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History of Software Forks Favors LibreOffice

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the tine-for-a-change dept.

Open Source 149

jfruhlinger writes "The forking of LibreOffice from the OpenOffice.org project, followed by Oracle's donation of OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation, has been something of a bumpy road. But if history is any guide, it's the fork, LibreOffice, that might have the brighter future."

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Just look at the cleanups (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482602)

LibreOffice has already undertaken massive cleanups of OpenOffice.org code. It's pretty obvious which one will survive. Also one doesn't have a stupid TLD in the name (although the other is a bit freetard for my tastes).

Re:Just look at the cleanups (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482940)

Re-merge the projects (a la gcc/egcs), name it OpenOffice (without the ".org") and call it a day.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (3, Informative)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483028)

Re-merge the projects (a la gcc/egcs)

I'd wish you luck, but... you and what army of reuniters?

name it OpenOffice (without the ".org")

Riiiight. Ready to buy out everyone with a stake to the OpenOffice name?

and call it a day.

sure, it would be easy as pie...

Re:Just look at the cleanups (4, Informative)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483046)

The project and software are commonly known as OpenOffice, but this term is trademarked both in the Netherlands, by a company co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff, and also, independently, in the UK by Orange UK.

OpenOffice.org [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just look at the cleanups (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484848)

Well you see there is a "problem" with the theory espoused by TFA. you see those examples they posted? Were only competing with the original whereas Libreoffice (I swear can they pick ANY worse names for FOSS projects? liberoffice, which is what I've heard the majority call it? What's next Goatse email clinet?) has to compete with two well funded office suites, that is of course MS Office and iWork.

The problem as I see it, and I'd argue this is a failure of the "free as in beer" model in general, is that you are dealing with a massively complex monolithic piece of code going on 15 years old, of which there are problem 30 guys at most intimately familiar with the code and they were being paid by Sun or Novell. Well Sun is DOA, Novell go bye bye, so who is gonna pay for these developers? Answer: No one. Oh I'm sure they may have a fund drive or two, which will maybe let them hang onto half of the original teams for 6 months, but after that they are SOL. Meanwhile both MSFT and Apple will be sinking big bux into R&D and spit and polish making Libreoffice look worse and buggier as time goes on.

Sorry to be a downer but maybe its time to finally face the fact that while free as in freedom should be kept free as in beer should be thrown in the dustbin of history? Like it or not to have world class software requires world class developers, it requires QA and bug testers, top notch GUI designers and focus groups and plenty of spit and polish. All of those things cost serious $$$$ that free as in beer simply doesn't bring in. Basically most of FOSS is running on the tin cup begging model and while they may bring in a few dollars (still a pittance) in good times in a dead economy like now they simply won't get enough to do much more than keep the lights on. Hell look at how many bugs on any big project like OO.o have been open for years, and that was with the thing partially bankrolled!

Like it or not if FOSS in general and Linux in particular is to be able to compete on even footing with the big three of Apple, Google, and MSFT then it is gonna take significant capital to do so and free as in beer simply ensures that capital isn't there. It is like putting your HS football team against the Broncos. It doesn't matter how plucky or full of team spirit your HS football team is, the extra advantage brought on by extra resources will simply give too big of an edge to the team with money. Hell look at the company that everyone holds up as a "success" Red Hat: Did you know over a third of the web servers out there are running NOT RHEL but CentOS, an OS cooked up by a company that USED to pay Red hat for use of their OS but decided they'd rather not give RH a dime while still having RH's product?

So in the end it doesn't matter if LO or OO "wins" as in the end they'll both lose for lack of funding. By 2015 you'll have all these killer new features as well as changes to the formatting on the other two office suites, they'll be new OSes to run them on, and the entire time LO will simply fall farther and farther behind until it is looked at like one of those Amiga clones that gets an update committed once a year just to keep from being listed DOA. All the changes they are committing now were cooked up by Novell employees and they'll be getting pink slips if they haven't already. i just don't see how long term FOSS is supposed to compete with a beggar model of funding, I really don't. What are they gonna do, tell the developers they can squat with RMS at MIT? You can't pay the bills or feed the fam on ideals folks.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36485064)

While you aren't in any way wrong, you mention keeping free as in freedom without keeping the free as in beer. How do you do that? If the code is freely available and can be modified and further distributed - how do you keep it with a price tag on it? I know some folks try to do this by selling support contracts - and some notable companies seem to do well that way (Red Hat for example), but most never make it. Honestly, if LibreOffice had a price tag of say $60 - wouldn't some folks just grab the code, compile it and offer it for free (or worse for $5)? How do you keep that army of developers, testers, etc. that you outlined working? I just don't see it happening. Frankly, it isn't happening now most places.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485168)

An actually completely open source office suite will not die. Someone is going to fund it. OpenOffice/LibreOffice isn't perfect, but it's a substantial body of work and someone is going to take that ball and run with it.

Slack and SLS... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485422)

TFA mentions the descent of Slackware from SoftLanding Linux System as an example to illustrate his point, but I'm not sure it really applies in this case. IIRC, the principal difference between SLS and Slack was originally the choice between a.out and ELF binaries. Although history has favoured the latter, the difference doesn't seem that significant in the light of the X.org/XFree86 or Open/LibreOffice shenanigans.

Don't get me wrong - I still love Slackware, and it is by far my first choice for any Linux server. In fact, until a year or two ago, it was still my first choice as a desktop platform too, but more recently Arch Linux [archlinux.org] has taken that position, since it has all of the elegant simplicity of Slackware in combination with a more modern (but still simple) package system.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483140)

A TLD-in-the-name is a great idea for a cloud product (meaning you type the name in a browser and can start using the product). The problem is that openoffice.org doesn't work that way, it's a desktop office suite.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (1)

chengiz (998879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484858)

Have been using OO for years, never noticed the .org in the name until you pointed it out, and it's already annoying!

Re:Just look at the cleanups (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484896)

I actually use LibreOffice in my job and in the majority of cases it works really well although on occasion (ie. .docx) the Writer does not display everything properly. I even tried to use my virtual machine with MS Office 2003 and could not read the .docx file properly. Thank goodness for Google docs which allows me to save as a pdf file.

