OpenOffice.org is dead to me

With Oracle demonstrating yet again that they just don’t get it, and with The Document Foundation now truly forking OpenOffice.org into the new “LibreOffice“, we’re beginning to see where the lay of the land lies for the future of open source where documents, presentations and spreadsheets are concerned.

I think it’s a good idea for those of us in the open source community to make sure our voices are heard on this pivotal point in this project.

Who cares?

So a bunch of angry developers went out and made their own club, took their ball, and went home. So what? you say. Oracle has come right out and said that they’re going to be continuing development and support of OpenOffice.org, and are picking up that ball right where Sun left it?

Who cares about a fork of this project?

Well, for one, I do.

Oracle has a history of an unconventional way of demonstrating support for open source projects, and with them having taken over Sun, the future of every open source project Sun was behind is in doubt.

I use OpenOffice.org every day. I like it a lot. But it needs work, and I don’t see Oracle as being a good shepherd of that project. To the contrary, as much as Sun stood in the way of OpenOffice.org really reaching its potential, I see Oracle as being the project’s death-knell.

Looking ahead

With so many big names coming out in favor of LibreOffice, and with such a bold, positive, and ambitious set of statements about the future, I see LibreOffice as being the project to back, the one that’s going to pave the way for breaking Microsoft‘s lock-in strategy once and for all.

I see LibreOffice as being able to stop the stagnation we’ve seen in OpenOffice.org and truly innovate. I see it as being an open, insightful, and inspired forum for developers who really want to see this grow and explode over the next decade, rather than be ruled by a tight-fisted group of control freaks protecting their precious spaghetti code forever.

Considering how much of an impact OpenOffice.org has had on Microsoft’s dominance of the office productivity suite market over the years, even in the somewhat stagnant, stodgy state it’s in is saying something… just imagine what can be done without the chains of Sun or Oracle holding it back!

At any rate, I wanted to get this out there, because I think it’s important to see this through, see it succeed, and get the word out that there’s a new and better game in town when it comes to this product. With major support from open source contributors around the world backing it, and with major Linux distributions already planning on replacing OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice going forward, I see the future as a pretty bright place for open source.

And this is yet another demonstration of just how hard it is to truly kill that which we love so much. Keep it free, keep it alive, and keep it vibrant, and don’t ever let anyone shut you down!

– Trent

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13 thoughts on “OpenOffice.org is dead to me

    • Well, to be fair, the current “beta” of LibreOffice is really just Go-oo patched OpenOffice.org with a rebranded look and not much else.

      That said, look for some big changes soon. The Document Foundation has plans to release a “stable” version very soon, and I think after that we’re going to see a flurry of development in this project. As long as you stick to the current beta or the upcoming stable releases, you’re probably fine.

  1. Pingback: What I’m doing lately in technology « The Linux Critic
  2. Hmm… I love OpenOffice, too. I use it daily. I haven’t been following the OO/Libre debate too closely. Maybe I should give it a looksee. I’d hate to have Oracle firk up OO without there being a viable alternative out there.

    Regards,

    ~Eric

  3. Here is the crux for me with OO – compatibility. I have to be able to read documents that come in that were created by the Beast. This means, symbols and equations. And vice versa, the Beast has to be able to read files I create that contain symbols and equations, etc. I was shocked to find that the most recent OO releases didn’t even come close to rendering this stuff properly. What the heck? Hopefully this is something The Document Foundation will address with their fork of this codebase, or it will be as useful to me as OO – zero.

  4. I warned people when I first heard of the possibility of Oracle taking over Sun what would probably happen. I have dealt with Oracle for a long time, and perhaps more importantly, I know how Lawrence Joseph Ellison (Larry Ellison) operates. The truth is, there is actually little difference in attitude (especially with regards to customers and personal wealth) with William Gates III (Bill Gates). Oracle almost went bankrupt in 1990 because of greed and poor management. Only the fact that they could fire 10% of their workforce saved them (perhaps somewhat unfortunately). :)

    BTW, as an aside… I am sure many have heard Ellison denounce Gates as ‘Evil’ and ‘The Devil’. But many don’t know why. ;) It’s mainly about the fact that Gates comes from ‘Old Money’ and Ellison had to work his way up from nothing. There are other reasons now, but that was the initial motivator for the hatred. ;) Ahem…

    And let us not forget that Oracle has also acquired MySQL (which, IMHO is not much of a loss, at least compared to OOo!) Look at what’s happening to Berkeley DB & Innobase which Oracle also acquired. Development has slowed to a crawl, but they are keeping to the *letter* of the agreement.

