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Contemplating the possible retirement of Apache OpenOffice (lwn.net)
344 points by sohkamyung on Sept 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 318 comments

Parallel universe: http://www.mail-archive.com/dev@openoffice.apache.org/msg282...

  If we look at LibreOffice and compare:

  LibreOffice, that is *good* (not more) software and
  *excellent* public relations.

  OpenOffice, that is *excellent* software and *pretty bad*
  public relations.
Proof: http://www.mail-archive.com/dev@openoffice.apache.org/msg282...

  Secondly, as alluded to above, we should prepare ourselves
  for the FUD, the "AOO is dead" victory chants, the numerous
  anti-AOO and anti-Apache spewings, etc... There are some
  who will use this as a self-serving soapboxing opportunity,
  and warp the facts into some Bizarro alternate universe
  history. We should be there to set the facts straight but
  also resign ourselves to the fact that their voices will
  likely be louder than ours.


  But the main reason why, imo, was because we were also
  end-user. End users needed to make a *choice* between
  AOO and SomethingElse.
Don't say the word.

  By no longer being an end-user application, that goes away.
End users play no role any more? Good luck with that.

I'd hesitate to claim that OpenOffice is "excellent software", if the security issues aren't being addressed in a timely manner.

There's a distinction between the software itself being excellent and the team being fast-moving.

AOO is neither, per the security problems that brought about discussion of retiring the project.

How exactly is OO excellent and LO good?

What is that based on? Please back that up.

My experience would be the contrary. I felt Libre Office had better document compatibility and a better user experience, so I stopped using Open Office. Maybe it improved since then. I would also like to see something to back up the claim you are talking about.

Please ask the author on the OO-dev mailing list, I just quoted him


I misread your comment.

In my personal experience, when I first tried Open Office it ended up being a clunky, unreliable clone of older Microsoft Office products. It was still better than a kick in the teeth though.

In all honesty, after writing my own simple manual editor for PDF, I really don't envy the task of making something compatible with multiple other formats. It would be nice to see the project archived or completely released to the community to continue work on.

> ... clunky, unreliable clone of older Microsoft Office products. It was still better than a kick in the teeth though.

That's exactly why i am using Open/Libre office; at some point Microsoft Office got such a complicate UI (ever since they pushed the ribbon bar - that's when they kicked me in the teeth) that i am unable to use it - the alternative uses a much less complicated UI so i am with it. Does the MS Office UI conform with the Windows UI guidelines ? I am not quite sure..

As for 'unreliable' - i can't share this perspective; LibreOffice works for me; didn't have any problems with OpenOffice either - before i switched to LibreOffice. I switched because LibreOffice is supposed to have better support.

Interesting that MS often gets to a point where the UI is quite adequate, but then they have to come up with something new, so they come out with an update that breaks it all. Happened with Windows, Office, Visual Studio, Visual Basic - you name it; i think it also happened with gmail - so it does not seem to be something exclusive to MS; i wonder if that is a general law of software development.

Am I alone here in actually liking the ribbon?

I almost never use any MS Office product (Latex for serious writing, R for statistics, ...) but when I have to because of a client or whatever, I find the Ribbon to be convenient for a non-power user.

I love the ribbon. It brought the most used functionality to the front where you don't have to navigate a text menu to find.

It also makes shortcuts discoverable! Just hit the alt-key and virtually every thing pops up with it hot key. Hitting alt in a standard windows app only tells me what menus are available, not which actions are available.

Ok, maybe shortcuts are discoverable, but actual actions no longer are. Not everyone finds the ribbon an improvement; I feel the need to point that out since so many comments appeared praising the awfully opaque ribbon.

How so? Why are actions hidden in nested menus easier to find than in the ribbon?

My disability means that I have to read through every single option, verbalizing it. Changing the layout that I know so well has meant that MS Office is no longer on the list of applications I bother with.

I know where everything is in Libre Office, it's quicker and less stressful to use. A number of people have told me that it's too bad, I'll just have to learn the new system. Honestly? I really don't care what those Microsoft fanboys think. The "new" system is just far too much work for me to be bothered re-learning. Libre Office/Open Office is more than good enough.

In my opinion yes. Or rather, Windows users have had decades being trained to find certain functionality under certain menu options to the degree that most will do it by second nature irrespective of the application they're in. The ribbon menu throws all that muscle memory away and leaves you trying to find it again in an interface that no other applications use.

I don't frequently need to use office products but when I do I find them absolutely infuriating.

The "no other applications use" is not strictly true anymore, and hasn't been for a while - most stock Windows apps use Ribbon now, even Explorer.

But in general, the problem that you (and the other adjacent comment) is describing is different - you're not talking about discoverability so much so as learned muscle memory. Obviously, changes do break that, but this doesn't necessarily imply that for a new user, discoverability is worse. You'd need to run a study to determine that.

Because the menus are words, describing the function of their contents at a glance.

So are Ribbon headers.

The ribbon is probably the best example of "people are resistant to change". In retrospect, because I was grumpy about it too at the time. But once you get used to it, it's vastly superior in every conceivable way to the old UI.

Well, I am using it almost daily for years now and still hate it. So it probably depends on a person.

It wasn't optimized for "people like it", it was optimized for ease-of-use and discoverability.

You could simultaneously hate it with a passion, and also be 3 times more efficient at editing a document while using it, and that counts as a success.

No. I hate it because while ease-of-use is better, discoverability is much worse. I am constantly seeking answers to UI problems on Google.

Also, how is it a success if I hate my tool with passion, no matter how efficient I am? We must have different value systems... :)

When the ribbon works, which is most of the time, it's pretty good.

When not, it can be a complete PITA. A few years ago I tried to change the scaling of an axis of a chart in Excel from linear to log, and it was so convoluted that I had to look up in the help each time I did it.

I guess the relevant question is whether this would have been easier if the ribbon didn't exist, and you had to do it through the menu bar.

It appears to me that the issue here is that Excel makes scaling the axis of a chart convoluted. Not that the ribbon makes it harder than the regular menu bar.

Love the ribbon too. OO/LO/iWork have become unusable for me since the ribbon.

The initial implementation of the ribbon sucked. It was too static, it didn't hide and took up a whole lot of space, and it didn't give you any pointers on KB shortcuts.

It also took MS some time of gathering data and telemetry to improve the layout. And frankly, it took users some time to adjust to the change.

The ribbon is much better now. But the people who like it, possibly still suffering from having to maybe defend it when it legitimately had flaws, are not as loud about it online.

I sort of think the infrastructure is in mostly in place to allow for themes that largely mimic the ribbon. Optional, of course :-)

The default should not be the ribbon, but there are aspects of the Ribbon LO could use.

But it's funny - the Symphony stuff that was given to Apache by IBM, and which Apache integrated and we snagged and further fixed and are enhancing is in so many ways better than the Ribbon! The Sidebar could, IMO, be enhanced and turned into the Ribbon.

"Does the MS Office UI conform with the Windows UI guidelines ?"

Definitely not. The ribbon style and circle menu are a different design universe entirely. I agree that moving things around was annoying.

"As for 'unreliable' - i can't share this perspective; LibreOffice works for me; didn't have any problems with OpenOffice either - before i switched to LibreOffice. I switched because LibreOffice is supposed to have better support."

The unreliability for me was a mixture of not such great support and occasional crashing. Libreoffice was much better.

I originally moved from Microsoft office because I got tired of pirating the latest version. It was a hassle because of the time to download (I had a slow connection) and the risk of viruses each stage. The move to Linux was the final nail in the coffin for me.

As time has gone on I have come to appreciate open software, which again makes Windows (or Apple) not an option for me.

