To be honest, we can’t say we are all that surprise by this. As soon as word broke that Oracle might acquire Sun Microsystems, the calendar on this and many of Sun’s other open source software started ticking. Unlike Sun, Oracle is highly profit driven and if something isn’t adding to the bottom line then it’s probably not worth it. They aren’t a bad company, they are just profit driven and open source isn’t high on their radar. Because of it, many of Sun’s major open source contributions have languished since being acquired by Oracle including MySQL and OpenOffice, though others like OpenSolaris have just been downright killed. The only one of Sun’s previous open source contributions that has been given any real love at all is JAVA, which anyone will tell you is a major reason that Oracle acquired the company in the first place, but we digress.
Today a group of previous OpenOffice.org volunteers who call themselves “The Document Foundation” announced that after being frustrated with Oracle’s handling of the software, they have decided to fork the code base and as they said “fulfill the promise of independence written in the original charter.”
Oracle acquired OpenOffice.org assets when they bought Sun Microsystems a while back and while the group is prepared to move forward with without them, Oracle has been invited to become a member of the new Foundation. The group would also like Oracle to donate the OpenOffice.org trademark as well other assets it holds in trust for the community to the foundation to maintain consistency, but they are prepared to move forward with their new version that would be known as LibreOffice.
While Oracle had no comment on the announcement, several other organizations did and said they would not only support LibreOffice, but Ubuntu, Red Hat, and Novell will wrap it into their upcoming Linux distributions. Google also said it would participate in the foundation.
Open-source software is great because the source code that powers the software can be seen, changed, and shared by anyone. The rub on this one however is that Oracle owns the copyright to the software and it’s unclear what if any action they will take. I wouldn’t think they would do anything as it won’t help them from a PR standpoint and from how they have behaved we would think they will be happy to get rid of it.
In any case the first beta development version of LibreOffice is now available to download, though be aware this is a very early beta version and since its shares the codebase with OpenOffice it may replace your existing OpenOffice.org installation. So who’s trying this out? When you do come back and let us know what you think.