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LibreOffice - A fresh page for OpenOffice (h-online.com)
100 points by rabelaisian on Sept 28, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

FreeOffice wasn't an option?

Open Source Office?


OpenOffice is something that I can explain to my mother when I install it for her instead of MS Office, Mom, it's just like Office but it is open source. In fact she didn't notice for a long time.

Libre Office? She'll question that for sure, and then what am I going to do, explain the GNU manifesto to her? Come on.

I like the use of the word Libre instead of Free among people who know what we're talking about, but from a marketing/branding standpoint, this is horrible.

"Libre" is probably better understood in Europe to mean "free" in its intended "free as in speech" sense.

That is probably true in Europe, but it definitely fails in the US. What I don't see is why the name has to be so damn literal.

Firefox was never named "Libre Interent Browser"

Google was never "Better Search Engine That Doesn't Totally Suck"

OpenOffice at least wasn't that clunky and got the point across.

This is a name by hackers for hackers. Why is that a good idea for a project with the mainstream reach of Firefox? This is a cross platform office suite, it could be used by literally EVERY PERSON WHO USES A COMPUTER, the name is extremely important. It doesn't have to mention a damn thing about open source, free software, or anything in its name. Most people don't care about Firefox's development model - they just like using it. OpenOffice should be the same way.

Yes, and who wants to use a game console that sounds like a man's genitals or a tablet computer that sounds like a menstruation guard. Names do not matter when you already have a product people want and need.

I assume you mean the (Sony) PlayStation and the (Apple) iPad.

What sticks out to you there? If you don't see the vast difference between the Sony or Apple brand and the Libre Office brand then you don't understand marketing.

At this point Steve Jobs could make a toilet called the iShit and people would not care about the name, because they know and love the Apple brand. The product names matter extremely little for them, because people hear Apple (some bad product name), not (some unknown company) iPad. People are excited for the former and ridicule the later.

Sony holds an equally good name with many.

Both also have massive TV advertising budgets.

There is no comparison to this situation.

Explain why FOSS is often times better than the commercial counter point and is by definition cheaper, but still isn't gaining traction, what is the problem?

I contend the problem is marketing. FOSS developers love to redicule/ignore marketing, advertising, and business people in general, but it is an important part of gaining mindshare. Sure their degree is easier to get, but that doesn't mean their job is easy to do right. Much like the bike shed, everyone has an opinion on marketing and advertising, that doesn't mean they have a good opinion on it. Saying that Apple and Sony are in anyway relevent to the naming of a relatively unknown product by a new group of people is like a marketing guy saying Cobol on Cogs is just like Ruby on Rails. We'd laugh at the marketing guy, but realize the marketing guys are laughing right back at the devs who suck at selling FOSS. We literally can't give away for free what they are charging money for.

You know where fixing that problem starts? By respecting marketing and advertising. It is far more than "just a name". There is no such thing as "just a name" when your only method of spreading the word is by word of mouth

Actually, I think he was referring to the Wii ...

Even for Spanish speaking people it is a slow pronunciation word, Even OfficeLibre would be easier to pronounce.

true - it is going to especially troublesome for non-native English speakers, who wont be able to pronounce the name.

Especially in Asia - is it "lee-bree office" or "lie-bree office" ?

Even worse is that you cant use the word in spoken conversation, and hope they will be able to spell it correctly enough for Google to work.

They are gonna search for "libr office" - which returns Microsoft Office as the top hit. Which means I cant go and ask my friends to download it.

"Libre" also sounds exactly the same as "Libra". Maybe they should call it StarOffice :)

> OpenOffice is something that I can explain to my mother when I install it for her instead of MS Office, Mom, it's just like Office but it is open source.

In what way is open source easy to explain? Are you going to tell your mom that software is made up of source code that needs to be compiled and OpenOffice gives access to that source? It's much simpler to say Libre as in Freedom because you can do whatever you want with the software, modify, redistribute, resell etc

Isn't it easier to explain the concept of libre meaning free[dom] than it is to explain the concept of open source, which may be harder to grasp? If you need to explain, libre is similar to liberty.. and it's a word in several languages.

I fail to see how it's a marketing failure.

> I fail to see how it's a marketing failure.

Because it's awkward to pronounce and then you have try to explain it. Ideally a name would be easy to read and pronounce, and self-describing, and LibreOffice fails on both counts.

Did you explain to her what source code is and explain OSI's definition of open source (you know, DFSG rebranded)?

And after that he can explain how the freedom is really for the source code and not for her!

