As a writer, I am proud to say that I have used OpenOffice.org as my primary office suite for over 5 years, and could not be happier with it. While I must admit that Microsoft Office is a good office suite product, I rather dislike its user interface (the ribbon, and all that), and prefer to keep my documents in a non-proprietary format (that is, the OpenDocument format). However, not all is well on the OpenOffice.org front these days.
It is no small news that OpenOffice.org, perhaps the only significant (not to mention free) compeditor to Microsoft Office, is in a bit of a topsy-turvy state right now. But first some background. While OpenOffice.org is indeed an open source software project released under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL), the trademark for OpenOffice.org itself is (or was) owned by Sun Microsystems — OpenOffice.org’s biggest corporate partner and contributor. However, on January 27, 2010, Sun was acquired by Oracle Corporation along with all its assets, which of course include not only the trademark to OpenOffice.org, but several other open source projects as well, such as the popular, free, and open source database MySQL (which directly competes with Oracle’s own horrendously expensive database). Although Oracle can do nothing to stop, kill, or even take over a software project whose code-base is released under the GPL or LGPL, they can cause serious disruption. Many feared this would happen to MySQL, but few expected a big fuss over OpenOffice.org. After all, Oracle stands to gain ground tremendous against Microsoft by continuing to support and promote OpenOffice.org. (more…)