Re:Just look at the cleanups (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485160)

Not to mention that it supports MS-Works files out of the box and has better OOXML than OpenOffice (not perfect, but at least you can open them). They're actually putting the features in that people have been asking for. I also understand they're going to be working to eliminate the Java dependencies, although I don't consider that a big deal.

Bad strategic moves by Oracle (2, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482612)

1. If they were going to release it into the wild at the end, they should have done so at the beginning.

2. They fail to understand the advantage that MS Office integration brings in MS's SQL Server and other server strategy.

OpenOffice is the one thing that MS sales reps really hate. A few million investment can have a big impact on MS's bottom line.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482660)

Poop, I say why Kimi!
You are goddamn why!

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483016)

OpenOffice is the one thing that MS sales reps really hate.

I haven't seen a MS sales rep in person, so I have no opinion on their feelings. But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

However OpenOffice, in all of its incarnations, never offered such a thing. It was slower; it had more bugs; it was different; it had its own way to do scripting; its native formats were not accepted by 99% of businesses, and its .doc formats didn't match native documents. But it was free, and it ran on Linux. Those two things were pretty much all it had to offer.

I don't say that a free, portable office suite is a bad thing. There are many cases when it is just what the doctor ordered. However hardly any of these cases are among Fortune $n businesses, where MS sales reps are likely to visit.

OOO's advantages (free & portable) are of no interest to a business. A copy of MS Office for business costs between $130 [pbdistributiononline.com] and $180. This is not even in the noise - it doesn't register. This is what an hour of work of a not very highly paid engineer costs to a business.

I haven't checked latest builds of {Open,Libre}Office, but as I said short of some major innovations they are not likely to change the balance. Businesses will keep using MS Office because "everybody uses it" and occasional home users will be using OpenOffice. Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.) I had my share of such bugs in my time, and that's why I'm not using OpenOffice for business.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483312)

Businesses will keep using MS Office because "everybody uses it"

That's what people used to say about WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. Guess what? Things changed.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (4, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483360)

That's what people used to say about WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. Guess what? Things changed.

If you recall, MS Word (before 1995) was "one of them" - on par with WP and Lotus [Excel] and AmiPro. But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite. Now you could insert Excel into Word (and everything into everything, as long as they are OLE-enabled.)

This is exactly what I was talking about - a considerable, valuable innovation that instantly put MS Office above all other contenders. Note that Outlook, however good or bad at that time, was also included. This really made it an office in a box - and everything worked together. PHBs loved it, and money flowed to MS coffers, quite deservedly.

So yes, things change. But they don't change without reason. OpenOffice has to deliver such a reason, and then it will be an instant hit in the market.

Equations vs OLE (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484506)

If you recall, MS Word (before 1995) was "one of them" - on par with WP and Lotus [Excel] and AmiPro. But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite. Now you could insert Excel into Word (and everything into everything, as long as they are OLE-enabled.)

Well, that created positive value in a way. But they decided to use OLE for embedding all sorts of things which should have been part of the document itself. Example: equations. Why are these embedded as OLE objects? It's impossible to do a global search across equations for a particular expression. It's impossible to do a search and replace if you need to rename a subscripted variable in both text and equations. Oh, it's also a challenge to even refer to variables in equations within the document text in a way that matches the appearance of the variable in the equation (subscript+superscript? caret above letter?), unless you embed it as a one-character equation. And on and on...

Relying on OLE instead of providing an in-document support for equations added a lot of negative value. It's why some of us use LaTeX for any scientific or mathematical authoring, and why support for in-line LaTeX equations was one of the most sought-after modifications to OpenOffice. I predict it will be a common request for LibreOffice also (why did OpenOffice have to re-invent another square wheel instead of adopting LaTeX form for equations).

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484880)

But then MS did something that created a lot of value to the user - they created an office suite.

They did more. Office took off along with Windows. For the first time on the IBM PC, here was a set of applications that had a common, consistent UI. Learn to use one program, and you could quickly find your way around the others as well. This was a big improvement over the likes of WP and Lotus 123 where each program had its own UI, and training users to use a new program was a nightmare. WP and Lotus were at a severe disadvantage when porting their apps to Windows, because they now had to conform to the Windows UI, which was nice for new users but alienated the existing user base. ISTR that WordPerfect in particular made a hash of their first WP for Windows versions.

Also unlike WP, Word had WYSIWYG that sort of worked. Compared to Word, WP suddenly looked arcane and byzantine.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483326)

MS themselves offered nothing drastically better over unix, novell and apple back in the days... What they offered, was a massively inferior package that was also a lot cheaper (also considering the cheaper hardware)... OpenOffice plays them at their own game here.

Cheaper is most definitely of interest to a business, $130 may not be a lot but $130 * 500 is a significant amount, especially when that cost recurs every 3 or so years and there is a huge push towards reducing cost because of the current financial climate. In fact, the cost of the software often outstrips the cost of the hardware by quite a considerable margin, which is an utterly ridiculous situation.

OpenOffice may indeed have serious bugs, but then MS also have serious and highly irritating bugs (they are even famous for it)... On the other hand, LibreOffice are looking to be far more responsive to fixing bugs than Sun/Oracle/MS ever were.

As for native formats, the native formats of OO are fully documented and open, and gradually people are starting to wake up to the importance of keeping any important data in open formats. Keeping your data in proprietary formats is a huge risk to your business, and the only problem is that the people running many of these businesses simply don't understand technology.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483434)

MS themselves offered nothing drastically better over unix, novell and apple back in the days... What they offered, was a massively inferior package that was also a lot cheaper

We are talking about the base OS here. Yes, Windows was cheaper ... what? Cheaper than VAX/VMS? Cheaper than Cray? Fact is, Windows was the only game in town on PCs (aside of DOS,) and the PC market was exploding. Windows had no reason to compete with UNIX - I personally haven't even seen UNIX until - what was it - 1991? - but I certainly saw Windows far before that, since I was setting up Windows for Workgroups in 198*.

