back to article LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'

The LibreOffice community has protested at the appearance of a "personal edition" label in the forthcoming version 7.0 of the hitherto free office suite, and the suggestion that paid-for enterprise editions are in the pipeline. The trouble began with a bug report earlier this month, raised by a user who spotted that version 7. …

  1. Alumoi

    Free

    Yeah, and Windows 10 was a free upgrade and will continue to be free.

    Tell us another one.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Free

      Free for people

      Buy support license if a corporation. No issues with that. RedHat has done it for years.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Free

        Red Hat is a great example (and there are many). Ultimately, software applications for an enterprise need to be able to offer reliable enhanced support and that costs money. A major barrier to enterprise adoption of open source is the lack of this support. Not having this just makes M$ more entrenched.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @HildyJ - Re: Free

          And what stops enterprises to approach the developers of an open source project they're interested in and offer them money in exchange for support ?

          1. Filippo

            Re: @HildyJ - Free

            The developers of an open source project are typically not structured in such a way as to offer paid-for support. They don't have a clear pricing. They don't have a contract that can be reviewed. They don't have a phone number you can call. It's not clear who exactly you would pay, or how. They have no manager you can complain to if the support sucks. They are not actually trained to do support - and, by all means, insert all the snark you want here, but it's a fact that doing development and doing support are not the same job.

            And that's just off the top of my head. If I thought hard about this, as anyone in an enterprise would do, I could certainly come up with another half dozen problems at least. They can probably all be solved, but that takes time, and time is money, and it might still not work.

            And that's all assuming they are not employed by someone already, and contractually unable to provide paid-for support to third parties.

            1. Mark #255
              Coat

              Re: @HildyJ - Free

              I'm sorry, this just won't do.

              Coming into the comments with logic and reasoning like that.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: @HildyJ - Free

              "The developers of an open source project are typically not structured in such a way as to offer paid-for support."

              The bulk of LO code comes from a group of companies who are structured to offer support. Their problem is that the delivery of LO, either as rolled in with the rest of a Linux distro or downloaded from the LibreOffice site isn't driving enough business their way.

              The marketing slides talk about a win-win situation. Instead they've created a lose-lose situation by putting the banner in an RC where it got spotted before they could go public. The bener would have been intended to support whatever public announcement they were going to make. Instead they're running round in circles trying to support the banner.

              I still don't understand how they were going to put the whole thing together. If the various eco-system companies' are fragmented - even if only by branding - it will just confuse the potential customers. I suspect it was going to have been a pig's ear anyway but they've just made certain of it.

              One peculiarity is that they seem to be worried that TDF is seen as a software vendor. Part of the plan is to push LibreOffice as the brand. As far as most people are concerned LO is the brand and they've never heard of TDF. For a most of the rest LO is still the brand and TDF is some sort of shadowy thing in the background.

          2. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: @HildyJ - Free

            Nothing, although since many developers of open source software are also in full time employment (and quite often employed to write that open source software) it's going to be an unduly expensive support fee.

            Better to build the in-house capability or contract with a third party able to provide it. The third party may well be employing some of the developers anyway.

          3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: @HildyJ - Free

            And what stops enterprises to approach the developers of an open source project they're interested in and offer them money in exchange for support ?

            Nothing, actually, and that's part of the benefit of the licensing. But I don't think that's the market TDF is trying to address. I think they're trying to address enterprises that are seeking a single full-time provider of support, help, expertise and training.

          4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: @HildyJ - Free

            "And what stops enterprises to approach the developers of an open source project they're interested in and offer them money in exchange for support ?"

            The problem is a lot of Open Source developers are not equipped to offer that support..

            They may have limited time. They have to spend some time developing the product, as well as time at their job, leisure time and they likely have other responsibilities. Any job they have is likely to take up most of their waking hours.

            The community in some open source products is very helpful. I maintain two Mac Deployment systems at work, and an inventory management system. All three using open source software The support I've received from the community in implementing and using the OS and Software deployment systems has been excellent, and I am genuinly sad to be moving on, but the problem I have is that the OS Deployment system has stopped development (they stopped as Apple deprecated the imaging tools the system used), and while the developers could have transitioned the system to using Apple's OS installer, they haven't for whatever reasons (they've said nothing, just stopped updating).

