Oracle took over of SUN’s assets put it in great conflict with the open source community. So far, most of it did not end up well. First case in point is Hudson/Jenkin split. Then SunGridEngine staffs are poached by UNIVA and the product forked into UNIVA Grid Engine. Now we have a new twist of OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice saga.
OpenOffice.org’s relationship with the open source community under SUN is already tense, Oracle acquisition of SUN made matter worse if only because Oracle’s throws it reputation into the volatile mix. When LibreOffice was announced, I thought it is no big deal. When it is mentioned that it had successfully poached staff members from Oracle, I started to pay attention. Now Oracle decided to throw in the towel and turn it into a community project.
If it had done it earlier, one would say Oracle is demonstrating good will. Right now it looks like Oracle decision was forced onto it as it hemorrhage too many staffs to make it viable commercially and it is trying to salvage what it can by turning it into a community software.
Did Oracle managed to achieve its goal of getting others to do the work and then cash in as I always think it is doing with OpenOffice.org? Chances are, it failed this time, miserably and it is all its fault. After all, that argument of mine is predicated on the fact that it can cash in. If it cannot, which is demonstrated by this decision, then it failed. Its strategy is to blame. This failure might in the long run turn out to be a wake up call for Oracle to improve its image in open source community.
Will LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org merge? Not today, nor in a few years time. The split was quite acrimonious and time is needed to heal the wound. In a longer time frame? May be. Turning OpenOffice.org into a community project keep that possibility open. The only question now is how will the two looks like in the longer time frame? If their path diverge, then it makes no sense. However, if there code-base stays very close to each other, then the bottom line is it makes no sense to have two products and two communities and they should and probably will merge.