Our house is very quiet this morning – for the first time since we moved here, there’s just my wife and me in residence. Our offspring, both in their twenties, have flown the nest. Our friends report this is happening later and later in their families, with adult children finding it more and more difficult to make the break.
This seems to be a good analogy for the news that I’m hearing from my former colleagues at OpenOffice.org, where I worked for many years as a volunteer. OpenOffice.org was created ten years ago by Sun Microsystems, then one of the big names in IT, with a mission to challenge Microsoft’s domination of the office software market. Under Sun’s generous sponsorship, it proved highly successful, attracting thousands of supporters and around 15% market share.
However, there were increasing calls that it was time for the Community to move out from the parental home and stand on its own two feet. While you’re living at home, it can be difficult if you want to strike up relationships your parents don’t approve of, but which may actually be for your own good. Without wanting to stretch the family analogy too far, if your parents then have relationship problems of their own, this can prove the last straw – and for some key OpenOffice.org volunteers, the acquisition by Oracle of Sun Microsystems last year was indeed the final straw.
So, today, the OpenOffice.org community has declared UDI, and has set up an independent foundation – The Document Foundation – where they will be free to live their own lives. They are optimistic that Oracle Corporation will not be too upset with developments, and will agree to pass on to their grown-up children the belongings they have had to leave behind – such as the OpenOffice.org trademark. In the meantime, they have announced that their future releases of OpenOffice.org will be known as LibreOffice.
I wish them every success in their new, grown-up world.