OpenOffice slips away from Oracle

Restructure of OpenOffice.org Project to keep OpenOffice open source

Tags: Open sourceOpenSolarisOracle CorporationThe Document Foundation (www.documentfoundation.org/)
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OpenOffice slips away from Oracle The OpenOffice suite has temporarily rebranded to LibreOffice - 'Free Office'.
By  Mark Sutton Published  September 30, 2010

OpenOffice, the free open source productivity suite, has been wrestled away from Oracle through a restructure of the OpenOffice.org Project. which develops the applications.

The OpenOffice.org project has announced a restructure and change of name, to The Document Foundation, with its particular blend of OpenOffice now being rebranded to LibreOffice.

The move was taken to ensure that OpenOffice remains free and continues to be actively developed, according to The Document Foundation, over fears that Oracle, the owner of the OpenOffice brand, would abandon open source development of the project.

OpenOffice was created when Sun Microsystems released the code for StarOffice to the open source community, with Sun, and other corporations, continuing to back open source developers. Oracle acquired the OpenOffice brand when it bought Sun Microsystems, along with other open source projects including OpenSolaris, the open source version of Sun’s operating system. Oracle recently announced that it would drop OpenSolaris, leading to fears in the open source community that OpenOffice would also be stopped.

Sophie Gautier, a veteran of the community and the former maintainer of the French speaking language project, commented on behalf of the Document Foundation volunteers: “We believe that the Foundation is a key step for the evolution of the free office suite, as it liberates the development of the code and the evolution of the project from the constraints represented by the commercial interests of a single company."

The Document Foundation will now manage OpenOffice’s development and direction, through a steering committee of developers and national language project managers, while the rebrand to LibreOffice has been flagged as a temporary move. Oracle has been invited to re-join the new project, and to donate the OpenOffice brand to the project, but has yet to respond.

On The Document Foundation’s new website, the group stresses it will operate as an independent, self-governing meritocratic Foundation, and that “the culture born of an independent Foundation brings out the best in contributors and will deliver the best software for users.”

While market share for OpenOffice is hard to quantify due to its open source distribution, web analytics company Webmasterpro.de showed rates of between 0.2% and 20% penetration by country in a 2010 survey of 200,000 internet users.

LibreOffice is available to download here.

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