Rabu, 29 September 2010

LibreOffice - What it means to End Users

Open Office has been the defacto standard for open source productivity suites for some time now. It provides a high quality, free alternative to Microsoft's costly Office software and is completely cross-platform. As with many of the larger open source projects Open Office has had a corporate backer for the last ten years, up until recently that backer was Sun Micro-systems. In 2009 a software company known as Oracle bought out Sun Micro-systems (and thus all the open source projects they backed).

Yesterday the Open Office community announced they were forking the project. The results of splitting off an FOSS project means many things to many people. Most all of my friends and family, regardless of their operating system of choice, are end users of the Open Office project. As such I have been getting a few questions wondering what exactly this fork means to them:

Why should the end user care about the forking of Open Office?

Well there are a few reasons. The first and foremost thing a forking brings to the table is more choice. This means in addition to Open Office there will also be the community driven Libre Office.

Next as many in the Linux community know, forking a project sometimes creates something that is much better than the original. With Libre Office I am hoping this will also be the case. Libre Office will be software developed by the community for the community. Having a project managed by an elected panel instead of a money hungry company is favorable in the open source world.

One benefit to having a company in charge of a project is that they fund said project. While Libre Office has assembled an impressive list of supporters, it remains yet to be seen if any on this list will be contributing funds to the FOSS project. While it is true much FOSS development is done at no cost, having money to pay developers allows them to focus more of their attention on the project at hand, thus producing higher quality results (most times).

Personally I hope Libre Office takes off, but only time will tell if this fork of a major open source project will be successful.

~Jeff Hoogland

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