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Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave (slashdot.org)
99 points by yarapavan on Oct 17, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

I don't know if I completely agree with this being the right thing to do, but how is this surprising or unjustified?

They forked the project, had the guts to ask Oracle to donate the OpenOffice name to them and now are expecting to be able to continue being a part of the OpenOffice community council. I guess I'd expect a more aggressive reaction than a simple statement that it is expected in life that they leave.

Given that the fork happened for a reason (namely, Oracle wants the development process of OpenOffice to be more proprietary), it's pretty much inevitable that there will be two OpenOffice flavors rather than one. For the product itself, it makes much sense to have people on both boards because there is the common interest of maintaining basic compatibility between those two versions.

If you look at it in terms of commercialization - which of course is the more important reason why StarDivision/Sun/Oracle pays developers to work on OpenOffice - then of course you see a conflict of interest there because one half wants to make money off the thing and the other half wants an open-source ecosystem.

Since Sun accepted only contributions with copyright assignment, Oracle could also go all the way and turn OpenOffice back to the proprietary development model that StarOffice had before the Sun acquisition. Questioning the business sense of Sun turning StarOffice into OpenOffice, however, should also be accompanied by the question why OpenOffice is more popular than StarOffice - which was, back then a bit better-known than the handful of other non-Microsoft office suites (Applix, SoftMaker), but by no means the only player.

I think it's fair game to ask Oracle to be honest and either continue the standard of community participation that they had or just drop the whole pretense of openness altogether and be honest about the new OracleOffice, just as it is fair game for the now-Oracle StarOffice people to want to keep the brand they built.

Probably the whole brouhaha will die down within the next year and someone will suggest having and all-sorts-of-Office working group where OracleOffice and LibreOffice people will discuss things without any suggested or experienced conflict of interest.

What I don't get is people complaining about the name "LibreOffice". "OpenOffice.org" including the .org, a web-related indication for a website, in the name of a desktop application has to be one of the single greatest trainwrecks in history of naming software.

Couldn't they have gone from bad to good (or at least neutral) rather than from bad to bad, though? It just makes it even more disappointing when someone gets a chance to fix something that everybody's hated for a long time and they come up with something that's arguably even worse.

"The GIMP" is a worse name.

I think Gimp (or 'The GIMP') is perfectly fine for something people see and use. Do you really think it's worse than PhotoPaint, Paint.NET or any of the other names out there?

OTOH, having "Avahi" and "Plymouth" as names for semi-obscure system components that users don't get a word in choosing, but occasionally have to diagnose, is a terribly bad idea.

> Do you really think it's worse than PhotoPaint, Paint.NET or any of the other names out there?

Yes, I think it's a worse name because of the minority of people who know nothing about it, but who get offended anyhow. We can argue all day about why they shouldn't, but they do. Not to mention the fact that nothing about the name tells you what it actually does, something the rest of your examples manage.

I do agree with some of what you said. There are still people who have never heard of Gimp. Tell then that it's an alternative to Photoshop and they say "What's Gimp?" or "What's Photoshop?" followed by a lengthy explanation, tagged with questions like "What's GNU?" "Isn't Microsoft Essentials free?" and so on. It ends up with "Well... I don't know... hmm..." long silence "Oh, well it's free so it must be worse." and "Adobe made Flash, so Photoshop must be better."

IMHO, the name does imply that it has some sort of flaw in it (like a real gimp) even though it does not. I like "GNU Image Manipulation Program" better in that respect, but it's of course much longer. GIMP is much shorter, and when you hear the full name, not just the acronym, it makes more sense.

And in no way am I saying it's a bad program. Quite the opposite, actually. :)

> that it has some sort of flaw in it (like a real gimp)

I don't think that most non-native speakers have come across the sense of a 'gimp' as a cripple. I for one always thought that a gimp was some kind of rodent (probably prompted by the GIMP's mascot). The most common uses of the word "gimp" in Internet-visible English seem to be (i) in reference to The GIMP and (ii) to the "gimp thread", which seems to have something to do with sewing machines.

