Rumors of OpenOffice Demise Exaggerated

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, OpenOffice ( OOo) is not dead and it’s not dying either.

To be fair, OpenOffice no longer is the default open-source office suite for the mainstreamApache OpenOffice Linux distributions, as LibreOffice has taken that mantle. That said, OpenOffice still has users and more important it still has developers and volunteers that will not let it die.

LibreOffice spun out from OpenOffice in the aftermath of the Oracle/Sun acquisition. It was one of many projects including Hudson/Jenkins and MySQL/MariaDB that got forked. To the best my knowledge while all those forks have strong user bases and have become the default tools in their respective domains – the original projects persist.

That’s the magic of open-source – just because a project is forked, doesn’t mean the original project must die.

In the case of OpenOffice, I personally strongly suspect that it is spite and pride (which are powerful ingredients) that keep volunteers motivated and the project alive. After all these years there is still a fair degree of animosity between the forked Sun projects and the original projects.

With Apache, which is where OpenOffice is hosted, there is also a unique process in open-source for dealing with abandoned projects – called the Apache Attic. There was not and there still has not – been a vote to put OpenOffice in the Attic – which is where dead projects go. I’ve written about dead Apache project before – including Apache Wookie. That’s a project that just didn’t have the traction – and perhaps more importantly the develper passion to keep it going.

OpenOffice isn’t in Apache Attic because those that continue to support it refuse to let it go there. I have little doubt that despite – or perhaps in spite – of the fact that LibreOffice has a larger market, mind and developer share that OpenOffice will persist for years yet to come.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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