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Don't Expect an OpenOffice/LibreOffice Merger 192

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the why-can't-we-just-get-along dept.
Since Oracle has decided to give OpenOffice back to the community, a lot of people wondered if there would be some sort of re-unification with the ex-Oracle and the Document Foundation run by a lot of the original involved folks. The latter has released a statement saying, "the development of TDF community and LibreOffice is going forward as planned, and we are always willing to include new members and partners. We will provide as many information as we can with the progress of the situation. We are currently making every possible effort to offer a smooth transition to the project."
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Don't Expect an OpenOffice/LibreOffice Merger

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  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:27PM (#35871640) Homepage Journal

    Why would I expect a merger? It feels like they only forked a couple of months ago.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That was my thought, merging at this point would just be confusing. However, changing LibreOffice to actually be the Latin root would be a welcome change, if only for the people who don't know that it isn't named after an astrological sign.

      • by jd (1658)

        I dunno. The image of a balanced office package seems just as good as a free office package.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Why would I expect a merger? It feels like they only forked a couple of months ago.

      I'm trying to recall ... didn't they strip out a bunch of functionality due to ownership issues?

      They might put that back in if they actually did strip it in the first place ... I think not having a bunch of different free/open/libre/emancipated/shiny/awesome-Office suites might make for less confusion over all. It certainly might ensure that people actually get a viable alternative to Microsoft Office.

      Because, really ... "ho

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
        I pretty much went with Libre the day after it came out, because seeing the Oracle logo on the OpenOffice splash screen gave me a full-body shiver every time I opened it.
      • by icebike (68054)

        I'm trying to recall ... didn't they strip out a bunch of functionality due to ownership issues?

        I think it was mostly look and feel items, and dead unused code. [cnet.com]

        OOo had actually not gained much (some say it lost quite a bit) from the days when it was StarOffice. Significant portions of the large document (read: book sized) management capabilities, (pagination, cross-references, document linking and embedding, table and illustration management, etc), actually deteriorated significantly once Sun and Oracle took over.

        • More to the point, they turned to crap. Multi-file documents are a distinct pain in the gonads. Pagination control is actual torture. When it's easier and faster for me to take a large document and gut the contents so I can retain cross-project style rather than start a new document, there's conceptual problems. I still use OOo, but OOo as a developmental community sucks.

          But I will permanently switch to the first one to fix their functionally non-existent auto-caps.
          • by icebike (68054)

            Exportable and imposable style sheets are the one thing Word really did well.

            Unfortunately, Word messed that up as well, and now its not reliable anywhere.

          • by tyrione (134248)
            Nothing will touch TeX/LaTeX/XeTeX/LuaTeX in typesetting with the massive class infrastructure it has accumulated. LaTeX 3 itself has seen significant improvements now that it's nearing fruition with now 10 core members on-board.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:19PM (#35872332) Homepage Journal

        Actually, LibreOffice has several features that the newest OpenOffice.org lacks. Sun/Oracle dragged their feet on accepting contributions from outsiders. Part of this was due to the fact that Sun/Oracle wanted to charge money for certain features, part was simple Not Invented Here syndrome. Either way, when LibreOffice split off from OpenOffice.org it was already the better fork.

        Now that LibreOffice has shown that it can organize a community, set up the needed infrastructure, and make a release that is better than Oracle's release Oracle is starting to get concerned about what this says about Oracle's ability to lead in other Free Software communities. Larry Ellison paid a lot of money for Sun's various Free Software businesses, and he does *not* want people getting the idea that these communities would be better off if they were forked away from Oracle.

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cream wobbly (1102689) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:32PM (#35872538)

          Part of this was due to the fact that Sun/Oracle wanted to charge money for certain features, part was simple Not Invented Here syndrome.

          ...and part of it was that Sun wanted developers to hand over ownership to them; and that became "Oracle wants developers to hand over ownership to them". IIRC that fact, the way they were treating Java devs, and the major supporting companies' various reasons for not cooperating with Oracle, were the three main reasons for the fork.

          • by Jason Earl (1894)

            Some communities are able to get over signing copyright assignation forms, although it definitely creates some friction. Even the FSF has problems getting copyright assignation for GNU Emacs on occasion, and you have to be pretty paranoid if you are worried about the FSF misusing Emacs source code. From what I understood, however, the problems went deeper than that. Even those people that were willing to assign their copyrights to Sun, and who provided patches that were clearly useful had problems gettin

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Part of this was due to the fact that Sun/Oracle wanted to charge money for certain features

          Oracle? Charge money? Say it aint so!!

