Oracle-Sun deal renews calls for OpenOffice's independence

Question remains about best role model: Mozilla, Apache, or Linux Foundation?

Oracle Corp.'s purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc. last week is reviving calls for Sun's open-source OpenOffice.org suite to be spun out into an independent foundation.

Oracle is one of the top corporate contributors to Linux and many other open-source softwares.

However, that has long been overshadowed by the tens of billions of dollars Oracle reaps annually from proprietary enterprise software, as well as brazen attacks it has made on open-source stalwarts like Red Hat Inc.

Some insiders say Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's iron fist could actually help OpenOffice.org by helping streamline software development, or by better competing against Microsoft Office -- two longtime complaints leveled against Sun, which remains the group's primary financial sponsor and the source of most of its programmers nine years after making it open-source.

"I started writing about OpenOffice.org/StarOffice 10 years ago, and I would have expected that now, there would be far more name recognition and adoption," writes Solveig Haugland, a documentation author for OpenOffice.org. "I hope that Oracle sees the value in focusing more on both."

Or, OpenOffice.org might benefit Oracle as a valuable weapon in its never-ending war against Microsoft. The latest version, OpenOffice 3.0, has been downloaded more than 50 million times in its first six months. Microsoft Office's profits, meanwhile, have been slumping.

Andy Updegrove, a Boston lawyer and open-source advocate, said, "It's a no-brainer that any company that wants -- like Oracle -- to make inroads on Microsoft's desktop hegemony and economic strength should do whatever it can to support and turbocharge further development of OpenOffice.org."

If you love it, set it free?

Updegrove said he thinks that Oracle would be wise to consider putting into motion the long-stymied spin-off of OpenOffice.org.

"It would provide even greater credibility, and greater incentives for additional developers to join the project, from both the independent community as well as from major vendors like IBM and Google," Updegrove said.

Michael Meeks, a developer at Novell Inc. who is overseeing Novell's custom branch of the OpenOffice.org software, is more blunt. "We need to fix the deeply conservative, entrenched group-think around development process in the project ... Currently we have a total mess in this regard," he said.

Bruce D'Arcus, a college professor and co-lead for OpenOffice.org's bibliographic project, said he thinks the Oracle-Sun deal is a "good opportunity" for the project to be completely spun off.

Even John McCreesh, head of marketing for OpenOffice.org, leans towards the organization's emancipation. "Philosophically, I am bound to agree that this feels the 'right' model for an open-source community," McCreesh wrote in his blog last week.

McCreesh told Computerworld in an e-mail that most OpenOffice.org community members "are happy to play wait-and-see, with a foundation as a possibility if Oracle starts to impede the project in some way."

Absent from the debate is IBM, which did not return requests for comment. IBM has long called for OpenOffice.org's freedom.

"We think that Open Office has quite a bit of potential and would love to see it move to the independent foundation that was promised in the press release back when Sun originally announced OpenOffice," IBM Lotus director of strategy, Doug Heintzman, said in 2007.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags OracleSun MicrosystemsopenofficeOracle-Sun merger

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?