            The fact they've done that exposes a major problem with Open Source. With a commercial product (certainly from a big vendor, like Microsoft), if they cancel a product, they generally tell their users about it in advance. They don't do this to be nice. They do this because they may be under a contract, or they don't want to lose customers (they might be able to persuade customers to transition to another product if they've been treated well).

            Don't get me wrong. I am an avid supporter of Opern Source, and I prefer to use Open Source if it has equivalent functionality to commercial software. It's just when I am looking for software on behalf of work, I'm not looking for a software that's going to be installed on one machine, and used by me. I'm looking for software that will likely be installed on hundreds, if not thousands of machines, and used by all sorts of users, with education ranging from school qualifications (CSE/GCSE/O level) through to people with PHD (and even some Professors), and with expertise in all sorts of areas (technical and not), That level of support costs money, and can't be provided by a single developer who is supporting their project while working at a job.

            When we were looking at replacing our deployment and management systems for our Macs, I did suggest Free and Open Source software that, from a technical point of view, would have fulfilled our needs. Unfortunately, our higher ups dismissed the idea almost immediately, for two reasons. First, using Open Source, what guarantee is there that development won't stop for one (or all) project(s). Not really something I could argue against, considering that a motivator for changing the system was the fact that development had stopped suddenly on our OS deployment system (a previously very active and well supported project).

            The second reason given is liability. To put it bluntly, if you buy a product, and that product fails, the law gives you some protection. You have someone who is liable for the failure, and can potentially be sued if their product fails (my employer has done this with suppliers). With Open Source, who is liable. Yes, you can pay for support, but any legal protection you have will be for that support, and any contract you have will likely deny liability for any bugs. When you buy something from a vendor, you have various laws protecting you, and you also have someone who is liable.

      2. jgarbo

        Re: Free

        Exactly. Free software, but companies (that make money from the software) pay for 24/7 support, modifications and training. Honest, reasonable, and mildly profitable.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        "RedHat has done it for years"

        Where's RedHat now?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "RedHat has done it for years"

          Doing a reverse takeover of IBM.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "Doing a reverse takeover of IBM"

            LOL. Even RedHat understood its business model could not last longer - and RedHat was somehow one the most successful - so they ended up in company that despite its troubles is till able to extract a lot of money from customers. Just like Sun was gobbled up by Oracle. FOSS model worked well for them too, right?

            Let's see what will remain of RedHat in a few years.

            1. Fred Goldstein

              Re: "Doing a reverse takeover of IBM"

              No, reverse takeover seems more appropriate, given that within IBM, the Red Hat profits are growing while other sectors' profits are shrinking. Red Hat's model -- it's free to use, but support is a product -- works well for them. After all, compare it to Microsoft, where you pay for the product and support is, uh, what?

              1. Cederic Silver badge

                Re: "Doing a reverse takeover of IBM"

                Oddly as a consumer my experience of Microsoft support is very good. I've never paid them for it but the three times I've called on them they've gone beyond expectations.

                Please do not ask me regarding corporate support. Please. It still hurts.

              2. LDS Silver badge

                Re: "Doing a reverse takeover of IBM"

                IBM was more interested in some of the middleware products RedHat owns. There's no money to be made anymore selling OSes, even Microsoft understood it. But when you move people to the cloud those middleware products become important.... just like Oracle bought Sun to take control of Java.

        2. TVU Silver badge

          Re: "RedHat has done it for years"

          "Where's RedHat now?"

          You presumably mean the one that's by the far the most successful and profitable Linux distribution to date.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "the far the most successful and profitable Linux distribution to date."

            Which couldn't survive on its own and expand its business - and that's the most successful and profitable - figure the other FOSS projects....

            1. fandom

              Re: "the far the most successful and profitable Linux distribution to date."

              Yes, Red Hat was about to go under, that's why IBM paid 34,000 millions to buy it.

      4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Free @NoneSuch

        I'm not sure. As far as I'm aware there's no 'free' version of Red Hat. There is Fedora and Centos, but neither of these are actually branded "Red Hat", and both of those are supposedly community supported products, with some financial sponsorship to keep them running.

        It was some time ago, but I tried to download a copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and it was difficult without evidence of a support contract.

