Oracle appears to have reconsidered its stance on open-source projects and has announced it will move OpenOffice.org to a full community-based project.
Oracle is relinquishing its tight control over
OpenOffice.org, the popular office software suite, and will no longer offer a
OpenOffice.org will be moving to a purely community-based
, Oracle said April 15. While Oracle will stop selling a
commercial version of OpenOffice, the company intends to continue working with
the community on development.
The details about when the move will occur, and why Oracle
is making this unexpected change, were not available.
"Given the breadth of interest in free personal
productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing
technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an
organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a noncommercial
basis," said Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect.
While the company said it will continue to "make large
investments" in other open-source products, such as MySQL and Linux, it
is unclear whether the company will continue to invest in OpenOffice.
"Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption
of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format,"
If Oracle retains the OpenOffice trademark, it will continue
to have ultimate control over what changes are added into OpenOffice, despite
Despite its claim of a "long history of investing in the
development and support of open-source products," many open-source advocates
have viewed Oracle with distrust
, especially after its acquisition of Sun
Microsystems in 2009. That acquisition brought the popular MySQL database under
the database giant's control, as well as open-source projects including
OpenSolaris. Oracle canceled that project in favor of Solaris 11 Express.
A group of OpenOffice.org developers, concerned about
Oracle's intentions, broke away and established LibreOffice in September under
the auspices of the Document Foundation
. The Document Foundation won the
support of industry giants including Google, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical and the
Open Source Initiative. The latest version of LibreOffice is 3.3
, released Jan.
25. "The beauty of open
source is that it can be forked by anyone who chooses, as was done today,"
Oracle said at the time of the split.
It did hint where its priorities lay, however. "Oracle
is focused on Linux and MySQL because both of these products have won broad-based adoption among commercial and government customers," the company
While many online commenters on link-sharing site Reddit
wondered if this was Oracle's attempt to weaken LibreOffice by persuading
people to come back to OpenOffice, the general consensus appeared to be that
this was a positive development, as it meant there were two robust
full-featured open-source office suites available to users. With increased
competition, both development teams will be motivated to produce great results.
Both OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice developers announced a new beta of the latest 3.4 version on April 15.
Oracle did not say whether it would reach out to the
Document Foundation at all. When the foundation had established its
community-based project, it had asked Oracle to consider handing over the
OpenOffice.org name so that it can use it instead of LibreOffice. Oracle
declined. Reddit commenters wondered if Oracle would consider doing so now.
Oracle has a Web-based proprietary office suite called
Oracle Cloud Office, but many of the pages on Oracle's Website turn up error
pages. Oracle has not officially killed the product, however.