Novell will continue to support LibreOffice

While Novell appears to have dropped its support for Mono, LibreOffice will continue to be developed by SUSE programmers.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

While Attachmate has talked a lot about its plans for Novell after it bought Novell, no one saw Attachmate closing down Novell's Mono programming effort. Indeed, other than cutting Novell's work-force by 25%, Attachmate has said little concrete about the company's open-source plans. I have learned from sources though that LibreOffice, the open-source office suite, will continue to receive Novell's support.

Novell developers were leaders in founding the LibreOffice's parent organization, The Document Foundation and splitting LibreOffice away from the Oracle sponsored OpenOffice project. Their feeling was that Oracle, as Sun had before it, had been neglecting OpenOffice and letting bugs go unfixed and new features go un-added for far too long.

The LibreOffice project quickly picked up many supporters, but much of the “goodness” in LibreOffice came from work that Novell had already done on its own spin on OpenOffice. This included better support for Microsoft Office's Open XML formats.

Others quickly agreed that LibreOffice was the better office suite even as LibreOffice was first released. Canonical, for example, chose LibreOffice over OpenOffice, for its Ubuntu 11.04 Linux release.

Indeed, on April 15th, Oracle appeared to wash its hands of OpenOffice. The company announced that it was moving OpenOffice.org to a purely community-based open-source project and to no longer offer a commercial OpenOffice, aka StarOffice.

True, Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect also said, "We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office. Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF)." But, without Oracle's commercial support, OpenOffice appears to be a dead project walking. The real development from the OpenOffice family going forward will be with LibreOffice.

That's why it's so important that Novell will be continuing to support it. While there are other Linux and open-source office suites, such as KDE's KOffice and AbiWord, none of them come close to OpenOffice/LibreOffice's spit and polish and their range of features.

From what my sources indicate, Attachmate will continue to support LibreOffice out of SUSE's Nuremberg Germany offices. The next version of LibreOffice, 3.4, is now in late beta and is expected to arrive in a timely fashion.

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