        I look at their current site, and I can see a "Free, 30 day evaluation", but that is not the same as free.

        They make the source of all of the 'open' parts of Red Hat available, and contribute upstream, but that is not the total of RHEL, and as far as I know, they do not provide a 'built' version of what is on GitHub. You are free to download it and build it yourself, and they even tell you how to do that, but this is beyond most users. Or you can get a downstream distro like Centos (which used to be completely separate from Red Hat), but that is not really a Red Hat release.

        Using the suggested LibreOffice model, there should be a freely available Red Hat Personal Linux or something similar. Instead, we have Fedora which is like a beta program for some of the upcoming technologies, with an upgrade model that makes it impossible to do anything like an LTS release of Fedora. If you use Fedora, you're either frozen in time or on a fast running treadmill to keep up.

        IMHO, Canonical has a better model, where they really do have the same products for community and enterprise freely available and patched to a defined schedule, with paid support and education (and some closed management tools and application frameworks) as the differentiating points. This is the reason why I never got on the Fedora path when the original, really free Red Hat Linux was discontinued in the early 2000's.

        Red Hat are doing some important (and also some really annoying - think Lennart Poettering) things in the open source space, but IMHO, their Open Source credentials are not as convincing as people think.

        These are my personal opinions, and you are free to disagree.

        1. overunder Silver badge

          Re: Free @NoneSuch

          "... really free Red Hat Linux was discontinued in the early 2000's."

          As a non-business user I had no idea this was coming. I logged in one day and bam, no more upgrades. It made sense for them, as before that it seemed to be just a slow momentum of uptake by businesses and the job openings started to slightly decline. However, there still was a sense of betrayal that I fear Libre will endure like me and RedHat. What is odd though is that the Libre fork kind of exists for this very action they're about to pull themselves.

          1. Qumefox

            Re: Free @NoneSuch

            Yep, and if they end up pissing off the community, you can bet someone will fork libreoffice and this cycle will start all over again. I just wish them better luck than openoffice if that happens.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Free @NoneSuch

          Using the suggested LibreOffice model, there should be a freely available Red Hat Personal Linux or something similar. Instead, we have Fedora which is like a beta program for some of the upcoming technologies, with an upgrade model that makes it impossible to do anything like an LTS release of Fedora. If you use Fedora, you're either frozen in time or on a fast running treadmill to keep up.

          I expect that Centos is effectively fulfilling the role of a RH Personal release. It's meant as a long-term support version (presuming they're using the same support roadmap as RHEL). It's more obviously distinct from the Fedora tree than say Ubuntu's short-term and long-term releases are.

          I think it's really a matter of semantics.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Free @NoneSuch

            Or it was. The some twats decided that the 3.x, 4.x, 5.x, 6.x numbering was hard and started changing things, add to that their recent NIH syndrome, and RedHat/CentOS/Fedora are turning into major PITA's.

            <rant>

            If I choose the Server option when installing CentOS 8, I still have to manually check the box to enable the interface for all users. Its still optimized for boot speed, unless you actually want to use it as soon as its up, then you have to wait until all of the important and cpu-intensive tasks complete (dbus). Then you have chrony. Hey! It rhymes with cron, who the fuck decided that was a good name. DNF - did not finish, oh-fucking-wonderful. I understand yum to be yellow dog updater - modified, that's fine. but when not just call it yuma: yellow dog update - modified again.??? Then there's systemd. Its been 6 years and its still not a full-fledged init system. Its been 6 years and you still have to hack apache to use an encrypted certificate because HSM's are $30k. Don't get me started on IPv6. There aren't any companies on the planet that need more than 1.6M internal addresses.

            </rant>

  2. Daniel von Asmuth

    What's the need?

    LibreOffice neatly fills a hole in the market for a FLOSS office suite, while there appear to be sufficient choice of commercial office software.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: What's the need?

      Almost everyone needs money or can benefit from having it.

      I don't have a problem myself with making money from LibreOffice - or anything else - so long as the product remains free, isn't a reduced offering. It's the perception of a tightening licensing, "for individual use", it feeling less free and open than it was which is the problem here.

      The change seems to have been directed from upon high, with little engagement with those in the community and that's always a recipe for disaster, complaint and resentment.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's the need?

        "that's always a recipe for disaster, complaint and resentment."

