OpenOffice files Oracle divorce papers

Uncertainty breeds mistrust


Open sourcers have seized control of the OpenOffice project and product and declared their independence from database giant Oracle.

The OpenOffice.org Project has unveiled a major restructuring that separates itself from Oracle and that takes responsibility for OpenOffice away from a single company.

Oracle had been OpenOffice's principal contributor - a role it inherited thanks to its acquisition of the well meaning but slow-witted Sun Microsystems earlier this year.

While OpenOffice had a successful development track record, it was also the code base for Sun's StarOffice so features were broadly developed to serve that goal.

From now on, though, OpenOffice's development and direction will be decided by a steering committee of developers and national language project managers.

Driving home the changes, OpenOffice.org project is now The Document Foundation while the OpenOffice.org suite has been given the temporary name of LibreOffice.

Oracle, meanwhile, has been humiliatingly invited to re-join the OpenOffice community by applying to the Foundation. It's also been asked to donate the OpenOffice.org brand that it owns to the community.

Until there's a decision from Oracle the OpenOffice.org suite will be retain the LibreOffice name. Based on Oracle's history of responding to community ultimatums, we suggest you get used to LibreOffice.

The coup is an attempt by open sourcers and tech companies vested in OpenOffice and distrustful of Oracle to pry control over the project and product's future away from the unfriendly giant.

The fact Oracle's been invited to join can only be seen as cutting Oracle out of the action, as the company isn't a joiner - as the OpenSolaris community recently found out.

OpenSolaris, the Sun project spun up to oversee the open-source edition of Solaris, recently shut up shop after Oracle refused to meet or work with it, and announced OpenSolaris would only be delivered after the commercial version of Solaris was shipped.

Meanwhile, the body that stewards Java - Java Community Process (JCP) - sits in limbo awaiting word on its future with Oracle last week putting out its roadmap for the future of the language. Oracle inherited Sun's ownership of the JCP, with the power to veto any JCP decision on Java.

On Office, Larry Ellison's company is also close to delivering its own productivity suite, a closed-source online product called Cloud Office using Java FX and Open Document Format (ODF). The Reg understands it is not based on the OpenOffice suite.

With uncertainty growing, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, the Open Source Initiative, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and Google - sued in August by Oracle for claimed patent violations in Java on Android - have put their names to the Foundation and LibreOffice push.

Chris DiBona, Google's open source programs manager at Google, said the search giant is "proud" to be a supported for the Foundation and participant in the project.

"The creation of The Document Foundation is a great step forward in encouraging further development of open source office suites. Having a level playing field for all contributors is fundamental in creating a broad and active community around an open source software project," DiBona said in a statement.

In a clear reference to Oracle's need to re-apply for OpenOffice membership, FSF firebrand Richard Stallman said he hoped the Oracle-employed developers of OpenOffice will be able to co-operate on development of the body of the code.

In a telling statement announcing the restructuring and renaming, the Foundation recalled the cozy past with Sun and the uncertainty of what's ahead.

"After ten years' successful growth with Sun Microsystems as founding and principal sponsor, the project launches an independent foundation called The Document Foundation", to fulfill the promise of independence written in the original charter," The Foundation said. ®


Other stories you might like

  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading
  • Oracle cloud growth up 19% but it's still a market minnow
    Acquisition of health data specialist Cerner adds $15.8b to Big Red's debt

    Oracle has impressed the markets with strong revenue growth for cloud infrastructure and applications-as-a-service.

    However, Oracle is still struggling to gain a larger share of the global cloud market, where it lags behind AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

    Big Red's total revenue for Q4, which ended May 31, hit $11.8 billion, up 5 per cent on the same period a year ago. Total cloud revenue, including infrastructure and software-as-a-service, reached $2.9 billion, up 19 percent. Cloud ERP Fusion revenue increased 20 percent while NetSuite ERP cloud revenue grew 27 per cent.

    Continue reading
  • End of the road for biz living off free G Suite legacy edition
    Firms accustomed to freebies miffed that web giant's largess doesn't last

    After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.

    "For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."

    Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.

    Continue reading
  • UK competition watchdog seeks to make mobile browsers, cloud gaming and payments more competitive
    Investigation could help end WebKit monoculture on iOS devices

    The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday said it intends to launch an investigation of Apple's and Google's market power with respect to mobile browsers and cloud gaming, and to take enforcement action against Google for its app store payment practices.

    "When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in a statement. "As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice."

    The decision to open a formal investigation follows the CMA's year-long study of the mobile ecosystem. The competition watchdog's findings have been published in a report that concludes Apple and Google have a duopoly that limits competition.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle closes $28.3b Cerner buy amid warnings of commercial challenges
    Database titan 'does not buy companies and then lowers costs'

    Oracle has closed the acquisition of Cerner Corporation, a specialist in healthcare software, in a deal set to be worth $28.3 billion.

    But as Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman of the board and chief technology officer, is set to outline Oracle's strategy for its acquisition's role in healthcare in the coming days, Cerner customers are being warned to expect some surprises in renegotiating their contracts.

    Last month, Cerner said it secured 331 new, expanded and extended client contracts in first quarter, including Ohio-based Blanchard Valley Health System and Virginia-based Mountain Health Network.

    Continue reading
  • Google recasts Anthos with hitch to AWS Outposts
    If at first you don't succeed, change names and try again

    Google Cloud's Anthos on-prem platform is getting a new home under the search giant’s recently announced Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) portfolio, where it will live on as a software-based competitor to AWS Outposts and Microsoft Azure Stack.

    Introduced last fall, GDC enables customers to deploy managed servers and software in private datacenters and at communication service provider or on the edge.

    Its latest update sees Google reposition Anthos on-prem, introduced back in 2020, as the bring-your-own-server edition of GDC. Using the service, customers can extend Google Cloud-style management and services to applications running on-prem.

    Continue reading
  • Google offers $118m to settle gender discrimination lawsuit
    Don't even think about putting LaMDA on the compensation committee

    Google has promised to cough up $118 million to settle a years-long gender-discrimination class-action lawsuit that alleged the internet giant unfairly pays men more than women.

    The case, launched in 2017, was led by three women, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri, who filed a complaint alleging the search giant hires women in lower-paying positions compared to men despite them having the same qualifications. Female staff are also less likely to get promoted, it was claimed.

    Gender discrimination also exists within the same job tier, too, the complaint stated. Google was accused of paying women less than their male counterparts despite them doing the same work. The lawsuit was later upgraded to a class-action status when a fourth woman, Heidi Lamar, joined as a plaintiff. The class is said to cover more than 15,000 people.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022