Ribbon is part of Windows UX guidelines these days, and has been for a long time now.

Where else is it used? Admittedly it's been a while since I dirtied one of my machines with Windows.

Most stock apps - e.g. Explorer, Paint, WordPad.

It's part of Win32 API now, so it's readily available to any app: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dd3...

"End users play no role any more? Good luck with that."

In what parallel universe do you get that conclusion from that thread?

My last remark was too snarky and out of context, I am sorry. You want both projects to merge again with OO being the 'core' and LO the 'user interface'? Sounds intriguing, but are both code bases still compatible enough for that? Would this not be more effort than gain?

  What is obvious is that the AOO project cannot support, at
  the present time, being an end-user focused effort. I would
  suggest we focus on not being one, but instead being a
  framework or library that can be consumed by actual
  end-user implementations.
(Quote from your email)

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are already "merged". In fact in the past years, after the fork, LibreOffice developers regularly tracked OpenOffice source code repository and merged all the useful changes they could find, by either picking the original code or re-implementing it their own way.

In addition to that they also completely overhauled and simplified the build system, removed tons of dead code and translated German comments which where there since StarOffice, replaced Java components with equivalent ones written in C/C++, are in the process of switching from GTK2 to GTK3 (mandatory to get Wayland support in Linux), etc. Doing so they made the LibreOffice source code base sustainable on the long term and lowered the difficulty entry level for new contributors, while apparently OpenOffice buildbots are not even able to rebuild their software since last year...

The only useful asset which remains to OpenOffice is the trademark.

"In fact in the past years, after the fork, LibreOffice developers regularly tracked OpenOffice source code repository and merged all the useful changes they could find, by either picking the original code or re-implementing it their own way."

And therein lies the problem... AOO was simply consumed. There was no quid-pro-quo where these were then donated back to AOO. Of course, the ALv2 does not require that, and so LO was perfectly within their right to not donate back. But it also seems somewhat "shady", and not the kind of behavior one would expect of a fellow FOSS project, but more like a corporate FOSS bottom feeder.

So development was basically all single stream... what was useful was used but nothing was given back.

I wish people would recall this when they mention how "arrogant" Apache is, or how Apache acted in bad faith and stuff like that or that Apache wanted to "control everything". Certainly if a single, unified OO eco-system was important to LO/TDF, they had opportunities to help make that happen. Let's at least be honest here.

LibreOffice exists because Sun wasn't accepting useful contributions to OpenOffice or putting much effort into maintaining it, and then Sun was acquired by Oracle, an open-source-hostile (to say the least; they killed OpenSolaris and sued Google for reimplementing Java!) company. So they had to fork.

Of course, because everyone then ran away to LibreOffice, OpenOffice basically died. And, as expected, Oracle hardly cared for it, stopped work on it entirely and handed it off to the Apache Foundation to die.

Really, they should've transferred the trademark and copyright to the Document Foundation instead, or at least coöperated with them. But that wouldn't have been spiteful enough of the community. In fact:

> Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. However, Oracle demanded that all members of the OpenOffice.org Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, claiming a conflict of interest.

> It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. However, Oracle rejected requests to donate the OpenOffice.org brand to the project.


We couldn't give back. Their license prevented us from doing so.

Whose license prevented you to give code to AOo?


If only you could put it under a license that said "permissive, except those guys".

What you've written there is a wish for something that works like copyleft.

I didn't say "merge". Being a library or framework which can be consumed, either in whole or in part, by another entity is in no way a "merge".

Why should LO have an interest to switch to an OO core/library? Just to gain the OO name back and be present on the website? Tough deal. Also, I still think the code bases are too different by now [1] and there is little to gain.

Without at at least one 'consumer'/UI (which you do not want or cannot provide) there is little point in developing an OO core/library, or is it? Which leads to my snarky comment about end-users and their role...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12413218

The Open Office eco-system is larger, by far, than LO and AOO. Maybe LO may not benefit at all from a permissive licensed core (although it certainly has benefited from it, as noted elsewhere), but certainly other OO implementations might.

We have seen, and even the FSF admits it, that open standards do best with permissive licensed implementations. So if you want wide adoption of open standards, a permissive license is likely better.

The world is not just LO or AOO. After all, the enemy, so-to-speak, is this proprietary s/w called MSO...

Define "ecosystem"?

Actually, I'd love to see the VCL be turned into a standalone library :-)

That second mail has more interesting stuff in the bottom.

> I would even suggest us considering going further and redirecting AOO traffic to LO

Could they drop openoffice, then rename libreoffice to openoffice? That would be fantastic

I think OpenOffice is a better name than LibreOffice. It rolls of the tongue more smoothly, and it is easier to explain to people. On the other hand LibreOffice has the lion's share of the developers (and probably of the users by now). So a "takeover" of OpenOffice by the LibreOffice project would probably be the best solution at this point (at least as far as I can tell).

I'm not entirely sure of the current situation, but ...

If you look they call it "Apache OpenOffice". Previously what we term "OpenOffice" was only called "OpenOffice.org (OOo)", why? Well because there was already a product trademarked and marketed as Open Office and IIRC there was a legal challenge. So OOo was the open version of StarOffice.

Perhaps Sun/Oracle or Apache bought that trademark?

A brief search at USPTO's TESS suggests that the word mark "OpenOffice" is registered to Pathway IP SARL of Luxembourg, whilst Apache have "OpenOffice.org".

So the question is LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org.

I like LibreOffice but then I'm in Western Europe. Someone noted it's poor for India and China due to pronounceability.

If OpenOffice is retired as specified in 7.3(b) in the submission...

> 7.3 There is no active attention to preservation of the trademarks related to Apache OpenOffice. (a) Inappropriate use of Apache and its symbols in names of offerings will be defended when brought to the attention of branding@. (b) Uses of OpenOffice, Open Office, openoffice.org and other similarities without attribution to Apache are not addressed.

...then LibreOffice could start using the OpenOffice brand, e.g. "Libre OpenOffice".

I think Apache giving up the brand like that would create a bad precedent, though. Another of Apache's projects might get forked and renamed by the subset of its PMC that do the programming, who then later claim their brand back using this as a precedent. E.g. Apache Groovy might be cloned by the Grails crowd and renamed the Grails Language, and with the programmer in Groovy's PMC who adequately knows his way around Groovy's codebase joining them. When Apache Groovy has further atrophied, the Grails people could then claim the "Groovy" brand using the "OpenOffice Precedent".

Oracle used to sell Oracle Open Office, the commercial edition of OpenOffice.org.

>> "it is easier to explain to people"

Which is why "Office for Free" (OfficeFree, oFree, O4F) would be a better non-Linux name. Average user doesn't care if something is "open" they care if it's free.

I think its a bad idea to even use the word "Office" because it sounds like a lame rip-off you'd download from CNet. In fact, Im suprised MS doesnt have a legal issue with it. Thats always bugged me about a lot of OSS projects and vegan dishes, they pick a name based on their competitor instead of something original that doesn't constantly remind the user they're not quite getting the "real thing".

OpenOffice uses name 'office' for 30 years, 5 longer than MS does.


> OpenOffice.org originated as StarOffice, a proprietary office suite developed by German company StarDivision from 1985 on.

> MS office 1.0 released : November 19, 1990[1] Office 1.0

Maybe that's the naming solution then.


* The Open and Libre Office Suite

Everyone could write it as *Office to save typing. Then users would simply say the full name. "AsteriskOffice"


StarOffice has never been fully free, and it even clashes with other trademarks in Japan and other Asian countries. It also had an image problem even before it was open sourced, to the point where it was literally given away for free (at a time when MS Office, Lotus etc were printing money).

It's a dead brand.

