Oracle to give back to the community

By on April 16, 2011, 2:12 PM
Database giant Oracle has announced its intention to move to a purely community-based open source project and to no longer offer a commercial version of OpenOffice. Oracle became OpenOffice's principal contributor when it acquired Sun Microsystems last year.

Oracle says it will continue to make large investments in open source technologies that are strategic to its customers, including Linux and MySQL, which it specifically focuses on because they have won broad based adoption among commercial and government customers. The company will support OpenOffice, but its commitment does not appear to include the same level of investment as for Linux and MySQL.

"Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis," Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect, said in a statement. "We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office. Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF)."

Back in September 2010, the project separated itself from Oracle, christened itself The Document Foundation, and renamed the actual suite of programs as LibreOffice. The new foundation then invited Oracle to rejoin their new community by applying for membership, and also asked it to donate the brand. It appears that the OpenOffice community has won this little bout.

OpenOffice was once called StarOffice, but is now called LibreOffice. We have to wait and see if it will rebrand once again, back to OpenOffice.

The Document Foundation released LibreOffice 3.3, a fork of Oracle's Open Office open source office suite, in January 2011. The LibreOffice 3.3 release followed Oracle's Open Office 3.3, which came out in December 2010. It has since received minor updates (we're at version 3.3.2 now) but 3.4 is still on the horizon; it would be quite the headache if the LibreOffice name was only used for one version.

Download LibreOffice for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

User Comments: 7

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LauRoman said:

Don't you mean StarOffice instead OpenSolaris? Isn't OpenSolaris an operating system?

Oh the humanity of having OpenOffice 2.x then LibreOffice 3.x andthen OpenOffice 3.5/4/whatever version if it turns out that way.


edvim said:

Solaris is a Unix based operating system, not an Office suite, and was developed by Sun Microsystems. When Oracle bought out Sun they got control of Solaris and are still supporting it. OpenSolaris, founded also by Sun but co-developed by Sun and the Open Source community is now dead after Oracle refused to interact with the OpenSolaris developers. (A fork of OpenSolaris resulted in Openindiana, which stands a better chance of continuing having no direct ties to Oracle.) was based off of StarOffice, which Sun acquired in the late 90's from StarDivision, a German company. Not too long ofter Oracle's takeover of Sun, a number of key developers left Oracle as they saw the not-too-friendly attitude of management, not unlike the Solaris/OpenSolaris situation. They founded the independent Document Foundation and soon released the very increasingly popular LibreOffice. Oracle would not accept any invitations to participate in the Document Foundation, nor would they allow them to continue using the name, "" which resulted in the new 'LibreOffice' name.

So, "OpenOffice was once called OpenSolaris" is not correct in any way. I have to disagree with the article's author regarding, "...OpenOffice community has won this little bout." The momentum behind the Document Foundation is steadily growing and even major Linux distros like Fedora and Ubuntu will be changing from to LibreOffice in their upcoming releases. Independent developer participation and contributions have skyrocketed since the early announcements of LibreOffice. As for, it remains to be seen about its future. Oracle's ambivalent attitude towards most of it's Open Source and/or Sun acquisitions -- OpenSolaris, Java, Mysql, -- has not won any points in the OSS developer world.

Leeky Leeky said:

I've moved over to LibreOffice, and won't be changing back.

Coodu Coodu said:

Interesting stuff. I've used OpenOffice a fair bit over the years but haven't had a chance to play around with LibreOffice.

This is sparking some personal interest.

LauRoman said:

Leeky said:

I've moved over to LibreOffice, and won't be changing back.

You won't have a choice, if they merge the two projects again, the way that khtml was forked from WebKit but merged back in sometime down the road. I'm not saying that will actually happen, butthere is a small chance of it.

Tedster Tedster, Techspot old timer....., said:

good. I was a little peeved after the split. I hope it re-integrates again.

Leeky Leeky said:

You won't have a choice, if they merge the two projects again, the way that khtml was forked from WebKit but merged back in sometime down the road. I'm not saying that will actually happen, butthere is a small chance of it.

Nope, not in that scenario, but I disagree with some of the issues created by Oracle, and the way it almost held it back in many instances.

I can't help but feel that OO would be considerably better if it had been removed from its shackles a long time ago - I guess if they merge back (I'd be surprised if some people do given the way they were treated and forced to side between camps) we'll never find out.

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