Apr 202011

libreBrief introduction, on April 15 2011 Oracle announced that it will abandon the development of the commercial version of Open Office and so the project will become officially a community only driven project. Or: goodbye OpenOffice, welcome libreoffice.

Original article By: Michael Dorf

When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Sun was actively sponsoring a number of open source projects. In the past, Oracle has had limited success with open source software and many felt that Oracle didn’t understand open source. As Oracle began to assimilate the various parts of Sun Microsystems, the community waited and watched to see if Oracle would be a good open source citizen.

The community didn’t need to wait long. One of Oracle’s first missteps in the open source community came when they filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google’s Android platform. This suit rocked the open source community as many viewed it as a poor use of Sun’s Java related patents. It has also caused many in the community to question the future of Java. And for those that relied on other Sun open source projects, it called into question the future of those projects.

MySQL to Drizzle. One of the first Sun open source projects to flee Oracle was MySQL. The original founders of MySQL felt for some time that some of the newer enterprise features were unnecessary. There was also a strong desire to revisit a lot of MySQL’s code and do a fair amount of repurposing. After Oracle took the reigns of Sun that purchased MySQL prior to the Oracle acquisition, the frustrations that the original developers were feeling came to a head. This lead to a fork of MySQL called Drizzle. The original MySQL founders left Oracle to work on Drizzle, which is being developed as a database designed specifically for meeting the data storage demands of new cloud computing environments.

Open Solaris to Illumos. In August, another Sun open source project learned of their fate under Oracle. Oracle’s plans for the future of the Open Solaris project were leaked. In a nutshell, code releases from the commercial release of Solaris were going to be staggered further leading to the Open Solaris project receiving new code well behind the commercial release. This lead the Open Solaris community to fork the current Open Solaris code, and Illumos was born. The Illumos community has said that in many respects they are not a true fork as they still intend to closely follow the Oracle Open Solaris releases. Their goal is to replace the closed portions of Open Solaris with community developed components.

Related to Illumos, is the Open Indiana project. The Open Indiana project has a stated goal of being the default distribution of a free Solaris. The project is targeting servers and hopes to become the standard for a free version of Solaris. Their initial release received some poor reviews as it appeared to be poorly tested and rather haphazardly built. Hopefully, the Open Indiana project will gain more traction now that it is freed from Oracle.

Open Office to LibreOffice. Joining the ranks of former Sun projects to flee Oracle, the Open Office community recently announced The Document Foundation. Their goal is to extend Open Office into a free, independent and community supported office suite. This suite is currently being called LibreOffice and is a fork of Open Office, another former Sun open source project. One of the stated goals of the new foundation is to be as developer friendly as possible.

It seems that many of the fears of open source advocates regarding Oracle’s acquisition of Sun have come true. However, it is clear that the community isn’t just going to watch idly its projects being torn to shreds. When a company, such as Oracle, makes it clear that they do not hold the values of the open source community, the latter will pack up its toys and go to someone else’s sandbox. Nothing demonstrates this point quite as clearly as the number of former Sun open source projects which have been forked as the community flees from Oracle. Maybe Oracle will finally learn a lesson or two about open source and how it works.

Michael DorfAbout the Author:

Michael Dorf is a professional software architect and instructor with a M.S. in Software Engineering and 12 years of industry experience. He teaches for LearnComputer! (learncomputer.com), which offers instructor-led public and onsite Java Training courses. Whether you sign up for a standalone Java Course or take it as a pre-requisite for an Android Course, you will be happy with the end result!


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