French government MIMO group going with LibreOffice

Interesting times.

The MIMO working group chose to switch to LibreOffice when the OpenOffice community split into two branches:

  • one branch, OpenOffice, is supported by Oracle, which inherited OpenOffice when it acquired Sun. Oracle donated the OpenOffice code and brand to the Apache Foundation, an independent Open Source institution;
  • the other branch, LibreOffice, is supported by the Document Foundation.

The OpenOffice community split because of a disagreement with Oracle over the management of the project. Some of the people who criticised Oracle’s lack of commitment to OpenOffice development went on to found the Document Foundation. Oracle, however, still owned the OpenOffice name and brand, creating a big headache for MIMO members.

So MIMO met the three parties. “We invited the Document Foundation, Oracle and their respective community, and the Apache Foundation to our meetings,” Christophe Cazin says. “It took a year, but we made an informed choice. Although there were still some uncertainties with the Document Foundation, they provided us with a roadmap of LibreOffice whereas Oracle’s strategy was very blurry. Their OpenOffice community manager came to see us but was not supported by the company. Apache is a very active community, but doesn’t deliver installable software (binaries). And they didn’t know how to tackle the problem. We chose LibreOffice because we lacked visibility into the OpenOffice product and its roadmap”, he says.

Building on what they had learned from these meetings, some MIMO members also took their own steps to evaluate the sustainability of the new Document Foundation. “We found that in France the OpenOffice community had followed the Document Foundation – but we couldn’t have anticipated this”, Christophe Cazin explains. “We use social networks like Twitter and Facebook to see what is being said about the products, what the community members are doing. The community is key, because it is the foundation of an Open Source product like LibreOffice. When we saw that the OpenOffice community was not so active and had not released a milestone for a year and a half, no update, we took the final decision to go with LibreOffice.”
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