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OpenOffice Breaks Away from Oracle, Changes Name to “LibreOffice”

Open source enthusiasts, budget-conscious governments, and broke college students have long appreciated the OpenOffice.org application suite as a free alternative to the likes of Microsoft Office: Now, they’ll have to get used to calling it by not one but two different names. In a sign of OpenOffice’s breaking away from Oracle, which had been its largest contributor after acquiring Sun Microsystems earlier this year, the OpenOffice.org project will henceforth be known as The Document Foundation, and the OpenOffice suite will be known as LibreOffice.

The Register reports:

While OpenOffice had a successful development track record, it was also the code base for Sun’s StarOffice so features were broadly developed to serve that goal.

From now on, though, OpenOffice’s development and direction will be decided by a steering committee of developers and national language project managers.

Oracle, meanwhile, has been humiliatingly invited to re-join the OpenOffice community by applying to the Foundation. It’s also been asked to donate the OpenOffice.org brand that it owns to the community.

Until there’s a decision from Oracle the OpenOffice.org suite will be retain the LibreOffice name. Based on Oracle’s history of responding to community ultimatums, we suggest you get used to LibreOffice.

So: LibreOffice it is, for now and maybe forever. The bifurcated naming isn’t ideal — in the FAQ, the newly christened Document Foundation points out that “it removes ambiguity to have a different name” for the community versus the project and points to the example of the Mozilla foundation and the Firefox browser. And the name “LibreOffice”: Eh, not a home run, though again, it’s temporary. But as for the substance of what they’re doing: Going up against Oracle is no small feat, as the OpenSolaris saga illustrates, and the bold steps taken by The Document Foundation may be what’s needed to keep the project alive.

(Register via Slashdot | LibreOffice download link)

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