With the formation of the Document Foundation (TDF), we saw the arrival of another office suite based on OpenOffice — it’s called LibreOffice. Recently there was some conflict between TDF and OpenOffice.org/Oracle teams. We approached TDF to understand the current situation and the future of Libre Office. Here is an interview with Italo Vignoli of The Document Foundation.
Swapnil: There is some confusion. The Community Council (CC) asked TDF members to leave the council in order to not create any confusion as they think there is a conflict of interest. It was alleged that most CC members are now Oracle employees. Do you see this as an independent decision of the CC or Oracle has some role in this decision?
TDF: We prefer to avoid comments about Oracle. We have a different point of view, and we do not feel there is a conflict of interest. I am currently testing OOo 3.3 RC2 for release, and I don’t think that after having promoted OOo for several years I can abandon the project and leave users in the dark. Of course, I will act in a different way with the next iteration of the software, but at the moment I’m still involved in OOo, independently from the fact that Oracle perceives a conflict of interest.
Swapnil: Are more members of CC joining TDF?
TDF: The Document Foundation is open to everyone, provided they want to support the project.
Swapnil: What was the need of starting the LibreOffice, along with the formation of the Foundation? What lead to this decision by some of the core OOo members?
TDF: After 10 years, the OOo community has grown up, with over 100 million users worldwide and thousands of volunteers. It was the right time to start being independent from a single company, for the benefit of the users.
Swapnil: How do you think the formation of the Foundation will help the development of FOSS OfficeSuite?
TDF: An independent foundation will be able to gather contributions from companies, volunteers, users and institutions (governments and NGOs). This will foster a creative environment, and will allow to further develop the office suite marketplace.
Swapnil: OpenOffice seems to have stagnated. We haven’t seen any significant improvements, how different will LO be?
TDF: Of course, it’s too early to see any significant difference between the two products. The actual version will be very similar, but starting from version 3.4 there will be new developments and features and it will be possible to appreciate the work of TDF.
Swapnil: What is your road-map? When is the first stable release scheduled? I have been using it for a week now and I am pretty happy.
TDF: The first stable release will be in late November or early December, and it will be LibreOffice 3.3.
Swapnil: What kind of support are you getting from the industry? Red Hat for example is also an Oracle competitor, do you see LO replacing OOo in major distros? Are there any such commitments from major players?
TDF: LibreOffice will replace OOo in major distros, as announced by Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu representatives on the very day of TDF announcement.
Swapnil: Microsoft recently attacked Openoffice.org in a video ad. How do you see competition with Microsoft in the light of alienation from Oracle or the OOo community?
TDF: Microsoft is keeping a close eye on FOSS office suites, and will probably concentrate on LibreOffice as soon as LO will enter the market with a stable product.
Swapnil: How do you plan to market/promote LO?
TDF: Very aggressively, exactly as the community has marketed and promoted OOo in Italy and other European countries where the product has gained a significant market share.
Swapnil: What kind of install-base have you seen ever since the release of LO betas? What kind of support are you getting from developers?
TDF: I don’t think is appropriate to mention the install base of a beta software. Downloads have exceeded our expectations, but we can’t forget that we are still working at the development of the product. Developers are actively working at the code, cleaning the source and adding patches and new features. In four weeks, the number of new developers shows how big is the enthusiasm around the project.