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The OpenOffice fork is officially here


It’s not that Oracle wishes ill of The Document Foundation and its take on OpenOffice, LibreOffice. Oracle just isn’t going to be having anything to do with it.

When The Document Foundation released the beta of LibreOffice, the group wanted to speed up the rate of changes to the notoriously slow OpenOffice office suite software project and make significant improvements to OpenOffice, such as adding Microsoft OpenXML format compatibility to the program. This suggestion received support from all the major open-source and Linux powers: Red Hat, Novell, and Ubuntu. Even Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, announced that they’d place LibreOffice in next spring’s update of Ubuntu.

There were only two major companies that didn’t jump to support LibreOffice: IBM and Oracle. IBM’s Robert Sutor, VP of Open Systems and Linux, told me that IBM was taking a wait-and-see approach to LibreOffice. Oracle told me nothing. Until now.

In an e-mail note, Oracle public relations stated: "With more than 100 million users, we believe is the most advanced, most feature-rich open-source implementation and will strongly encourage the OpenOffice community to continue to contribute through,"

As for The Document Foundation’s offer for Oracle to work with them on streamlining and improving the OpenOffice development process: "The beauty of open source is that it can be forked by anyone who chooses, as was done [by The Document Foundation]. Our sincerest goal for OpenOffice is that it becomes more widely used so, if this new foundation will help advance OpenOffice and the Open Document Format (ODF), we wish them the best."

In other words, the fork is official now. Oracle won’t work directly with The Document Foundation, so LibreOffice is now a de facto OpenOffice fork. Let the coding begin and the best program win.

A version of this story first appeared in ComputerWorld.

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