[conspire] OpenOffice.org -> LibreOffice, round two

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Oct 19 22:04:11 PDT 2010

For many years, I've been trying to avoid taking too seriously the
notion of Oracle Corporation being a pervasively evil institution.  It
seems just so facile, and some of the people promoting that viewpoint 
in public (there was a particularly egregious example on BayLISA's
mailing lists for some years), that it seemed worthwhile distancing
one's self from them through an act of will.

There were a long list of things this required ignoring, including many
pronouncements and attitudes form Larry Ellison himself, their treatment
of customers, stories about their treatment of companies they acquired
(e.g., Peoplesoft, Sun Microsystems, MySQL AB), and rumours about
goings-on at Oracle headquarters.  (It's said that employees are
forbidden from bringing personally owned cellular telephones into the
building.  I don't know if this rumour has any merit at all, but the
creepy reputation of the firm is such that it's easy to believe.)

Let me put it this way:  In general, Oracle's characteristic conduct and
attitude keeps reminding me of Dennis Miller's joke about Bill Gates --
that he's only a monocle and a Persian cat away from being a Bond

(I do know good people who work at Oracle.  I hope they aren't offended.)

I've commented previously on the company's unpleasant recent track
record with OpenSolaris, Java, MySQL, and OpenOffice.org, and recent
litigation in which it's difficult to sympathise with Oracle.

I've mentioned the gradual forking of all of the open-source projects
under Oracle's thumb, with the LibreOffice fork under new community
non-profit umbrella The Document Foundation = TDF being the most recent.
(It may be worth noting also that Sun Microsystems promised the numerous
outside developers who contributed code to OO.o and signed over to Sun
the copyright owner to their work that Sun would place OO.o under an
independent non-profit foundation -- but then failed to do so.  So, 
in a way, TDF is now delivering on Sun's broken promise.)

Today, another small log got piled onto that smouldering fire.

  Ars technica reports that Oracle has asked some TDF (The Document
  Foundation) founders to resign from the OpenOffice.org community
  council. "During an OOo community council meeting last week, council
  chair Louis Saurez-Potts told the TDF members who also sit on the OOo
  community council that their participation in both organizations
  constituted a conflict of interest and that their involvement in the new
  LibreOffice fork should preclude them from holding leadership roles in
  the OOo community. Saurez-Potts is Oracle's OpenOffice.org community
  manager, a role that he also held at Sun prior to the acquisition. His
  position suggests that Oracle views LibreOffice as a hostile fork and
  will not join TDF as some had hoped."

The first two reader comments seem to say it all:

donbarry wrote:

  This unfortunately will be a black mark on Mr. Suarez-Potts's name.
  He has seemed to be an accommodating and pliable man, operating
  primarily in the service of, and therefore under the morality of,
  his superiors in an variety of positions over the years.

  And in this case, following Oracle's clear instruction, or more
  likely, expectation, he simply becomes an exemplar of Upton Sinclair's
  all too familiar maxim, that: "It is difficult to get a man to 
  understand something, when his salary depends upon his not 
  understanding it!" 

Bruce Perens replied:

  About two years ago, I asked Louis "Isn't it time to fork OpenOffice
  away from Sun?". His answer was "no, because it would destroy my
  livelihood and I don't do things like that."

Maybe it's just me, but the whole thing does seem yet another small
manifestation of typical Oracle creepiness and control-freakery.
Fortunately, it probably doesn't matter, as I predict (and also
encourage) massive and rapid transfer of mindshare to LibreOffice.

E.g. Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and probably a bunch of other distributions have
already announced that they're going to give OO.o the heave-ho and adopt 
LibreOffice, instead.

So, if you feel likewise, don't forget to help get the word out that
LibreOffice is the _successor_ to OpenOffice.org.  I'm going to be so
annotating the relevant entries in my linuxmafia.com knowledgebase, for

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