Cheaper is most definitely of interest to a business, $130 may not be a lot but $130 * 500 is a significant amount

You don't buy retail in quantity 500. Volume deals drop the price to something like $50-70. Besides, you can't simply add costs up, come up with a large number and wave it in the air. If you have 500 employees you have far greater expenses, and you have even greater profit that those employees make.

There is one more thing in business, it is called COGS [wikipedia.org] . It reduces the effective cost of a tool, and MS Office is a tool. So you have now a competition between a cheap top-notch tool and a free but somewhat weirder tool. What will you, as a business leader, buy? I think the decision is preordained here.

Keeping your data in proprietary formats is a huge risk to your business, and the only problem is that the people running many of these businesses simply don't understand technology.

That is indeed a concern. However most businesses in the USA are not thinking in the long term - neither forward nor backward. They live in "today." Therefore such issues as file formats are not considered.

It must be said, though, that MS Office always offered a plain text format (RTF) so the migration path was always there. Newer formats are zipped XML [guardian.co.uk] , so the point is largely moot.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483878)

It must be said, though, that MS Office always offered a plain text format (RTF) so the migration path was always there. Newer formats are zipped XML [guardian.co.uk], so the point is largely moot.

Oh wow.

I'm sorry, I don't have time to give this the treatment it deserves, so I'll have to direct you to here [noooxml.org] for a start:

Microsoft Open Office XML has 6000 pages of documentation, still professionals need better documentation. Open Office XML is the largest standard that was ever put under ISO fast-track procedures.

The large amount of comments filed by national standard bodies indicates that ECMA did no proper review of the standard proposal. No one printed them yet. However the dispositions for the comments provided by ECMA for the BRM comprise another 2300 pages of bugfixes and deprecated functionality

Yeah. So XML is great, once I read the six thousand page spec. Why is this better than a binary format again? Having an open spec is helpful, but forget about open implementations -- IIRC, even Office itself isn't compliant, which causes even more problems given that if someone else, by some miracle, implements the spec properly, they still can't interoperate.

By contrast, while OpenOffice is kind of big and bloated, ODF does have multiple independent implementations, and they do seem to work reasonably well. Even if this wasn't the case, at least you don't have the problem where a bit of functionality is deliberately left unspecified -- large chunks of the OOXML format will mention something (a tag, say) and then declare its actual behavior to be "beyond the scope of this document" or "implementation-defined".

The same is true of RTF, by the way -- while normal .doc documents have enough issues between versions of Word (often OpenOffice does a better job of opening old ones), RTF does much worse. And if Office can't keep it straight, how is anyone else supposed to get it approximately right?

I don't know that I'd suggest a business keep their data in ODF, either, but it's a hell of a lot better than OOXML as far as having actual migration paths and being reasonable for third-party software to read and manipulate. The last time I actually tried working with this stuff (just extracting stuff from MS Office and converting it to more-reasonable HTML), I tried parsing the OOXML, only to realize that it was suicide without a library, no matter how small the data I needed was. Switched to ODF and it was still a project, but I could actually read the document and figure out what was going on, without having to read the spec.

But yeah, "It's zipped XML, therefore it has a migration path!" May as well say, "It's stored in bytes, therefore it has a migration path!"

Re:XML (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484226)

ODF is a zipped XML format, that is, it is some XML files in a .zip file. Office Open XML is Microsoft's binary .doc format with some XML wrappers for show. The 6000 page (and still incomplete!) spec is for the binary junk.

Re:XML (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485192)

Yup. Part of the standards process for any data format is to have a cleanroom implementation done that supports at least 90% of the specs within, I dunno, three months.

I figured out how to create a primitive ODF document from the specs in an afternoon. There are holes in the standard, but at least it's not the nightmare that OOXML is.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

Sheepy (78169) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484550)

Yeah. So XML is great, once I read the six thousand page spec. Why is this better than a binary format again?

I don't know that I'd suggest a business keep their data in ODF, either, but it's a hell of a lot better than OOXML as far as having actual migration paths and being reasonable for third-party software to read and manipulate. The last time I actually tried working with this stuff (just extracting stuff from MS Office and converting it to more-reasonable HTML), I tried parsing the OOXML, only to realize that it was suicide without a library, no matter how small the data I needed was.

I expect you're completely correct regarding migration and multiple implementations. I have to disagree regarding typical export/conversion routines.

A few years ago, I wrote an MS Office Open XML to XHTML converter. It ignored some of the original layout as it was just an initial step in converting Word documents to websites. Most of my time was spent on converting complex tables (multi-row headers; row & col spans) to semantically correct and fully accessible XHTML tables (thead, tbody, th, & td elements; id & headers attributes; etc).

The main reference I used was "Office Open XML Part 4 - Markup Language Reference.pdf" which is 5,220 pages. As I was only dealing with Word documents I only needed the material in the first two chapters (1. Part Overview; 2. WordprocessingML Reference Material), and that's 1,629 pages. Even then I didn't need much beyond 2.9 Numbering, so that's down to 816 pages.

So, while the specification totals around 6,000 pages, for many business applications far fewer pages will be applicable.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

mridoni (228377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483938)

Cheaper is most definitely of interest to a business, $130 may not be a lot but $130 * 500 is a significant amount

You don't buy retail in quantity 500. Volume deals drop the price to something like $50-70. Besides, you can't simply add costs up, come up with a large number and wave it in the air. If you have 500 employees you have far greater expenses, and you have even greater profit that those employees make.

There is one more thing in business, it is called COGS [wikipedia.org] . It reduces the effective cost of a tool, and MS Office is a tool. So you have now a competition between a cheap top-notch tool and a free but somewhat weirder tool. What will you, as a business leader, buy? I think the decision is preordained here.

