Thursday, December 16, 2010

OpenOffice.org support in Ottawa? ...and the future of LibreOffice.

I just received a call from someone looking for support for OpenOffice in the Ottawa area. They did a search, and my company came up. While I would have had better answers for them in the past, I realize that with all the changes initiated this year that I am not as up to speed on the current situation as I once was. I'm offering what I know, in the hopes that other people will add comments.

In the past the lead developer and primary copyright holder for OpenOffice.org was Sun. Sun was sold to Oracle in April 2009, and the relationship between Oracle and the various Open Source communities that Sun had participated in have been very strained. In the case of the OpenOffice.org project, the lead developers within and outside of what was previously Sun have largely left to create the The Document Foundation, which produces a community driven derivative of OpenOffice.org called LibreOffice.

The second largest participant in OpenOffice.org was Novell, which was acquired by Attachmate Corporation in November 2010. While the inability of Oracle to play well with others was well known, and the fallout between them and various development communities was predictable, the future plans of Attachmate are not as well known.


In the past both Sun and Novell offered corporate support and training for OpenOffice.org based office suites. Both offered their own compiled and branded version, with Sun using the name StarOffice and Novell simply calling it Novell OpenOffice. Whenever a larger client came to me asking about support, I could easily let them know about these larger companies offering support. During this transition, I'm not sure what to be recommending.


I believe there is a very bright future for LibreOffice. Having Sun retain copyright through Joint Copyright Assignment agreements scared away many potential corporate and individual participants in the project. This will no longer be an issue, and I expect that once we get past this transition phase that there will be more commercial support for LibreOffice than there ever was for OpenOffice.org

The question I have for the community is what they would recommend during this interim. If you offer commercial support in Ottawa or elsewhere in Canada, please post a comment with additional information. If you are an employee of Oracle or Attachmate and have something to add about the participation of your company, I would be very interested to hear about that as well.
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