Monday, September 5, 2016

OpenOffice might be shut down due to lack of resources

For the longest time, those not wishing to pay money for the "standard" office application suite—Microsoft Office—had a few open-source alternatives: OpenOffice or LibreOffice. That list might soon get sliced in half, however, as recent reports indicate that OpenOffice might be shut down due to lack of resources.

At least, that's what Apache OpenOffice volunteer vice president Dennis Hamilton suggested in a recent email to the openoffice-dev mailing list.

"I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner. It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together. It doesn't matter what the reasons for that might be," he wrote.

The chief issue seems to center around OpenOffice's inability to address identified security vulnerabilities, as there simply aren't enough developers or volunteers involved in the updating process to release timely patches for the open-source software. As Ars Technica notes, the last major OpenOffice update was for version 4.1.2 back in October 2015. In contrast, competing open-source office suite LibreOffice—where a number of OpenOffice developers have moved to—is well-maintained and frequently updated.

If OpenOffice were to shut down, one possible outcome is that the entire project's contents would be archived and available for future developers to check out as they desire, though they wouldn't be able to commit any code to this archive. Many of the various ways developers (and OpenOffice) currently communicate would go away: the OpenOffice blog, social media accounts, as well as the official announce, private, and security OpenOffice listservs.

"I cannot prediction how this will all work out. It is remiss of me not to point out that retirement of the project is a serious possibility," Hamilton wrote.

"There are those who fear that discussing retirement can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. My concern is that the project could end with a bang or a whimper. My interest is in seeing any retirement happen gracefully. That means we need to consider it as a contingency. For contingency plans, no time is a good time, but earlier is always better than later."

OpenOffice has been downloaded more than 160 million times since May of 2012.


Maybe the two projects should join resources kind of like what happened with WineHQ and Wine-Staging. It's always better to work as one unified group on any project. And we always have CrossOver Linux   and CrossOver Mac to run Microsoft Office with, Right?

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