    Anyway, I have had a hard look at The Document Foundation (what I could find at least). They haven’t yet seen fit to release an actual Charter yet (as far as I could so anyway). I do like the concept of LibreOffice, and the promise it shows. But that is a long way from reality. :)

    I have never personally owned M$ Office, and never will (though I have been forced to use it with companies I worked for or on client projects several times.) I still use Word Perfect on Win, and have since DOS (They have integrated Thunderbird pretty well now, what’s not to like!) I use OOo on Linux. But I will have to consider my options there now. Time will tell I guess.

    • And let us not forget that Oracle has also acquired MySQL (which, IMHO is not much of a loss, at least compared to OOo!)

      True, but it sounds like MySQL forks such as MariaDB and Drizzle are alive and well, so Oracle’s handling of them is even less an issue. Plus, while it would require some transitional work for a lot of folks, there’s always PostgreSQL…

      As for The Document Foundation, true, while there is a lot of talk and high-falutin’ words being bandied about, I think it’s great the number of people that are behind this… and not all of it is just out of spite for Oracle. A good number of OO.o devs had already been fed up, frustrated and stifled by the Sun way of doing things, and Sun called most of the shots on OO.o.

      Oracle just provided the straw that broke the camel’s back, I think. I do think that Oracle really just gave us the impetus needed to really break away, start fresh, and fork already. If anything, maybe we should thank them. ;)

      That said, like your suspicions most likely dictate, the proof is in the pudding. I want to see TDF put out some real work in LibreOffice, and not just a rebranded OpenOffice.org.

      I have some unbridled, illogical optimism in me yet, Mr. Davis, so I have grand hopes that we’ll see LO not just keep up with what Oracle is doing with OO.o (which shouldn’t be too tough with their lackluster attention towards things open source) but exceed and blow it away!

      That said, we have to wait and see.

      Thanks again for the comment! I’m glad to see that someone besides me bothers to visit this blog once in a while. :)

      • Hi Trent, :)

        Optimism is a good thing. I still have some, though only God knows why! ;) Heh… I suspect I have been involved in IT somewhat longer than you. My first ever job was programing a Sperry Univac 1100! I built my first computer in 1974 (a project in the July edition of Radio-ELectronics magazine, called the Mark-8. It was based on the 8008 CPU, the precursor to the 8080.) :) I was an electronics engineer by profession, then I got bitten by the software bug, and studied programming languages at various college/uni night classes. Then I came across something mysteriously called “CASE methodologies”. :) I spent most of the 80’s/90’s studying every CASE methodology I could find! There were many. But I realized they lacked one very important ingredient… management. So, I went back to Uni and studied project management. :)

        BTW, I should point out that I am an Australian, though I have lived, studied, and worked in the USA for some time years ago. :)

        So, there isn’t much I have not seen or done when it comes to IT.

        I think you are correct about Oracle being the last straw. And I also thought they did the World a favor when they took over MySQL. MySQL went right of the rails into ‘Proprietary Land’ some time ago. MariaDB shows promise, and I have a copy installed on one of my Dev workstations. I do hope they move back towards standards compliance and relegate the extra functionality to *plugins*, *addons* or *middleware*, where they belong. :) MySQL has some nice extra features, but using them means abandoning the ability to easily migrate elsewhere if/when necessary. A friend of mine was having a lot of problems with his new wonderfully featured website that was a year old. The company he used had decided to use the Joomla! CMS. A nice idea it seemed. Until I discovered that MySQL had some issues with Joomla! that couldn’t easily be fixed except by a kludgy workarounds that would lower performance and security, a bad thing. Queries to MySQL & Joomla! Dev groups were either met with deafening silence, or polite (for the most part) “There is no problem. You don’t know what you are talking about”. etc. Sadly, Joomla! is very tightly tied to MySQL, it’s built into the core! A VERY stupid design! So, I migrated him to another system I designed that used PostgreSQL. No more problems. :) (This is why I said that IMHO MySQL was no great loss!) ;)

        One of my concerns came about when I heard that Michael Meeks was involved in LibreOffice, because of his heavy investment in mono & Banshee at Novell. :( It doesn’t bode well, which is why I want to see a proper Charter. Sometimes, it’s not what they say, rather than what they don’t say that’s critical. :) I’ve been following Mono/Banshee (mainly via the Techrights blog), and believe they are right to be concerned. Quoted from IT World:

        “Michael Meeks, a Distinguished Engineer at Novell, and active OpenOffice.org developer, is not happy with the lack of information from Oracle on OpenOffice.org, referring to the keynote by VP of Oracle Office Michael Bemmer as “vague.”

