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Open Source Oracle News

LibreOffice 3.3 Released Today 470

mikejuk writes "Only four months after the formation of the Document Foundation by leading members of the community, it has launched LibreOffice 3.3, the first stable release of its alternative Open Source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Since the fork was announced at the end of September the number of developers 'hacking' LibreOffice has gone from fewer than twenty to well over one hundred, allowing the Document Foundation to make its first release ahead of schedule The split of a large open source office suite comes at a time when it isn't even clear if there is a long term future for office suites at all. What is more puzzling is what the existence of two camps creating such huge codebases for a fundamental application type says about the whole state of open source development at this time. It clearly isn't the idealistic world it tries to present itself as."
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LibreOffice 3.3 Released Today

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  • by alexandre ( 53 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @09:52AM (#34993150) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure that we'll be stuck with Office suite for a long long time still...

    But saying that this unmasks Linux as not being perfect is like saying your family is not perfect because you brought your kid to the hospital after he was hit by a car instead of hiding the fact...
    A fork in this case is a wonderful solution to a death by stagnation caused by proprietary idiocy from Oracle.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @09:55AM (#34993192) Homepage Journal

    A fork in this case is a wonderful solution to a death by stagnation caused by proprietary idiocy from Oracle.

    Exactly. If the source was closed, we'd maybe have to find a whole new Office suite, but this way we can just fork Oracle and move on.

  • by xnpu ( 963139 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @09:59AM (#34993236)

    The fork is good news, the new stable released is better news and the hundreds of devs is great news. Why is the OP insisting to put a negative spin on this?

  • Biased Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:01AM (#34993270) Homepage
    Somehow, the news that LibreOffice is right on track is spun into a negative diatribe against FOSS. We should be happy that we dodged a bullet and ditched an Oracle-controlled project. As well, this is another piece of proof that a major project can be forked without too much trouble. To me, this is nothing but positive, yet it's been spun into something else.
  • by juancn ( 596002 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:02AM (#34993296) Homepage
    I can't believe that the name LibreOffice stuck.
    I'm a native spanish speaker, and it sounds so goddam awful. Specially when mispronounced by pretty much everyone.
    I know this is a personal opinion, but still.
  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:05AM (#34993330) Homepage

    "What is more puzzling is what the existence of two camps creating such huge codebases for a fundamental application type says about the whole state of open source development at this time. It clearly isn't the idealistic world it tries to present itself as."

    How bloody clueless. This is like questioning the fact that we have more than one set of automobile designs and assembly plants, or more than one political party, or multiple soft drink bottling and distribution networks.

  • Fork Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:06AM (#34993340) Homepage

    I'm not sure what Oracle's intent was with OpenOffice, but their actions sure caused a lot of very good people to leave in a hurry. Between this and the Android situation, it seems like Oracle really doesn't get free software, or worse, sees free software as the enemy. I'm not sure which. Regardless, I'm thankful that I get to use OpenOffice and now LibreOffice.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PeterBrett ( 780946 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:10AM (#34993368) Homepage

    Did they finally ... give us a ribbon?

    Why would anyone want one of those? Surely having an interface consistent with 99.9% of the other applications running on your system is more useful than keeping up with the Jones's latest patent-encumbered different-for-the-sake-of-being-different UI fad?

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:11AM (#34993384)

    It doesn't say "Linux" it says "open source" and they are not the same thing, although it is something of a non sequitur to call this a "puzzling or bad" move (which seems to be the inference) - the project was forked because the community didn't like where it was going, which is one of the major benefits open source code has over closed.

    You seem to have fallen into the trap that any perceived criticism of open source is an attack on Linux, though. I have plenty of open source software on my Mac, including Open Office. If this (and future) releases of LibreOffice [seriously, they need to change the name] can offer a strong alternative to MS Office, then I'm all for it.

    My first question, can it do graphs on new sheets yet? That was my one annoyance with the spreadsheet app in OO.

