back to article Oracle's Ellison gambles with OpenOffice's future

Oracle was the first top-tier IT vendor to announce it was putting its key product - the database - on Linux. The logic was simple: Linux freed Oracle from depending on a single company for operating system - that company was Microsoft. Taking the baton from Sun Microsystems' co-founder and chairman Scott McNealy at JavaOne …


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  1. John O'Hare


    "The logic was simple: Linux freed Oracle from depending on a single company for operating system - that company was Microsoft."

    Yes, because Oracle databases don't run on anything else (like a multitude of Unix flavours).

    And that's where I stopped reading...

    Where's the icon for the +5 cluestick.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dog food

    Encouraged to build libraries is a euphemism for JavaFX team ordered to eat its dog food.

    It's all in-house, so there's no excuse for failure. If it works, OO gets to play in a cloud for the first time. If not, well now we know. In the meantime OO can just get on with business as usual.

  3. Thomas Wolf

    How is Netbeans a "Sun only vehicle"?

    The author states that Netbeans is a "Sun-only" vehicle. Netbeans is open-source - it just so happens that Sun is the primary contributor. As such, Netbeans is more like OpenOffice (or Eclipse, if you want to pick another IDE) than Java-FX.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    oh well

    i could always run ms-office in wine.

  5. John Doe

    and we, the users of OO.o, encurage Oracle to... their DB engine in JavaFX.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "Linux freed Oracle from depending on a single company for operating system "?

    Is this a serious statement? At one time in the distant past Oracle only ran on VMS but that was a long time ago in IT terms.

    Thumb Down


    You lost all credibility with the claim that Netbeans is required to build JavaFX apps. I've never used FX and have no idea how the API works, but less than five seconds with Google contradicted your claim: there are eclipse plug-ins for JavaFX, of course.

    Your other claims are just as suspect, which is unfortunate.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a little confused

    Ajax is a client-server technology no? Hence, likely irrelevant to this discussion, unless it becomes about turning openoffice into a hosted platform. JavaFX is probably the best-of-breed for build Java GUIs right now, even if immature. Following the eat-your-own-dogfood maxim, it would seem necessary for Oracle to use its ownership/stewardship of the two technologies to push them closer together. So in the light of that, Ellison's message makes sense if JavaFX and ooo are going to stay relevant.

    Also, surely NetBeans is destined for the dustbin, so perhaps Ellison will need to divert some resources to offering better JavaFX support for Eclipse?

  9. Stephen Channell

    Larry can see the writting on the wall!

    And it is rendered with GTK# and Mono!

    If it was not for Sun owning StarOffice, nobody would question the idea of mono UI.. because it is a no-brainer..

    The problem for Larry is a mono/.net OOo would would help .NET in general which is not good for Java.. and not good or Oracle DB licence fees.. If he really though JavaFX and UI over the web was a good paradigm for office apps.. he'd have plumped for AIR.

    This is all about stiffing Mono.

  10. Carl Jokl


    Does Sun ever do anything without The Register writing a Cynical article about it?

    I might mention that to say Nebeans is the only way to build JavaFX is out and out nonsense. For some time an Eclipse plug-in has been available and anyone who wants to create and IDE which just uses the FXDK can do so. Sun has also been clear that in the interests of speed as they are still very much figuring out what is to be in JavaFX they have avoided putting it in open source in the 1.x release. This allows them to make quick design decisions without having to consult lots of people while the platform is still in a lot of flux. It is expected 2.x will be open source.

  11. b4k4


    Time to escape from Oracle's clutches. How about an IBM sponsored fork?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Larry can see the writting on the wall!

    Sorry but you are mistaken if you think that Mono has acceptability in the FOSS world simply because of MS's licensing. There is no office product group that uses the .Net framework - MS Office certainly doesn't as it is too large a project to rewrite in .Net. The .Net framework hasn't really taken off for traditional application development except for small scale projects.

    Mono is second fiddle to MS's offering because they haven't full support for .Net 2.0 nevermind 3.0 or 3.5. I certainly wouldn't be developing any kind of .Net solution on or targeted towards Mono.

  13. Ian Michael Gumby

    Just a simple clarification...

    Oracle was not the first major relational database company to commit to Linux.

    Unofficially, both Informix Software and Sybase had ports already done to Linux far before Oracle had.

    Oracle announced just a couple of days prior to Informix's planned announcement that was to take place at their annual user group conference.

    At the time Informix had planned their announcement, they already had a product ready to go to market. Not so with Oracle. Oracle's announcement was smoke and mirrors in an effort to steal Informix's thunder.

    Someone had leaked the 'super sekret' 'surprise announcement' to Oracle ahead of time. ;-)

    However, the point you were trying to make is that Oracle is a company trying to be on the 'bleeding edge' and becoming an early adopter of technology has some merit. However, unless Oracle believes that the adoption of the technology will make them money, they will not do it.

    But hey! What do I know? Its not like I was there back in '97 and '98... ;-)


    Flames for the author who believes the hype that he hears without checking the facts.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    I know this is Geeksville but its all about Margin

    Oracle launched on 'Linux 'because they could 'give' the OS away and maintain the margin on the was a sales strategy with almost nothing to do with the politics of OSS....

    and I'm pretty sure it was only available on redhat, not linux two different things....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What, OpenOffice doesn't suck enough as it is?

    I agree with AC@02:14 GMT, although with deep reluctance. AbiWord inexplicably still can't do smart quotes (google for a great rant Douglas Adams - yes, THAT Douglas Adams - wrote on the topic in 1992), and there aren't any other word processors for linux that come close to sufficient interoperability with the horrible MS Word documents that, Stallman's rants aside, I have no choice but to deal with. But OpenOffice already feels like somebody's experiment rather than something I'd actually voluntarily use if I had any choice.

