This now almost-past year was a true roller coaster ride for me (and many of my fellows). Not a particularly good excuse, but at least an excuse, for not blogging for such a long time.
The year started out with Oracle announcing the Sun acquisition has closed in January, and a virtual sigh of relief went through the OpenOffice.org community – as the months before had seen the usual information embargoes, indecisiveness and anxiety that tends to go with corporate mergers.
People had high hopes, that the new owner may be more amenable to change things fundamental to the governance of the OpenOffice.org project, and thus fix several issues brewing since a long time. Initial talks were encouraging, but it seems there was a cultural mismatch with the new owner, and the opensource communities – information was getting out even more sparsely than before, there was no sharing of feature plans, or release dates – something unthinkable for a project that can only thrive when you share code, and information, in the open. And the bad old habit of exclusionism and carefully maintained control lived on. See an earlier post for one of several cases where almost unequivocal community requests were opposed or ignored by Sun/Oracle.
Quite naturally, that was immensely frustrating for many long-standing community members, so over the course of this year, opposition grew – in several different sub-groups, that later joined forces during the annual OpenOffice.org conference in Budapest, and ultimately resulted in the launch of The Document Foundation, and LibreOffice project.
I’m delighted to be part of that new endeavour – though it means tons of work, and I see friends, colleagues and comrades spending days and nights on coding, infrastructure, QA, translation, advocacy and what not – it’s still a fun ride, because it feels right.
The only constant in life is change – that’s a given, none the least in software land. And change is what every project undergoes, like the StarOffice code becoming opensourced in 2000 after ten years of closed-source development, and now, after another ten years, that same code base finally getting a truly open governance, under the auspices of The Document Foundation. Because opening up the source code means going only half the way – as people wiser than me have repeatedly pointed out.
Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt – with that, I wish all my readers a very happy and successful new year, looking forward to meet many of you in person again in 2011! And thanks a million for the incredible work you folks did – I feel honoured indeed to be a part of this.