Open Source at CeBIT 2011
by Dj Walker-Morgan
CeBIT is a massive trade show; there is nothing like it at least in simple terms of scale, with over a dozen massive halls packed with vendors from every corner of the world and every sector of the business. And in one corner of hall 2 was the open source park, with paid for space for vendors of open source and free space for free projects. With trade-shows like CeBIT, it's unlikely that any project has synchronised their schedule to make any announcements, but it is a great chance to meet and talk with developers and representatives of the numerous projects present and get a feeling for what's going on.
OpenOffice vs LibreOffice
One of the most tangible rivalries of the last year has been the LibreOffice fork from OpenOffice.org, and fate placed the stands of each office suite producer almost back to back in the hall. The LibreOffice people were unphased by the close proximity; they are still basking in the joy of finding how much people like the project after the success of the fund raising to help secure the creation of The Document Foundation. The expansion of the number of developers and collaborators on the project has added to the confidence that the fundraising brought.
But then the OpenOffice.org representatives were equally confident and feel they have the weight of a corporately managed QA process and enterprise engineering on their side of the fight. Rather curiously at the OpenOffice.org stand, one machine was running Oracle's CloudOffice which has been in development since 2007, shares no code with OpenOffice and is closed source. The engineering effort that was going into
CloudOffice had been cited by some as a reason to be worried enough about OpenOffice that a fork should be created, so it was somewhat odd to see it present; the only justification appeared to be that OpenOffice can work with CloudOffice thanks to a toolbar button for transferring local documents to the cloud.
What will happen to the office suite and its community fork is now an interesting question; both sides are resigned to the existence of the other, but The H heard from one side that they would really like it if the two projects could at least find common ground for shared development. This is unlikely to come to pass though in the immediate aftermath of the fork, and for now, both LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org should be evaluated by anyone wanting to deploy an open source office suite.
From projects which forked, to projects that have come together: one stand had a representative from OpenEmbedded which had, that very day, announced it was aligning with the Yocto project from the Linux Foundation. The Yocto project had taken selected elements from OpenEmbedded's comprehensive selection
of ports of open source packages and kernels for over 300 different embedded platforms. The idea of the alignment was to allow both projects to set their development direction together.
The Beagle Board, PandaBoard and FriendlyARM development boards were all on display with the FriendlyARM driving its own LCD display with complex graphics. In the future, the plan appears to be that Yocto will make available a coordinated set of packages to allow new embedded developers to get a Linux kernel, basic commands and a secure networked console up and running quickly. They will then be able to use packages from OpenEmbedded to extend the capability of their system. It is a welcome simplification for getting Linux on embedded systems and one that The H plans to test out in the near future.