Free as a bird
Open source community of volunteers develop and promote LibreOffice.org to drive future growth
ECM Plus – by Paul Quigley – The community of volunteers who develop and promote OpenOffice.org, the free office software, has just announced a major change in the project’s structure.
After ten years’ growth with Sun Microsystems as founding and principal sponsor, the project has now launches an independent foundation called “The Document Foundation”, to fulfil the independence written into the original charter.
According to the founders, the new Document Foundation will be the cornerstone of a new ecosystem where individuals and organisations can contribute to and benefit from the availability of a truly free office suite.
The Document Foundation added that it will generate increased competition and choice for the benefit of customers and drive innovation in the office suite market.
From now on, it stated, the OpenOffice.org community will be known as “The Document Foundation”.
Oracle, who acquired OpenOffice.org assets as a result of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, has been invited to become a member of the new Foundation, and donate the brand the community has grown during the past ten years.
Pending this decision, the brand “LibreOffice” has been chosen for the software going forward.
The Document Foundation is the result of a collective effort by leading independent members of the former OpenOffice.org community, including several project leads and key members of the Community Council. It will be led initially by a Steering Committee of developers and national language projects managers. The Foundation aims to lower the barrier of adoption for both users and developers, to make LibreOffice the most accessible office suite ever.
The Foundation will coordinate and oversee the development of LibreOffice, which is available in beta version at the placeholder site: http://www.libreoffice.org. Developers are invited to join the project and contribute to the code in the new friendly and open environment, to shape the future of office productivity suites alongside contributors who translate, test, document, support, and promote the software.
Speaking for the group of volunteers, Sophie Gautier – a veteran of the community and the former maintainer of the French speaking language project – has declared: “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 and the evolution of the project from the constraints represented by the commercial interests of a single company. Free software advocates around the world have the extraordinary opportunity of joining the group of founding members today, to write a completely new chapter in the history of FLOSS”.
FSF President Richard Stallman welcomed LibreOffice release and its stated policy of only recommending free software. “I’m very pleased that the Document Foundation will not recommend nonfree add-ons, since they are the main freedom problem of the current OpenOffice.org. 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”.
“Viva la LibreOffice”, said Guy Lunardi, product management Director at Novell. “We look forward to working with the Document Foundation to help develop a solid open source document software offering. Ultimately, we envision LibreOffice do for the office productivity market what Mozilla Firefox has done for browsers”.
Jan Wildeboer, EMEA Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, has commented: “All over the world, users, companies and governments are moving to innovative technology solutions based on Open Standards. Red Hat is proud to join this effort”.
Mark Shuttleworth, founder and major shareholder of Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, has declared: “Office productivity software is a critical component of the free software desktop, and the Ubuntu Project will be pleased to ship LibreOffice from The Document Foundation in future releases of Ubuntu. The Document Foundation’s stewardship of LibreOffice provides Ubuntu developers an effective forum for collaboration around the code that makes Ubuntu an effective solution for the desktop in office environments”.
The Document Foundation is an independent self-governing democratic Foundation created by leading members of the former OpenOffice.org Community. It continues to build on the foundation of ten years’ dedicated work by the OpenOffice.org community, and was created in the belief that an independent Foundation is the best fit to the Community’s core values of openness, transparency, and valuing people for their contribution. It is open to any individual who agrees with our core values and contributes to our activities, and welcomes corporate participation, e.g. by sponsoring individuals to work as equals alongside other contributors in the community.