    I should probably mention that I use MS Office for Mac all the time for writing reports. Word itself I can take or leave - it's a pretty poor and idiosyncratic word processor that drives you mental with its attempts to be helpful. Excel, on the other hand, really excels (ha) at what it does and makes the cost of Office worth it for me (and not just for the graphs on new pages).

  • Re:Oracle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:20AM (#34993480)

    Sometimes I think Oracle won't be happy until they've completely destroyed Java.

    I believe Java has matured enough under Sun to not be as vulnerable as some of the much younger languages. To be honest, I haven't seen any instance where Oracle is mortally screwing up the language.

    If your thinking about the Oracle v. Google lawsuit, I'm siding with Oracle on that one. As much as I like to side with Google, the fact that they did the equivalent of ROT13 to the bytecode generated by the javac makes it hard to ignore what Google was doing. It would have been different if Google attempted to get a license to make there own mobile JVM or used the code from the OpenJDK base and challenged Oracle in court on the definition of a phone during 90's versus the much powerful mini-tablets of today. That didn't happen. Instead Google got caught doing what everybody thought was a poor attempt to hide the fact that Java is the basis for the Android OS.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:22AM (#34993500)

    different-for-the-sake-of-being-different UI fad?

    This is hardly the case with the ribbon. More functions of the program are brought out to the forefront. This means that not only on average there are less clicks to access the equivalent function, but these functions are actually used instead of hiding away forever. Second, there is a shortcut for absolutely every function, not just a few. So while the shortcuts are different, you have better control of the program.

    So if you aren't adverse to change (for the sake of improvement) then you can actually be more productive with the ribbon. I know I am.

  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <remeir10z>> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:24AM (#34993518)
    Just as I was getting senior staff comfortable with the idea of giving OpenOffice a try on some of our machines, this fork happened and someone brought in news of it. Now it doesn't matter that both can write to the same formats, and that you can have the programs save by default to MS formats. It introduced uncertainty, and many business leaders associate uncertainty with increased costs. Do you blame them? There's no confidence that a selected open source solution will provide a stable, long-term platform.

    Now, I'm just happy I've been able to get some of our workstations moved over to FF. The entire open source movement has plenty of benefits, but those benefits are viewed as drawbacks by much of the traditional business community.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:28AM (#34993576) Journal
    I was trying to keep my mouth shut as the end of this summary nearly caused me to fly off the handle. I agree with your post (after all, I recently moved to LibreOffice after inquiring that same question about Oracle []). But I would like to add that the author of the summary seems to apply a different standard to FOSS than they apply to closed source or COTS applications. Nowhere does the author comment on the hundreds of proprietary 'camps creating such huge codebases for a fundamental application type' in word editing software or any other multitudes of software whether they be Microsoft, Apple or Google.

    The logic applied here amuses me greatly but more so the Glenn Beck-ish puzzlement about what this says about open source:

    It clearly isn't the idealistic world it tries to present itself as.

    Define 'clearly' because having tons of options sounds really really awesome to me. You make it sound like everyone has to throw their lot in together or this effort is for naught. Everyone knows that isn't true. Secondly, who presents open source to be 'idealistic?' And how do you figure that people working on what they want equates to anything sub-optimal?

  • by openfrog ( 897716 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:35AM (#34993696)

    "The facts of life are conservative." Margaret Thatcher

    But reality has a well-known liberal bias.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:35AM (#34993706)

    Bull. Simple hierarchical menus that present all functions are much easier to understand than multiple toolbars that scroll off-screen etc., and even toolbars are much better understood than ribbons, precisely because they are familiar. Don't get me started on the stupid app button thing that hides the most necessary functions like a print dialog.

    The ribbon serves ONE purpose: to differentiate Office from OpenOffice/LibreOffice by patents alone, because it it was largely equivalent in features.

  • by muckracer ( 1204794 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:39AM (#34993762)

    > "Libre" is used by others since it implies freedom (liberty, etc.) without really being a term from either "camp".

    So why not LibertyOffice instead?

    Or...since people usually call MS-Office simply 'Office', we could call ours 'THE Office' or somethin' just to mess with them.
    " got Office?" "No man...better. I got THE Office! ;-)"

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:39AM (#34993768) Homepage

    How does this affect an in-place system?

