We've all been watching, wondering if and for how long Oracle and LibreOffice's (news, site) relationship would remain amicable. After only two weeks, any signs of a positive relationship have disappeared as OpenOffice staff pack their things and leave.
Libre to Leave
Less than two weeks ago, Oracle said that it was behind OpenOffice, a stance that is hard to reconcile with this weekend's news that it has asked 33 OpenOffice developers to leave the company. With more departures expected, LibreOffice is now left on its own to push the goals of The Document Foundation.
In an open letter, Marko Moeller, co-lead of OpenOffice.org highlighted how the status quo was going to be tough to maintain as the goals of The Document Foundation diverged from Oracle's. The letter states:
Oracle's official response to the announcement of The Document Foundation was clear --Oracle will continue OpenOffice.org as usual. The result is now indeed the lately postulated conflict of interest for those community members who are in charge of or representing project, but to whom it is not enough “to continue working as we always did."
Although it has been stressed several times that there will be collaboration on a technical level, and changes are possible -- there is no indication from Oracle to change it's mind on the question of the project organization and management.
For those who want to achieve such a change, but see no realistic opportunity within the current project and are therefore involved in the TDF, unfortunately this results in an “either/or” question.
A Free Future?
With Oracle busy integrating its Sun acquisition into the company, the last thing it needs is a protracted argument and unhappy campers on-board. In all, perhaps this is the neatest resolution, allowing LibreOffice to go its own way. What Oracle will do with the OpenOffice name and rights however, remains unclear.
While LibreOffice has the backing of many big names including Google and Red Hat, it will now have to continue with a number of senior staff looking to either join the new company or find new careers while maintaining their roles.
As for OpenOffice at Oracle, it could be the start of something new and exciting or it could just be left to wilt, leaving LibreOffice as the lead version of the project that all others look to.
Certainly, if you want to show your support for the keen young upstart, even if its in the peculiar position of being the old gang in charge, with a mature product, LibreOffice is the way to go.