Leaving the OpenOffice.org project

Today is a special day. I feel both sad and relieved, happy and somewhat disgusted. I have officially resigned from all my duties, roles and positions inside the OpenOffice.org project. My resignation is effective immediately and I am leaving the project. I will now be contributing to the Document Foundation, while of course continuing to work at Ars Aperta and at the OASIS as a member of its Board of Director, eGov Steering Committee and ODF Committees.

These past days have been tense. In a sense it was to be expected, but on the other hand I feel that it was in fact quite surprising and unprofessional. The Oracle employees who are members of the OpenOffice.org project and who expressed themselves these past days have displayed a disturbing lack of understanding of Free and Open Source Software; LibreOffice is, after all, and until proven otherwise, a downstream version of OpenOffice.org, and as such deserves inclusion into the OpenOffice.org community.  I can only imagine what it would be like if Debian was rejecting the Ubuntu employees among its teams, calling it a fork.  As for the fork itself, and because we’re still a downstream version of OpenOffice.org, forks become forks only when one of the boys refuse to play ball with the others; and the Oracle team of OpenOffice.org just did that. As such, and you might call this disingenuous, they created the fork and bear the final responsibility for it; of course the community at large created the Document Foundation and LibreOffice, but the astounding lack of dialogue, the immediate labeling as competitors from the very second the Foundation was announced created the fundamental rift that turned a potential, vague state of things into a hard reality.

Now, this is not going to be an Oracle bashing blog: I would like to thank the engineers of Hamburg, the former Sunnies and StarDivision employees for the opportunity and honour they gave hundreds of people like me to work on their side and contribute to a quite unique project. They’re good people. But History plays against them. In any case, they are for ever welcome inside the Document Foundation. Fair winds, Genossen.

This post would not be complete without my final message to the Native-Language Confederation of OpenOffice.org, the bulk of the worldwide communities forming the heart of the OpenOffice.org communities: this is my message of resignation that I’m reposting here:

"It is with great emotion that I am resigning from my role as lead of
the Native-Language Confederation of OpenOffice.org. This resignation
is immediate. It has been a pleasure, a lifetime experience, a honour,
to work with all of you for 10 years. When we started, we were around 3
to 4 projects. We are now over a hundred communities, reaching
worldwide a hundred million of users. This has been the achievement of
the OpenOffice.org community, it has been our achievement, and let no
one take this away from you. I look forward working with all or most of
you again in The Document Foundation, and am considering the future
with optimism. Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you
here, in the OpenOffice.org community, who made all this possible, and
even gave me a chance to become someone better. You can be proud of you.

Cheers up!

Charles-H. Schulz. "

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  2. Hope LibreOffice turns out to be awesome. I wonder if you can get everyone on the OOo dev team (yeah, I know thats a lot) to come over. Then Oracle will definitely have a harder time coming up with newer versions of OOo.

  3. Integrity is hard to find nowadays. I believe not only history, but humanity is in alignment with your future. Thank you for all you contributed to date. Now the fun begins.

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  5. Hi Charles. I know you and most other people behind LibreOffice as upstanding people. That’s why I’m so surprised that you don’t admit the consequences of your actions (which I am all behind, btw).

    So I am really surprised that you (plural) continue to say that LibreOffice is not a fork. I haven’t heard about any effort at all to get the commits to LibreOffice pushed upstream, and that is probably the best litmus test of a fork or non-fork.

    I also find it surprising that you (again plural) find it strange that the OOo people don’t think you are members of the OOo community any more. After all, will you try to get LibO into various Linux distributions or are you fine with letting them package OOo instead of LibO? I think the answer is obvious. And would really a member of the OOo community try to push it out from its distributors? I don’t think so.

  6. I think it’s sad Oracle turns around on the course of Sun in so many ways. Sueing Google over Java, Withdrawing OpenOffice from the Community and trying to halt its momentum, … It seems Oracle does not like to do its part in Opensource anymore, but only wants to take advantage of it (e.g. from the Linux kernel and GNU for its products).

  7. Good luck to you and to LibreOffice as well.

    I have been watching, with concern, the news regarding LibreOffice and OpenOffice. As a long time supporter of OpenOffice, I have been wondering whether to continue with OpenOffice, or to lend my support to LibreOffice instead. I have concluded that LibreOffice offers the opportunity for a real community of effort; I can get no sense of where Oracle wants to go with OpenOffice – for me this pinpoints the essence of the issue.