          Either way, when LibreOffice split off from OpenOffice.org it was already the better fork.

          That's good to know ... as I said in my other post, for some reason I was thinking they had to remove a bunch of functionality written in Java that Oracle still owned and wouldn't let people keep using ... obviously, I was wrong. I'd been under the impression that LibreOffice had less fu

          • by Jason Earl (1894)

            Anything which was free before Oracle is going to be better off forked from Oracle.

            I agree with you. Unfortunately, for Oracle at least, most of the software, and all of the really interesting software, that Oracle bought in the Sun acquisition is Free Software. Oracle execs apparently assumed that they could throw their weight around a bit and that the projects would fall in line. In the case of LibreOffice that was definitely not the case. All of a sudden opinions like yours (and mine) are starting to

            • Good, because Oracle's whole move was a ruthless high end power game. They bought Sun to be able to mess with Java, except I don't recall them having any direct stake in any of Google's direct lines. It's almost like it's a five-company DDOS lawsuit attack. (Helping both MS and Apple by trying to make Google "lose momentum" etc?)

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Funny)

        by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:39PM (#35872638) Journal

        Because, really ... "honestly mom, you should change to Libre Office, that Open Office from 2 years ago is so passe" ... I just don't see that helping the cause of coming up with a free alternative. I'm not really willing to go there for myself even.

        And all this time, I have been just installing the software and renaming the icons Word, Excel, and so on. I didn't realize I was supposed to tell them the name of the programs as well as they weren't using the Microsoft versions.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          And all this time, I have been just installing the software and renaming the icons Word, Excel, and so on. I didn't realize I was supposed to tell them the name of the programs as well as they weren't using the Microsoft versions.

          I live around 1500kms from my parents ... when they bought their computer I told them in no uncertain terms that I could not, and would not, be their tech support.

          I've found it has actually caused them to learn enough to use the computer as they see fit, and I don't care what they

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            I live a little closer (about 20 minutes) and only care about the software they use when they keep screwing things up or want to know how to pirate a $400 Microsoft application.

            About the only real reason I change the name of the links to those of Microsoft's products is to avoid confusion when they decide they want to write something once a month and can only remember to use word or whatever the name was at work 10 years ago before they retired. It seems that word and excel are sort of like Zerox and google

        • If only there were a decent replacement for Outlook, I could give some of our employees Ubuntu with a Windows or OSX skin and let them have at it.. Evolution's Exchange plugin used to work fine for a while last year, with the occasional random crash, but now it's become pretty irregular again (sometimes just stops updating, or freezes when checking for new mail/quitting). So I could either install an old version and do without patches, or wait until they fix it. Neither is a particularly appealing option, e

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:06PM (#35872156)

      Exactly right.

      Further more, everybody who mattered in the developer base already bailed out of Oracle, and is working for LibreOffice. There is very little that Oracle has left to merge.

      Oracle has thrown in the towel, (but you can rest assured there will be a few poison pills in anything they release that is not already in LibreOffice) and at best the open-sourcing of this project is their way of telling the remaining developers on their payroll, "here's your hat, what's your hurry". Those that didn't leave probably didn't because they needed the pay check.

      Point, Set, and Match to LibreOffice. This is probably one of the most significant watershed events in Open Source development. Even more so than when XFree86 was forked and Xorg totally took over X servers on every distribution, leaving XFree86 into obscurity.

      That being said, the article title does NOT square with the source, which makes no blanket statements about NO possible merger. I read it completely the opposite way, they will accept new members, and they may well cherry pick the released code.

      • they may well cherry pick the released code.

        They do already. They also contribute upstream, where possible within upstream's licensing labyrinth.

        • At this point, they should consider LibreOffice to be upstream of OpenOffice, not the other way around!

  • It would be... (Score:4, Informative)

    by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:28PM (#35871656)
    a dangerous move to merge back , Oracle cannot be trusted.
    • Re:It would be... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:36PM (#35871768) Homepage

      That's kind of what I was thinking. The reason for moving away from Oracle was because it cannot be trusted. They asked for the name and did not get it so they moved on. Now Oracle says "we're sorry, here you can have the name!" Can Oracle be trusted not to pull some sort of stunt if it were accepted?

