Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

Summary: Can a newly-forked LibreOffice do what OpenOffice could never do? Namely, break free from the shadow of Microsoft Office and some great cloud products?

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It wasn't long ago that I declared OpenOffice dead at the hands of Google Apps, Microsoft Web Apps, and the awesome Office 2010 desktop suite. Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems didn't help either, since the company isn't exactly the biggest friend of open source.

This morning, however, ZDNet's Paula Rooney reported on the Document Foundation's fork of OpenOffice, making me wonder if the new LibreOffice is just as dead or if it can finally thrive with the right kind of community support and a lack of corporate overlords. As Paula reports, there are a lot of big names behind this new effort that just might breathe life into the project:

The creation of the Document Foundation is backed by leading Linux distributors Red Hat, Novell, Google (Android) and Canonical as well as many international concerns and nations, including Germany, Italy, Brazil and France...

Not surprisingly, there are some skeptics out there even among people who don't work for that big company in Redmond that makes their own desktop office suite. Gigom calls LibreOffice "An Idea Whose Time Has Come (and Gone)." In a post this morning, the author made some completely valid points:

...why start from the paradigm of 1980s technology? Nothing on the Foundation’s new website, or in any of its press materials, suggests that the Foundation’s purpose is to do anything more than free OpenOffice development from the control of one company, Oracle. There’s no discussion of the possibilities of integration with the web...If anyone is advancing the office productivity market, it’s Google Apps...or Zoho Office, which were born on the web. It’s unclear what a web-light, client-heavy Microsoft Office clone can hope to achieve in terms of real innovation.

Then again, in countries where Internet connectivity is not ubiquitous or is limited to simple mobile devices, a desktop office suite that can run on an aging computer under Lubuntu is not the anachronism that it is in the land of Google Apps. And on operating systems that don't support Microsoft Office (like Ubuntu), an office suite remains useful. Even I, cloud-boy that I am, use an office suite regularly for high-fidelity documentation needs.

That being said, the Document Foundation would do well to take this opportunity and begin integrating the desktop tools they are forking with cloud-based services from Canonical and/or Google, then LibreOffice will stand a far better chance of staying relevant and, more importantly, driving innovation in its competitors, be they Microsoft, Apple, or Google.

Right now, LibreOffice is very much in beta. However, the next 6 months will be critical as the community can truly dig in and begin enhancing the software in ways they couldn't while Sun controlled the OpenOffice code. Will the community be able to do for productivity what they've done for operating systems and other incredible tools like Joomla!, Drupal, and Moodle? I hope so. I also hope they don't miss the chance to embrace the cloud in ways that resonate with developed markets while still providing necessary features for developing markets. All, of course, for free.

Topics: Collaboration, Apps, Cloud, Google, Open Source, Oracle, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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24 comments
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  • Who? Whats a Libreoffice?

    Who? Whats a Libreoffice?
    Stan57
    • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

      @Stan57

      GIYF.

      It's a fork of OpenOffice. Necessary because Larry " Don't call me Samurai" Ellison bought Sun. Sun owned the trademark "OpenOffice". Ellison has been trying to allow OpenOffice to suffocate for lack of support. Ergo, sum.

      'k?
      handydan918@...
    • More like Larry waving good-bye to FLOSS

      Whether it's good riddance or "don't let door hit your rear on the way out" is up to debate.
      LBiege
      • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

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    • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

      I think everybody may need LibreOffice because is free. Especially the ubuntu users. But I think is not as good as other office software. http://www.handyortungkostenlos.eu/Kostenlos-Handy-orten | http://www.handyortungkostenlos.eu/Prepaid-Handy-Orten
      Ibiossa
  • Once again OSS

    shows how it can make clones of 1990s software.

    I think it's great as a safety net, but it's certainly not pushing boundaries. In another few years we'll probably see a clone of Office 2003. I'd have to agree with you about Moodle - a happy exception to some of the rubbish that OSS turns out. Well documented, suggestions for programming and templates etc and easy to modify and create new features. As for Joomla and Drupal, they're certainly useful, but I don't find they meet Moodle's standards.

    As for Linux users, we may as well worry about DOS and Win 3.1 users as they may outnumber the Linux desktop users ;-)
    tonymcs@...
    • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

      @tonymcs@...
      What software it made a clone of?

      It runs just find in both Windows and Linux.

      Why does it have to push boundaries.

      I use Linux, Any DOS or Win 3.1 users out there. More the merry.

      I used Win 3.1 for what two years and only the dos part didn't need the gui part.

      Hooay!
      daikon
    • DOS and Win3.1

      @tonymcs@...
      Are you scared yet? We're on our way!
      <{;-)
      wizard57m-cnet
  • Changing the name will not help it as people

    tend to use what fullfils certain needs. I have hearn no complaints that Sun was ever attempting to stop anyone from enhancing OpenOffice in any way.

    What has changed from then untill now, in reference to the actuall software?
    Tim Cook
  • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

    Nope.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

      @Loverock Davidson

      Explain?

      Did it not follow the rules?

      Hooay!
      daikon
  • I always had this idea

    of a software "frame". It's like a window - has standard menus, and standard look-and-feel. This frame would be what all software would use while running. IOW M$ Office, browser, tools (calculator), etc. would all use the frame for their output.<br><br>In this way, all apps would look local (and some would be). Think of it as GUI middleware. (probably already been done).
    Roger Ramjet
    • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

      @Roger Ramjet

      Better apply for a patent anyway just in case someone you don't like beats you to it.
      Michael Kelly
  • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

    Know a lot of OpenOffice users that came out of the horrid (Yes, I said horrid) Office 2010 and 2007 interface. If you mainly do Word Processing, liked the feel and look of Office 2003, and don't want to sell your soul to Microsoft. It's been a popular and free product. I personally use it and am very happy with it.
    Socratesfoot
  • RE: Good riddance Oracle! Now can LibreOffice make a difference?

    Taking office apps to the web is all nice. But some here are kind of shortsighted. What about public administration in many countries which are now paying millions they collect in taxes to microsoft and other companies? They certainly need a desktop app to work. On Linux, too. Maybe they have jumped from Windows 3.11 to Ubuntu also. So I definitely see the need for LibreOffice or any such like open source software. I never liked OpenOffice's interface, but I'd much rather prefer my government to use it instead of handing my tax money over to Microsoft or anyone else.
    PS: got my password from bugmenot. Not nice to ask for login AFTER I wrote all this, ZDNET!
    ALISON SMOCK
  • Outliner

    I have one feature that stopped me from switching from Office to OpenOffice, and that is the outliner in Word. If they can implement one in LibreOffice, I will switch. If not, I will continue to pay the M$ tax. I as an end user, I couldn't care less if one company controls the software or not, I just want it to work. Free is very nice, works is better.
    thenonoman
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