New OpenOffice.Org One Month On

It’s been a month since Oracle threw OpenOffice.org to Apache. What has been the result?

“Domain ID:D7200454-LROR
Domain Name:OPENOFFICE.ORG
Created On:12-Jun-1999 05:21:53 UTC
Last Updated On:09-Dec-2010 07:28:26 UTC
Expiration Date:12-Jun-2012 05:22:31 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Tucows Inc. (R11-LROR)
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:tuaORdElTqVVa7Qj
Registrant Name:Charles Hoynowski
Registrant Organization:Oracle Corporation”

LibreOffice on the other hand is going strongly. Brian Pfroffit was right, forks do better than their parents.

Just the energy wasted in fixing the licences is a cancer for OpenOffice.org. If they cannot get licences changed there will be huge rewriting done before the project can even start. The site actually went off the air for a while but is still working on Oracle’s domain. If Apache/Oracle cannot work together to make that happen smoothly, how will this work? LibreOffice had its beta1 out on Day One.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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25 Responses to New OpenOffice.Org One Month On

  1. I think OpenOffice.org is used almost as much as M$’s office suite, globally. It works.

    I use LyX for serious writing.

  2. twitter says:

    I’m not sure why people say Open Office is sub par. I use it every day. On gnu/linux, it is much lighter and easier to use than Microsoft ever way. Microsoft’s ribbon interface blew everyone’s muscle memory away and is almost universally hated. Kword and gnumeric are better than Open Office components by being lighter and easier still to use but the Open Office suite rules as far as that kind of thing goes.

    People with real work to do tend to favor specialized applications over office suites. People with papers to write drift to LaTex, people with math and science move to the hundreds of specialty applications and libraries available with any gnu/linux distribution. Newspaper people use Scribus and other real desktop publishing applications. People who try to use office suites that kind of work are stretching general tools beyond their breaking point. It’s like trying to hammer screws. Competent professionals accumulate a set of well honed tools and most of them don’t run on Windows.

  3. Welding is a very fast and efficient way of fixing some problems. It bypasses a lot of machining operations, for instance. It’s the best tool for the job. In my case, a year or two after I bought the thing, a critical bolt came off during use and was lost in the soil. I had to choose whether to take an hour off work to buy a new bolt or to spend 5 minutes with my welding machine. It was an easy choice. My repair lasted 20 years.

    It is surprising how quickly the vibration of a machine can spin off a nut. I did some tests and it was less than a minute. When a machine is new the bolts tend to stretch/loosen and they need to be retorqued. I must have missed that one. It was critical. It held the transmission to the frame. Fiddling with my old equipment for a few minutes here and there is certainly a better option than buying a new machine which is built to fail. No kidding. My old mower is three times the mass of a new machine.

  4. That has been true and OpenOffice.org will be their first desktop application, to the best of my knowledge. They have attempted to shift stuff from Oracle’s site to their own, unsuccessfully. That does not inspire confidence.

    I think Apache server, for instance, is shipped more or less complete by Apache.org. I don’t see why Apache could not do the same for OpenOffice.org. It remains to be seen whether Apache can form a large community of users as well as developers. Certainly developers thrive with Apache. Users, not so much.

  5. oldman says:

    “Not for a business that intends to be around forever.”

    Nothing lasts forever Pog, and no business that I know of is going to do the tech equivalent of taking a welding torch to a 24 year old roto tiller as you have done.

    Most business understand the concept of the cost of doing business, Pog. They may hang on to technology longer, but ini the end equipment will get replaced and software will get upgraded.

  6. Adrian Malacoda says:

    Mr. Oldman is more or less correct regarding the status of OpenOffice as a “product.” Apache projects are in no way intended to be “products.” The Apache organization doesn’t create products for users, it creates code for other developers – things like frameworks and XML parsing libraries. The Apache version of OO will most likely resemble a framework for creating ODF office suites, not a suite in and of itself.

  7. Not for a business that intends to be around forever.

  8. oldman says:

    “There is flexibility with FLOSS. It’s not a crunch like when M$ throws something away to force more licensing income.”

    Oh yes Pog, I can just see my accountant getting out his compiler to fix some code whose creator has disappeared. You have to realize that your so called four freedoms are meaningless to someone who has no interest in being a programmer. The continuous upgrade cycle that you dispise is in the cheaper and easier to deal with for the average small business.

    And BTW, What crunch pog? I have a copy of office 2003 that will be supported until 2014 ( at which point it will have been running for 10 years) and my copy of office 2007 will be supported to 2017 (again running for 10 years).

    THis is more than sufficient for most small business.

  9. oldman wrote, ” If the person producing the code ceases to do so or decides to abruptly change direction, drops the version that you are using, etc., the business that relies on it is SOL.”