Not really. If it's GPL, it's freedom for her from the developer.

Assuming she has both the skill and the time to understand and patch the codebase herself. Otherwise she will be just as beholden to said developer as she is to Microsoft.

More in fact; at least MS has some incentive to add features its users want rather than those that are merely interesting to code...

> Otherwise she will be just as beholden to said developer as she is to Microsoft.

She can buy a book and learn how to bend the program to her will. It may be a daunting task, but it's possible because she has the source code. In the Microsoft product case, she can't because she doesn't have the source.

Actually, she can, but she will have to learn how to program, apply for a job opening at Microsoft for the desired group, get hired and then convince the product manglers the change she wants deserves to be included in the product.

Reading the book doesn't seem that daunting now.

Oh please! How many months, or years perhaps, working at it every day, would it take a normal, not-particularly technical end-user to get their C++ to a level they could add meaningful features to a full blown office suite? Or at a typical hourly rate, how much would it cost to hire a C++ programmer who's never seen this code before to do it, and how long would it take? Weeks probably.

You might as well say, there are books in the library, go build a rocket and fly to the moon.

But users, collectively, can decide what feature any commercial organization implements next, by indicating what they are willing to pay for.

She could just pay someone to hack on the code for her, not something she could do with MS Office.

At the hourly rate of a decent C++ hacker, that will cost more than Microsoft's entire product range at retail...

There is an entire industry of VB and VBA programmers who customize MS Office for organizations. I gather even OpenOffice.org has some of that capability. But to do something to OOo that you can't do in VBA with MS Office is a substantial amount of work.

> Oh please! How many months, or years perhaps, working at it every day, would it take a normal, not-particularly technical end-user to get their C++ to a level they could add meaningful features to a full blown office suite?

OOo plug-ins don't need to be developed in C++


And it also depends on what you call meaningful. And then, you are completely ignoring every other person who shares the same problem and that can cooperate in solving it - or hiring someone for that.

Like, umm, a commercial software company?

Look, this is about power. In the commercial world, the power ultimately, albeit indirectly, lies in the hands of the end user who decide what he or she will and will not pay for. In the "free software" world the power is in the hands of the high priests who are beholden to no-one, and users are expected to be grateful for whatever they're given.

Do you think the average user wouldn't want something for free? But the cost can't be avoided in software - it only depends what currency you want to pay in.

> Like, umm, a commercial software company?

Just hire them and demand their work to be licensed to you under a free license.

The source code inanimate. The GNU manifesto says that users shouldn't have arbitrary restrictions imposed on them; this has individual and collective implications.

Its just a name, will she really makes a fuss out of it?

of course not, it's just something to whine about on the internet forums, that's all.

Argh, couldn't they have come up with a less clunky name??

The new name sucks, but so did "OpenOffice.org" (at least going by the Ubuntu package names, they insisted on the .org being part of the name).

They insisted on the .org because it is a legal issue. From Wikipedia,

> The project and software are commonly known as OpenOffice, but this term is a trademark held by a company in the Netherlands co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff and is also in use by Orange UK,[8] requiring the project to adopt OpenOffice.org as its formal name.[9]

At least OpenOffice was something you could pronounce.

For most of the world almost every piece of software has name in foreign language. It's all just sounds, with no meaning other than "the program with icon looking like ...". For people in Poland Windows and Word means computer programs, their real meanings are second thoughts, even if they even know what that words means.

I'll agree - Libre Office sounds strange, but it is adventage - it makes brand stronger. And people will get used to it, if it will be good.

The trick is to insert a glottal stop between Libre and Office.

Seems quite simple to me.

At least it's better than go-oo.org.

Google is sponsoring a free competitor to one of their proprietary solutions. I wonder why.

It's not direct competition ... I'm using Google's docs to keep my documents online / and for collaborative editing.

I haven't tried any plugins yet for OpenOffice, but it would be awesome if there was a plugin for syncing back and forth to Google Docs.

While Microsoft Office has the majority of the market, growing the network of relatively compatible alternatives is going to help Google Docs.

Probably something to do with the whole "don't be evil" thing. Google has always done a pretty good job of that. Sometimes doing the right thing isn't the same as doing the thing that's best for business. In fact, REALLY OFTEN doing the right thing isn't the same as best for business.

Also the vast majority of Google employees are probably open source users and fans themselves.

Google is sponsoring a free competitor to one of their proprietary solutions. I wonder why.

Simple. The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

This article doesn't really explain why go-oo.org was not sufficient. Nonetheless, I wish them all the best (but will continue to use LaTeX.)

