Oracle Magnanimous: Open Office to be purely open source

Unstated: 'We couldn't make enough money from it."

There has been another in that wave of revolutions against unfair, oppressive dictatorships by free communities seeking to determine their own future independent of the corrupt, self-interested powers that have kept them in thrall.

Oracle announced Friday it will stop selling a commercial version of OpenOffice and shift all the activities of OpenOffice.org to "a purely community-based open-source project."

That's a huge step for the Open Office portion of the open source community, from which complaints and protests have flowed consistently since Oracle took ownership of Open Office and Java, along with its acquisition of Sun.

The Java community was especially peeved, as Oracle tried to repurpose Java to serve its goals more effectively, promising technical improvements, but creating schisms so great among Java Community Process members that many walked away and whole organizations, including the Apache Software Foundation, declared war on Oracle's direction, packaging, licensing and restrictions.

Longtime OpenOffice developers split from the group as well, creating the rival LibreOffice.org to continue without interference from Oracle.

There has been no resolution of the Java question, and the LibreOffice people are still wary, analysts said.

There may be some future chance of rapprochement, however, following this summary statement of Oracle's thoughts on the value of open source and its sense of community:

"Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis,"

-- Oracle Chief Architect Edward Screven, in an Oracle press release.

Translation: "We couldn't figure out how to make enough money from it." Which is about the most firmly reliable statement you're going to get from a company like Oracle. If it doesn't care about you, you're free.

Unfortunately, supporting the OpenOffice foundation isn't; so the next shoe to drop might be the one that smashes the tiny bits of budget and support Oracle gives to the foundation now.

Open Source, like freedom, might be just another word for nothing left to lose.

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