Document Foundation To Take OpenOffice Code Outside Oracle - InformationWeek

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9/28/2010
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Document Foundation To Take OpenOffice Code Outside Oracle

The code base for the open source look-alike suite to Microsoft Office has been moved outside Oracle by a new foundation, which claims it will further develop it.

State governments and many private organizations in Brazil have adopted ODF as a preferred format, with Projeto Brasil producing its own version of OpenOffice, BrOffice.org. "Our country already has a large investment in the Open Document Format and the software tools fully supporting it," said Claudio Filho, chair of BrOffice.org NGO. His group and The Document Foundation "share the same values and objectives and we are more than happy to be part of it," he said.

Chris DiBona, open source programs manager at Google, hailed the foundation as "a great step forward… Having a level playing field for all contributors is fundamental in creating a broad and active community," he said in today's announcement. Oracle is currently suing Google for its use of Java in the Android mobile operating system.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, said his firm will ship OpenLibre with its future distributions of Ubuntu Linux. Canonical documentation describes OpenOffice as "a near drop-in replacement" for Microsoft Office, meaning there are a few areas of incompatibility in slide or document translation from one to the other. The OpenLibre suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, slide presentation, database, drawing and a math equation manager.

"We welcome the Document Foundation initiative and look forward to the innovation it is able to drive with a truly open community," said Simon Phipps, director of the Open Source Initiative, which manages the Open Source trademark and approves the issuance new open source licenses. Phipps is a former Sun executive dealing with open source strategy.

Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman also welcomed the creation of LibreOffice. "I hope that the LibreOffice developers and the Oracle-employed developers of OpenOffice will be able to cooperate on development of the body of the code," he said.

Sophie Gautier, an OpenOffice community veteran and a former maintainer of the French OpenOffice project, was selected to speak for volunteer contributors. She said, "We believe that the foundation is a key step for the evolution of the free office suite, as it liberates the development of the code … from the constraints represented by the commercial interests of a single company." The foundation, she predicted, "will write a completely new chapter in the history of free and open source software."

Oracle spokespersons were not immediately available to comment.

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