A few weeks ago we reported that a group of former OpenOffice.org community members putting a bit of a soft fork into OpenOffice with the release of LibreOffice. At the time the group said that they were forming “The Document Foundation” in order to preserve the integrity of the OpenOffice.org platform. Based on recent actions by Oracle to have several members of the OpenOffice.org community council remove themselves due to conflict of interest, it looks like the train has sailed on the possibility of Oracle donating all the OpenOffice assets to new group and letting them sheppard the popular open source alternative to Microsoft Office.
It appears that Oracle Community manager Louis Suarez-Potts sees a conflict of interest with three of the members on the OOO community council who are also supporters of LibreOffice and TDF. “You now represent The Document Foundation (TDF) and LibreOffice,” he told TDF steering committee member Christoph Noack. “These are distinct from OpenOffice.org. For you to represent OpenOffice.org (OOo) in the Community Council (CC) is therefore quite confusing.” Normally, Oracle would have a point except this isn’t a normal situation. Members of the TDF steering committee feel that by having members on the OOO community council it would be a “good opportunity to keep the door open to both projects”. With this fact, I actually completely agree.
To be honest, I think Oracle doesn’t really have any big plans for OpenOffice.org and as such they should give it to people that are sincere in not only keeping it alive, but moving it forward. As currently constructed the OOO community council is nothing more than a joke, if Oracle succeeds in having the three members resign then the entire council would be made up of Oracle employees.
Suarez-Potts has set a deadline of today for an answer to the resignation demand. Currently, there is no word on if the members will comply, but I have to say this is a sad turn of events. The core concept behind open source is to have a code base that is open and available to be driven by a community of users that are passionate about that particular software and this does not seem to be the future of OpenOffice.org unfortunately. OpenOffice.org is no longer the product of a community, it is now the intellectual property of a company and they might as well call it OracleOffice because there won’t be anything open about it. If this happens, you might want to think long and hard before you put any time or effort into supporting the “new” OpenOffice.org.