May 25, 2012

OpenOffice / LibreOffice & A Warning For Futurists

Posted by in categories: complex systems, futurism, human trajectories, information science, open access, open source

I spend most of my time thinking about software, and occasionally I come across issues that are relevant to futurists. I wrote my book about the future of software in OpenOffice, and needed many of its features. It might not be the only writing / spreadsheet / diagramming / presentation, etc. tool in your toolbox, but it is a worthy one. OpenDocument Format (ODF) is the best open standard for these sorts of scenarios and LibreOffice is currently the premier tool to handle that format. I suspect many of the readers of Lifeboat have a variant installed, but don’t know much of the details of what is going on.

The OpenOffice situation has been a mess for many years. Sun didn’t foster a community of developers around their work. In fact, they didn’t listen to the community when it told them what to do. So about 18 months ago, after Oracle purchased Sun and made the situation worse, the LibreOffice fork was created with most of the best outside developers. LibreOffice quickly became the version embraced by the Linux community as many of the outside developers were funded by the Linux distros themselves. After realizing their mess and watching LibreOffice take off within the free software community, Oracle decided to fire all their engineers (50) and hand the trademark and a copy of the code over to IBM / Apache.

Now it would be natural to imagine that this should be handed over to LibreOffice, and have all interested parties join up with this effort. But that is not what is happening. There are employees out there whose job it is to help Linux, but they are actually hurting it. You can read more details on a Linux blog article I wrote here. I also post this message as a reminder about how working together efficiently is critical to have faster progress on complicated things.


Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. rmstallman says:

    When the article refers to the “Linux community” and “Linux distros“
    it repeats a widespread misunderstanding. Linux is not an operating
    system that you can run; it is just one component. Linux in 1992
    filled the last gap in the GNU operating system that I started in
    1983. The distros referred to are actually versions of GNU/Linux.

    See and for more about this. plus for background.

  2. I would like to make a permanent connection, via facebook, linkedin, etc.