As far as I understand, behind the "LibreOffice" will be the non-profit "Document Foundation" and that's already a lot -- the better legal position and he companies can better relate to it or commit to support it -- companies simply need other company-like entities.

I understand this to be a merging of ex-Sun devs and the go-oo.org people

Names are really important. This is a bad name.

Gimp, the image editor, is another victim of OSS naming. I know many serious artists who won't give it a try simply because of the name. They don't take it seriously. The fact that it's free is unimportant to them. With a better name a decade ago, Gimp could be a serious competitor to Photoshop now, instead of a footnote.

In this case, the developers are putting a clumsy emphasis on the price and "freedom", which is unimportant to someone who just wants to write a letter or make a presentation.

Read "LibreOffice" literally .. "A free alternative to MS Office". Which is not untrue but this immediately raises the question "Can you afford the REAL MS Office? And are you worth it?" Most people will answer, "Yes, I can and I am certainly worth it". Starving students may answer "No, but it's less work to pirate it than to install this weird thing."

My belief is that for an OSS office suite to dethrone MS Office, it needs a clear focus, and one other than "free".

Brainstorming some directions they could have taken:

LessOffice - A streamlined office suite, fast and bloat-free, that never crashes. (Of course, OpenOffice is pretty far from this in reality)

CopyDesk - A word processor for writers, not for bureaucrats.

DeFacto - An office suite that interoperates seamlessly with every other system. It never asks what format something is in, it just works.

BloatOffice - Has every feature from every other office suite. Combined. The most complete office suite on the planet. (A bit self-deprecating, but could turn a perceived weakness, bloat, into a feature, completeness).

Folio - An office suite without the learning curve.

In any case, this market is long overdue to be disrupted. Google Docs isn't going to do it. I'm a writer, and I can't even get it to do proper manuscript format. A typewriter can do that.

Developers: If you REALLY want to help the free software movement break MS's stranglehold on Office, don't write another office suite. Write a self-contained, standalone library that reads and writes .doc files, that works perfectly for the features it supports and clearly indicates to the caller when it's going to break and what it's breaking on. Once you can write a 200 line example program that converts most docs to nearly identical .pdfs, you've won. Not that that's easy.

I'm not a big fan of some of those names:

LessOffice - people with think it does less. CopyDesk - is is a photocopier?

BloatOffice - calling something bloated is an insult. If you want to emphasize completeness, how about PowerOffice, and use the slogan "PowerOffice -- it does it all".

I don't get why people are against the name. Yeah, it's not "mom-friendly", but neither is any software. Everyone uses Word at home because it's what they use at work. They don't think of software packages as being discrete elements, they think of "a computer" and "that place where I type memos". Microsoft wins by default.

OO.org and LibreOffice should target two demographics: industries where everyone needs to be trained anyway, and for enthusiasts. If you work for megacorp-with-Word and you got Word for free with your computer, and you don't enjoy using computers, then LibreOffice's advantages are minimal. No need to cater to that demographic, because they simply don't care.

(Incidentally, I wrote a book in OO.org a few years ago. HORRIBLE. NEVER AGAIN. But I wouldn't use Word, either.)

In general I'm in favor of moving things out of Oracle's control, since they have acted as an untrustworthy partner in many places, but why not use the existing fork?

The article dismisses Go-oo as not having enough support.. Why not give them more, rather than splitting the community further?

I believe one of the first actions of the new organisation was to apply all the changes from Go-oo, so it's not like they're completely splitting...

Michael Meeks and other Go-oo developers are on the board, as well.

So why do they need another name and another project?

go-oo.org wasn't a fork. It is an alternative build of the upstream code that includes missing plug-ins that were excluded from the oo.o build because the developers hadn't assigned the copyright to Sun. The go-oo build has been the default for most Linux distributions since whenever.

I can understand the concerns with the dual licensing and copyright assignment, it's the same problem I had with Diaspora's licensing.

Is LibreOffice the first sign of Oraclepocalypse?

To whomever downvoted this, you realize of course that Oracle's overly-litigiousness:


and poor conferences for Java:


are what I'm referring to, right?

Oracle has seriously been screwing up lately. I think that the kids are taking their ball and going home with LibreOffice, leaving Oracle behind because of its anti-open-source attitude.

When I saw the headline, I has hoping for something more like the Firefox/Mozilla or Drizzle/MySQL forks (only pull over the good parts, leave most of the bloat behind). That would have been something to get excited about.

Fingers crossed on a possible vim-style input plugin/integration

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