Oracle kicks LibreOffice supporters out of OpenOffice


Well, that didn't take long. When The Document Foundation (TDF) created LibreOffice from OpenOffice's code, they let the door open for Oracle, OpenOffice's main stake-owner, to join them. Oracle's reply was to tell anyone involved with LibreOffice to get the heck out of OpenOffice.

This isn't too much of a surprise. Oracle made it clear that wouldn't be joining with The Document Foundation in working on LibreOffice.

What I did find surprising is that Oracle turned a fork into a fight. In a regularly scheduled community council meeting on Oct. 14, council chair and Oracle employee Louis Suárez-Potts wrote, "I would like to propose that the TDF members of the CC consider the points those of us who have not joined TDF have made about conflict of interest and confusion ... I would further ask them to resign their offices, so as to remove the apparent conflict of interest their current representational roles produce."

These council members, who are also TDF leaders, include Charles H. Schulz, a major contributor for almost ten years; Christoph Noack, co-leader of the OpenOffice User Experience Project; and Cor Nouws, a well-known OpenOffice developer with more than six years of experience in the project. In short, these aren't just leaders — they're important OpenOffice developers.

They haven't declared yet what they'll do to this de facto ultimatum. It seems to me though that they have little choice but to leave. Certainly Oracle wants them out as soon as possible. Suárez-Potts wrote that he wanted a "final decision on your part" as soon as possible. "It is of [the] utmost importance that we do not confuse users and contributors as to what is what, as to the identity of -- or of your organization."

I can understand how Oracle wants to quickly define this matter as Oracle vs. everyone involved with LibreOffice. But it's a really dumb move.

The Document Foundation wasn't so much about setting up a rival to OpenOffice as it was about giving an important but stagnant open-source program a kick in the pants. OpenOffice was and is good, but it's not been getting significantly better in years. TDF wanted to change that.

Oracle thinks it's more important to fight with some of the people who could have been its strongest supporters than try to work with them. Dumb! Cutting off your nose to spite your face is always a mistake.

Of course, this is all a piece of Oracle's "my way or the highway" approach to all the open-source programs it inherited from Sun. Oracle may support open source in general, but it's doing a lousy job of doing what's best for the its own open-source programs.

This is going to come back to haunt Oracle. I fully expect for LibreOffice to replace OpenOffice as the number one open-source office suite and chief rival to Microsoft Office within the next twelve months.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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