        Or another fork?

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: What's the need?

          Early shout for new fork name.

          "Liberty Office" - We don't take any...

          1. Fred Goldstein

            Re: What's the need?

            How about dropping one letter and having Lire Office? Reminiscent of old Italian money, Italian for pounds.

        2. Sam not the Viking

          Re: What's the need?

          Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Our three weapons

            Our three free weapons?

        3. LDS Silver badge

          "Or another fork?"

          And then how many developers will be left?

          "Ten little indians", anybody? Probably not politically correct today, but it gives an idea of what will be happening...

          1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

            Re: "Or another fork?"

            Possibly still a tad more PC than a version in a very old children's piano book of mine where it's 10 little N-word boys {grimacing emoji}

            I think in todays parlance neither is acceptable.

            How about "ten little programmers" instead :-)

      2. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: What's the need?

        I don't have a problem myself with making money from LibreOffice"

        I agree, though it heartening to see that TDF does not seem to have a marketing or PR department as otherwise their handling of this affair would have been a lot slicker and full of buzzwords and puffery.

        Though of course that may come.

        The thought of a LibreOffice core and paid for extensions needed to get any work done i.e a "freemium" offering is always going to be a threat.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What's the need?

          "TDF does not seem to have a marketing or PR department as otherwise their handling of this affair would have been a lot slicker"

          It seems to be one man but, in true marketing style, there was no communication with whoever was responsible for releasing the RC.

      3. TVU Silver badge

        Re: What's the need?

        I fully agree with you although they might not have needed to get to this stage if users in the developed world had been more generous with their donations, especially regular reliable ones. After all, developers deserve to be paid for their hard and dedicated work.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: What's the need?

        The change seems to have been directed from upon high, with little engagement with those in the community and that's always a recipe for disaster, complaint and resentment.

        I think they were still formulating their ideas, so hadn't yet announced anything until they had a better handle on what they were planning to do. That said, it could have been handled better.

        I think, though, a commercially-supported version might increase adoption in larger enterprises. If nothing else it would add an air of "legitimacy" to it (not that it isn't legitimate already, but there's the way the PHBs think). Eveyone else can carry on as before. Just needs to be a better naming convention for the versions.

        1. ocelot

          Re: What's the need?

          Its the support guaranteed in return for some payment that makes a product more attractive to corporate users, who dont want to end up using project for their users messing with installing 'free' software.

          Red Hat also included indemnity from Microsoft in return for the support payment. Also attractive to corporates.

          I would always prefer a model where there is a 'free' version that ANYBODY can use, STABLE, support and a pa 'LTS' version that a company can base its business on.

  3. keithpeter
    Coat

    "Personal Edition"

    With 'personal edition' in the About screen, this isn't going to get installed in schools or colleges in UK as pointed out in the article. Don't care what the licence buried deep in the distribution files is. No way is that language getting past the management.

    I've been trying for years to persuade one of my employers to move from OpenOffice to LibreOffice (alongside Microsoft Office) for years...

    Coat: Mine's the one with a copy of Unix Text Processing in the (large) pockets along with a printout of man groff_mm

    1. DS999

      Re: "Personal Edition"

      Yep if they wanted to create a paid-support version for businesses but continue to intend to allow personal and educational use they should have called this a "non-commercial edition".

      1. myithingwontcharge

        Re: "Personal Edition"

        "Community Edition" seems common in similar projects and would appear ideal?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Personal Edition"

      Open Edition? No, too much like OpenOffice. Libre Edition.

      1. gobaskof
        Facepalm

        Re: "Personal Edition"

        Libre Edition is a good idea. They can then have

        LibreOffice Libre Edition

        and

        LibreOffice Non-Libre Edition

        at least this is honest.

        1. AVee

          Re: "Personal Edition"

          Not sure, a specific build for which a certain party provides commercial support can still be fully open-source. So Non-Libre won't cover all cases.

          Frankly, I'd drop the marketing and lawyer speak. Just be honest and add something along these lines: "Open Source software, free for all uses, but comes without any warranties or support. For commercial editions see <link to vendor list>."

          It's clear you don't need to worry about using it. It's also clear other options are available (and where to get them).

