THE COMMUNITY around the alternative productivity suite Openoffice.org has struck out on its own and set up The Document Foundation.
Originally supported by Sun Microsystems, Openoffice.org has over the past decade grown to become a credible alternative to Microsoft's Office suite of productivity applications. However since Oracle's takeover of Sun, open source projects that had been part of or swallowed up by the firm have been in question. Now the Openoffice community is distancing itself from Oracle by forming The Document Foundation.
In a lengthy statement, the newly formed Foundation outlined the future the Openoffice community. The most notable change might be in naming. The community will be known as The Document Foundation and has offered Oracle an invitation to become a member. In case Oracle doesn't hand over the Openoffice brand, the foundation is proposing to use the name 'Libreoffice'.
The Foundation will initially be led by a steering committee comprised of developers and natural language projects managers. It will coordinate and oversee the development of Libreoffice and invites developers to join and contribute to the project.
A number of firms that support open source projects have voiced support including Novell, Red Hat, Canonical and Google, which have all praised the formation of the foundation. Such support is not surprising, since many Linux distributions include Openoffice by default.
The open source community has been trying to second guess what Oracle will do with projects such as Openoffice and MySQL since its takeover of Sun Microsystems. With Opensolaris biting the dust, worries have grown after Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google for alleged Java patent and copyright infringement in its Android operating system.
It seems that the Openoffice community has pre-empted any move by Oracle by deciding to go it alone. For now the only real cost will be that of building up the brand name of Libreoffice should Oracle decide to hold onto Openoffice. µ