LibreOffice development on track after Oracle move

Second beta for the LibreOffice 3.4 open-source office suite is available one week after Oracle dumped a commercial version of OpenOffice.org

The Document Foundation on Friday announced a second beta for LibreOffice 3.4, the offshoot of the OpenOffice.org codebase, one week after Oracle said it would no longer sell a commercial version of the productivity suite.

"Please be aware that LibreOffice 3.4 Beta2 is not yet ready for production use," the Document Foundation said on its website. "You should continue to use LibreOffice 3.3.2 for that." Release 3.4.0 is currently scheduled for delivery on May 31, according to the site.

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The Document Foundation, which has the backing of companies such as Red Hat and Google, formed last year following concerns over how Oracle was working with community members.

In its announcement last week, Oracle said it would transition the open-source OpenOffice.org to a "purely community-based" project, but it is still unclear whether or how that may affect the Document Foundation. For one, it's not yet known if Oracle will set up a new open-source foundation for OpenOffice.org, or simply embrace LibreOffice.

Spokespeople for the Document Foundation and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

In a blog post Wednesday, foundation member Florian Effenberger gave a status update on the group's organizational plans.

Applications are now being accepted for community membership, he wrote. "It is not necessary to do so in order to be part of the Community, but approved members will have the right to vote on the various seats and roles within the Foundation. So far, we have received about 100 applications in just 24 hours -- wow!"

"We have also been asked various times on how we want to cooperate with possible corporate sponsors," Effenberger added.

The current version of the group's bylaws dictates there will be both a board of directors and an advisory board, he said. "The Board of Directors should be elected by those it represents, by those for whom we created the project: the Community. ... The Advisory Board is for donors and sponsors, and seats inside will not be voted on, but are based on recurring contributions either with resources or money."

This distinction has been drawn on purpose, according to Effenberger.

"Given the history of the project and the way we achieved things so far, we do not want a seat inside the Board of Directors to be granted for a donation. It should always be voted on by the Community," he said. "We had a history where single corporations had a large influence because of their financial background, and we want to avoid that in the future for our Community."

That said, there's nothing stopping corporations from becoming community members and running for election, he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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