    That’s why the four freedoms in FLOSS are a backup… You may examine and modify the code so you are never SOL. If you stick with a conservative distro like RedHat or Debian, the liklihood of an important package being orphaned is small. Debian tracks that and out of 23K+ packages very few are orphaned. We have seen, recently, cases where a package goes off on a tangent like KDE or GNOME have done. That’s a bigger concern. Then you have the option of using a different package that does what you want or keeping the old version as long as you want. You can even support it yourself if you wish or form a consortium of like-minded people. There is flexibility with FLOSS. It’s not a crunch like when M$ throws something away to force more licensing income.

  10. oldman says:

    “So there are people to “choke” (figuratively). They do not have legal liability to the extent permitted by the GPL but they are interested human beings responsible for making the world a better place. ”

    Pog with all due respect, Having access to the original creator is simply not the same. If the person producing the code ceases to do so or decides to abruptly change direction, drops the version that you are using, etc., the business that relies on it is SOL.

    I would also caution that talking about making the world a better place in this context is irrelevant. IN fact, for most businesses choosing software based on that criterion is nonsensical.

    “I would bet they are a damn sight more responsive than M$.

    In some cases yes, but in all cases Microsoft is consistently responsive to those who contract support with them.

  11. Of course, FLOSS has real vendors, usually the guy who wrote the code and whom the end-user can identify by name and communicate. For most users of GNU/Linux that would be through the distro’s package mangers but anyone can download directly from “the guy” and give him feedback. There are some cranky guys out there tired of providing free support but many welcome bug reports, feedback, wishlists, etc.

    e.g. vlc
    website: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

    They welcome helpful people.

    “1. Copyright holders list
    =========================

    With the exception of other files mentioned in this document, all code and
    artwork belongs to members of the VideoLAN team . See
    each file for precise details about its respective authors.
    Copyright (c) 1996-2009 Laurent Aimar
    Marc Ariberti
    Stephan Assmus
    …”

    So there are people to “choke” (figuratively). They do not have legal liability to the extent permitted by the GPL but they are interested human beings responsible for making the world a better place. I would bet they are a damn sight more responsive than M$.

  12. oldman says:

    “Well, that doesn’t work for most users of PCs… Most businesses are small businesses, too.”

    All business like to have a “real” vendor behind what they use, even if they “aren’t big enough”. Even for small businesses the type of the application will determine the level of tolerance for the “zero throat” applications. A small business might tolerate an office suite coming from an amorphous community, but think long and hard about tax preparation software!

  13. Well, that doesn’t work for most users of PCs… Most businesses are small businesses, too.

  14. oldman says:

    “Seen anyone choke M$ or Oracle lately?”

    Actually Pog, when you are a large customer of Microsoft or oracle or IBM with standing service contracts and on site representatives as we are, you would be surprised how high they will jump.

    It is these type of business that I have in mind about when I refer to the “one throat to choke” concept.

  15. oldman wrote, “The problem as I see it Mr. oiaohm, is the same problem that one has with any community supported product. there is no legally responsible entity behind any FOSS product – there is NO throat to choke in FOSS.”

    Seen anyone choke M$ or Oracle lately?

    EULA.txt:“NOTWITHSTANDING ANY DAMAGES THAT YOU MIGHT INCUR FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ALL DAMAGES REFERENCED HEREIN AND ALL DIRECT OR GENERAL DAMAGES IN CONTRACT OR ANYTHING ELSE), THE ENTIRE LIABILITY OF MICROSOFT AND ANY OF ITS SUPPLIERS UNDER ANY PROVISION OF THIS EULA AND YOUR EXCLUSIVE REMEDY HEREUNDER SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE GREATER OF THE ACTUAL DAMAGES YOU INCUR IN REASONABLE RELIANCE ON THE SOFTWARE UP TO THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID BY YOU FOR THE SOFTWARE OR US$5.00.”

    Once all the choking is finished, you would likely be in the legal hole far beyond the licensing fee. The fee is nothing in comparison to the cost of downtime and lost data.

  16. oldman says:

    “Yes Libreoffice is stronger than Openoffice ever was and developing faster. Since now it not executing developers based on if they can sign copyright transfer agreements or not.”

    The problem as I see it Mr. oiaohm, is the same problem that one has with any community supported product. there is no legally responsible entity behind any FOSS product – there is NO throat to choke in FOSS.

    You are of course right about Softmaker office. It doesnt run on OS X. Then again my whole point in looking at it was that it is a commercial product that ran on Linux that in my view did a far better job that OpenOffice ever ddid.

    I have to admit that I haven’t looked at Symphony in quite some time. I may have to look at it again. When I last did it just didn’t seem to be worth the hassles. if converting.

