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

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Wed Oct 20 08:23:06 PDT 2010

On Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 10:04:11PM -0700, Rick Moen wrote:
> 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
> villain.

FWIW - I don't cre about Oracle and more than any other proprietary
software vendor.  They've done many interesting things over the years
and their educational support and programs have been an asset of their,
a feather in their cap.  Also, I have to admit that when Oracle first
came out for Red Hat....years and years and years ago, that they
delivered a rather broken impelemntation.  But their tech support guy
was capable of ripping through the whole system, the entire installation
process, and fix everything, while showing me the guts of all the Oracle
issues, scripts, parameters and so so on.  They took both tech
knowledge, partnership, support and knowledge share very seriously and I
was impressed.

So it was always disappointing to me that they were so blind to so many
other issues, and copyright issues et al, were right on top of that
list, along with the technical model of their flagship product itself,
which never really adapted to the changing needs of new webdriven,
database backend infrastructure.  IMO, their product was always just too
damn complicated for a large number of jobs one would want to use a RDMS

All of that is besides the point because Oracles business policy
visa-vei copyright restrictions shoots its own business model in the
rump.  This is not a company one can trust with key peices of the
FreeSoftware infrastructure, and until they can show otherwise, I'd
don't see the choice but to fork whatever can be forked.

But if OO was never GPLed, then there are real limits to how much can be
forked.  And BTW - OO with SUN also had issues.  SUN packed it with an
insane DB backend linked into a Java based driver and some weirdo
database engine instead of just integrating it into the already existing
commonly deployed MYSQL or Postgres infrastructure.  That was a be
problem which I'd discussed in detail about in 2002 to be swatted away
with technobable bullshit.

Al that being said, I love Monty but he is being a bit disingunuous to
complain about Oralcle and MYSQL after walking away with a billion
dollars on the say of MYSQL to SUN.

It does continue to completely baffle me how all these companies,
Novell, Oracle, Sun and others just keep shooting themselves in the
foot.  They just never understand what kind of potential they are
sitting on.


> (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.
> http://lwn.net/Articles/410597/
>   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
> example.
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"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt.  I guess you missed that one."

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