Updated Sun open sourced StarOffice 6 on Friday 13th, in circumstances that cynical-minded individuals might suspect as having been pre-engineered by the marketing department. "At about 5.45am PST," says www.openoffice.org, "our Web server was brought down by a veritable tsunami of hits."
If you want StarOffice 6, or you want to develop for it, openoffice.org is where to go, and it's also where the company that prides itself on building the servers for serious Web operations should surely have been putting its iron. It's therefore a bit of a puzzle that the blasted thing keeled almost instantly, even before you take into account the amount of experience Sun has in managing volume downloads of StarOffice 5.x.
But actually openoffice.org, which was back in operation the following morning, seems to be running Apache on Linux. There might be Sparc in there, but it's unlikely.
There's another small matter which might kind of get obscured in all of the amazement caused by demand for StarOffice 6 causing the most powerful Web servers on the planet (as Sun would no doubt have it) to turn their toes up. The code available (as and when the site's feeling better) seems to be an alpha version.
Now, we remember Sun promising StarOffice 6 as open source for October, but we don't remember Sun mentioning that when it put it out it wouldn't actually be finished. That small matter of course makes it even more helpful if people can be induced to get excited about StarOffice being so popular that demand wasted the site almost instantly. Course, we're just miserable old cynics round here.
For the record, openoffice.org has made it clear for a while now that the initial release wouldn't be the finished item. Sun's most recent press release pronouncements, however, have not been so scrupulous.
Whatever, making it open source is essentially positive, and might get the developers interested. There is however what looks like a sbit of fuzzing to us, in the shape of Sun's Industry Standard Source Licence (SISSL). You've got a choice of GPL or SISSL licence mode, so although StarOffice has gone open source, Sun is keeping some kind of mark in its formerly-favoured 'nearly' territory.
We therefore foresee the usual shouts of 'it's a trap, they don't really mean it,' and we suspect there may be some truth in such an outcry. We'll probably look into that later. Nevertheless, the rough beast slouches slowly towards Bethlehem, little by little Sun is getting religion, and when it comes to productivity apps there's not actually a great deal of choice, even before you consider that Microsoft just bought a slice of the other contender. We note an alternative publication quoting a Sun flak as saying there are 450 "rugged individualists" working on the open source codebase. Given it's an alpha, shouldn't that be "bugged individuals"? But we're sure it'll get better. ®