    3. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: "Personal Edition"

      With 'personal edition' in the About screen, this isn't going to get installed in schools or colleges in UK

      or businesses, who have been conditioned over many years that terms such as "Home", "Personal", "Pro", "Business", "Enterprise" and the like have meanings to do with functionality. There is a great deal of difference between "Home" and "Enterprise" versions of Microsoft's products - though the details vary over the years - and the instant reaction of anyone considering rolling out LibreOffice across a large user base would be that there will be features missing from a "personal" edition that are required for such uses.

      Other large Open Source projects are having difficulty navigating this too - OpenSuse has recently had a re-jig of the way it meshes with Suse Linux for example - and while I am perfectly fine if a commercial company wants to "add value" to an open source base product, I am not fine if the commercial offering becomes the basis of the product (i.e., all control is given to the commercial company) and the non-commercial offering is relegated to being a cut-down version, the main purpose of which is to draw people in to paying.

      If it ever gets to the stage where to get a "fully featured" product you either need to pay £n to Microsoft or £m to The Document Foundation, bang goes any realistic hope of toppling Office's dominance, due to inertia if nothing else.

      M.

      1. mladoux

        Re: "Personal Edition"

        No, it's not a functionality issue with "Personal Edition" it's a deployment licensing issue. It says for "Personal" or "Individual" use on the about page. At that point, it doesn't matter what functionality is embedded in the software, that language would imply that running it in a business environment would be a violation of the terms of use. That would open a business to all kinds of legal implications, and no business worth their salt is going to risk that over an office program when there are plenty of options out there that they can just pay some outfit and not have to worry about it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Personal Edition"

      a printout of man groff_mm

      .. printed by a dot-matrix or line printer on tractor-fed paper, of course?

      It's either that or done by hand by the PFY with ink and feather on parchment.

      :)

      1. keithpeter

        Re: "Personal Edition"

        Mergenthaler Linotron phototypesetter springs to mind as a possibility.

        Joseph Ossanna must have been some kind of genius...

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Personal Edition"

      "With 'personal edition' in the About screen, this isn't going to get installed in schools or colleges in UK"

      Is it too cynical to suggest a whole stack of "targeted" versions - Personal, Educational, NGO* - that differ only in "About" and splash screens so that PHBs everywhere believe it's special to them and the rest of us just use it?

      *Getting NGO take-up is one of their concerns.

  4. Vasten_the_Barelegged

    Such short memories

    LibreOffice and TDF came about when OpenOffice started forgetting who and what it was. LO may be the best game in town at the moment, as a Free and free office suite, but going down the marketing-speak route of a "core" version (already dismissed as somehow inferior because of the implied unreliability of those "volunteers") always, always, ends badly for Free software companies whose business brains give them myopia regarding the bigger picture.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Such short memories

      LibreOffice and TDF came about when OpenOffice started forgetting who and what it was.

      No, when it wasn't clear what Oracle, who was the then owner, would do with OpenOffice.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: Such short memories

        And that is when OpenOffice started forgetting who and what it was.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Such short memories

          That statement doesn't really mean very much. OpenOffice was already an open source project under the Oracle's ownership. While there was reasonable concern that Oracle would try and turn the project into a commercial cash cow, some people also saw the opportunity to advance their own ideology with the fork.

          I am no fan of Oracle, but it turns out some of the predictions of doom were unfounded: MySQL is still around and arguably in a much better state than under MySQL AB's or Sun's tenure, VirtualBox is still around and they obviously decided that there was no market for them in a commercial version of OpenOffice and, as developers, cost money, they got rid of it to the Apache Foundation.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Such short memories

            "they got rid of it to the Apache Foundation."

            Only after the damage had been done.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Such short memories

              Well, yes, we'll never really know whether Oracle had plans for commercialsing OpenOffice. Though as yet, they've not looked like entering the end-user space: setting up the sales and marketing for "Oracle OpenOffice" would have been significantly more expensive than paying for a few developers. And getting a product that could really compete with MS Office would have required several years of development with no revenue stream. But who really knows?

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Such short memories

                AFAICR - which may not be much - the sequence was that releases became rare, the devs weren't happy and at least started talking about a fork. I think the actual fork had already taken place before the hand-over to Apache.