And maybe rewrite it in C# and call it OctothorpOffice...

Coctothorp is how I pronounce C# :) That or C++++ because # looks like 4 overlapping +'s which I've always assumed is what they were hinting at.

If you pronounce it like that, what will the next version be? We don't have a nonathorp. I've always assumed the next version will be C𝄪 (for those of you who are non-musicians, that's a double sharp symbol).

Your description also helps for musicians whose font just doesn't display that symbol...

Well then I was totally wrong in this case :) But there are still a lot of instances of software names like that. All things GNU being the worst example, an entire ecosystem tainted with the label "Not Unix".

That's not the public perception.

I'm going to try and use this comparison as often as possible now.

"One of the things that always bugged me about OSS projects and vegan dishes is the evangelizing of their proponents.

"One of the best things about OSS projects and vegan dishes is their excellent documentation."

I recall that "Office" was ruled too generic a name to really protect some years ago. Because the bundle is just general stuff you'd use in an office.

Also, it's a terrible name that doesn't say anything, except that it's sold for use in an office.

Right, the problem is that the generic term for what you're building is an "office suite." It's almost a cliche for these to have had "office" somewhere in the title; I know "WPS Office" is a thing in some places; I remember WordPerfect being bundled with "Borland Office" which I looked up now and apparently it's "WordPerfect Office" these days... and I have a Zoho account and I believe theirs is also called "Zoho Office." I think there was also something called "EasyOffice" once upon a time.

Apple as usual bucks the trend with iWork, and Google with Docs. There's an active KDE project called Calligra, too, and half of the academic world just uses a piecemeal built around LaTeX. Those names are different, but they don't necessarily say anything, either.

Part of the problem is that there's not a nice simple word to say "simple data-set crunching plus pretty authorship tools for both presentations and long-form documents." These are kind of three very different domains which happen to combine together into reporting information. Perhaps a nice open-source project could be named Rapport due to its community vibe and its linguistic tie to "report", but then again, that sounds like an open-source composition/looping software for anyone looking to spin a sick beat.

That's actually a pretty good description of OpenOffice.

> Thats always bugged me about a lot of OSS projects and vegan dishes

OT: A friend of mine recently called me a "software vegan" because of how much I've started to get passionate about free software. I'm not really sure how to feel about that description yet. :P

Doubt it. I would imagine that many lay users associate "free" with low quality. "Open" on the other hand has positive connotations.

Hell, in a few years' time, Silicon Valley might finally have made "free" an outright bad thing for some significant group of people.

Silicon Valley, where "free" means "don't get used to this because we're selling to google and shutting it down in three months"

Or it means "we're data mining the fuck out of you, your granny, her cat, and the guy who's banging your wife, so we can deliver you 'relevant' ads"

> Average user doesn't care if something is "open" they care if it's free.

The naming "Libre" is important (though maybe we shouldn't be using French as the language to describe the concept of freedom with a single word). It gives the opportunity to explain that not only will Libreoffice not cost you any money, you have freedom while using it. Calling it "Office for Free" is a _very_ bad idea as it will muddy the waters of the meaning of "free software" in the lexicon of people who aren't into technology.

This. Name natters. IME 90% of people I know who want to quickly look through a PowerPoint on Linux will install OpenOffice. Even when they hear that libre is the better version 80% of them would stay with oo as it is the "real" oo.

Also, 85% of statistics are made up on the spot based upon anecdotal data.

I agree in the case of the Windows/OS X environment, where brand awareness of LibreOffice is low, but in the Linux world... my distribution (Debian) doesn't even package OpenOffice, and I don't know any Linux user who uses OOo.

Here's one. Never thought it necessary to change. OO works just fine.

LibreOffice is original OO, in terms of continuity of development, more so than AOO is.

And another one to some extent: oOo uses its own font rendering, the LO team (I gather) moved over to using libraries (harfbuzz) available in host OS for font rendering. I seem to have better results on former under some circumstances.

I have not had any round-trip editing problems flitting between the two under Linuxen of various kinds.

I didnt know this but at a more general level I am reluctant to "upgrade" what's already working fine due to this very fiddling with new stuff which is a common failing of the FOSS model in my experience (people wanting to add shiny things instead of making existing stuff better - Firefox, GNOME etc). This is one of the main reasons I did not migrate to LO.

Are you using a distro from 2010? Because I believe most of the major Linux distros include LIbreOffice as part of the default install.

I just checked - the latest I use is centos 7.1 which does have libreoffice already installed, however my daily machine is older and I had to install OO manually there.

Wasn't OpenOffice own by Sunacle at some point?

I think that's when a lot of users moves to LibreOffice.


and I don't know any Linux user who uses OOo.

Pleased to meet you. Now you know at least one.

So true. For example, when Node.js forked to io.js, even after a year where io.js was clearly a superior product, 90% of developers were still using Node.js. Old habits die hard, I guess.

> IME 90% of people I know who want to quickly look through a PowerPoint on Linux will install OpenOffice.

If that's all you need to do, OpenOffice will likely work just fine for you.

If LO gets the trademark, maybe make the name "OpenOffice" refer to "the stable channel of LibreOffice". Corporate IT and training would likely prefer an office suite that only gets feature-updates every 1-2 years. So make OpenOffice a very stable version that just gets bugfix updates, but then a big feature update every couple of years, ala MS Office.

And LibreOffice could remain for the rest of us who don't mind getting new features every month or so.

That already exists: it's called Collabora Office (https://www.collaboraoffice.com/solutions/collabora-office/) and made by one of the largest contributing firms behind LO (Collabora).

I did some work for Collabora for a few months. Those guys are amazing! If you want a commercial support contract for any of the software they develop, just do it. They do a fair price for corporates, believe in open source and thus I found my colleagues were super responsive to paying customers and took a great deal of pride in the quality of their work.

They also actively pushed out their code in usable format I to the main codebase. And they did it frequently. They also got access to documents for testing and performance testing others didn't have access to, so the stuff they pushed out actively helped the project, but because they had support contracts they were able to backport to versions the main developers wouldn't consider.

This is probably the best workable solution if the projects were to merge somehow as it preserves the attempted marketing niche of each "name".

I haven't followed this in a long time but I thought Sun/Oracle management of OpenOffice was crux of the problem? I've probably been out of the loop for too long.

That was the problem before it became an Apache project. It should not be a problem anymore.

Some AOO developers appear to have a superiority complex. It is visible in the discussion.

There are people on both sides that suffer from that condition. It does nothing to improve or further the discussion.

I love it this idea. Make OpenOffice the LTS release for liver office. (I'm going to leave this autocorrect as is because it shows the proble with libre)


Libreoffice is terrible to pronounce in asia ... and especially in India. I dont know if it is better in other countries (like the multilingual United States). Till today, Libreoffice is the only software that I have said aloud (and on the phone) and people could not remember. I have had people search for "libby office", "libra office", "lee office", etc

Call it anything but Libreoffice.

French is the worst thing to happen to language.

What's that open Nvidia driver called? Novou? Neauveau? Nouveau? Neauvou? Fuck it.

English is way worse than French. It's just that more people are used to it.

English is crummy because of French :P

Good idea.

It's like or at least similar to Node.js vs. IO.js. Finally they agreed to use IO.js branch but go with the Node.js name.

So it would be great of LibreOffice would be rebranded to OpenOffice. And it needs an web initiative to compete with GoogleDocs and Office365 - I know there is already some kind of prototype, but make it a high priority project.

The cloud initiative seems a lot more important; bring LO/OO into this decade.

> Could they drop openoffice, then rename libreoffice to openoffice? That would be fantastic

Oh, the Document Foundation (which makes LibreOffice) wanted to do that. But Oracle decided to hand OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation instead, presumably out of spite.

