with Free Office and talked with the guy who parked the web site. It is a shame it's come to this and it will initially hurt the progress of the Open Office brand. IMO

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @12:54PM (#33724340) Homepage

    Additional LibreOffice can now expand into other realms that form part of the complete business suite, including project management, full relational database features, mail server and client, as well as CAD/CAM.

    So the new branding might highlight it's expansion ie Liberty Business Suite, with mods related to specific business and organisation types, education, medical, government local/state/national. So an expansion beyond small business and the home user, to saving literally hundreds of billions of dollars through out global industry, commerce, education and government.

    Obviously in the brand change, should be a move to up the tempo of the marketing to expand the scope in the publics eye. Less focus on tweaking essay writing and spreadsheets and greater focus on expanding into other very import facets of modern digital document handling and creation.

  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @12:55PM (#33724366) Journal

    what about "Document Office" ?

    can anyone check if it's taken ?

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @01:01PM (#33724498)
    Actually, I was not suggesting joining the groups - I don't think that would work well at all and the smaller the groups the better they can service their area of expertise. What I'm suggesting is that Scribus & Inkscape's interfaces are very nice looking and if the Scribus & Inkscape camps can lend a hand in UI design and new logos then LibreOffice can lend their weight in the realms of advertisement and so on. The install base of LibreOffice is HUGE compared to Scribus & Inkscape - letting people know there is a FOSS solution (along with GIMP) to the Microsoft & Adobe Design suites could be huge. I know I'm looking at moving away from Publisher this winter to Scribus.
  • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @01:42PM (#33725154)

    My thought was Liberty Office. I'm not a linguist, but I believe it shares a root with Libre.

  • Re:Horrible name (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Framboise ( 521772 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @01:46PM (#33725236)

    As a non-French European I always wonder how French succeed to be at the same time so much openly despised and secretly admired in the USA.

  • by The_Dougster ( 308194 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @01:49PM (#33725280) Homepage
    Agree. LibreOffice is going to get laughed out of existence in the English speaking world.

    It just doesn't roll off the tongue very easily... sounds all foreign and subversive.

    They need some marketing help. Action words! Buzzwords!

    • ActiveOffice
    • TurboOffice
    • OpenWorks
    • UniversalOffice

    See, I spent about 5 minutes and came up with IMHO better alternatives than that pussy LibreOffice name.

  • by TemporalBeing ( 803363 ) <> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @02:31PM (#33726052) Homepage Journal
    From TDF/LO's FAQ page []:

    Q: What does this announcement mean to other derivatives of

    A: We want The Document Foundation to be open to code contributions from as many people as possible. We are delighted to announce that the enhancements produced by the Go-OOo team will be merged into LibreOffice, effective immediately. We hope that others will follow suit.

    I haven't been able to find anything saying that they rebranded anything from anyone else other than, in fact, to quote from their Downloads [] page:

    The LibreOffice branding and renaming is new and work in progress. You may still see old graphics, icons or websites. So please bear with us. This also applies to the branding - applicable in Brazil.

    So I would venture a guess that they are truly forking from - or carrying on - the codebase (since they are having issues with branding, not GoOOo branding), but they have simply incorporated the changes from the Go-OOo team as well. I can udnerstand why the Go-OOo team might not be too happy since it effectively devalues their own fork.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @02:49PM (#33726320)

    I tend to think you haven't followed much of the whole story of Open Source software or it's timeline.

    Then you'd be wrong. I've professionally developed open source software for a decade or more.

    Oracle has never been much of an advocate of Open Source and the recent buyout of Sun has not been a good thing for Open Source advocates.

    You don't have to be vocal to be part of a community. Oracle is a huge user of Linux and for many years they've had full time, paid employees coding on Linux where they found it lacking for their needs. That right there makes them part of the OSS community, as in they are both users and developers of OSS software. As for Oracle buying out Sun being a good thing for the community, when did I say it was? I think it has been almost entirely negative, but then I think a lot of members of the OSS community do more harm than good. Some would argue that about Stallman. That doesn't mean they aren't part of the community.

    I'd almost have to say you're just trolling...

    Why would I care if an AC claims I'm trolling? It doesn't make it true and you don't really support that opinion with anything useful.

    ...statements referring to 'revising' our views is totally irrelevant in this particular matter.

    When people claim users and developers aren't part of the OSS community, I find that very relevant. It's trying to cherry pick based upon purely subjective criteria.

    Yes companies, big and small, contribute a lot to the Open Source community. Oracle's history is steeped in corporate IT and very little of it was focused towards Open Source.

    Their contribution to the Linux kernel alone are significant, more than you've done I'd wager. Yast, IPv6 support for NFS, etc. But hey don't take my word for it:

    "Oracle's development work for the Linux kernel represents vital contributions to the open source community, which benefit anyone using Linux." – Andrew Morton, Linux Kernel Maintainer, Google

    If Oracle is not a a member of the OSS community by virtue of all the OSS code they write and use, then you have rendered the term meaningless.

  • by magus_melchior ( 262681 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:00PM (#33726496) Journal

    I'm guessing all the creative names (FreeOffice, NeoOffice, Symphony...) are already taken, and this is one way to avoid a debilitating lawsuit.

    Personally, I think the quirky name gives the OSS evangelist a good opportunity to explain Free Software or Open Source to the uninitiated.

    And a few counterpoints to the idea that geeks come up with silly unmarketable names-- I bet you never thought "Google" would become a verb when it was launched, and I'm sure you laughed or groaned at "iMac" or "Digg" or "Reddit" or "Wii". These names didn't end up stuck in the niche market.

    Heck, "Apache" or "Linux" aren't terribly flashy names, and yet these are ubiquitous. It seems the attraction isn't necessarily in the branding, but in the quality of the software.

  • by rishistar ( 662278 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:35PM (#33727076) Homepage

    "Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail."--Zawinski's Law

    That law needs updating. Now every program expands until it can update your Facebook status.

  • by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:10PM (#33728404)

    i wasnt trolling, that rumor showed up on some tech-news sites, just traced it back to bloomberg: []

    at this point AMD is just fingered as a target by a third party analyst, but it was enough to sink in deeply with me, since AMD is my prefered chip maker (and they provide much-needed competition to intel), so this would be horror for me too

    If that were to happen, oracle will have taken over my two most favorite tech companies, and probably gut out the good parts and leave the burning carcas to rot... (or whatever, shitty metaphor, i know, it's late)

  • Re:Horrible name (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kegon ( 766647 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:42PM (#33728704)
    1. You expected people who came up with as a name to come up with a "good" name ?
    2. You're a xenophobic idiot. There are many other countries outside your own one, not all of them speak English
    3. No one in the US will care anyway. They'll autoupdate to the next version and barely notice that the name changed. It will still be free and arguably better than MS.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:11AM (#33731076) Journal

    Z:\> apt-get install ms-office

    'apt-get' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
    operable program or batch file. []

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito