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33 Lead Developers Leave OpenOffice in Favor of LibreOffice

As announced in this letter, 33 lead developers of the OpenOffice project have decided to leave OpenOffice and instead support LibreOffice and the Document Foundation in the future.

As was previously reported on this site, Oracle is not willing to make the necessary changes to not only make this project benefit its own corporate goals, but also the community and the vast amount of contributions made by individuals and other entities that have been essential for the success of OpenOffice.

The letter says: "Oracle's official response to the announcement of The Document Foundation was clear – Oracle will continue as usual. The result is now indeed the lately postulated conflict of interest for those community members who are in charge of or representing project, but to whom it is not enough “to continue working as we always did”. "

Furthermore, the lead developers ask all the other community contributors to join:
"The answer for us who sign this letter is clear: We want a change to give the community as well as the software it develops the opportunity to evolve. For this reason, from now on we will support The Document Foundation and will – as a team - develop and promote LibreOffice. We hope that many are going to join us on this path."

As already previously mentioned, it turns out more and more that OpenOffice has no community anymore, but Oracle due to their lack of willingness to see the contributing community as a valid stakeholder, insist on full control of the project instead.

It seems obvious that this is just the beginning of the tsunami of support being shifted from OpenOffice to LibreOffice in the Open Source community, and hence hopefully this transition process will be done swiftly and completely as soon as possible. It is essential that we have LibreOffice as the alternative to the Microsoft Office suite and all forces should be put behind this project.



This should be a warning shot across Canonical's bow concerning their own contributor agreement requires for Unity, Utouch and related software components that Canonical insists on holding copyright to.

Canonical is walking the same path when it comes to control and respecting the rights and interests of external contributors.


While there is some contention about the contributor agreement by Canonical, which also exists inside the Ubuntu community, it is not correct to compare Canonical with Oracle.

Ubuntu has lots of councils which are mostly staffed by volunteers. Especially, community councils are focus on the community and not Canonical.

Canonical has also changed some of its ways due to community pressure.

None of this can be observed by Oracle.

Canonical acts more like Sun, or truthfully, better than Sun.

So let this be a lesson to the *community*. Canonical looks great, now, and their contributor agreement doesn't seem so bad, but just like Sun got taken over by a non-OSS friendly company, so could Canonical. Do you really think Canonical should have your copyright to sell and relicense? Can you really be certain they won't sell to Oracle or some other evil company? Who expected Sun ever would?

Well.. there is not a huge chance that Canonical is taken over. And even if, there exists a fund that guarantees that Ubuntu will continue and be supported as free software.

Furthermore, Canonical does not ask for contributor copyright assignment for anything but some value adding software. Ubuntu itself is community driven and free.

Absent this, I agree that copyright assignments are a dangerous issue. However, my copyright, by law, can never be re-assigned, so in any case, Canonical will always only own according to their agreement, a non-exclusive licence to my software. This, btw. is also the case for at least some OpenOffice code.

It also needs to still be tested how legal those contributor assignments are in the end. I am not sure that I have seen any conclusive judgments yet. However, that is maybe worth another article.

Ubuntu is not completely community driven. I agree with you that the community does most of the work, but the core building blocks are handled by Canonical.

For example, building the .iso files for each new release. It is a very complex infrastructure. They build the images for all the major derivates as well. An other example is Launchpad, you can't have Ubuntu without it (both the technology and the information stored in it).

Plus there's the whole 'Mark Shuttleworth is a businessman' deal.

He didn't become a millionaire by sharing. Which is totally fine, don't get me wrong, I respect him for it. But Canonical is a business, his new money-making venture, if the price is right... he will sell.

so you are saying that Canonical is different because it profits from volunteer work?

but then the internal projects are kept closed.

No, I am saying Ubuntu is community driven and supported by Canonical. Beside that, Canonical is testing business models. Currently, all the profits that are made by Canonical flowing back into the support of Ubuntu. Every time Canonical would reach profitability, it extends its base of employees to support Ubuntu.

In contrast, Oracle is not interested either in Open Source, nor in the community of Open Source. They are solely interested in enhancing their own profit, even if that means taking advantage of the community.

I do not put any moral judgement on this. I just say how it is. Both Companies are very different in its core, and therefore, I don't think there is a real comparison possible.

This does not mean, that we as the community should not express our concerns about Canonical where we believe things could be better. A civil and respectful discourse can often improve things.