Out of the box thinking but would never fly. Think of all of the releases of LibreOffice that overlap OpenOffice. Support nightmare and users would be confused about the changes.

You just do what gcc did. The next OO version is the current LO code, and the project is now managed by the LO developers.

I thought LO was some flavor of GPL? I'm not sure that would fly with Apache, as it would make the situation even more confusing.

Apache should never have accepted this hot potato from Oracle in the first place.

Why do you think so?

It's not clear that they could have known this would not be sustainable at the time, and I don't see how the hot potato staying with Oracle would have been a better option.

It was immediately obvious at the time, I remember it as such. The devs jumped ship to LibreOffice. All Oracle was left with was a brand and a moribund codebase, and for some reason Apache accepted it. Why didn't Oracle give it to LibreOffice? Because they were sore at being bypassed, it looked like. The correct thing for Apache to do would have been to say, nope mate, we don't want to be part of your childish feud, keep it, trash it, or give it to the people who are actually doing the work.

If Apache had not accepted it, Oracle was NOT going to donate it to TDF. Instead, Oracle would simply have shuttered it, or sold it to IBM. There was no workable plan ever that would have resulted in the OO code going to TDF.

Even if AOO had never done a single release, LO still benefited enormously from OO going to Apache, since once at Apache, there was known and public IP provenance, AND the code was relicensed to ALv2. This allowed LO to inherit that provenance, relicense their stuff on AOO as needed, and close what had been a possible nasty IP hole.

The Apache Foundation could simply have accepted the OpenOffice.org codebase+trademarks from Oracle, then donate to LibreOffice.

But they did not do so. The Apache Foundation does not have experience with software that end-users use. They have experience with server software. That was their undoing.

As I recall Sun and IBM had a contract cause OOo was used for Lotus Notes. Then Oracle bought Sun. Oracle had obligations to IBM from that contract. Oracle could not figure-out how to make money on OOo so wanted to get rid of it. Oracle offered it to IBM but IBM did not want it. Instead IBM suggested ASF take it on. So Oracle relicensed under ASL and transferred everything hence Apache OpenOffice was born. IBM provided most of the devs to the project at that point, even hired some Star and Sun folks for it.

While this was all happening LibreOffice formed from... what was it... Goo go or something like that, the folks that were behind the build system and distro patches that most people outside of Solaris were actually running. I have a suspicion that there were terms agreed to between IBM, Oracle, and ASF that prevented ASF from donating anything to anyone.

Now IBM has scaled back support and at this point it's an LGPL v APL religious war.

> I have a suspicion that there were terms agreed to between IBM, Oracle, and ASF that prevented ASF from donating anything to anyone.

There were no secret deals. The Apache Incubator PMC voted on a public proposal (<http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal>) which included both a community and the promise of assets. Those assets were later delivered as promised. The incubation process then proceeded as it has for scores of other projects. It would have been completely inappropriate, unthinkable, for the Incubator (which oversees incubating projects) or the ASF Board (which oversees all projects) to take the assets away from that nascent community.

Tank you for the excellent link, my speculation was false. I wonder then why reuniting did not pan-out. Here is a working version of the link: http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal

At the time of the donation, The Document Foundation had an (understandably) antagonistic relationship with Oracle and legal foundations which were firming up but not yet solid. The assets were not going to TDF from Oracle directly.

In accepting the proposal for a new Apache OpenOffice project, the ASF accepted not only the assets from Oracle but also a community, distinct from the LibreOffice community, that wanted to work with those assets. That community had to be given a chance. Without all those things, the deal could not have been completed.

Even at the time of donation, LibreOffice had already gained a substantial set of the former Sun/Oracle developers: Stephan Bergmann (to Red Hat), Bjoern Michaelsen (to Canonical), Eike Rathke (to RedHat), Michael Stahl (to Red Hat). Together with other former Sun developers like e.g. Thorsten Behrens and Caolán McNamara, LibreOffice had more of the old Sun developers than Apache OpenOffice had at any point in time. Incidentally, they also made a lot of contributions that allowed LibreOffice to strife past other derivatives: like build system cleanup, static code analysis and fuzzing, bibisecting.

What community? The only community around OpenOffice.org were the Sun/Oracle devs + the Go-OO devs getting it to work on Linux.

The Go-OO devs forked it into LibreOffice and then Oracle shuttered their own work and reassigned their devs to other projects. Only a tiny handful of devs not part of Go-OO remained, and they had not been instrumental in actually maintaining the codebase as these other two groups had.

There was no community around Apache OpenOffice.

There were enough people on the "Initial Committers" list here to persuade the Apache Incubator PMC to adopt the project: http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal

Subsequently, there were enough people to vet and prepare multiple releases over the next couple years after that.

In fact, Oracle didn't even have many committers on OOo at the time - they'd reassigned most of the StarDivision devs to the abortive CloudOffice. At the time of the fork, LO had more dev resources on the codebase than Oracle did.

Just getting the code-base released under the ALv2 was a win for the world at large. Even if we never pushed out a single release, at least the code is out there now, under a permissive license, where anybody can use it. That alone makes the whole exercise worthwhile, no matter what happens next.

It's not impossible that the terms Apache got it under prohibited them divesting themselves of it for some length of time.

I don't recall thinking at the time this landed that it was so cut-and-dry who would end up the superior solution.

In the worst case, though, would it be better for Apache to have refused holding the OOo branding, given that there was no chance it would have otherwise made it out into someone like TDF or otherwise's hands?

The terms are all on the mailing list.

"On the mailing list" is like "in China". It may be accurate but it hardly narrows the search.

It's also not offlist in some backroom fogged with cigar smoke and whiskey aromatics.

It was a gift from Oracle, so it should have been immediately obvious that it would turn into a gigantic pooch screw.

It was clear developers were going to flee whether Oracle kept it, or whether Oracle gave it away. It was toxic coming from Oracle, just as if it had been a 'gift' from Microsoft.

(PowerShell on Linux. Need .NET on Linux. Clippy on Linux: it looks like you're trying to get useful work done. Would you like me to help you install Windows 10 on your Linux PC? If you would like Windows 10 installed, then click Yes, or click No, or click Cancel, or click the X in the title bar, or pull the power cord out of the electrical socket to have Windows 10 conveniently installed for you on the next reboot.)


I think you're wrong there.

IMO MS realized that Windows Mobile is doomed, people (especially under 20) use tablets and phones more and more instead of their desktops (the exception is work, obviously), and in the server market, they have very harsh competition from Linux. They will be in trouble in the medium term.

So the sensible thing to do is to broaden their appeal to different platforms.

A smart and sensible move. To be commended.

Honestly I'd trust MS code on my linux box over anything Oracle puts out.

Everyone at the time told them what would happen, and then it did; so yes, they could have known, because all this was predicted.

It turns out single-vendor projects at Apache work out this way, particularly when the single vendor is IBM. In fact, this had all just occurred with Apache Harmony (their Java clone, which Android's Dalvik was based on), which was going great guns until IBM pulled out, leaving a ghost town.

This was all foretold by people who'd seen what had literally just happened.

Nothing against hot potatoes, though. With butter.

The LibreOffice hot potatoes are hot, buttered and have melted cheese. I personally chose the more delicious offering, because not only did OpenOffice.org have no butter, they definitely had no melted cheese.

Chef Meeks runs a hatted restaurant. One so great the kitchen hands work for free and the sous-chefs are many, and work well together. And unlike a kitchen, there is really minimal amounts of swearing, and their customers love them and even try to help the kitchen by nicely reporting cooking errors and help in fixing their own meals.

