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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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  • 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 TheLinuxSRC ( 683475 ) * <[slashdot] [at] []> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:46AM (#33722238) Homepage
    This is probably the best thing to happen to since the sale of Sun to Oracle. Almost all of Sun's open source projects have either been neglected (abandoned?) by Oracle or moved to a less-friendly license (OpenSolaris anyone?).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:47AM (#33722248)

    Now no one will take OpenOffice... err... I mean LibreOffice seriously and continue using Microsoft Office unabated.

  • Does Oracle own the OpenOffice name? I've been annoyed that it was officially called That's name of a website, not a piece of software..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by catbutt ( 469582 )
      So this is an improvement then, in a sense. The ".org" thing was idiotic.

      Rather than idiotic, the name LibreOffice is simply dumb. I'm not even sure how to pronounce it. But I guess dumb is a step up from idiotic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They might be forced to change it. I think they were cleverly trying to avoid naming it FreeOffice. How about a slight change to 'FreedomOffice' ? 'Free' makes you think it's not worth much, i.e. a cheap watered down version of something better, but with 'Freedom' i get the connotation that i'm being freed from something... Just a thought.... Juuuuust a thought.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ergean ( 582285 )

        Not Freedom Office please... you don't want people to think is made by the French or god forbid liberated from the French.

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

      by Rix ( 54095 )

      Like []?

  • 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 loftwyr ( 36717 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:02AM (#33722520)

      A large number of Sun developers worked on OOo but there was also a large number of other devs willing to work that couldnt' get their patches committed. That's why was created with a huge patchset. Sun had a large "not invented here" mindset that stopped a lot of open source devs from continuing to work on it.

      Now that OOo is LibreOffice, perhaps the huge go-oo patchset can be committed and the unofficial "not-a-fork" can end.

      I'm looking forward to all the new features and such that will be able to be added.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by neothoron ( 1402383 )

      There are two enormous reasons OpenOffice has always failed to attract developers outside from Sun:
      - Copyright assignment: if you don't assign all copyright of your code to Sun, then it cannot be in OpenOffice.
      - Bureaucratic obstruction: Sun's QA had to validate your code through a lengthy process before you could even think about it being accepted.

      In short, Sun managed OpenOffice's development the same way any proprietary software's development would have been managed. Is it really surprising then, that Su

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pclminion ( 145572 )

        Performing rigorous QA is "bureaucratic obstruction?" What are you smoking?

        Ever notice how a lot of software out there just fucking sucks? Crashes all the time, trashes your data, and makes you pull your hair out? Do you think the situation would improve if only we could find those mythical perfect developers who never make mistakes? Or might it have something to do with... the fact that nobody TESTS their shit anymore?

        I'm really baffled at how ANY developer could have a beef against QA. For crap sake, they

    • by xiando ( 770382 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:33AM (#33723000) Homepage Journal

      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?

      It has been hard for anyone "outside" to contribute a long time, but for other reasons. Great patches have long been rejected upstream for no reason. If you look at [] you see that "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. ". This is a big and very important change of attitude. We can at minimum expect that all the currently available patches who are available but have been ignored by "" will be added to LibreOffice, and I hope and suspect more developers will contribute now that they can.

  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#33722340) Homepage Journal

    LibreOffice? Seriously? What a horrid name. We're not French and the percentage of the population that understands what Libre means is nil.

    There's a reason we're all geeks and not in marketing. However, we all have friends who have a bit savviness when it comes to creativity. Quit being a geek and ask for help.

    This is no different than the Diaspora project. Even if that project had the technical side working, it'd still fail because the name is so stupid. You can't compete against a product named "Facebook" when your name is "Diaspora".

    • by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:07AM (#33722610)

      it is also spanish... which a significant amount of 'the population' (i assume you mean you americans) do speak.

      (also, get over yourself, encountering a single word which isnt in the american dictionary is no reason to panic)

    • by yet-another-lobbyist ( 1276848 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:11AM (#33722686)
      That's why they say "temporary". They realize it's important, so they want to get it right and take their time (and possibly even involve some savvy people from the community). So what are you complaining about? OK, this is slashdot, so it's not cool to RTFA. However, not even reading the summary? That's taking it too far, dude (or duderette)...
    • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:23AM (#33722834)

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

      No, but if you're talking about the United States, the percentage of the population that understands Spanish (sometimes exclusively) is quite high. If you're talking about the world, the percentage of people that understand French and/or Spanish high enough too. Also, it's quite close to libere, which is Latin (and Italian).