    I think you have made good decision. LibreOffice is fortunate to have your support.

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  9. @D

    Yeah, Oracle has been a sucker ever since, that’s why. All Larry Ellison cares about is how to take advantage of every resources available and get rich.

  10. I have to agree with Inge. I believe everything that you and the Document Foundation are doing with LibreOffice is just. However I believe you comments around the notion of fork is naive to the point of being disingenuous. Surely you had to realize when a significant number of non-Oracle OOo contributors left the community to find a new one that there would be a less than cordial response from the remaining OOo community. Imagine you had a company and many of your employees left to start a new company that provided the same goods/services as you provided. Is that not the definition of competition? Please do not hide behind the notion of Free. Let’s be honest with ourselves and Oracle. We are fed up, and we plan to do better.

  11. “Now, this is not going to be an Oracle bashing blog” ??

    Why not ??

    Oracle and Larry Ellison should be bashed for pirating Red Hat EL and then calling it Oracle EL TM.

    Next, of course, Java will become Oracle Java TM.

    WTF is wrong with you Linux idiots ??

    Larry Ellison owns two 550-foot mega yachts.

    Maybe he wants to join your EU software “community”?

  12. I have to plead complete ignorance to what is going on. I am just a humble user of OpenOffice. Then early lst week I received an announcement that I interpreted as – OOO is issuing a new release called Libre Office – which I though strange, but downloaded and installed it.

    The I received an email from OOO, so I went to their web site and found v 3.3 will be issued shortly.

    Being confused,I went to Google (my oracle – with a small “o”) and found myself immersed in this blog about leaving OOO beccause of the Oracle (with a big “O”) people did not want to play by the spirit of the spirit of Open Source or the Document Foundations or ….

    I think the issue needs to be clarified for the users of OOO/LO. With out clarification as to what is going on people will at best remain confused about what suite best answers their long-term needs and if they want to support the “spirit of…”, they have to know what the issues are, what the products are and who they are most empathetic with.

    Me? I’ve got both, until I find out who’s who.

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  14. I switched all my pc’s to Libre beta1, and under WinXP it went wrong. So I installed on all the pc’s beta2. It works fine till now. All my pc’s (8) run under DualBoot, and Libre is just doing fine with UbuntuLynx or Mint9-which-is-mine.

  15. Personally, I have switched to Go-Oo, which is another Oo.org downstream fork. I have been using it for about a month now, and it seems to work very well. I like it even better than OpenOffice, as it seems to be a bit faster and smoother, though that is merely a personal observation, and not from any real testing. More information can be found about it at http://go-oo.org/

    I should mention that I have absolutely no affiliation with the Go-Oo site, or the project, aside from being a happy user. It is definitely worth taking a look at for those looking to switch away from the Oracle product.

  16. I understand great emotions that are involved in a split like this. I am an OOO/LO user, and feel that the office software is of strategic importance for all computer users, even to those that use Microsoft products. They would have to pay even more for monopoly products, if there was no credible competition.

    It is OOO/LO that makes it possible to use different operating systems side by side productively. For instance, you may use a Windows system at your office, a Ubuntu laptop while traveling and another Linux distribution at home. OOO/LO provides a smooth user experience in every instance.

    Because of OOO/LO individuals an companies can save huge amounts of money: not all of our systems need to have expensive Windows and MS Office licenses. For instance, when I upgraded my old Acer Windows XP laptop to Ubuntu, the performance of the system was much enhanced, and there was no need to buy new hardware.

    So I would like to thank anyone who has been involved in developing or translating OOO. Your work is of strategic importance.

    I hope that the OOO/LO split will energize the two teams into healthy competition. Lots of emotions are involved, so many bitter accusations will be heard. I hope that some day a peaceful co-existence will be possible. This is yet another test of the human nature. Can smart people get along with each other? You may have different interests because some of you are free from commercial ties and some are not, but I hope you can still learn from each other.

    The sooner you can focus on the work itself, the better. I hope you can use the emotional energies now released to fire a burst of creativity. Do not follow the lead of Microsoft Office. There must be original ideas around. Moreover, the only freezes I have experienced with Ubuntu have involved Open Office Calc. Is that the weak link in OOO/LO? Why? The bugs are your enemy, not the little fellow on the other side of the trenches.

    Christmas is coming. Could you at least play a game of football together?