        Meeks acknowledges that Bemmer indicated that Oracle will remain deeply committed to OpenOffice.org in the keynote, but beyond those broad promises, there was little in the way of detail.”

        Sorry, but that sounds kinda like The Document Foundation right now. ;) They sooner they get a Charter out, and a proper roadmap… it’s just talk. :)

        I’m optimistic because Oracle has created a vacuum now. And the World hates a vacuum! ;) Someone will fill it… whether that’s TDF, or someone else… time will tell. :)

        And thanks aren’t necessary, but appreciated. :) I meant what I said in another thread, I like what you have to say, and you seem sane. ;) That’s good enough for me (given the World we are in today!) LOL Oh, and please! Just Paul. :D Only people trying to sue me, date my daughter, or when I was lecturing called me Mr. Davis. ;)

        Apologies for this lengthy comment, but I thought some background on myself and explanations of my above comment were warranted. :) If there is anything you would like to know about me, please ask. :)

        Also, I do not expect you or anyone else to agree with me in any way. We all have different experiences, and live in different places. But this is your blog, and I will respect that. :) I also hope that all is well with you, and continues to be so.

        • You are correct in assuming you’ve been involved in IT much longer than I… my own background is in nuclear science; I didn’t start working in IT until the mid-1990s. First as a programmer, and then I moved into more IT generalist roles (mostly to combat a volatile and overly-specialized job market). So now I do it all… workstations, servers, software, sysadmin stuff.

          BTW, I should point out that I am an Australian, though I have lived, studied, and worked in the USA for some time years ago.

          Aussies are okay in my book! :D

          I think you are correct about Oracle being the last straw. And I also thought they did the World a favor when they took over MySQL. MySQL went right of the rails into ‘Proprietary Land’ some time ago.

          Oracle’s recent open source debauchery should serve as a wake up call for any and all open source projects. If you play around with any kind of intellectual property that has proprietary entanglements, you’re dancing with the devil, and, inevitably, you’ll pay for it in one way or another. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it has happened again and again, and it will happen again. Whether it’s an office suite, a media player, a DB platform, or the Linux kernel itself, proprietary nonsense endangers any open source project that dares to include it.

          The thing is, Oracle really can’t be considered the “bad guy” in this scenario. They are what they are. They don’t “get it” when it comes to open source, so they’re going to do what they’re going to do. And that’s all we can expect from companies like them.

          The best solution is to avoid having projects put into those situations to begin with. Sun even demonstrated that before Oracle came along (in the OO.o situation). They maintained such a tight-fisted control over it that I think the project itself suffered. It just isn’t worth it in the long run.

          Not only do proprietary entanglements put open source projects in legal jeopardy, but I think they hold them back, as well, in terms of potential, in terms of innovation.

          I think the OO.o/LO/TDF thing is a higher profile wake up… hopefully it increases awareness of these dangers so that people learn from it.


          Sorry, but that sounds kinda like The Document Foundation right now. ;) They sooner they get a Charter out, and a proper roadmap… it’s just talk

          You’re right, of course. But I think that’s coming. At least, I hope it is…


          I meant what I said in another thread, I like what you have to say, and you seem sane.

          I try! Honestly, I have been surprised that the majority of comments I get on posts on this blog are positive rather than negative; when I started this “Linux Critic” project I wasn’t doing it to get a lot of agreement… I did it so that I could rile people up, shake some of them out of self-congratulatory complacency, and point out the real issues with how things are working these days in Linux/FOSS.

          Not to be a troll or a jerk (though I know there have been occasions here when I’ve been both), but to wake people up, and ultimately point out how things could be better.

          That said, it’s very validating to get people commenting here that can appreciate what I’m trying to do. This isn’t the highest traffic technology blog out there, or the most cutting edge, or (unfortunately because of my real life getting in the way at times) the most frequently or regularly updated.

          But it’s mine, and I care passionately about technology, in particular Linux and open source, and I like the fact that I have on occasion gotten the attention of people (like Aaron Seigo) whom I felt need to be involved in discussions, dialogues and discourses about how to truly make things better from a user standpoint… rather than just dismiss valid (and sometimes admittedly undiplomatic) criticisms as juvenile “resistance to change”.

          I mean come on… we all want the same things, right? We want FOSS to succeed! We want proprietary ways of doing things to be the “also rans” and “odd men out” of the world. Let’s make Linux and FOSS the norm! The only way to do that is for things to get better, and that never happens without honest, sometimes brutal criticism.

          My rants here aren’t always as well thought out as they probably should be, but I like to think that I’ve ruffled a few feathers, gotten at least a few people talking about some of this stuff, and most importantly, have not remained silent about things for which I have a lot of passion. And I think that’s the important part.