      To Oracle: You're a big heavy company. You throw your weight around a lot. We don't like it, we don't like you and you simply can't be trusted any more than Microsoft or those of your ilk.

      • by formfeed (703859)

        That's kind of what I was thinking. The reason for moving away from Oracle was because it cannot be trusted. They asked for the name and did not get it so they moved on. Now Oracle says "we're sorry, here you can have the name!"

        No, they were not even saying that. As someone clever (me, of course) pointed out before, they only announced to turn over OpenOffice to the "community". That community doesn't have to be the OpenDoc Foundation, it could be anything Oracle can come up with. It could even be a fake, divisive new foundation under their control, practically splitting the community.

    • Novell, the leaders of the LibreOffice fork, on the other hand, are completely trustworthy?
      • SuSe recently issued an update that swapped out OOo and installed Libre.
  • LibreOffice is a better name anyway. OpenOffice.org sounds kind of infomercial-ish, and very 90s.
    • Re:better name (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:50PM (#35871954)
      I am sorry, but LibreOffice is a horrible name. I thought it was only supposed to be a temporary name when they initially forked. It is not a very catchy name and it does not roll off the tongue very well. I agree that going back to OpenOffice.org might not be the best thing to do, but they really need a new name.
      • Re:better name (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:20PM (#35872352) Journal

        I like LibreOffice better than OpenOffice, but you're right. It's still a bad name.

        Personally I think "Document Foundation" sounds impressive. They should go with that.

        "Document Foundation Suite" sounds pretty good.

        • "Document Foundation Suite" sounds pretty good.

          It's not bad for the package as a whole, but what do you call the components? "Document Foundation Writer"... "Document Foundation Spreadsheet"... not quite there yet. Bit too much of a mouthful.

          Maybe just Foundation? Is that taken?

          • by RogerWilco (99615)

            Document Foundation does indeed sound a lot better.

            I personally like what Apple and MS did, they gave the applications separate names: Pages, Word, Excel, Numbers, Keynote, Powerpoint.

            Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress aren't too bad in that respect. Officially they could have a DF prefix, so it would be DF Writer, DF Calc, DF Draw, DF Impress, and the whole thing would be Document Foundation Office, or just OpenOffice, both sound better than LibreOffice (and I'm not a native English speaker).

        • by SheeEttin (899897)

          "Document Foundation Suite" sounds pretty good.

          Would you say it sounds...
          *shades*
          ...sweet?

      • by 6031769 (829845)

        Hmmm. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice have 4 syllables. Perhaps a similarly long but better name would summarise the main features of the suite instead of just picking a contentious name. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you DocCalcChartShow!

    • OpenOffice sounds like OpenOrifice and should probably have the logo of two hands holding open a big O.

      Nonetheless, it's still a better name than LibreOffice.

  • by chasm!killer (240191) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:41PM (#35871834)
    Been using Libre Office since the first release (sorta buggy, but from second on, it's much more solid than Open Office ever was). Without the drag from the corporate offices, releases seem Really Fast (compared to the Open Office process) and easier to install, probably because of the shorter lag between underlying package releases and Office releases. I think the smaller group seems to have it together, and I sorta like it being fully independent (like Linux is). So in conclusion, let's just keep it the way it is....
    • by mprinkey (1434)

      If they want to change the name back to OpenOffice, great. But the 3.3.1 release of LibreOffice is quite nice. I've gotten sucked into a lot of document generation in the last few months and I've found it to be quite stable and usable, even when dealing with MS Office .docx and .xlsx files.

  • decide which project survives and which one will languish by the number of their respective downloads and volunteer support.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:47PM (#35871908) Homepage Journal

    Oracle has three things of value for the community:

    The Copyrights

    Oracle still owns the copyrights of OpenOffice. Everybody will be able to use, modify, and distribute OpenOffice under the rights granted in the license, which never terminates. That license is LGPL2 for versions before 3.0, and LGPL3 for 3.0 beta and later, and the PDL for documentation. However, if the copyrights were transferred to a non-profit foundation, that foundation would be able to re-license OpenOffice as licenses develop. Laws change over time, and licenses must change to meet them. It would also be possible for the non-profit to enforce the larger part of the copyright rights. Currently, individual contributors or the project as their representative can enforce the copyright rights and license terms only on post-Oracle modifications. It would also be able to protect OpenOffice against pernicious changes in the commercial copyright holder. Products and companies get sold and change management. Remember that SCO was a "friendly" Linux company called Caldera before they went on their legal rampage. 501(c)3's, however, can devise covenants that keep their copyrights public property forever, and are legally limited to disburse their holdings only to other 501(c)3's on dissolution.