To be fair it should be said that the US$ 130 price (about the same in EUR) is for the Product Key Card versiion, a sort of not-activated OEM where the supplier of the PC bundles the software and you can optionally activate it buying a so-called "license card". Prices for a full license of Office Home and Business 2010 start from 220$ on Amazon. Not that this matters, given that most businesses are going to buy Open/volume licenses anyway.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (2)

gerddie (173963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484022)

Windows was the only game in town on PCs (aside of DOS,)

Well, there was GEM [pcmech.com] first shown in 1983.

... - but I certainly saw Windows far before that, since I was setting up Windows for Workgroups in 198*.

Interesting, since Windows for Workgroups was released in 1992 [microsoft.com] .

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483660)

As for native formats, the native formats of OO are fully documented and open, and gradually people are starting to wake up to the importance of keeping any important data in open formats. Keeping your data in proprietary formats is a huge risk to your business, .

While propriety formats can be a problem in some situations* I think in the case of office suites it's a storm in a teacup. The MS office formats are well enough known to get the actual data out and if your aim is to perfectly preserve formatting then you should probablly be using a format that is designed for that purpose (e.g. PDF).

* such as CAD apps where a change needs to be made to an old design while minimising the chances of changes elsewhere and their associated risk.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (3, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483740)

The MS office formats are well enough known to get the actual data out

Even MS has no idea what the formats are, and they vary randomly from one version to another. (Eg save from Word 2007 to Word 95 format does not produce a reliable result, and may produce a document that is not even readable by Word 95).

LibreOffice is better than MS Word when it comes to editing tables, and is more user friendly, according to a lot of the users I support.

As to exporting in pdf format, sure, once you have the final document we insist on it, but while the document is in development, and has to be edited by people in different locales, its not the answer. (I don't think MS support yo_NG, en_IE and other useful locales anyway.)

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484362)

I'm aftaid you talk like you are very low on the corporate totem pole. 1) Microsoft brought office automation to inexpensive computers. 2) $130 x 500 employees / 3 years is not significant to a company that has 500 employees. The per unit cost is scalable. We have 1500 employees and our licenses run $99 ea. $150,000 does not register as a blip over a 3 year period.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485166)

I've said this before but since the majority of the posters on Linux articles have either

1. Never worked in a large business
2. Worked in a large business but don't have any interest outside of the IT department
3. Are 13 years old

SOFTWARE IS CHEAP!!!!!!!!!!

Our Microsoft site licenses for Windows/Office/SQL plus (crappy) Symantec Endpoint Protection, (crappy) laptop encryption software, Adobe Acrobat Standard/Pro + Creative Suite, etc cost less annually than what we pay for:

Coffee
MFP Maintenance Contracts
Property Taxes
"Fun Committee"
"Safety Committee"
Disposables (cups, plates, paper towels, soap)
Should I continue?

Take a basic Business Finance 101 and find out just how little IT costs a company overall compared to everything else.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483582)

Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.) I had my share of such bugs in my time, and that's why I'm not using OpenOffice for business.

Well actually I had such bugs with MS Office 97, making my life very miserable, but at the time there wasn't any good alternative. I'm not sure about MS Office 2010, but the older ones, were really bad when having like 100 pages with lots and lots of pictures/charts/etc...

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483858)

No text processor is good with 100 pages full of pictures. Either split it up to one file per chapter, or learn Latex.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (3, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483638)

LibreOffice is already ridiculously better than OOo on Windows and (IMO) feels nicer on Linux. Not as smooth a user experience as MS Office, but it's clear there's now someone involved who actually gives a hoot about Windows users' experience. (And I'm amazed that, from the observable evidence, OOo clearly didn't.)

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484102)

I think it's fairly clear that the whole point of OOo had nothing to do with windows users, but with replacing windows. The office suite was the last obstacle for many shops since everyone and their mom stopped developing for Aieee! Running it on windows is mostly a "first time's free" kind of thing for many OSS developers.

Students use LaTeX (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483646)

Many technical students write their papers with a modern distribution of LaTeX.
It's robust, generates beautiful typography and you can easily manage your work with version control systems which also allows for collaborative work.

Re:Students use LaTeX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483942)

Good science students use LaTeX for big things. OOO, Word (which is dirt cheap for students), Google docs and probably whatever Apple's equivalent is still get a ton of use.

Re:Students use LaTeX (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483976)

Actually, the three-sentence instructions for the coffee maker at my study hall is written in Latex.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (2)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483658)

OOO's advantages (free & portable) are of no interest to a business. A copy of MS Office for business costs between $130 [pbdistributiononline.com] and $180. This is not even in the noise - it doesn't register. This is what an hour of work of a not very highly paid engineer costs to a business.

There's no denying that MS Office is the defacto standard currently and I too doubt that OOO or LibreOffice will see any penetration in business environments whilst the majority of them remain Microsoft shops.

But not every personal user has between $130 and $180 to spend on an office application, especially if you're just firing it up once a week to open a spreadsheet for your home accounts.

And sure, in business circles, lots of people need clever macros and VB embedding inside documents that clearly a free alternative package cannot provide - but those features, and many other advanced MS Office features, aren't needed by most casual users.

I used to be the guy amongst my circle of friends and family who could get them any "dodgy" software they wanted but over the past five years or so, I've gone more and more to Linux at home anyway where I've had the chance to play with a lot more Open Source software, including OOO and now LibreOffice. I still use Windows XP but use the same OSS apps on it as on Linux, where possible, for compatibility reasons.

I also made a decision then that I was going to stay legal, if only because I was getting sick & tired of the number of viruses I was installing onto my Windows boxes with all the warez stuff I was using, and that therefore I would either use free software or buy/register any commercial software that I needed to use. I do have about a half-dozen commercial applications that I use in Windows at the moment for which OSS does not have any equivalents of equal quality. Since that time, I've not seen a single virus on any of my Windows machines.

Similarly, when friends and family came to me for dodgy software after that point in time, I'd recommend them to a piece of free software to install and, if they weren't happy with that, to go buy the commercial equivalent with the functionality they needed. Again, I've fixed far fewer of their PCs since then because they've had nowhere near as many damaging viruses as they used to have, and many of them are using OOO and are quite happy with it.