  17. Wishing you a great success ahead.
    Happy to know that your hands are not tied any more.
    which allows you to contribute to mankind in a great way.

    Many times i came across comments like “forking is not polite”
    Which i tend to disagree. forking is a tribute to its parent.
    we ourself am running on DNAs forked from parents. :)
    In-fact parents should encourage more forks and more mutants.

    Infact Debian team should be happy to say that Ubuntu is “My Kid” rather a Redhat Kid.

  18. Not ever having been involved in OpenOffice.org, it’s hard to say whether the LibreOffice-thing is good or bad.

    However, I have to admit that I, too, find it strange that the LibreOffice people are surprised that OpenOffice.org considers you competitors. From the first mention of LibreOffice, it was all about forking and leaving OpenOffice.org, and I never saw anybody from LibreOffice trying to correct that impression.

    I say, stand for what you did (for all I know you were right), but don’t be surprised when OpenOffice.org also wants you to commit to a single course of action.

  19. @Ken Smith

    Libra Office is a fork (different source for the program) from the Official Oracle Open Office project OOo. There is no difference yet. Libra is just getting started.

    Libra office was started because many developers (the people who produce the code) were feeling frustrated with Sun/Oracle. There are several changes that were never included into Open Office. Some were very good. Libra Office plans to include as many as they can, and are inviting anyone to contribute.

    It’s probably 6 months until Libra Office will be noticably different. In the meantime, keep using Open Office. Try Libra Office sometime next year. If you like it, well, good. Libra Office is on record as inviting Oracle to use whatever they produce. Both will probably copy each other.

    This could lead to something great.

  20. As one who runs Kubuntu 10.4 I was surprised and pleased to see LibreOffice appear so quickly in the repository. Forking is a powerful evolutionary agent in FOSS — good forks grow and prosper, bad forks wither away — the community decides which is good and which is bad, for whatever reasons it chooses.

    A comment by “Fran” on another website brought up an interesting point, which I now paraphrase: Oracle requires a transfer of rights to itself for all contributions to OOo by FOSS coders. LibreOffice does not. Therefore, Oracle cannot benefit by including FOSS contributions to LibreOffice into StarOffice, but the LGPL gives LibreOffice the right to benefit from LGPL contributions to OpenOffice. This will also dramatically shift the contributions of FOSS coders away from OOo and to LOo.

    Considering Ellison’s personality and ruthless approach to business, I suspect that because he will find it impossible to compete on a level playing field against LOo he may try some form of legal action against LOo, hoping to use his financial clout to squash in court what HE calls his “competition”.

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  22. If you don’t mind me requesting, precisely what have you been using to avoid junk reactions? I noticed your blog is good and free of all the spam bots leaving comments, I’ve got an additional blog personally, and that i prefer to maintain remarks open up and so i never have to seriously as well as approve all of them the time, however the junk e-mail plugins I have tried are usually failing to avoid the most obvious and straightforward spam comments, Can there be anything good available that does a good job or is my personal just aspire to have them moderated or just simply near all of them collectively?

  23. As an Oracle employee for 15 years I can say that you would have been naive to expect Oracle to spend serious resources on maintaining non-money generating projects. This may have been good for the greater good but Oracle is not a not-for-profit organization. Our shareholders expect us to create value (translated into money) and that includes our CEO. Some folks make Oracle sound like a monster but I would remind them that significant amount of critical IT infrastructure in this country runs on Oracle systems and during difficult times we are asked to work extra hard to make sure they all continue to function.

    LibreOffice is certainly a great idea. I hope it does as well as Firefox or GNU/Linux.

    I hope Oracle donates the OpenOffice.org stuff to the LibreOffice folks and uses the community source code in a similar way as GNU/Linux.

    For a home user, these things are fine, but please recognize that large organizations are unable to self-support (like I can do) and rely on the value-add of companies like Microsoft and Oracle and others. I don’t think this will change until software becomes so easy that support is no longer an issues (like pressing buttons in an elevator – even a 3 year-old can do it).

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  25. How sad to loose this software, Oracle spent so much money on thier sailboat, and I guess it depends on what you feel is a good return on your investment. the big picture is that Oracle and Microsoft are not only making money selling products they buy up the others just to destroy them, How nice money is the root of all the problems we have in the world, how about a little IBM mentalty, make something that is used as tools to make life for mankind better, and just in case the investors made so much money they were happy to give something back!

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