I think the document foundation should get the brand, instant of Apache squatting. It's still far better known that libreoffice.

It made a sense few years ago, now Libre Office has a brand of its own. I don't think having the ownership would be useful now.

OpenOffice still a much stronger brand outside of the Linux community. Basically all the non-technical people I know (including some very non-technical people like my father-in-law) know that OpenOffice is the free alternative for MS Office. I'll bet not one of them have heard of Libre Office.

I know some people using LibreOffice, because some technical friend or I installed it for them, and keep calling it OpenOffice even if they see the LibreOffice dialog every time it starts. I think it's a brand who's become the name of a product class, like Xerox in its heydays.

This is me. My mind still thinks OpenOffice, then I remember it's really LibreOffice now.

I still think and say "open office." LibreOffice is that thing that I downloaded when I heard about OpenOffice being insecure.

Probably the lesson to learn here is that an open source project should do as much as possible to keep its branding separate from its parent companies.

As far as I can tell, the "LibreOffice brand" is "OpenOffice but harder to pronounce and spell".

I don't think so, I have talked to many of my friends about OpenOffice and LibreOffice, and no surprise, majority of them heard about OpenOffice but not LibreOffice.

I'd wager that most of LibreOffice's brand recognition is by people who are aware of the fork

Nope. A non-techie friend at uni was still using OpenOffice on their laptop, I had to tell them to install LibreOffice.

Because non-tech people do not know about LibreOffice. They've heard of OpenOffice, and that's it.

Maybe Libre Office could take over the branding, making "0pen Libre Office" (OLO for short, not to be confused with LOL). That way even ppl searching for Open Office would find a good free Office suite.

How about "OpenOffice, known as LibreOffice west of the Rockies"?

Now that's doubly confusing -- it implies that Libreoffice is a separate project which is proprietary, as well as being redundant.

It is really depressing reading the thread to see that how some members just can't let it go. I'm totally pro-diversity and support different projects and forks with different priorities but AOO's track record and sitting on top of a valuable brand has been a net loss for the open source in office area. I wouldn't mind it at all had they continue to develop their own thing named SolidOffice or whatnot, but I know companies which still use Openoffice on Windows, because that is what they have had always used, nevermind it doesn't even get prompt security updates.

OpenOffice's website design, marketing efforts, and documentation are less friendly to non-technical people that those of LibreOffice, the most prominent fork of OpenOffice. Subtle "superficial" details matter a lot to non-technical people -- for example, LibreOffice's web page has a "Get Help" link, instead of a "Support" page.

In addition, LibreOffice has been the default office suite in key GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu for many years.

As a result, the LibreOffice fork has been more widely adopted than OpenOffice, leading to the present situation.

One possible path for the OpenOffice folks would be to copy the Linux kernel and become an "upstream project" that others use to create a range of office-suite distributions like LibreOffice. In other words, stop packaging and marketing OpenOffice to end-users. Stop competing for end-users with downstream projects.

"One possible solution would be for the OpenOffice folks to copy the Linux kernel and become an "upstream project" that others use to create a range of office-suite distributions like LibreOffice."

... which were exactly the thoughts and reasons behind Apache accepting OO in the 1st place. For various reasons this obviously never happened. But it WAS the idea from the start.

Interestingly, that could have happened. Not only did LO make the effort of rebasing all their changes on top of a particular AOO release, they also were set up to incorporate all the new work from AOO into their branch. For instance, they quickly incorporated the sidebar code. Even today, one of the LO developers still goes over each AOO change, merging any worthwhile ones.

What actually happened? For some reason, development on AOO stalled. What little work still happens on it, is almost always replicating work LO already did two, three, sometimes five years ago. See it for yourself at https://cgit.freedesktop.org/libreoffice/core/log/?h=aoo/tru... : pick a commit, and look for the "Notes" field. For instance, picking "Port main/fileaccess to gbuild" I see the note "prefer: 1f9bc2b2aa8168f9c164044058b117d2a17d83ad"; that git hash is for a LO commit from 2011 (https://cgit.freedesktop.org/libreoffice/core/commit/?h=aoo/...).

In the meantime, LO did a lot of cleanup work. Finishing the build system move to gbuild, cleaning warnings across all the code base, removing plenty of obsolete or unused code, running several static checkers, and more. As I noted at https://lwn.net/Articles/699108/, the recent AOO CVE was probably found and fixed on LO two years ago, as a result of running a fuzzer together with valgrind. If you wanted to pick an "upstream project" to base an office suite on today, it makes more sense to pick LO instead of AOO.

I think you are proving my point... AOO was "plundered" by LO but LO never gave anything back. So any "co-opporation" was extremely one-sided and one-direction. It was hoped that LO, as good FOSS neighbors, would donate back, even though they didn't have to, just as we hope that our corporate neighbors also donate back. We trust in altruism rather than in forcing it. It just so happens in this case that our trust was somewhat misguided.

Elsewhere in this thread, grandinj of LO notes that he tried to donate back and there weren't enough people at Apache to do anything with the patches.


So you did get your wish, but it's not the LO people at fault.

I'd like to see some of those patches...

Follow the actual (open and public) discussion:


I thought everyone interested in a FOSS office suite was using libreoffice.

Actually for many years we have told people "if you want a free alternative to MS Office use OpenOffice". And we told this to people who are not closely following tech news. It's an established brand and it's not easy to undo. Many people will still google for openoffice. It would be helpful if they'd just get a message "OpenOffice is outdated, you can still download old versions, but you really want to get Libreoffice instead".

One of my OSS bits of software has an XSLX data export options, so I've been interested in the OpenOffice / LibreOffice split because of a bug in OpenOffice causing the file I was outputting to be read as empty. I've changed the file format now, but even for a tech based audience I got a number of questions about OpenOffice.

Just did a Google Trends on the topic [1] and it shows the two surprisingly close, confirming what you say, the openOffice brand still has momentum.

1: https://www.google.co.uk/trends/explore?date=all&q=openoffic...

> libreoffice

I hate that name. As a German I have no idea how to pronounce it and it's even harder for my non-techy friends. The name "Open office" has a very nice flow and everybody knows how to pronounce it, but "libre office"?

They should have selected an easier name for that project.

It is just a name.

Really problematic was that after Oracle did not wanted to continue the OpenOffice(.org) project, Apache accepted to take it over. That kept the website people knew up and help spread the false image that OpenOffice is an active project with serious people and development effort behind it.

There is rarely a name that is just a name. Names often have connotations that bring baggage with them.

When the OpenOffice project was accepted by Apache, there was a distinct community around it which was larger than it is today. Now that the community has shrunk, you are seeing the people in it wrestle with how best to go forward responsibly.

“There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and… ”

Naming things and off by one errors

As a technologist who follows tech news, I was never sure which one was the more active/appropriate prohect. Switching to Google Docs and various plain markdown editors has been a huge relief.

A few years ago I said fuck it and bought MS Office. I may only need it once a year when markdown or gDocs doesn't suffice, but the price is worth avoiding the OpenOffice vs LibreOffice fuckery. It also works better.

Wikipedia is usually pretty good at giving an overview of the situation.

> In September 2010, the majority of outside OpenOffice.org developers left the project, due to concerns over Sun and then Oracle's management of the project

> […]

> In April 2011, Oracle stopped development of OpenOffice.org


But the OpenOffice brand was already built, so obviously a lot of people still think it is the most active project.

Presumably, Oracle did not know what to do with this asset they bought, but they thought they might be able to squeeze value out of it. They believed the only way to do so was to have total control over it, which removed all value from it (except for the brand). Then they put it in an Apache-shaped trash, along with the brand.