    You carry on as normal, call it an "update", and then push it to desktops after appropriate testing. Why this should create a problem on a managed system is beyond me. Office changes the ways it operates every year. Windows changes the way it operates with every update. At the very most, all this is is an update provided by a group of programmers - that the programmers aren't the same as the original ones is an ADVANTAGE - it means the software kept moving instead of died.

    If you don't know how to handle that situation, it means you're not responsible for managing such changes. I moved a school to in a fortnight. LibreOffice is just a new name to them, they don't care, because they can see in a second that it's a damn sight better than MS's constantly-moving offerings involving staff-retraining every time.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:48AM (#34993898)

    Sounds like a mess.
    Similar to the annoying Start menu that only displays HALF the options, and hides the rest (like the "add table" that I need right now).

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Digicrat ( 973598 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:53AM (#34993948)


    The worst thing about the Ribbon is that half the time it seems like there's no logic what-so-ever in where items are placed in it, and even worse you can't customize it in any meaningful way.

    A good UI should be intuititive to use and allow you to find a feature quickly if you know what it is. In comparison, Google/Help-docs is often the only way to find a newly hidden item in the MS Ribbon that was once easily found in the menus . . . /rant

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:08AM (#34994148)
    Only if you beleive that a comedian really understands the world better than a politician who remade a nation.
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:18AM (#34994300) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, you're probably right.

    I guess that's why the documentation for the 2007/2010 (transitional) and future (strict) versions of the .docx/.xlsx/etc Office formats takes 6,000 pages - it's all so obfuscated, vague, and proprietary.

    (Overcomplicated, I'll grant you...)

    And why that massive 6,000-page document is, in fact, incomplete and underspecified, including numerous directives to do things in whatever way various MS proprietary versions did them, without spelling out what those ways were, ensuring that no one but Microsoft can completely and correctly implement the specification, in spite of its apparent "openness".

    But, just in case, Microsoft has also carefully avoided correctly implementing even what the spec does say, thereby assuring that no competing implementation will ever work quite the way theirs does. And of course theirs is the de facto standard implementation, no matter what the documentation says.

  • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:35AM (#34994480)

    but those benefits are viewed as drawbacks by much of the traditional business community.

    Which is why we should all welcome "much of the traditional business community" as our competitors.

    You say what you do knowing full well that you'll be paying forever to keep your office suite up to date, which will hardly be optional as file formats change, often gratuitously.

    The worst case scenario for OO/LO and other FOSS is that a day will come when it's no longer actively developed by a community with critical mass. In that case the code base doesn't disappear, and nothing that you rely upon becomes unavailable. The same cannot be said for when a closed-source software vendor goes belly-up, or sells out to a different company intent on driving a harder bargain with tied-in users.

    As others point out here, this response to the takeover by Oracle is a demonstration of the strength and resiliency of Open Source, not a harbinger of risk.

  • by Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:35AM (#34994486) Homepage
    Indeed, the "splitting up" is part of how free software is (theoretically) supposed to work -- instead of a one-size-fits-all bloated suite, have small, specific programs for usage circumstances. The point of forking is supposed to be to provide a new design direction or to aim your software at a slightly different userbase. However, forks often attract bad legal issues and disputes, as the developer of the original software (especially if they are a commercial outfit) might want to hold onto it and control it even if it was GPL'd.

    The fact that this is a major project that has been successfully forked is very significant and shouldn't be ignored.
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:50AM (#34994744) Homepage

    MS make assumptions about what they think the files should contain, whereas OO works on the assumption that MS might implement features they aren't aware of therefore when OO encounters corruption it just assumes it to be a new feature MS have implemented but which hasn't been reverse engineered yet.