    The Domain

    OpenOffice.org is well known, and most instances of the software on user systems still reference it. Transferring this to a non-profit would be helpful.

    Patents

    Oracle might hold patents that read on OpenOffice, or could be used to defend it against other companies that bring patent suits. We can use Oracle's patents that are embedded in OpenOffice under the terms of the LGPL2 and LGPL3. But it would be nice to have some help in defending the program.

    How Oracle Can Hurt

    Oracle can hurt by trying to muscle the non-profit into accepting some sort of control from Oracle, be it a board position or something else. We have ample evidence that the project, since 1999, did poorly in gaining developers under a corporation's control. And if anything, Oracle makes other companies less comfortable than Sun would have. It's time for the project to be independent. The project should reject any offers that come with a demand for continuing control.

    Thanks

    Bruce

    • by drb226 (1938360)
      Imho, having an Oracle board member wouldn't be all that bad (as long as they aren't granted some sort of superiority over other board members). It could be a chance for Oracle to show good will towards LibreOffice and make positive contributions.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      However, if the copyrights were transferred to a non-profit foundation, that foundation would be able to re-license OpenOffice as licenses develop.

      If they require copyright assignment of patches - which many companies and people won't do. In fact, it was one of the things people didn't like but Oracle needed to sell StarOffice. Or at least a license which essentially amounts to the same. It's the same with e.g. Qt, I know some code is in kdelibs because people won't sign Nokia's contribution license.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Bruce didn't mention:
      - Oracle has big piles of cash
      - Oracle has what the pro-proprietary guys seem to think is critical to the success of a project, namely a professional management and marketing staff.

      And he's right not to mention them. What FOSS has been proving again and again is that a bunch of only semi-organized geeks operating on a shoestring budget are at least as effective and in some ways more effective than the absolute best corporate software companies can muster. And furthermore, in the project

      • Except for Mozilla. Which is interesting, since OSAF was in many ways similar, and fell on its face.
    • The proprietary version of the software, StarOffice / Oracle Open Office, had a lot of other goodies like additional file filters, clip art, document templates and enterprise environment management features. If Oracle was willing to give that stuff to the OO.o foundation as well, then a merger would definitely be worthwhile.

      • Yes. Now, it would be interesting to figure out which ones they own. Some of them probably incorporate third-party proprietary software.
  • by Magee_MC (960495) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @01:56PM (#35872020)
    Around the time of the split, I decided to give IBM Lotus Symphony a try. It's based on Open Office and so far I'm really happy with it. No real interest in going back to Open Office, and no need to try LibreOffice at this point.
    • by drb226 (1938360)
      Link for the lazy: Lotus Symphony [lotus.com]
    • Used to be my standard for years. Auto-cap worked perfectly, unlike OO. Multi-document? No problem. Fonts, pdf generation and a few other big problems if you want to publish, though. Had to switch to OO, which is an inferior product, but has options I need.
  • I just want a better search and replace, and the stupid web layout to work. Seems neither project can get these right.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      So here's your chance to fix them yourself.

      • Yes, because people who write for a living have hundreds of extra hours to devote to first learning, then finding the location of then fixing a problem, then dealing with the bureaucracy to get the fix installed, reloading the app, and finally, having it do some work-aroundable thing they long ago worked around.

        Non analysts/developers/programmers have a right to point out flaws and shortcomings in an application without being told to fix it themselves. It reminds me of the time I posted a bug report on
  • These people do not care or understand FOSS at all. Just removed my last OpenOffice installation today.

  • I still think copyright assignment makes sense for this project for a whole host of reasons.

    At the same time I think the acquisition shows the beginning of why people were quite right to be hesitant about assigning copyright on their contributions to Sun. People with the Document Foundation hold up the increased number of contributions they've gotten without requiring copyright assignment as a reason not to have it. Of course, to a large extent it's been moot since they don't hold the copyright to most of t

  • I expect you to die!

That does not compute.

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