          So, after all that rambling, with regard to your finding my little blog and liking my rants: thanks! It’s very validating. I’m glad every day about the comments I get here, because it makes me feel like I’m not just doing this in a vacuum. Even more so when I see someone like yourself commenting, because it tells me that this stuff that seems so obvious to me, so intuitive, isn’t just something that popped into my head alone… it’s something that’s philosophically been around a long time, as long as technology itself (no, Paul, that wasn’t a crack on your age ;)), and it always feels good to not be alone out there.

          • Hi Trent,

            Apologies for the delay, real life intervenes once again! ;)

            I’ve come to believe that one of the greatest problems facing Linux & FOSS gaining popularity is because too many underestimate the lengths to which the likes of M$, Oracle, Novell, and other major companies will go to to prevent that from happening. :) And that includes quite subtle social engineering within dev groups to create uncertainty, and even outright hostility between developers. I have seen it first hand. A dev group I was involved with for some years was destroyed by a couple people who had become members a scant 8 months previously. They became very popular and created their own little sub-groups that grew over time and then began slowly creating ‘us vs. them’ type group think. They were very good. I noticed too late and tried to warn people and to stop them, but in the end all I was able to do was make a small percentage see what was happening. It’s not the first time that has happened, it won’t be the last. Unfortunately, when there are several major ego’s involved… they become easy prey. :)

            Rants are good to cleanse the soul occasionally (and stop you from taking out all that negative energy on inanimate objects, or people. ;)

            And no, you are not alone in this. I am sure we will not agree on everything, especially where it’s not easily possible to prove either point of view, I will always try to consider your point of view, though I reserve the right to keep my opinion to myself and you can keep yours. I was lucky enough to have had a great mentor many years ago, and one thing he taught me was: “If two people always agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary!” :D

            I have always loved technology, because of it’s great promise for all people. Sadly, there are many selfish and amoral people why want to control technology for their own ends. I have learned the hard way, that even the best of intentions can cause harm. I was part of an award winning R&D team in the late 80’s. We had grand goals of making work easier and safer for people. We succeeded in designing industrial machinery that required only three people, where before the same tasks required 12. The companies saw it as a great way to cut staff and increase profits. That wasn’t our intention… but that was the end result. Technology is *always* a double edged sward. Working in the field of Nuclear Science, you would certainly know that! :)

            passion is very important. I lost mine for many years. I’d like to think I am finding it again, if in no other way than a passion to educate people that there really are wolves and shark’s out there. Many of them know how to smile dazzlingly, and dress very well, and make you an offer too good to refuse! :lol:

            The first thing every altruist needs to understand and believe is that the goal of every commercial company in existence is quite simply to make a profit! If they offer to do ANYTHING for free, you can be guaranteed there will be a painful (and possibly expensive) catch somewhere. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to have a company *do the right thing*, but that generally involves you havering a much better contract attorney than they do! Sorry to say… but a handshake is meaningless these days. And morals and ethics will often be one sided. *shrug*. That’s the real world!

            I certainly don’t mind constructive and deserved criticism either. I have never pretended to know everything or always be right. The funny thing about *truth* is… it depends upon one’s circumstances, knowledge, experience and point of view. It’s extremely rare that such a thing is simple, or black and white. I’m still learning, and will continue to learn as long as I live. :)

            I can’t see Linux/FOSS becoming the defacto standard way of things in my lifetime, though it’s certainly pleasurable to entertain that possibility. :) After all, everything is possible (though, not everything is probable!) ;) lol It’s a little like the concept of “hope”. Hope is a wonderful tool in the hands of the unscrupulous and deceitful. It costs nothing, it’s very easy to give, and people can waste their entire lives in hope. Hope is like an infinite black hole. It will give you absolutely nothing of any practical value, but will take all the time a person want’s to give it. :) During my time in the Military, we were taught during tactical planning courses that “hope is NOT an approved course of action!” And it was drummed into us over and over. In the Military, hope will probably get one killed. Unfortunately, civilians don’t seem to realise that’s true for them also. President Obama promised *hope*, and you know… American’s have exactly what he promised, and little else. Hope. ;)

            Hmmm. I didn’t plan to end on a political note. My apologies.

            Be well, be happy, and many thanks once again. :)

  5. Just FUD from IBM and Novell who have always suffered from Sun-envy.

    Openoffice.org is alive and kicking, with OO.o 3.3 RC8 just released. In fact, OpenOffice.org continues having orders of magnitude more traffic than LibreOffice.org.

    Good luck with Novell adding it´s Mono hooks into “Libre” Office.

    FC

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