Development of OpenOffice continued after it landed at Apache, notably in the form of a large IBM donation of code from Symfony. It is only recently that maintaining the project has become an issue, and as the OP illustrates, the remaining community is engaged and grappling with how to deal with that.

It's important to note, by the way, that Oracle had taken the Star Division developers off OOo and put them on their abortive CloudOffice endeavour. So the outside developers leaving was actually most of the active development resources at the time.

Even in an American business context, "Libre" sounds stupid. Having it in the name hurts their popularity more than they know.

What connotation does "Libre" have in American English? (I'm French, to my ears it sounds perfectly reasonnable, if a bit "legalese")

I think it would register no recognition to the majority of American English speakers. It is a French loan word used essentially only in open source contexts because we don't have an equivilent ("free" is way more ambiguous is meaning).

The only negative connotation I know of is the association with some overzealous nerdy kids who find out the difference between libre and gratis and loudly bring it up all the time.

Italy here. "Libre" sounds spanish to me. I realized only now that french has the same word (and I read it many times), but probably the final e is silent. I pronounce it, so it's spanish. Apparently it's the correct way: https://lwn.net/Articles/408141/

As an American I agree with your assessment.

When I first saw LibreOffice I first thought it was a take on the comedy movie Nacho Libre. And I studied French, so you'd think that would help but not really.

Though the French pronunciation differs as the IPA shows /libʀ/ which is rather different than spanish /ˈliβɾe/. So its one of those "final e is silent, with a french twist" words that were maddening to learn after German where that almost never happens.

I don't no much French but I think in this case the final e is not silent but also not stressed. Stress is on the i, same as in the Spanish pronunciation I think.

I speak en-AU - I'm not sure what connotations "libre" has to most English speakers who haven't learned a Romance language or been involved in the Free Software world. "Libre" is not a common English word - I imagine to many English speakers you'd probably have to explain the shared etymology with "liberty" for people to get it. The French pronunciation is non-obvious to an English speaker.

"Liberty Office" would have been a much better English moniker.

Uggh... it sounds horrible ! Makes me think of the statue of liberty and US flags..

I don't think it has any connotation for most Americans. It isn't a word that is commonly used. I imagine that they hear it and think "Lee Bray" or Luche Libre wrestling.

Oh wait, I just had a thought: Luche Libre Office. That's is an awesome idea.

It's an unfortunate side effect of FSF's fascination with being uber-precise around terms like "free" and "open". Because English doesn't offer sufficient nuance here, and Stallman really, really hates it when people get the implications that were not intended, he had to go look for, or create, a word that would be unambiguously "free as in freedom" (by FSF definition of freedom, anyway). And so he did - with the unfortunate side effect that no English speaker outside of that community knows neither the word nor the meaning.

Most Americans don't know what Libre means. It just sounds like a European word... French or Spanish, perhaps. They also don't know how to pronounce it... Lee-Bray-Office, Lee Brooff-iss, Li-berr-office? It always felt like a missed opportunity when they chose that name.

Cuba Libre!

That is to say, latin american freedom.

Cuba libre, a cocktail.

Thomas Paine always comes to mind, but I can't find any direct quotes where he used Libre. (American)

FlossOffice? even stranger, and make sure to use it at least once a day :-)

Sounds good to me! What we really need is school teachers that would nag their students to use it at least once a day, maybe then we as a society hopefully get rid of the pesky MS Office someday.


Would be popular among dentists :-)

German has lots of common French words pronounced (roughly) the French way, plus some more modern English loanwords of course. So you just combine them and speak three languages in one sentence :)

Depends on the language, it's very easy to pronounce in Spanish

In French too.

But not the same way! I've never known whether the Spanish or French version is the canonical pronunciation for LibreOffice.

I always use the Spanish pronunciation. Though this may be influenced by the fact that I'm a USAmerican and Spanish is my second language.

In English I just say Lieber-Office, as in Beiber-Office. I have had zero people confused at this pronunciation in the last six years.

(edited to clarify)

That would be easy to pronounce in German, but from the spelling it would never occur to a German that this is the correct pronunciation.

Fun sidenote: Since "Lieber" is German for "Dear" (as in "Dear Office, I am writing this letter to you ...") it would be quite confusing. (Also it would sound grammatically wrong, since "Lieber" is masculine, but Office is not.)

Alternatively "lieber" also means "preferably", so with that interpretation you would sound like saying "preferably Office". Oops.

Asia is the problem. FWIW - its the largest market for open source software and the market that needs it more than any other market. I posted another comment on this thread - but in India, I have had ZERO success with getting people to know what I said ("libby office")

so, neither?

Edit to reflect parent: I do think that's probably easier to pronounce for English-speaking people than both French and Spanish

? Libre is a french word in the first place. How is that hard to pronounce ?

IMO it's unintuitive how to pronounce it to most non-French-speaking people.

IMO only because you think that there must be one single way to pronounce it.

Who cares if somebody says laibr, laiber, leeber, ... Get over it and write a song like the one with the tomatoes...

Or are you one of the braves that are pushing Nike to change their name, because nobody can figure out that it should pronounced [nǐːkɛː]?

But libre mean "free" in French whereas there is no such word in English. Why would it not be more easier for us French speaking peoples?

FWIW, I think the closest English analog would be 'liberated', a synonym of 'free', though not that this a substantial improvement.

That's not what I meant. What I meant is that it is harder to guess how to pronounce it to people that do not know French!

I tend to use the Spanish, because I find the French more awkward to combine with "Office".

As a fellow German I'm surprised at that. Given the amount of negative comments about the name I recognize that English speakers have a problem with the name, even if I don't understand exactly why (no one complains about Cuba Libre). For us Germans: pronounce it French, Spanish or even German if you like and it will roughly sound right.

At first I thought it was a pun on library names: lib-reoffice.

Naming turned out to be very difficult indeed.


tl;dr trademarks in lots of countries, URL availability in lots of countries. This stuff is hard.

Regarding pronounciation, libre = lee bruh (it might be said differently in different contexts, but I've only heard that pronunciation for LO).

It's spanish, so 'lee-breh'


Like Robert E. Lee and a donkey.

Everybody is using LibreOffice, except a poor few that get misguided by search services to the Apache OpenOffice website. IMHO there is no sane reason why Apache OpenOffice still exists.

Edit: Looks like there are a lot more OpenOffice users out there than I thought, sorry. I really thought the world would have moved on, at least since 2013/14, see


This is not actually true; I am aware of lots of non-technical users who know nothing about Sun, Oracle, or Apache and who haven't heard of LibreOffice but who continue to quietly use the free office package they were recommended at some time in the previous 15 years. (For example: I'm a member of an online community of working novelists and just last week someone was advocating OpenOffice to another irritated Microsoft Word customer -- the OO.o user had never heard of LibreOffice and was very taken aback when I gave them an update on the history of OO.o post-Sun.)

While I agree that Apache OOo is effectively dead in the water as an on-going project, its continued existence has caused huge confusion among millions of users and there's now an equally huge public education campaign required to get them moved onto a modern, secure, maintained codebase.

The optimum strategy would be to turn openoffice.org into a redirect to LibreOffice, or to reassign the OpenOffice name rights to the LibreOffice project ... but egos are gonna ego.

> The optimum strategy would be to turn openoffice.org into a redirect to LibreOffice, or to reassign the OpenOffice name rights to the LibreOffice project ... but egos are gonna ego.

This is so simple. It would solve everyone's problems.

So of course that's never going to happen. Welcome to the real world :(

Apache is actually considering doing that: https://lwn.net/Articles/699110/

This is horrifyingly incorrect. AOO still gets a shitload of downloads. It wasn't until last year that LO overtook AOO alone's download total.