      If you end up having trouble explaining what Libre means to an American, just say "like in Nacho Libre" If they didn't understand libre, they'll be excited to use software associated with a Black Jack movie.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @01:49PM (#33725276) Homepage Journal

      I agree LibreOffice is a stupid name, almost as stupid as that open source FaceBook "Die As Poor As", but lots of stupid names are big now. TWAIN (Technology Without An Interesting Name) only went away because USB came along, not because of its name. GNU's still here. And WiFi; God what a stupid, ignorant name. Whoever named that obviously was thinking of "HiFi", which was short for "High Fidelity". The "wi" makes sense, but where the hell did the "fi" come from? What about "Bluetooth", I mean, WTF? Who thinks that idiocy is in any way clever?

      How about iPad? I had to wear one overnight after my iSurgery. Or WiMP for MS' media player?

      We're not in marketing because you have to take an IQ test to be in marketing. Anything higher than a 90 and you fail, few here could pass that. Who here would make a slogan "we build excitement" for basic transportation; what, the brakes are bad and the handling sucks?

      Why not just call the damned thing "Free Office"? People LIKE free. Maybe it's because so many people worship the almighty dollar and equate "free" with "worthless".

      To go along with GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) I vote INMO -- "It's Not Microsoft Office". Naw, that'd never work...

    • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @02:25PM (#33725918)

      How about "Sexy Office"? It's very French and has a nice mass appeal to it.

  • 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.

    • FreeOffice anyone?

    • by JeffSpudrinski ( 1310127 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:11AM (#33722672)

      They aren't intending to change the least not initially.

      From LibreOffice's FAQ:

      Q: So is this a breakaway project?
      A: Not at all. The Document Foundation will continue to be focused on developing, supporting, and promoting the same software, and it's very much business as usual. We are simply moving to a new and more appropriate organisational model for the next decade - a logical development from Sun's inspirational launch a decade ago.

      I think this is the community's way of trying to push Oracle into releasing the name to them.

      I doubt very much that Larry Ellison will let go of it due to name recognition (name recognition is worth $$$ from a marketing standpoint).

      Just my $0.02.


  • constant name changes are not good. destroys product name recognition.
  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#33722368)

    Lee Burr Office? Glad it's temporary. Sounds like something said drunkenly to a cop after getting pulled over.

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble&hotmail,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.

  • Lots of people won't be able to pronounce it properly. They will call it "Leeber Office". I think it will hurt the brand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swordgeek ( 112599 )

      It's temporary--this is pretty common. A new name will be created to clearly demarcate that a Change Has Happened, and then a real name is sorted out over time.

  • by yet-another-lobbyist ( 1276848 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:00AM (#33722480)
    My first reaction is: Thank God. I didn't have a very good feeling where things were going after the Oracle takeover and some of their later business decisions (OpenSolaris). Of course, it all depends on how the new foundation will steer things, and I don't know anyone who is part of this, so it's hard to make a judgment. So my hope is that they will at least not make things worse, and maybe this is a even chance to re-energize the project and take it to the next level.

    Dear Document Foundation:
    Please live up to it, and make OOo (or LO) kick some ass. We need you!

    May the force be with them!
  • 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 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fnj ( 64210 )

      SOME would say better? Is there any rational basis for ANYONE to claim MySQL is better than PostgreSQL in ANY meaningful regard?

  • MOOo (Score:3, Funny)

    by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:17AM (#33722774)

    Shoulda kept it simple and just called themselves "" or something.

  • by drumcat ( 1659893 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:18AM (#33722786)
    It's obligatory... an office suite that wears stretchy pants... for fun. :)
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:29AM (#33722936) Homepage
    Klingon language support, and an Emacs look and feel.
  • 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.

  • Horrible name (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Big_Monkey_Bird ( 620459 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:37AM (#33723068)
    Nothing is going to slow down adoption in the US than an unpronounceable Frenchy name.
  • 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.

  • Had to be done. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:52AM (#33723316) Homepage

    It had to be done. Open Office (and MySQL) are too important to be entrusted to Larry Ellison. Already, a few parts of MySQL, such as the Windows GUI client, are no longer reliable.

    ("LibreOffice", as a name, though, has to go. The open source community sucks at naming.)

  • 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.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel