This week, several top developers of the OpenOffice.org (commonly referred to as OOo) productivity suite broke away from the Oracle umbrella to start a development foundation of their own. This new version of OOo will be known as LibreOffice, unless and until Oracle formally joins the project and donates the old name back to its development community. The Libre people have asked for this to happen, but many industry observers refuse to hold their breath. We may have to learn to love the LibreOffice moniker, if Oracle's track record in open-source support is any indication of future performance.
For example, the OpenSolaris project has been unceremoniously killed by a lack of Oracle support. Many Java developers are nervous about future support for the software they know and love, as Tibco Software
To put it bluntly, the open source community has little faith in Oracle as a steward of truly open projects.
Even for the programs Oracle does support in the traditional open management structure aren't really open. Instead of happily giving the software away, and then making a killing on support services -- which is how Red Hat
The LibreOffice foundation has the enthusiastic support of Red Hat, Novell
As a longtime OOo user myself, I believe that this change will lead to a stronger code base and better end-user experience, and can only hope that MySQL, Java, and other important projects follow suit. Oracle was never comfortable shepherding these "free love" hippies anyway, and everyone involved would be happier to see them all leave the house that Ellison built.
Will they or won't they -- and does Oracle even care? Discuss in the comments below.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. He meant that "hippie" comment in the most cheerful way possible, because he's a hippie, too. This article was written using OOo Writer 3.1.1. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.