    The above aside I believe that you are missing an important fact. IBM May provide support for Symphony, but that product is essentially IBM’s – IBM “owns” it. Open office and its for LibreOffice are in the end owned by no one and noone is responsible for it. IBM’s support in this context I view as ultimately “best efforts”,

    “Yes Libreoffice is stronger than Openoffice ever was and developing faster.”

    How is it developing faster. I see a lot of window dressing (SVG) and plumbing improvements , these may be important contributions, but they are hardly anything new.

  17. oiaohm says:

    oldman SoftMaker Office failure is no OS X and is also lacking more features.

    IBM Lotus Symphony has been quite a good alternative to MS Office for quite some time. It runs on OS X Windows and Linux. Also is fully supported if you pay for support contracts.

    Interesting enough the development team behind Lotus Symphony are also behind Libreoffice and you can already buy the support for Libreoffice from IBM under their package support contracts.

    This was Oracle and Sun problem all along. They were not only one with OpenOffice and making a closed source product off of it. So it was really stupid to be restrictive on who could submit patches.

    Yes IBM and Redhat both are “throats to choke” for particular software.

    IBM backing behind Libreoffice is why OpenOffice should have been given to them. Also its why Orcale did everything to avoid that outcome.

    OpenOffice might come back. But odds are against it.

    Remember most OpenOffice core development team is at Libreoffice. Other than the change in name at libreoffice its business as normal just with no foolish restrictions.

    Libreoffice contains fix ups from Lotus Symphony that Oracle and Sun refused to merge due to IBM developers not being able sign copyright over.

    Yes Libreoffice is stronger than Openoffice ever was and developing faster. Since now it not executing developers based on if they can sign copyright transfer agreements or not.

  18. oldman says:

    And it runs on Windows and Linux…. 😉

  19. oldman says:

    “That’s my it have had a mpression, too. Still, “brand recognition” matters.”

    Exactly Pog. The real problem for OpenOffice is that once it transitions to Apache tutelage, it loses any imprimatur that I might have had a a commercial product any any form. Now instead of beible to go to oracle for commercial support and gain that all important (for some businesses) “throat to choke” one now has No throats to choke – Its open source, use at your own risk! Apache isn’t going to provide the software support that businesses preferr.

    The end result IMHO Openoffice disappears from all but those business who dont mind self supporting, or relying on the best efforts of the community.

    Frankly, I’m recommending SoftMaker Office these days for anyone who wants a commercial supported desktop suite but can’t afford or won’t look at office. at $60US ( and $35 for an educational site license) it is no office, but it is a far better product than OpenOffice ever was.

  20. That’s my impression, too. Still, “brand recognition” matters. I used OpenOffice.org from version 1.0.0. It was trashy and crashed for a year or more but has been quite useful ever since. I used StarOffice 5.2 on my first installation of GNU/Linux. It’s fine that LibreOffice gets to use the code, but the trademark/icons would be better with LibreOffice. Now, it looks like OO may stagnate for many months while the dust settles. The trademarks could move instantly…

  21. Someone says:

    I sort of question the benefit of associating LibreOffice with OpenOffice.org too closely. OO.org was garbage for most of its existence under Sun and Oracle. LibreOffice has done much to turn that around in just a few short months. It feels like a completely different program.

    There was even a blog post a few days ago where someone when through a list of bugs and performance issues in the latest release of OO.org Impress that forced them back to Powerpoint. I decided to test some of them in LibreOffice Impress. Went through most of the list, and none of those bugs showed up for me in LibreOffice 3.4.1 Impress.

    Even as a FLOSS user, I can admit that OpenOffice.org was substandard. But LibreOffice is looking like it’s going to be to OpenOffice.org as Firefox was to Netscape Navigator.

  22. Trademark/logo, contributions from IBM (maybe…), continuity of a familiar website, 100million+ users, mind-share, etc.

    The trademark is probably the most useful but the others, although intangible, could give even more momentum. Oracle did “contribute” a lot of developers who switched and more who did not contribute under the SUN/Oracle regime but who now are. The intangibles could unite the world behind OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice.

    SUN and Oracle both proved that OpenOffice.org is worth a lot more than the sum of its parts but not to the bottom line. Perhaps Oracle could get a tax deduction either way but the world will benefit more from LibreOffice and Oracle is a part of the world.

  23. Ray says:

    Let me clearify something:
    What I meant by that is how can giving Openoffice.org to Libreoffice can be beneficial to Libreoffice.

  24. How can OpenOffice.org withering benefit Oracle?

  25. Ray says:

    On the other hand, how can Oracle giving openoffice to Libreoffice be beneficial to them?

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