You would be amazed. Ordinary people know MSO sucks and want a free alternative. "OpenOffice" is the name they've heard as their exit.

The project is entirely trading on the goodwill that FLOSS activists built up for the name "OpenOffice" from 2002-2010. That brand is still powerful!

So whatever you do, make sure everyone you know uses LO instead of AOO.

e.g. I wrote this last year for Tumblr. Target audience was writers and creative people who aren't geeks but just want to do their stuff. Written after I encountered yet another innocent user who'd just got AOO. Please excuse the apocalyptic tone, (1) that's how you write to catch attention on Tumblr, (2) this was during the six months they had a massive hole in the default install and were spending their time defending the product on blogs rather than fixing it:


You might be interested in my impressions as somebody who hardly ever uses office software, but an open source enthusiast and keeps up with some tech news.

I was aware of the OpenOffice/LibreOffice split of course. I knew this would mean some confusion until the dust settles. My vague impression was that LibreOffice might be a better choice for supporting openness versus corporate ownership (and so I'd plumbed for that myself) but at the same time I worried that OpenOffice might end up being better managed and maintained than LibreOffice. I was not aware until I read this, that the dust was settling so comprehensively on the side of LibreOffice. More than just OS idealists buying into it, it's actually being maintained a lot better.

This is good news. The situation seems a lot clearer than previously, but yes the message needs to get out. Hopefully apache will shut down, redirect and facilitate re-merging the brand names.

The best way to update your acquaintances would be to tell them "The program has been upgraded and renamed to LibreOffice. OpenOffice is now the old, unmaintained version."

It's all true - from a certain point of view, and it transfers the trust on the software from the old brand to the new, without having to delve too much in the conflict that motivated the fork.

MSO is closed, proprietary, whatever, but it's actually a fine piece of software especially compared to OO and LO. Word, PowerPoint and Excel are so good that people end up overusing them for stuff they're not intended to. Others like OneNote or Visio are extremely useful, too. They might not be the best on each category, but together it's a very powerful suite.

Plus, MSO is multiplatoform on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. I'm unaware of mobile versions of OO or LO.

Everyone I know, including myself, that uses OO or LO is because it's free (as in freedom for some, as in beer for others) and can read/write MSO files to an extent.

Is LO for Android not out yet? It feels like they have been talking about it for years...


AFAIK, it also has an experimental editing mode. Yes, from what I've seen, development on it is slow.

My father's been a happy Ubuntu user for years (and a fairly resentful one for a few more years --- he still misses the old GNOME user interface and loathes Unity). He mainly uses it for Gimp and LibreOffice.

When he had to switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice he was pretty close to packing it all in and using something else; his argument was: why should he trust a package produced by an organisation that can't keep their own house in order?

That is, from the outside the schism between OpenOffice and LibreOffice is basically invisible; they're both considered to be the same thing, because they produce the same software. It's seen as an internal conflict, and it's a big reputational problem.

> and a fairly resentful one for a few more years --- he still misses the old GNOME user interface and loathes Unity

Why doesn't he use Mate? Ubuntu Mate is readily available on the Ubuntu website. Is he aware that it's a continuation of the old Gnome (Gnome 2)? And well-maintained to boot.

I've tried him on it a few times (I maintain his machine for him). It's always been too buggy, by which I mean, obvious visible UI bugs immediately after installation. Unity may be horrible, but it has much more robust QA testing.

Entertainingly, when I let him play with a bunch of different Linux desktop environments, the one he liked best was actually Haiku, which I threw in as a joke.

> It's always been too buggy, by which I mean, obvious visible UI bugs immediately after installation.

Really? I've installed Mate on ~10 computers, and have never run into UI bugs. I run Mate, my two kids run it on their computer, and I'm sometimes on that one helping them with school related stuff. Never run into UI bugs. I don't doubt that there are such bugs, but in my experience they're pretty rare (unless the project has taken a recent nosedive, always possible in open source).

I've run into some UI bugs using Mint Cinnamon, are you sure you were using Mate and not Cinnamon?

Do you remember what the bugs were? If it's something you can remember, I'll see if I can fix them so that future users don't run into them.

Not even slightly, sorry. It was a year or so ago.

I'll certainly give Mate another try the next time I upgrade him.

Another potential option is to throw Compiz in the mix after you have Mate up and running. Though that may make things more buggy than less, at least you can justify it with eye candy. :)

I tried MATE recently, I wanted to like it too but found it to be slower than Xfce.

> too but found it to be slower than Xfce.

Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if Mate is slower than Xfce, since it's traditionally considered more featureful. Besides, even using a cheap $200 netbook, desktop environment speed is just not an issue for me as long as I use linux + any reasonably fast DE.

Cinnamon might be another worthwhile thing to try.

MATE is really a better GNOME2, some ppl don't want to believe it. There is somehow a parallel to OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Many non techy ppl don't know what forking is (for them it sounds as fornication). It adds to the confusion and we end up with a lot of users hesitating to try a better software.

I'm not sure MATE can be treated as "Gnome2 under a different name" at this point. While it started as a fork, they're doing some pretty massive refactoring, like gradually moving to Gtk3.

Has he tried Ubuntu MATE to get back the "old GNOME" style interface?

I'm using OpenOffice because Libreoffice for some inexplicable reason defaults to PDF for printing even though I constantly set it back to postscript. The PDF feature is broken and swallows umlauts forcing me to print everything at least twice.

Do you have bug reports about PDF printing issues, I’d like to have a look myself (I have some interest in streamlining LibreOffice text layout code and part of it would be killing PostScript printing support at some point, but if PDF printing is buggy then it has to be fixed first).

Oblig: please file a bug about this if you haven't already!

pride and ego

Simplest instant solution: 301 every page about openoffice to a page about libreoffice.

There's also the huge raft of legacy but useful support sites, the quite active forums, the wiki ...

aaaaauuuurrrrgh that's sound in principle but placing 301 on a domain like that is really, really bad.

Agreed, but in this case those reasons actually make it more valid, because there will be no way for someone else to reverse the decision once it is made.

It closes the door on some zombie resurrection of openoffice and essentially cedes the identifier to libreoffice.

301 redirects are the herpes of the Internet.

You make one mistake, and it's with you for the rest of eternity.

Oh shit, thanks, I had just set up a 301 redirect on my personal page this morning when I meant to use a 302, your post made me realize the mistake.

I was sure it was the other way around 301->temporary, 302->permanent.

GitHub Pages sends 301 redirects when you put a CNAME file on the repo. That's insane.

Indeed, it should be 307 instead, just to keep the decision revertible.

As 'jacquesm points out, you may want to explicitly make the decision non-revertible in cases like this.

Why is that? What if you want to change your domain name?

Well, my prediction[1] came true even faster than I anticipated. I don't understand why so many people seem so desperate to see AOO fail and go away. Hey look, if you prefer LO, fine. Some of us prefer AOO for our own reasons. There's no reason to take glee in seeing a project struggle.

Anyway, none of this means the project is actually going to be retired. It's just a discussion around something that might happen.

[1]: http://www.mail-archive.com/dev%40openoffice.apache.org/msg2...

> I don't understand why so many people seem so desperate to see AOO fail and go away.

In my case, the reason is splash-damage from the inverse-goodwill I have for Oracle and how their stewardship of OO (or lack thereof). To start off Sun handled the OOO-patchset (proto-LibreOffice) poorly, they should have merged it to mainline. Then Oracle came along and shat on the community leading to an outright fork. This I guess is par for the course for Oracle (see Hudson/Jenkins for another Oracle-instigated implosion).