It strikes me that if everyone took the attitude of paying for the software they use or using a free equivalent, the Internet would be a lot less inundated with viruses and bots than it is today. And whilst I use Open Source more than commercial software, I consider a computer to be a productivity and entertainment tool and everyone wants to use the best tool for the job they need to do - sometimes that's freeware, sometimes that's commercial software, and that's why there's room for both to co-exist side-by-side.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483684)

Incidentally, my beef with commercial software is not that the applications themselves are binary-only, closed-source applications but that, in many cases, the file formats that they use are proprietary.

Microsoft really has no right to complain about the number of viruses that have plagued Windows in the past (I've not used Windows 7 but I'll assume it does a much better job of restricting virus spread based on what I've read about it) if they insist on constantly "having their cake and eating it".

They want to charge high prices for their market-dominating products and keep the file formats those products use as proprietary so that an Open Source application cannot use those formats properly, thus forcing people who simply will not spend $130+ on an Office package to go down the virus-ridden warez route. So they really only have themselves to blame if Windows has had a reputation for poor security.

I hate to say it... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483772)

...because frankly, this isn't an excuse if there in fact still are such bugs in OpenOffice. But really:

Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.)

If this is really a problem for you, you've already fucked up. You've waited until the last night before the submission date without having something viable. You allow one software bug to threaten "your paper", suggesting you only have one copy in one place...

It's not like this only happens with OpenOffice, and it seems to rarely happen, period. Supposing it does, any decent university is going to have multiple computer labs which are going to have some form of office installed -- my university does, in fact, have some Linux machines with OpenOffice, as well as plenty of Windows/Mac machines with MS Office. I've also never had a problem getting an instructor to accept PDF.

So, while none of this excuses OpenOffice if this kind of crap is still happening -- and if it is, in fact, an OpenOffice bug and not, say, an OS bug or hardware issue -- if something goes screwy with a paper I'm working on (or with my whole machine), I walk over to a computer lab, log in, and find a recent copy of my paper on the network storage. I lose maybe half an hour, and I still get the thing in on time.

Oh, and I get it done well before the night before it's due.

Re:I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483828)

Bitter experience makes it clear to me that such bugs exist in OpenOffice and MS Office alike. I promise.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483842)

. Students may use OpenOffice, but only until they encounter some serious bug that threatens their paper (which will occur on the last night before submission date.) I had my share of such bugs in my time, and that's why I'm not using OpenOffice for business

The only experience I've had in that sort of problem was the other way around: most of the non-geeks I've turned on to OO (and now to the stupidly-named LO) have had said papers corrupted not by the free office suite, but by bouncing between different versions of Microsoft's. Word 2003 at home, Word 2008 at work, XP at Mom's over the holiday weekend and suddenly, none of them will open the damn file.

Enter The Writer, and all is well with the world again (except maybe 10-20 minutes of re-tweaking the formatting just so, but if that was a huge problem, none of them complained to me about it).

Most users don't give an airborne copulation at a ventrally rotating pastry about scripting. Most don't even know the function exists, and of those who do, most of them remember it less than fondly as a malware vector. It makes it's .doc format close enough that word can understand them well enough, though even the tradition of sending docs over email is thankfully waning as even PHBs are getting it through their heads that 'email is not secure protocol' (and that it's easier to have a web form, because you don't need a trained monkey on the other end to open the email, extract the document, print it, etc...)

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484300)

I haven't seen a MS sales rep in person, so I have no opinion on their feelings. But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

For home users, the lower price of OpenOffice/Libreofice is often enough.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (2)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484464)

A copy of MS Office for business costs between $130 [pbdistributiononline.com] and $180.

It costs so little because of the existence of OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Remember how much it was 10 years ago ?

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485258)

Personally I'm guessing that's just as much Microsoft competing with "themselves" in forms of pirate versions and people staying on old Office versions. I've worked with a lot of mid size organizations and never seen one whiff of OpenOffice. Staying on old Office versions? Sure, ancient even. Some of that is of course all the compatibility checking, processes, training and so on but cost is very clearly an issue.

Same with Vista, according to statcounter it peaked at about 24% of web browsing computers, even though people were running an OS from 2001. It works, why should we bother to upgrade it? And unlike OS vulnerabilities there doesn't seem to be many macro viruses or other exploits in documents anymore and most of that problem you can block at the email server.

I've tried every Office version from 97 to 2010... maybe some Excel gurus would like 2010 but as far as I'm concerned - and apparently my use is considered advanced but I don't think so - I can get everything I need done at least as far back as Office 2003, possibly even older. For existing businesses who already have a license I see no compelling reason to upgrade. That's who Microsoft is primarily competing against.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484662)

I work for a FTSE250 company with >10,000 employees. The vast majority (over 90%) use OpenOffice as our office suite. We interact with customers using MS Office and with the 10% still using MS Office just fine and it has saved us a fortune in licensing.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485226)

We've pushed OOO out to most of our desktops, about a third still run Office. The only office application on all of them is Outlook, because we're still an Exchange shop. Been delayed, but I'll be doing the update to LibreOffice in the next month or so.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484792)

If you're one of the >90% of users who don't bother with scripting, Open/LibreOffice's compatibility with MS .doc and .docx formats is just fine, in my experience. In fact, it's been able to open older .doc files when the latest version of MS Office fails. For a home user, or a small company that doesn't bother with data-migration planning, that's a significant advantage.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485428)

...But product-wise, they should have no fear. MS Office is very much entrenched and the newcomer has to offer something drastically better to have a chance.

However OpenOffice, in all of its incarnations, never offered such a thing. It was slower; it had more bugs; it was different...

True OpenOffice was (somewhat) different, though keeping the same basic UI design. But now it is MSOffice 2010 that is different -- they threw out the UI that hundreds of millions of people were familiar with and replace it with the monumentally misguided "ribbon" UI. And - in keeping with MS tradition - they give you no option of using the classic interface - you use the ribbon or nothing buddy - and default to saving everything in new backwards-incompatible formats.

So now OpenOffice/LibreOffice offers something drastically better - by not being different and staying the same as MS Office 2003.

