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Friday Foss Week in Review: Vive le OpenOffice Libre!

There’s certainly not a lack of things to report on this week. As usual, some is good, some is not-so-good and some is enough to make you downright paranoid.

We’ll start with some good news:

LibreOffice Off and Running

Last week we got the news that many if not most of the development folks at OpenOffice.org have decided not to wait to see what Oracle will do, but have exercised their rights under to GPL to create LibreOffice. The new organization running the show is The Document Foundation.

Ellison & the GPL Part III

If you’ve downloaded and installed a copy of OpenOffice.org recently, you’ve probably noticed Oracle’s red lettered logo on the splash screen. This caught my attention the first time I saw it because I didn’t remember ever having seen Sun’s logo on the splash screen, so I fired up an ancient PC running Windows98 and opened OOo, version 1.x. I was right, Sun’s logo was nowhere to be seen.

As much as I don’t like to see Oracle’s branding on an important open source project like OpenOffice.org, this might be a good thing for the office productivity suite, which has become the de facto alternative to Microsoft’s Office franchise. It means that Ellison & Company evidently places value on the OpenOffice brand and values the company’s association with it.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Ellison & the GPL Part II

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Larry Ellison and Oracle’s apparent lack of respect for the GPL. The FOSS community should find this especially disturbing due to the boatload of open source projects now controlled by Oracle after its acquisition of Sun. Not the least of these is MySQL, the workhorse database that practically runs the Internet, which is available under the GPL and various proprietary licenses. After Oracle unceremoniously dropped support for OpenSolaris, the open source version of Sun’s (now Oracle’s) UNIX OS, we can’t help but wonder if the GPL’d version of MySQL will be next.

Ellison is probably not very enthused about the open source aspects of MySQL. For one thing, he probably sees it as competing with Oracle RDBMS, which just happens to be Oracle’s cash cow. He could just quit supporting the GPL’d version by refusing to open source new code added to the proprietary versions but that would only invite a fork. As I mentioned yesterday, the open source implementation of MySQL is too important to fail, so we could expect IBM, Google and others to pick-up the ball in that case, and continue development of a MySQL fork.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Ellison & the GPL Part I

You would think a firm that fancies itself a Linux development company would have some respect for the GPL. With most companies, you’d be right. But not with Oracle. It becomes more obvious with each passing day that Larry Ellison has absolutely no respect for the GPL. The FOSS community would do well to consider Ellison to be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing and act accordingly – for “FOSS-friendly” Oracle might pose more of a threat than Microsoft ever did.

Ellison seems to be making the GPL his play toy, shamelessly looking for holes in the license to exploit to his own advantage. Several years back, to show his displeasure at Red Hat for potentially moving into his territory when they acquired JBoss, he boldly announced the release of Unbreakable Linux, which was really Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) rebranded as an Oracle product (which he was perfectly free to do under the terms of the GPL).

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Can Android be More Open?

M. G. Siegler is right. Android is not as open as many of us would like, at least for the user. But while it’s certainly not as open as any garden-variety Linux distro, it’s certainly much more open than the norm for Linux embedded on a device – and let’s face it, an Android smartphone is nothing but an embedded device. The functionality of your device is determined not by you the user, but by a combination of the handset maker and the carrier. According to Siegler, that needs to change – and I agree.

In case you missed the article, Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With, which appeared last Thursday on TechCrunch, Siegler has a variety of complaints about Android handsets, beginning with one that will be very familiar to anyone who’s ever bought a computer from Dell with Windows preinstalled:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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