It comes as no surprise that longtime backers of OpenOffice.org are taking control over the open source project from Oracle, its new owner.
On Tuesday, the OpenOffice.org community announced the formation of the Document Foundation and the re-release of OpenOffice code under a new brand name -- LibreOffice.
OpenOffice was originally founded and sponsored by Sun. Oracle acquired Sun and its OpenOffice assets earlier this year.
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 -- hence the name LibreOffice.
The move comes just weeks after Oracle announced it would stop development on another open source project it acquired as part of Sun -- OpenSolaris. (a new entity known as Illumos has assumed control of the open source project).
At the time, I asked Oracle if it also intended to scrap OpenOffice development but the official response was 'No Comment."
Michael Meeks, a distinguished engineer at Novell who is very active with OpenOffice.org, said he was initially lulled into the view that Oracle would become a strong force in open source development following its purchase of Sun but said that hasn't panned out. "
His views weren't all that different when Sun had control over OpenOffice. Still, the new ownership exacerbates his concerns. "Copyright assignment discourages external contributions, and that current control of the project inhibits developer initiative," Meeks said in a recent press release.
He noted that Oracle may own rights to the OpenOffice trademark but the code is released under a free and open license. In the press release issued today, the Document Foundation urged Oracle to join the foundation and donate the 10-year-old OpenOffice brand name and trademark to the organization.
The Document Foundation will be led in initially by a steering committee of OpenOffice developers. The LibreOffice software is available in beta version at www.libreoffice.com.