MS gave me the push to entirely abandon their entire office suite. We have MSOffice 2010 at work, but I don't use it - I do my job perfectly well with OOO/LO (also LO runs on my Linux workstation giving me fewer reasons to switch to the mandatory MS desktop box) and that it is the only thing running on computers that I own.

Oracle's typical initial behavior when taking over OOO, forcing the LibreOffice fork, also gave me the opportunity - when I uninstalled OOO to install LO - and it popped up the question form to explain why I was uninstalling, to tell them what I thought of Larry Ellison.

Re:Bad strategic moves by Oracle (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484206)

If they were going to release it into the wild at the end, they should have done so at the beginning.

With all respect, I think if you went and read up on the history of StarOffice / OpenOffice / LibreOffice a little, you'd realise how silly it is to make the above comment.

StarOffice started out as a commercial office package by StarDivision, Sun bought StarDivision and then released the source code to StarOffice in 2000. That allowed OpenOffice to be created and maintained as a free office package by an external community, whilst Sun took bits of the new code & some proprietary stuff to still work on StarOffice for a while. Then Oracle bought Sun in 2009, demonstrated they have little interest in office packages and discontinued it in April of this year.

So if you seriously believe StarDivision or anyone else in the above complex chain of events should have been able to predict it, you probably need to go get some help!

They fail to understand the advantage that MS Office integration brings in MS's SQL Server and other server strategy.

Can you explain this more clearly as I fail to see the point you are making? You access any database software with appropriate connectors using something like ODBC and provided the client software has that ODBC connectivity, then anything can access it to throw queries at it.

I'm not a DB admin by any stretch of the imagination but I always understood that because Microsoft was so keen to get MS SQL adopted by enterprises, that they made a fairly good job of building in ODBC support so that you could get virtually anything to talk to it.

From an MS Office perspective, integration means you can do things like mail merges from an MS SQL or use Access as a front-end to it - but I'm not aware that any part of that is particularly proprietary integration to MS-SQL and that you can basically do the same things with other non-Microsoft client front-ends.

OpenOffice is the one thing that MS sales reps really hate. A few million investment can have a big impact on MS's bottom line.

Is this not precisely in the same league as a Volvo car salesman hating Lexus cars, or a McDonald's restaurant manager hating Burger King? It's called COMPETITION, it affects profits and therefore the sales reps bonus - they are hardly going to be subjective about OpenOffice now, are they? No matter how good it is!

Redundant links (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482616)

Why is that same article linked twice?

Re:Redundant links (1)

Silvermistshadow (1943284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482658)

Not only that, but TFA's title contradicts the title given here. Also, what the hell is a fork in this context?

Re:Redundant links (2)

cwrinn (1282510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482792)

Congraturations, you get award: Reading Fail. TFA's title = "Fork history does not favor OpenOffice.org" OPENOFFICE, not LIBREOFFICE. No contradiction. A fork in this context is when someone takes the code from a project and "forks" it on a different development path, like a "fork" in the road. OO.o went one way, Libre went the other. Have a nice day. :)

Re:Redundant links (4, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482662)

It's a fork

Re:Redundant links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482772)

Now I'm wondering which link is clicked the most.

Re:Redundant links (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484282)

This is Slashdot, so my guess would be 'neither of them.'

A lesson to learn (5, Insightful)

Lord Juan (1280214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482684)

I think every company that acquires an open source project could learn something from how Oracle handled openoffice.org

The uncertainty and the lack of commitment by Oracle practically forced the community to fork the project. And even after that, Oracle had a chance of do the right think and donate the name to the Open Document Foundation, but they just sat down and done nothing, LibreOffice became a strong fork, and in the end they realized an "asset" that they bought from Sun was basically worthless.

Re:A lesson to learn (4, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482754)

Agreed. What I can't understand is how Oracle failed to recognize the value of OpenOffice. They sat on an open source software package as if by doing so they could monetize it. Bizarre. But nothing of value was lost. I love LibreOffice and as previous commenters have said, it definitely seems to be improving more rapidly than its predecessor.

Re:recognize (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483404)

What if they were still lost in the hall of mirrors and bought sun to KILL the open innovations?

They couldn't legally nuke forking options so they made the OSS community do extra work to re-spread mindshare etc. I'll leave it to my betters to decide where Java and friends stand.

What if they bought Sun to kill a threat to the entire Proprietary model?

Re:recognize (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483438)

That would be pretty dumb to try. People don't typically walk into work and find OpenOffice or now LibreOffice installed, they typically went looking for it and are likely aware of what was going on. Not to mention all the installs that came with Linux distros that had already migrated away from Openoffice in favor of the previous fork.

Once you've gotten folks away from MS, it's trivial to get them to the more stable, reliable and current fork. Especially if the older one is dying out.

Re:A lesson to learn (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484182)

I'm sure they valued the software highly enough. What they failed to value were the developers. Ironically, this was Sun's failure also.

Re:A lesson to learn (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484268)

It's really easy to explain - Oracle are like Microsoft and Apple in that they believe that selling proprietary technologies is their best business model, whether or not you or I believe that to be the right thing for them to be doing.

Oracle are a database company, a "half-proprietary half-Open" office package would have been seen by them as a weird oddity that just didn't fit into their business model. They don't really compete with Microsoft because even MS-SQL doesn't play in the same high-end database space that Oracle does, and CRM, the other space Oracle plays in with Siebel has no comparable Microsoft product.

A lot of that possibly has to do with the fact that Larry Ellison and Bill Gates were rumoured to have the utmost hatred of each other, Ellison's now one of the richest men in the world, he's knocking on a bit and sees no reason to start pissing Microsoft off.

Re:A lesson to learn (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484232)

But then why would anyone have expected anything different the moment it was announced that Oracle had bought Sun?

Oracle is a database company and Sun provided them with some great hardware and software platforms to throw those databases on, hence the logic behind the purchase.

But Oracle have never had any interest in working in the desktop applications space so it's no surprise that they have no interest in OpenOffice.

