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About Christian Grobmeier

Christian Grobmeier
Christian is a passionated software developer, architect and trainer. He is a member and VP of the Apache Software Foundation, working on projects like Struts, log4j and others. He founded Time & Bill and constantly tries out new ideas.

Apache OpenOffice vs LibreOffice: Make love, not war.

Before a good while something terrible happened at Oracle. The result was that a lot of developers made a fork of OpenOffice.org and called it LibreOffice from that day on. We can be glad about that. It is my personal opinion that without this fork Oracle would not have donated OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation to become Apache OpenOffice. When this happened some people spread FUD around Apache OpenOffice (no reference – the web is full of it). Despite this the people around Apache OpenOffice managed to create a few new versions and graduated from the Apache Incubator (where all projects start. Or lets say most). Apache OpenOffice has proven that it is able to operate and create new releases.

Meanwhile some people are calling Apache OpenOffice a “dead horse”. I am not sure why there are so much emotions around it. It is a project as many projects. There are people working in their spare time because they want to do it. Terms like calling Open Source projects “dead horse” is not only dismissive it is a bad signal. It tells me, that the outside community is not thinking about the individuals who have fun coding Open Source. They are looking at brands. There is no rational reason to look at brands in Open Source, except maybe for evaluation purposes.

For example, take Apache Commons. This project has had a lot activity in the past and many great components. Now there is Guava. And Apache Commons is not longer so hot as it was in the past. I am a Committer to Apache Commons. Am I pissed because Guava attracts more people? No. Of course I am looking at Guava and try to find out why they are so cool. And yes, I am even using Guava when it matches better than a similar Component in Commons. Finally there is some motivation in it when other people do the same things – just better (somehow). It is competition. Competition in Open Source is not making prices low. It makes the Quality better.

Usually. But sometimes too much emotions (or marketing?) on brands let us forget that competition is a good thing.

I am afraid the marketing people of LibreOffice were a little to enthusiastic with their numbers. Rob Weir wrote one and then another blog post evaluating what’s wrong with them.

As he mentioned, after the first blog post he became the “number one enemy” of LibreOffice. I was pretty surprised to read something like that.

Rob does only refer to this message. Luckily there are some other opinions as well. Marc Paré for example said the team needs to try to get better and provide verificable numbers. He said they need to work hard on it to determine the health of their community.

He is right on that. And he is right when he later used the word “soap box”. He is not the only one who uses such a phrasing. Golem is one the biggest it news publishers in Germany and they wrote an article about this. They looked at what Rob wrote and agreed the numbers might look strange. But finally they came to the conclusion that – despite the well observed justified critics – Robs posts sound pedantic and like he was a sore loser. In my opinion, news portals should stay as objective as possible. This is not the case with this remark. But it reflects the harm such marketing posts cause.

Let us hold on for one moment.

Freedom by Josef Grunig

There are no enemies in Open Source. Everybody can make mistakes. We don’t know how these numbers were produced, but probably it’s an error. Or the creators simply didn’t know. It’s hard to judge. If you want to discuss that, it’s time to join the LibreOffice mailing lists.

We should remember that there is no LibreOffice vs Apache OpenOffice. There is just two groups of people who could benefit greatly from each other. It’s two great Office-Products. And now comes the best part: it’s two products with different licenses. GPL and AL. It’s up to you which fits better for you or your project. Both have great benefits.

Here is my suggestion: calm down. There is no battle. We have two winners out there. If somebody next to you tells you about dead horses, enemies, lost games or something else make him shut up. Open Source is not about marketing. It’s about fun creating great software. $$$ is secondary.

Imagine what happens if two such great, powerful and influencing projects help each other? Make love, not war. Soap Box operas just do harm to Open Source in general. We should all come back to what Open Source really is about: fun, freedom, software.

Reference: Apache OpenOffice vs LibreOffice: Make love, not war. from our JCG partner Christian Grobmeier at the PHP und Java Entwickler blog.

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Gualtiero Testa
Gualtiero Testa

From a user point of view, I appreciate the work done by LibreOffice: Writer and Calc have improved a lot, with several importat bug fixes and also some improvments. I can now use these tools daily without going back to MS Office for the critical work (as I was used to do at OpenOffice 3.3 time frame).

Of course, Apache Office will also improve but I believe it has lost too much time (not due to Apache Foundation).