I think the Apache Software Foundation allowed themselves to be 'used' by allowing Oracle to dump a dying AOO into their hands. At the time, it was clear that LibreOffice had won the the war that started in the OOO-patchset days, I don't know what the ASF thought would happen, but I hope they learn something from it.

At the time, it was not clear what the outcome of the community split was going to be. But what tipped the scales was getting the assets out of Oracle.

Even if the nascent project had only managed to receive the code and make one release before folding, that was worthwhile enough to justify accepting the donation. The project managed to flourish for some time after that, so in that regard it was well above baseline.

I think the Apache Software Foundation allowed themselves to be 'used' by allowing Oracle to dump a dying AOO into their hands.

"Used" how? Apache taking on AOO has been a win for Open Source in the general sense regardless of what happens to the project going forward. A large base of code which was previously locked up under Oracle's copyright is now licensed under the ALv2 for perpetuity.

At the time, it was clear that LibreOffice had won the the war that started in the OOO-patchset days,

There's no "war". Maybe the LO people see it that way, but we don't. AOO is for people who want AOO. The people who prefer LO (or something else) are not our enemies. They're just people with different preferences.

I don't know what the ASF thought would happen, but I hope they learn something from it.

What did happen? IBM donated a bunch of code, volunteers have contributed more, and AOO is a better product today than what it was when Oracle handed over the code. That's a Good Thing. None of which is to try and compare AOO to LO, and none of which is to say that AOO doesn't have flaws. But it's a product that has been used by a ton of people for productive ends over the past few years.

I will reitatate that I was explaining why I have ill-will towards Oracles handling of the situation. I am not affiliated with LO beyond being a happy user, I have never been a maintainer or a regular contributor (to any project for that matter).

> "Used" how? Apache taking on AOO has been a win for Open Source in the general sense regardless of what happens to the project going forward.

A better win for Open Source in general (IMO) would have been Oracle handing over the IP to the Document Foundation- that's were the OO developers and community were. I have nothing againts the ASF, and nothing but contempt for Oracle's behavior.

From where I stand, Oracle 'used' the ASF donation to spite the DF - you may agree or disagree on that point.

> There's no "war

It was a figure of speech.

> What did happen?

Let's recap: the ASF accepted the donation of a project that had lost developers to a competing fork, and was showing glaring signs of having lost steam. More importantly, the volunteers/'community' had moved on to LO[1]. Now the ASF is finally contemplating the idea of putting down the project. I would be sad if the ASF concludes that there is nothing to be learnt from this episode.

1. A single datapoint: Virtually all Linux distros shipped LO

What reasons are there to prefer OpenOffice? From my perspective, I hear about LibreOffice updates often, and OpenOffice doesn't sound like it's being maintained as much. I don't know if this is actually correct, but I never understood what the need was for keeping them separate after Oracle gave up OO to Apache. LibreOffice seems to have 'won' popular attention if nothing else, and is the one included in distros now.

Having two forks competing just seems confusing and a waste of effort on maintaining two forks. Initially it made sense to have a fully open fork when OpenOffice was under Oracle's control, but I don't understand what the purpose the two forks serve now that OO is under Apache's control.

The two forks represent two different ideologies to a large extent - "permissive" licensing vs "copyleft". Some of us think it's important to have a full-featured, world-class office suite that's under a permissive license. Others think it's important to have a full-featured, world class office suite that's copyleft. Who's to say either is wrong?

Feature wise, there may not be a lot of reasons to prefer AOO right now. I don't know, as I spend very little time looking at / using, LibreOffice. AOO does everything I need, so what differences exist aren't ones that concern me a lot. YMMV.

Well, LibreOffice is not "copyleft" licensed. It is distributed under a joint of licenses: GNU Lesser GPL v3+ and Mozilla Public License v2. The latter is not "copyleft".

I could be wrong, but from what I remember, the MPL has generally been considered a "weak copyleft" license.

As far as the Wikipedia definition of it goes, yes it is a "weak copyleft", but that basically means that the license on code and patents is liberal, while license on trademarks is not. That is to prevent bottom feeders to take for example Firefox and LibreOffice, rebuild them with adware and malware and redistribute new installers as "Super Firefox", "LibreOffice Improved" or other misleading trademarks.

Yeah, to be honest I could just use OpenOffice.org from the pre-Oracle days and it'd still do everything I need for the occasional time I care about office documents.

I didn't realise it came down to licensing. Thanks for clearing that up. Perhaps both are important.

So what you're saying is, LO vs AOO is real-world testing that shows a conclusive defeat of "permissive" at the hands of "copyleft", in terms of appeal to the class of users who know the difference.

"users"?? Hardly.

Instead, it shows that should copyleft people desire, they can severely damage permissive projects by simply not doing what their own license requires. They kind of prove the point that you have to force people to give back, because given their own tendencies, they won't. LO could have easily been a bilateral partner, instead of a simple consumer.

Even so, LO benefited greatly by having AOO to consume, as I have mentioned elsewhere. You simply can't ignore that nor hand-wave away it's significance.

I can see how LO benefited from the original OO greatly, but AOO? Sure, LO has ported a bunch of stuff from there, but they wrote a great deal more from scratch (unsurprising, since that's where all the dev resources were).

And, aside from abstract good feelings, what benefit would having two forks of the same product, with no clear difference in philosophy (like you have with the BSDs, for example), serve? Sure, the licenses are different. But if LO guys cared about more permissive licenses, they would have just dual-licensed their own codebase.

Gerard, take your anti-AOO trolling somewhere else. I've had enough of it.

I think the problem there is that you are, literally, one of the AOO developers who spent his time commenting on blogs and forum sites, flaming people who were pointing out the Emperor's new security policy - while not lifting a finger to actually stop distributing security holes to your own users. It is possible you don't have the moral high ground here. Dab hand at flaming people, though, well done.

Maybe so. At any rate, have a nice day, and a great weekend!

I still need OO because in the documents I work with at least, LO will not let me select certain frames. I see an awful lot of LO good OO bad comments here and elsewhere, but my user experience doesn't really conform to that pattern.

Not clear what you mean. Is there a bug report you can link to? (If not, one shouldn't be hard.)

What I mean, is that on occasions when editing .odt documents I create frames to organize for example some mono spaced text in a box. With OO if I move the mouse near the border of the box I am reliably able to click and select to grab onto the frame itself, for example to resize it. With LO this is hit and miss for me, for some reason. From my user perspective, LO is happy enough to show me the frame but refuses to let me manipulate the frame. Not always, and not for all frames, but often enough to be (very) annoying.

OpenOffice was tarnished by Oracle when they bought Sun and some of that bad will was transferred to Apache when they got it.

OpenOffice has had unpatched security vulnerabilities with exploits in the wild for 6+ months at a time.

Users today are downloading OpenOffice thinking it is the best free office suite out there when it's had no feature upgrades since May 2014. They'd often find out that it didn't properly support something they wanted to do (like handling MS Office formats) and think they had to go buy MS Office. Meanwhile LibreOffice is sitting there ready to be downloaded for free and handles MS Office formats much better than OO does.

Sure, there are some people who are finding schadenfreude in it, but many of us want to see the confusion, security issues, etc go away so things can move forward.

What could be any of the reasons to cheer for AOO anymore? From my perspective, it seems that it only creates confusion.

I want AOO to die because it has the brand recognition. Frankly, AOO is slower, less stable, less secure, less pretty, and overall a worse product than LibreOffice.

LibreOffice should have been the successor to OOo, and it offends me that my non-technical friends still install AOO when LibreOffice would improve their lives so much more.

When AOO began and actually had a release, I was surprised. I expected it to fail sooner. It was a mistake from the beginning.

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