If anything, Sun were never really THAT serious about StarOffice/OpenOffice, it always seemed like it was more of a sideline past-time for them just in case anyone came to them asking to run Solaris on desktops rather than servers - whereupon they could pull out Star Office as a justification for doing so.

When you see a fork in the road, take it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482744)

I moved to LibreOffice months ago. No regrets.

Re:When you see a fork in the road, take it! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483374)

Robert Frost Likes this.

Problem with LibreOffice is the name. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482746)

If I suggest OpenOffice to the average user, I have a good chance of swaying them.

If I suggest "LibreOffice", they're likely to think I'm trying to pawn off some cheap mexican knock-off product on them.

Re:Problem with LibreOffice is the name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482932)

Definitely a stupid name. It's hilarious how many /tards insist it's better.

Re:Problem with LibreOffice is the name. (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483966)

However OpenOffice isn't the name, its name is OpenOffice.org. Which is a terrible name for non-cloud software, as others have said OpenOffice is a proprietary trademark in a number of countries. Otherwise OpenOffice and LibreOffice sound pretty much the same, just that one of them is an actually name for an office suite and the other isn't

rocket ship analogy falls flat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482778)

If a project were like a rocket ship, then a fork might cause the parent to accelerate based on Newton's third law. I think the author was trying to find a geek-friendly metaphor for a zero-sum game.

When you have two competing projects like this, with no parent corporation to throw its weight or resources behind one or the other, then the side with the better technical leadership wins. Technical leadership is not just one skill and doesn't have to be provided by just one person. It includes, among other things, technical and business vision, architectural and design ability, coding and quality control, communication and organizational ability, recruiting, conflict resolution, responsiveness, ability to overcome obstacles and adapt to changing conditions. When we hear of a "name" open source project imploding in a morass of discontent and/or apathy, most likely several of those things were not being provided by the project leadership.

Both LibreOffice and MariaDB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482784)

MariaDB is an entirely different issue, but the outcome is very similar. OpenOffice.org had a community, but when it changed directorship to a new company, it had a thumb that didn't want to do much with outsiders. FORK! Libre Office came about based on an existing extant codebase. The community moved on. There are more code developers in the world not working for Oracle, than there are code developers working for Oracle (imagine that!). I understand that there is a strategic interest in killing Mysql for Oracle, they have successfully killed off components of it before (SleepyCat was not critical, but it was a nice 'extra' and Oracle bought it and killed it just as quickly as microsoft killed FoxPro in the '90s). MariaDB is a code fork. There will be no going back. Its imperative for Oracle that MySQL dies on the vine. With LibreOffice, its one less thing they have to look after, so I would suggest their attitude toward it is 'Meh'.

Re:Both LibreOffice and MariaDB (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482844)

Add Jenkins to that list. Hudson's creator left Oracle and forked after receiving a cold shoulder.

Hudson continues; Oracle use it internally perhaps.

Re:Both LibreOffice and MariaDB (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483236)

Hudson has support from Sonatype. I'm not saying that is good or bad but Sonatypes contributions to open source java build tools thus far have been awesome.

There's one good think Apache will do (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482866)

Apache will provide the LibreOffice folks with a copy of the OpenOffice code base that is under a license which removes any possible obligation they might ever have to Oracle regarding the code, unless they do something incredibly stupid (like failing to attribute or reproduce the license at all as Katzer did in Jacobsen v. Katzer). LibreOffice can choose to use that code base or not.

If we really want to lay blame, it's not just Oracle's. Sun Microsystems didn't ever achieve a viable community for OpenOffice. There were operational and technical reasons, but the one that might have been most important was the requirement to sign your copyright over to a company that might take the work private the next day, with no quid-pro-quo at all.

In 1999 or so, Danise Cooper called me to explain what Sun would do with OpenOffice. I explained at that time that they needed to have some sort of quid-pro-quo for code donors, even if it was only a covenant that Sun would keep their own development available under a free software license for some time or remove the contribution from their version. This was not implemented. It was difficult for independent developers to see a reason to work with Sun.

Re:There's one good think Apache will do (0)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485194)

1999 huh?

It wasn't Sun either, why don't you just admit that the Open Source Community's attitude is what keeps "viable communities" for "insert FOSS project" from succeeding.

"might"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482906)

OpenOffice was unanimously dropped like a hot plate. Where exactly is the uncertainty?

Libre Open (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482986)

I've always had OpenOffice installed on my machines, although I default to MS Office for the usual reasons.

When I upgraded Ubuntu to Natty it installed LibreOffice, and I have to say that I'm very impressed. In a nutshell, it feels finished, something that OO never achieved.

LO is still not entirely MS Office compatible, but for many things where that compatibility isn't essential it's my first choice.

Re:Libre Open (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483014)

So, OO is more MS Office compatible?

The real headline here (2)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483034)

Selective quoting of history can be used to predict whatever future a magazine thinks will sell the most ads.

Libre Office is superior. (5, Interesting)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483080)

LibreOffice is superior to Open Office in my experience. It is faster, It opens complex M$ Office documents and complex power point presentations more cleanly (assuming you have fonts installed.) It is a definite upgrade from OO.org. One problem. OO.org has brand recognition. Big time. It established itself as a market force. LibreOffice will need to establish that all over again.

Re:Libre Office is superior. (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483500)

Which would make this a good time, to get the spelling right. It should be LiberOffice, not LibreOffice. They should be using the Latin root.

Re:Libre Office is superior. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483596)

Which would make this a good time, to get the spelling right. It should be LiberOffice, not LibreOffice. They should be using the Latin root.

Why?

Re:Libre Office is superior. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483630)

You mean apart from the fact that it's fucking stupid and obsolete? Libre used to be a word in English, at this point it's all but forgotten about. The Latin root at least has some wider connection to the point they're trying to make.

Plus it's a sound alike for Libra which is hardly a great idea.

Re:Libre Office is superior. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484436)

...It opens complex M$ [penny-arcade.com] Office documents and

Brighter future for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483138)

The software or all the users who now need to play the real guessing game on when/how to switch? How long until the next fork after this one?

