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28 September 2010, 09:22

LibreOffice - a community fork for

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The Document Foundation is a newly founded organisation with a mission: to make an office suite available as truly free software, developed within the wider community. Supported by companies like Google, Novell and Red Hat, the Foundation has forked the Oracle-owned OpenOffice software and created LibreOffice.

Worries about Oracle's commitment to OpenOffice have persisted within the OpenOffice community since the company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Most recently a lack of news at the OpenOffice conference and Oracle's preview of a proprietary cloud-based office suite have added momentum to the push for an independent foundation for OpenOffice.

Although in the past there have been previous forks and attempts to create a more independent governance of OpenOffice, this appears to be the first attempt which has widespread community support. Other supporters of The Document Foundation include the Free Software Foundation, the OSI, OASIS, Canonical, credativ, Collabora and the GNOME Foundation, as well as Brazilian OpenOffice developers BRoffice and other regional OpenOffice community groups.

The Document Foundation is managed by a number of OpenOffice community members and contributors, such as André Schnabel, founding member of the German non-profit Deutschland e.V., Caolán McNamara, a senior engineer at Red Hat and long time OpenOffice contributor Charles H Schulz.

Oracle has been invited to join and support the foundation, in part by contributing the OpenOffice brands to it to allow the office suite to be called OpenOffice, but while Oracle is considering its options, the fork is named LibreOffice. A beta version of the LGPL3 licensed office suite is available to download as executables for Windows, 32 bit and 64 bit GNU/Linux and Mac OS X, and as source code, though initially only in English and with the change in name and brand only partially complete.

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