    Maybe we'll be lucky and someone like IBM will fork the OpenOffice project and attempt to inject some actual competence into it...

  16. David Halko
    Dead Vulture

    Single OS Company for Oracle, who was Microsoft?

    Gavin Clarke writes, "The logic was simple: Linux freed Oracle from depending on a single company for operating system - that company was Microsoft."

    The second sentence of this article is quite suspect on two major points.

    Oracle had concentrated on cross-platform implementations of their flagship database since approximately 1983 with Oracle Version 3 without being dependent upon a single company for an operating system.

    If there was a single company for operating system that Oracle was dependent upon for a significant source of revenue - it was not Microsoft.

    Oracle states, "The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database, Oracle’s largest business, and has been for a long time."

    Speculation concerning technology such as JavaFX, through a joint Oracle/Sun partnership, can only be reasonable when the basic history of Oracle, Sun, and Operating Systems is clearly understood.

  17. Gary Edwards

    Connecting Java to the Open Web

    +1 JavaFX

    When Sun introduced JavaFX at the 2008 Web 2.0 Conference, it was pretty clear that Adobe Flash/Flex/AiR and Microsoft Silverlight had crowded out the previous Web 2.0 darling, Ajax. RiA was all the rage, with the highly interactive and graphical vector interfaces challenging the boxy clunkers everywhere you looked.

    Here's the thing about JavaFX that makes it important. JavaFX embeds the WebKit layout engine and document model. This is the same HTML+ WebKit engine used by Apple iPhone/Safari, Google Android/Chrome, Palm Pre/WebOS, Nokia S60/S40/QT, RiMM Blackberry Storm, IRiS, Midori, and so many others. The WebKit layout engine is also used by Adobe AiR!

    The WebKit document model has also contributed to the advance of HTML+, supporting HTML5, CSS3, CSS4, SVG/Canvas, JavaScript, and the emerging JS libraries such as jQuery. In this HTML+ push, Webkit is joined by Opera and Firefox. The results are a highly interoperable, very graphical and interactive, dancing document model capable of covering everything connecting desktops, devices and servers across the Open Web.

    Running on the WebKit layout engine, JavaFX could connect the vast Java developer community to the Open Web. WebKit plug-ins have also hit the Eclipse developer community, with the Genuitec "WebKit for SWT" leading the way. This is good news for the future of the Open Web.

    Mr. Ellison needs to march into the Hamburg OpenOffice/StarOffice, with his trusted lieutenant Phil Boutros by his side, and kick some ass. It's way past time that OpenOffice directly supported the Open Web with native read/write/collaborate capabilities. The world needs powerful desktop editors capable of speaking Open Web, and JavaFX might be the best way of doing it. Make no mistake though. This would be major surgery for OOo. I also think it would be a good thing to have seamless transparency between OpenOffice ODF and OpenWeb HTML+.

    Finally there is Phil Boutros, the ace up Ellison's sleeve. Phil came to Oracle by way of the Stellent acquisition. While at Stellent, Phil was one of the founding members of the OASIS ODF TC (then Open Office XML). During his time working on ODF, Phil pushed the important issue of compatibility with the billions of legacy binary documents, and the applications that created them. His reasoning centered around the rather obvious logic that if the world was unable to convert these legacy documents to ODF (with an acceptable lossiness), there wasn't much point to developing a new format. For new formats to be successful, they would have to be compatible with legacy information and business processing systems.

    In spite of Phil's efforts, (as well as the efforts of many others), ODF was not developed to be compatible with the legacy corpus of documents and document generating systems. Compatibility work was deemed by Sun to be outside the ODF charter, and outside the scope of the specification. An argument that had a lot of substance back then primarily because Microsoft was not a participant.

    Of course if Microsoft had been a participant, backwards compatibility with the existing MSOffice desktop productivity environments would have been a primary concern for the ODF TC. Many argued however that the TC should give compatibility it's best shot regardless of Microsoft's abscence. The world needed us to do this. Besides, the ODF TC had the participation of some of the world's foremost binary reverse engineering experts, who spent their lives studying the internal MSOffice layout model and in-memory-binary-document representation. With renown experts like Phil Boutros, Paul Langelle (Corel), Daniel Vogleheim and Florian Reuter working on ODF, i often thought that it was unlikely that Microsoft could have had better representation of their MSOffice technical issues.

    Now that Oracle is in charge of OpenOffice and ODF, i'm hopeful that ODF can get back on track. JavaFX is an interesting way of doing this. It works for all kinds of Oracle client/server/cloud/ria initiatives. And it works well for the future of the Open Web.

    What's not to like?


  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gary Edwards: did you enjoy that Kool Aid?

    How does any of that incredible mass of marketdroidspeak translate into (a) an office suite that more easily permits ordinary users to get their work done, or (b) a word processor that more easily permits ordinary users to interchange documents with the large percentage of everyone else who uses Microsoft Word documents?

    Do you think that most ordinary users genuinely care about all those Web 2.0 widgetry things more than, say, writing stuff? Or what document format they're using, so long as they can exchange documents with co-workers or friends?

  19. sebsto

    Ellison did not say "rewrite"

    I was there - Ellision did not pronounced the word "rewrite". He talked about adding a JavaFX GUI layer on top of OpenOffice.

    This is radically different and totally acceptable as it is about creating another GUI on top of the existing backend.


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