Quick! (1)

Lord of the Fries (132154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483266)

Someone needs to write up a blog article drawing random conclusion from handpicked examples of the success of forked projects, based on their names. Since both project names are retarded, I wonder what effect we can extrapolate that project names have on project success.

Write your article with flair and with, and /. will link to it, driving add dollars^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmonetization your way. And we the /. community can discuss an even more inane correlation.

Coopetition? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483306)

I hate to fill a spot on somebody's buzzword bingo card, but this strikes me as an excellent opportunity for coopetition. If Libre Office and OpenOffice follow relatively similar development paths, but compete on implementation and refinement, it would be an excellent opportunity for exploring alternative solution strategies while cross-pollinating the results.

The fundamentals of OOo/LOo are pretty solid. The major components are well established -- the biggest wins on the horizon are about optimization, handling new formats, and UI enhancements. Development in those areas is easier to inherit across projects than if major project direction changes were still under way.

Without a doubt, splitting the available development pool across two projects has some costs -- but it is not necessarily all down side. LibreOffice thinks they have better ideas for the future of OOo. OpenOffice thinks the same. I hope they are both right; I'd like to see them each throw down some serious code, hold it up with pride to the other project, then do what comes naturally in Open Source world: Steal each other's code.

Not sure about LGPL/ASL compatibility -- but I figure between pluggable libraries, re-implementation, and maybe some special case license grants, they could work it out.

Just seems like it shouldn't be too difficult for a sharing-oriented community to figure out how to have their cake and eat it too. The developers are all after the same thing in the end -- a good F/LOSS office suite. By virtue of each person's contribution to their preferred project, they earn the right to choose their own paths. No need to minimize one or the other project when our very foundational principle is sharing and learning from each other (and showing off our coding chops). They can simply turn our greatest strength into our greatest strength.

It's all about the community (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483690)

XFree86 died when the community got up and left. Even with free hosting, the remaining XFree86 partisans couldn't keep it alive and lost interest.

Before that, the X Consortium - backed by the might of industry - died when no-one could be found to participate in it ... because XFree86 was where the action (i.e., community) was.

Citizendium forked from Wikipedia, recruited a pile of academics, then Larry Sanger drove them away [rationalwiki.org] . (And then the cranks moved in [rationalwiki.org] .) When someone said "chaps, CZ is dead" and tried another fork, they called him ... a "traitor" [davidgerard.co.uk] . This from the project that was a fork itself.

XOrg is under the MIT X11 licence, but seems to get plenty of contributions back - because it's where the community is. An open source licence with centripetal force from the gravitational pull of the community.

Wayland's lead developers and all the people pushing for it in Fedora are X.Org developers. They're not "traitors" to X, they're people with their eye on the target: a good open source desktop.

EGCS won by the community getting up and leaving GCC.

LibreOffice won when the community got up and left Oracle. Oracle and IBM's approach in trying to claw it back is gibberingly, hilariously misconceived. (And Rob Weir blew his cred irretrievably lying about what the FSF had said and directing abuse at the FSF rep who tried to correct his lie. Once a shill equals a shill.)

OOo=XFree86 with a sponsor. Yay sponsors. Can IBM employ enough contributors to single-handedly make up for the enthusiasm to be found at LibreOffice? I really doubt it.

What TDF needs to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483778)

What The Doc Foundation needs to do is to adopt Google Chrome, and now Mozilla's and originally (?) Debian's stable-testing-unstable development model. Keep the releases coming in a way that doesn't break the program or lets the user fall back to an unborken version.

LibreOffice has no bad press (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36483796)

Older versions of OOo had enough bugs and compatibility issues with MSOffice that most people I pushed OOo on did not like it. From my point of view OOo had bad press, carried along from older versions. I often heard "OOo" and "argh" in the same sentence. LibreOffice has a brand shiny name, icons and has everything early OOo versions lacked (obviously). It's get adopted by my collegues - who rarely know it's a OOo fork - more then OOo ever did, because it does not come with a lot of preconceptions.

Re:LibreOffice has no bad press (1)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484250)

One word: Why?

Re:LibreOffice has no bad press (0)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484296)

Sorry, I replied to the wrong comment.

Picking the examples (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36483800)

So how about Emacs/XEmacs, which was arguably the first great open source fork? Both projects are still around, but I don't get the impression that the fork (XEmacs) has run away with the ball by any stretch of the imagination.

LibreOffice vs. Lotus Symphony? Opinions? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36484432)

It is not that well known, but IBM have been maintaining and improving a fork of OpenOffice for years now, under the Lotus brand. It's called Lotus Symphony. I've been using it for some time and find it very capable and polished, at least compared to the mess of a UI that I remember OpenOffice to be.

How does LibreOffice compare to Symphony? Anyone tried both?

Re:LibreOffice vs. Lotus Symphony? Opinions? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485006)

I have both. Over all Symphony is a easier, especially the menu configurability. I've had Symphony for years, so familiarity is there. My primary use is writing. There, OO is flagging. Several major bugs, most notably the losing of chapter information on occasion, but most visibly, the auto-cap doesn't. I checked LibreOffice recently and both bugs still existed.

But the name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484530)

Am I the only one that still thinks LibreOffice is a terrible name?

Re:But the name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36484826)

Am I the only one that still thinks LibreOffice is a terrible name?

Several native English speakers do so, but anyone speaking romanic languages will like/tolerate it:

Libre (Spanish, French, Galician, Basque) / Livre (Portuguese) / Liberi (Italian) / Liber (Romanian) / Lliure (Catalan).

It is all in the name (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#36485152)

At this point, I care much less about which of the two code bases survives than I do the name. PLEASE lose the damn "Libre" name! We spent many years getting people to use, understand, trust, and remember the name "OpenOffice". Throwing it away, if there is ANY possibility of using it, is incredibly stupid. Believe it or not, the [horrible] name "LibreOffice" is already causing more damage to the credibility of the software in the eyes of non-technical users than any bug or fork has ever done.

Oh, and if possible, see if you can lose the ".org" in "OpenOffice.org" too...

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