05.31.21

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A Need for Clarity on the Direction of LibreOffice

Posted in Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 10:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Millions of people who use and support the software deserve greater transparency

LibreOffice 'Personal Edition'

Summary: StarOffice, OpenOffice, LibreOffice and the languishing AOO (Go-OO is dead already) are still the go-to office suites for Free software users; they’re based on similar if not the same codebase (in the same sense many of today’s Web browsers are based on Chromium) and the business objectives of the main stewards (whose corporate DNA goes into the code) need to be understood because even longtime volunteers aren’t sure what’s going on

During the weekend, amid postings about the Annual Report 2020, TDF or LibreOffice published a blog post entitled “Get printed copies of LibreOffice handbooks!

Of course there’s nothing morally wrong with selling printed copies of something that’s online, but one reader asked us, “I am curious about where the funds from printed books for LibreOffice go… to the project or to the documentation volunteers?”

“We’ve always been supportive of LibreOffice because unlike Go-OO it had a real purpose, seeing the threat of neglect by Oracle.”So we’ve decided to ask around and research for a bit, as we have some key contacts. “I have not been doing anything there nor following it for ages,” one person told us. “Last I checked, most of the developers had gone over to LO from AOO anyway…” (from Apache OpenOffice to LibreOffice)

Every now and then, maybe a few times per month, the official LibreOffice account interacts with me in Twitter. In fact, we were one of the sites to first announce the LibreOffice project way back in 2010. We’ve always been supportive of LibreOffice because unlike Go-OO it had a real purpose, seeing the threat of neglect by Oracle.

Logo of LibreOffice“Having volunteered with both libre and apache openoffice.org, (majority of AOO documentation team going to Libre and not returning) I had felt as though Libre documentation team was all about selling manuals,” said our reader to us. “Just a feeling I had while there. When I went over to AOO (after Libreoffice’s rudeness toward AOO), and we were discussing licensing (cc by 3.0 then libre used cc 4.0), it seemed like the AOO documentation lead person was also moving in this direction (selling printed manuals) or had some work relation with Jean Weber, formerly of AOO, and now at Libre. I’m just curious if the funding for the printed books go to Libre project or to the authors. There are mailing list posts of Jean Weber and AOO where Lulu login/accounts are discussed.”

An informed person whom we spoke to, one who was involved in LibreOffice but especially in AOO, noted that the “latter was languishing.”

“It would be important to know how their finances are arranged,” the person noted. “They have a foundation based in Germany, but as mentioned I have not followed it nor know what their economic sources and priorities are. Perhaps that is published somewhere.”

I noted, based on my understanding, that there are companies like Collabora throwing some “added value” at it and now there’s some introduction of “community edition” or something along those lines… (they called it "Personal Edition" several months back)

“That sounds like it might be an unfortunate change of direction,” the person added. “It could end up “open core” instead soon in one of the worse scenarios.”

Are we moving back in the direction of StarOffice? Hopefully not…

As far as we’re aware, the TDF/LibreOffice folks never fully or entirely withdrew from this ambition of theirs. We’ll be watching this situation closely. The most important thing, or the aspect of utmost importance, is the freedom (libre) in LibreOffice. Dual licensing is one of the worst possible outcomes.

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