  • Re:Oracle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by knarf ( 34928 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:00PM (#34994924) Homepage

    Well, the JVM is as much the base of Android as it is the base of, say, Parrot [] or LLVM []. Canonical Java is run on a stack-based virtual machine [] - the JVM - while Dalvik (and the other examples I mentioned) are register-based VMs []. It is the virtual machine that matters here, not the language which itself is a member of the C family and stands on the shoulders of many giants.
    And yes, if you wanted to get Java code to run on the Parrot VM you might want to use some of Java's own test routines to ascertain that you're doing it right. That would not mean you'd be calliung your implementation 'Java' of course, just that you implemented the capability to translate Java source code to (eventually) Parrot byte code.
    In other words, I am not siding with Oracle on this one. As to the validity of the software patents referred to in this case I will just say that software patents are invalid where sanity prevails.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Martin Foster ( 4949 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:04PM (#34994976) Homepage

    I can come up with at least one example of the old user interface providing something ribbons were not making as easy to find. Under older versions of MS Word you double-click on the Header or Footer and you would be shown a toolbar that gave you options to insert Page Numbers, Total pages and so forth.

    So if I wanted to, I could quickly do: Page/Total to get a 1/2 to show up at the bottom of the document.

    Now under 2007, that toolbar dissapears and now I can insert Page numbers, none of which matched that exact format and none of which were simply a macro fill in. Hence, I had to dig through in order to find what I wanted. Go to Insert, and look about its not necessarily obvious. But eventually you can click on Quick Parts and Field and then select from a large list of macros.

    Now that you do it once, you can create a template and never repeat the procedure. However, how was that any easier or more obvious then the old method?

  • Re:link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:04PM (#34994978) Homepage

    Speaking of links, the LibreOffice installer still links to when it finishes.

    Not a good sign of attention to detail in this fork.

  • Re:Tried it today (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:50PM (#34995756) Homepage

    When I first encountered the MS Ribbon, with no one to explain it to me, it took me a full minute to figure out how to print. That's a pretty basic function, but it was unclear how to do it. I resorted to poking at things at random because there was no intuitive place to look for that function. (As I recall, I eventually found it by clicking on the unlabeled logo in the corner.) In principle, the ribbon might be a good UI design (especially for people who have no prior knowledge of how to use an office app). In practice, Microsoft's ability to hide the print function from me was a pretty big turn-off.

    In fact, Microsoft's fondness for hiding things is chronic problem with their approach to UI design. In recent versions of Windows, they hide filename extensions by default, making it difficult to change/correct them when needed, and obscuring them as clues to the user (like ".EXE" on a piece of malware disguised with an MS Word icon). They have "personalized menus" that actively hide menu functions that you haven't used recently, which defeats much of the purpose of an explorable pull-down menu, by not letting the user remember "oh, I remember seeing that under View...", and even hiding from them the fact that these features exist. Instead of actually simplifying the software, they keep it complex but try to sweep that complexity under the rug.

  • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:12PM (#34996160)

    This is my take on opensource

    I think the point was that the community didn't have enough say in the direction of OO in the first place. The only way to combat that was to fork. Forking is duplicated work and inefficient.

    Forking is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is that it allows for a group of people to take the current code base and change it to the way they want it. The curse part is it causes code to sprawl in many directions and there is much wasted effort and even worse is the ever changing frameworks and standards.

    Open source is like evolution. No unified vision, but very resilient and adaptive. An environment that thrives on diversity, but the end result is not "optimal", but good enough.

    Closed source, *if* the producer has talent and is concerned about the customer, has a vision. The vision is created and is "optimal", but the much reduced diversity makes it less flexible. Also, any design flaws with the vision itself coupled with reduced flexibility makes the worst case much worse.

    Overall, I think Opensource will win in the long run, but Microsoft's power/money and sheer programming/engineering talent will keep it afloat for a while before they have to specialize.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @04:12PM (#34998774) Homepage Journal

    Here's an honest question: Why?

    For me, it's for the same reason I switched from XFree86 to pretty quickly: most of the real talent has already made the leap. By all accounts, there were a lot of potential XF86/OOo developers who really wanted to contribute but who were turned away by the primary "owners". When came along, those devs suddenly had a welcome home for their efforts. Sure, it's inevitable that a few solid, experienced devs will stick with the original project, for a while at least, but there's a much larger wave of patches and updates washing into the upstarts.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller