Ubuntu isn't replacing OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice ... yet

Canonical developer only said the packages were there for evaluation

It looks as if some folks got a little bit carried away with the news yesterday that the next version of Ubuntu, 11.04, will feature LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org.

Because, actually, that's not exactly what's happening. Yet.

On Monday, Linux Magazine's Amber Graner got it right, when she reported that Ubuntu Desktop Engineer Matthias Klose announced that "LibreOffice would be included in the Alpha 2 Natty Narwhal release for evaluation and possible inclusion into the final Ubuntu 11.04 release."

Somehow, by the next day, the news was mistakenly distorted to headlines in more than a few outlets that stated "LibreOffice Replaces OpenOffice In Natty, PPA For Lucid And Maverick," or similar. It hit the Twittersphere, and I even re-tweeted the news myself. And off it went, with a lot of folks, including me, thinking that LibreOffice had indeed made the Ubuntu big-time.

Except we were wrong. Klose's note was intended to suggest that LibreOffice be put into the 11.04 Alpha 2 version for evaluation, not replacement. To be fair to the other media outlets, Klose's subject line for the mailing list message--"LibreOffice for natty, replacing the current OpenOffice packaging"--really didn't help.

According to Rick Spencer, Ubuntu Engineering Director at Canonical, "the Ubuntu desktop team and the community are making a final call on whether to go with Libre or OO.org at the Ubuntu/Linaro Rally scheduled for Dallas next week and assuming a decision is reached there we will confirm it at that point. The informal mail post sent by Matthias, one of our developers, was simply pointing out the options available, not confirming a decision."

The rally Spencer is referring to is the Jan. 10-14 Linaro and Ubuntu Platform Sprint. It will be interesting to see how the decision plays out there.

LibreOffice was launched last October when 33 members of the Germanophone project within the larger OpenOffice.org community gave Oracle and the OpenOffice.org team leaders notice that they would be walking away from the project and working for the new LibreOffice project, to be managed by The Document Foundation.

The reasons for the walkout were clearly stated: the developers are unhappy with the OpenOffice.org stance that any current OpenOffice.org project or team leader who is also working on LibreOffice should withdraw from their position in the OpenOffice community.

Oracle's stated reason for this requirement at the time was their belief that such team leaders working on both projects represents a conflict of interest. LibreOffice developers, they felt, shouldn't be leading OpenOffice.org teams.

For now, LibreOffice fans can test drive the software on Ubuntu either in the alpha version of 11.04, or as a PPA for 10.04 and 10.10, as they await the final decision.

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