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OpenOffice Foundation Splits from Oracle

The community of volunteers that developed the OpenOffice.org project have split off from Oracle and formed a new structure called The Document Foundation.

OpenOffice.org was founded 10 years ago with Sun Microsystems as a principal sponsor with the goal of creating a free and open source office suite. With its acquisition of Sun, Oracle gained OpenOffice.org assets. The Document Foundation said the new Open Document Format (ODF) OpenOffice brand will be known as LibreOffice.

"The foundation will be the cornerstone of a new ecosystem where individuals and organizations can contribute to and benefit from the availability of a truly free office suite," the foundation said in a statement released Tuesday. "It will generate increased competition and choice for the benefit of customers and drive innovation in the office suite market."

The group said it has invited Oracle to join the new foundation and donate the OpenOffice brand to the community. Pending a decision by Oracle, the foundation has launched LibreOffice. A beta is available at LibreOffice.org. The foundation has invited developers to contribute to the project.

The move was long overdue, wrote attorney Andy Upgrove, in a blog post. "Sun maintained too much control," he noted. "This reality has played out over and over during the past 30 years--when one or a few companies maintain too much control, others stay away, because they can’t be sure that the project will be managed for everyone’s benefit."

He added: "What this highlights is the reality that even companies with excellent credentials as stewards for open-source projects cannot control the future of these not-so-public-after-all projects when they are themselves acquired."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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