> "Adobe made Flash, so Photoshop must be better." Well, they made enough money from Photoshop to be able to buy Macromedia. Close enough :-)

Oh, I use it and I like it just fine as a program, though I sometimes wish they didn't hide certain things in context menus. The name, though...

This was due to a trademark conflict with another product called "OpenOffice". Instead of choosing something better, they tacked ".org" on the end.

Exactly - a train wreck, a collision between two parties leaving a mess behind. OOo.

No worse than the X.Org server, which some people (for awhile, myself included) end up calling "xorg".


Cuba Libre works, so maybe Office Libre had been better?

Both are awful names. The only time I've ever heard libre used is in the phrase lucha libre. I don't know why they'd want the WWF to be the first thing people think of when they hear the name of a professional office product.

Note that Ubuntu has already announced that they'll be shipping with LibreOffice in the future. I'd expect that the other non-Oracle distros will do the same.

It's also worth noting that LibreOffice is really just a continuation of the branch which almost all Linux distributions and non-Sun editions of OpenOffice.org have been using for years -- http://go-oo.org/

I will use whichever of the two finally closes Issue 3959 first. This is my cathedral vs bazaar gauntlet. May the best model win.

Just in case anyone else was wondering: http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=3959 "Outline View (aka MS Word)".

For the uninitiated: It's fairly notorious both for the frustration among power MS Office users who try to switch to OOo (personally I find OOo extremely inconvenient to use compared to MS Office specifically for the lack of this feature) and for the OOo developers denial, thickheadedness and mismanagement of the issue (initially due to terminology and communication problems). The issue is over 8 years old now. I am infinitely more productive in MS Office and OOo Writer remains not worth the hassle. At least they've resigned themselves to accepting that OOo doesn't have this feature and ignoring it, rather than constantly insisting that the functionality already exists.

Do you think IBM is now second-guessing submitting to Oracle's wishes over Harmony?

If this is truly an Oracle-sponsored decision, I think Oracle is just sending the big F.U. sign to the open-source community in general.

I'm switching over to LibreOffice. Even if LO royally screws it up over the next few years, at least I won't feel dirty using it.

Actually, I found the Slashdot commentary a lot more informative then the crypic IRC chat, which I couldn't force myself to read through.

Second comment is amusing: Oracle doesn't have "fanboys". No-one on Slashdot will ever actually come into contact with Oracle products. Oh wait, MySQL, they all love MySQL...

Indeed. I was puzzled as to why it linked to /. in the first place.

What does Oracle actually own? Isn't the code committed by all the community members their own property, in other words isn't the code base "contaminated" from the point of view of Oracle?

GPL doesn't apply to trademarks, which are still the property of the company (Sun/now Oracle), just like Firefox is a trademark owned by Mozilla Foundation.

You can fork the code and make your own brand with it, but unless you offer something different, good luck in trying to get JohnDoe to install, say, MariaDB instead of MySQL or YourOffice instead of OpenOffice.

It's funny that the examples you provided, although they look like foo, are actual forks. MariaDB was initiated by the original Mysql author, too.

I think he realizes that.

I know, but others might not, so I pointed it out. For example I didn't know about YourOffice and it certainly sounded like foo, I had to look it up.

Oracle owns all the openoffice.org code. See copyright assignment: http://www.openoffice.org/FAQs/faq-licensing.html#usinglicen...

The fork will be contaminated. But for openoffice, Sun (and now Oracle) demanded copyright assignment for all contributions.

As long as the Oracle parts are distributed under the GPL, Oracle can scream all they want and accomplish nothing.

GPL shields you from their legal dept.

Trying to read the IRC logs, I'm not able to find the description for the conflict of interest? Does this mean that you can't be a member of two free software organizations working on the same code base or doing similar works? It makes no sense. By essence,if the code is free software, you can contribute on both and be part of the two. Now, if one of the organization wants to avoid free software, we could see the future "conflict of interest"...

Now the just need to stop making awful office software ;)

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