OpenOffice: Future Uncertain

Apr 22, 2009

Florian Effenberger is co-lead of the international OpenOffice.org marketing project. Our sister publication Linux-Community asked him how the deal between Sun and Oracle would affect OpenOffice.

Florian Effenberger talking about OpenOffice.org at CeBIT Open Source 2009.

LinuxCommunity: Will the paid OpenOffice developers become unemployed because of the takeover of Sun by Oracle?
Florian Effenberger: Very few details about the takeover are known at this time. Many analysts are of course speculating, but right now I have no information regarding developers' jobs in OpenOffice. Personally, I don't foresee any serious danger for the further development of OO.o. Firstly, and Oracle for sure is aware of this, OpenOffice has an important place in the world of free software. Secondly, there are very many free developers and companies actively involved in the project.

LC: Will the current developments influence the next release of OpenOffice 3.1?
FE: No. The current delay is because of technical reasons and has nothing to do with the takeover. The second release candidate is due to be published in a few days and shortly after that version 3.1 will be officially released.

LC: Do you personally believe in Oracle's intended financial engagement in OpenOffice or StarOffice?
FE: I think that Oracle knows how important OpenOffice is. If further development takes place under the roof of Oracle or somewhere else, however, is difficult to say at this moment.

LC: Which chances/dangers do you see for OpenOffice from the deal?
FE: OpenOffice is a free, open source software. Voluntary members will only be indirectly affected by the takeover because OpenOffice is independent and belongs to no one exclusively. Looking at things positively, the discussions about a possible takeover of Sun are finished and things have calmed down. Of course the takeover can be seen as a great chance to further the development of OpenOffice. I'm sure that all involved are aware of this and I'm looking forward to the joint future we all can share.

Florian Effenberger has been an open source evangelist for many years. He is co-lead of the international OpenOffice.org marketing project as well as a member of the management board of the non-profit OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V. He is also a frequent contributor to a variety of professional magazines worldwide.

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Comments

  • spelling

    When complaining about incorrect spelling, you should use the correct spelling in your request. Coud is not a word, but could is.
  • Oracle's interest in Sun

    Oracle's real interest in Sun was publicly acknowledged a few days ago: they couldn't afford IBM, which is a strong database player with DB2, buy Solaris, which is a very important OS for Oracle in financial institutions. So what we can expect is continued service for Solaris (probably not much more development) until linux is a real substitute, continued development for Java to make it interoperate better with Oracle's middleware.
  • Legalities and Shoulda Couldas

    OpenOffice.org is released under the LGPL. It does not need to be recreated if someone else wants to take over development. And along with that, Oracle cannot kill it, for the same reason. Oracle working with Red Hat? Read some recent history. Do a search for "Unbreakable Linux" AND "unfakable Linux". The standards are already in place. ODF has the backing of IBM, Sun, Red Hat, Novella, and a growing list of governments world-wide.
  • Future of OpenOffice.org

    Being an open source software package, it would not even matter if Oracle wanted to drop development entirely. Any body else can pick up and continue. The only issue would be to figure out the legalities should another group take over development. However, if Oracle would actually drop the project entirely, I'm sure they would make it easy for another group to take over. They have nothing to gain by killing it entirely. Having said this, even if Oracle killed OO, it would be quite easy for other programmers to create something similar without infringing on any copyrights (just like Linux works like Unix, but is not Unix). It might take some time, but it can be done.

    Considering Larry Ellison's anti-MS comments in the media over the years (all of which were true, and which I applaud; i.e. "MS has never invented anything"blunk, I have a very strong feeling that Oracle will use Sun's products and expertise in order to put together a strong alternative to the MS world. The vast majority of the parts they need are there. However, they have to take a serious look at Linux and decide whether it stands a better chance than Solaris in competing with Microsoft. There are far more drivers available, and with an army of programmers around the world contributing to Linux, it makes development much, much easier. I'm sure Solaris has it's merits, however I don't believe it would be the right decision to use it as a competing product against Windoze. Linux is the holy grail. Oracle would also be wise to get together with Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, and others who play a vital part in the development of Linux, and figure some way to create certain standardizations that could exist across many distributions. That would give 3rd party developers and hardware manufacturers more incentive to create software and drivers for Linux. Nobody wants to modify their software and drivers 3 or 4 times over just so they can be easily installed on different distros using different package and driver managers. The big argument that comes up all the time is that it's easier to download and install software and drivers for Windoze, due to the ease of use of the installers. That's absolutely true, and what we need is a Linux environment that makes the install process just as simple. Create one standard and you've overcome one of the biggest hurdles.
  • OpenOffice vs. OpenOffice.org

    Thank you for your feedback. Our editors call "OpenOffice.org" "OpenOffice" because that's what the product users tend to call it.
  • Worried abt open office

    All is worried about open office.
    Have been reading here for some updates:

    http://www.techunits.com/content/list/linux
  • Dear OpenOffice.getalife

    Coud you PLEASE spell the word PLEASE correctly?!
  • Novell is also putting a fair amount into OO

    Go-OO is the Open-Source version of Novell's distribution of OpenOffice.org and might make a good home for OpenOffice.org if Oracle/Sun were to abandon it.
  • Openoffice.org and SPI

    It should be noted that the Open Office project is also an affiliated project of Software in the Public Interest which will allow it to have corporate services even if Oracle screws up.
  • If oracle was smart

    If oracle was smart and Larry Ellison bought sun for the reason he mentioned Oracle would embrace open office and they would have the complete stack from desktop integration with enterprise data through open office and using the sun/linux/oracle backend. Imagine being able to use enterprise data from an oracle backend in your open office spreadsheets, word processor, and presentations live and with the latest data.

    But we will see the true reasons come out sooner or later. I hope they actually get innovative and actually do something with what they bought and not just kill projects to protect their proprietary and other companies proprietary products.

  • OpenOffice.org

    Could you pls mention the product by it's proper name: OpenOffice.org
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