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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 10:39

OpenOffice gets Oracle alternative

Written by Nick Farell


Fork off Ellison
Open Sourcers have told Oracle's Larry Ellison to fork off by creating another version of OpenOffice.

A group of key contributors to the OpenOffice.org (OOo) project have formed a new organization called the Document Foundation. The aim of the group is to liberate the project from Oracle's control and create a more inclusive and participatory ecosystem around the software. OOo was originally based on StarOffice, a product that Sun obtained in its acquisition of StarDivision in 1999.

Sun opened the source code and invited the open source software community to participate in the project.  It made money by flogging a closed, commercial version alongside. Despite the significant community enthusiasm for OOo, there have been complaints that Sun's bureaucratic development process got in the way of the project. While there was some half-hearted support for forking before Oracle bought Sun, it looks like  the acquisition substantially increased the movemnet.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about Oracle's plans for OOo and there are well-founded concerns about the extent of Oracle's commitment to openness. The Document Foundation is creating a fork of OOo called LibreOffice that will be distributed independently of OOo. It is available for beta testing here.

The steering committee is diverse and includes some key members of the OOo project. Corporate supporters include Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, and Google. Oracle has not yet issued an official response to the fork.

Nick Farell

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