    2. ovation1357 Bronze badge

      Re: Such short memories

      Let's not forget that Open Office was born from Star Office (hence the main executable is still called 'soffice' on Libre and OO). I believe that Sun acquired it but certainly when I was at Sun it was their main office product offering and we all used it on our Solaris workstations.

      I'm pretty sure that back then it was a commercial product. I think it was cheap (maybe around £15 per user) but not free. I also seem to recall that we did have paid-up 'enterprise' users as well.

      It's interesting that something which began as closed source, commercial software and became open and free is now considering some commercial features once again

  5. karlkarl Silver badge

    Good luck trying to convince middle managers that LibreOffice can be used in an "enterprise" environment now it has the word "personal" in the about dialog.

    Dumb idea. And it all stems from this: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-online/

    Someone realises they can get some quick cash by putting it on the web for consumers to use and calling it "enterprise".

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Good luck trying to convince middle managers that LibreOffice can be used in an "enterprise" environment now it has the word "personal" in the about dialog.

      But I think that's sorta the point. LibreOffice wants enterprises to use the paid for Enterprise edition rather than the free Personal edition.

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        > LibreOffice wants enterprises to use the paid for Enterprise edition

        I think you both seem to be misunderstanding the word "Libre".

        1. Fred Goldstein

          Libre in the name means about as much as Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is of course not what its name implies.

  6. BenDwire Silver badge
    Coat

    Before hanging my 'scope probes up I used to use LO throughout my business, and at the end of the financial year made donations to the various Open Source projects we used. Admittedly not as much as a M$ licence would cost, but then again it's not M$ is it? I know I'm probably in the minority (I mean, I even purchased WinZip licences in the 1990's) but if only a few more business helped out it would improve the quality of the code no end.

    Mine's the white one, like my clinical supervisors wear ...

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Joke

      "I know I'm probably in the minority (I mean, I even purchased WinZip licences in the 1990's"

      So that was you!

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Me too.

        WinZip, being an essential utility, it was the right thing to do. And as a software developer it was even more important to do the right thing.

        1. red floyd

          I did as well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        WinRAR here.

        1. BenDwire Silver badge

          Yes, I had a legal licence for WinRar too!

    2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      With Microsoft it is honest upfront. You don’t have any illusion that it is free and you pay.

      With Open Source when it is promoted as free first only later someone trying to make money out of it, it seems a bit dishonest.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Open Source and free (as in doesn't cost any money) are entirely orthogonal. Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it, or closed source but free to use. Literally nothing to do with each other.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it"

          Just, when it's open source, it's very difficult to make people pay for it...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @LDS - Re: "Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it"

            Not necessarily. The concept of open source appeared when companies realized the danger of free and open source. They came up with the idea of "you can look at the source code of our product too". Heck, even Microsoft has opened the source code of their products under heavy restrictions of course.

            Open source says just that, you can inspect the code. It doesn't say what you are allowed to do with that code.

            1. Fred Goldstein

              Re: @LDS - "Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it"

              DEC had a version of that too. VMS source code could be obtained, but it came on microfiche, not machine readable. And use licenses remained in effect. But you could see the sources if you needed to, mainly to help develop drivers.The term for it is "disclosed source".

            2. LDS Silver badge

              Re: @LDS - "Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it"

              Source available != open source.

              Open source means it's available for everyone to look at it, not only those paying for the product under a strict NDA - very differenf approaches.

              For the matter, how much of Google core code people ever saw? <G>

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "Software can be open source, but you have to pay to use it"

            "Just, when it's open source, it's very difficult to make people pay for it"

            I had a client using a commercial ERP system for which some - but not all source was provided. How else do you think I could tell them how to fix their bugs?

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        More than a bit. There's a strong element of "bait and switch".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Winzip?

      Hah! You young whippersnapper :). I even licensed PKARC. I was probably the only one in Europe who had the official 5¼" floppy in its thick white plastic cover, whereas everyone else used bootleg copies.

      It was pretty popular to cut down on modem costs in the pre-Internet days where "communication" was merely a one word summary of "inviting your local telco for some *serious* extortion", but I needed it because I couldn't yet afford a bigger harddisk than the 20MB I had, so the only way to manage that was compressing and uncompressing...

      I personally find the costs of MS Office 365 *way* over the top (aka a ripoff) because there hasn't really been anything new or improved since Office 2003 other than a yet-again tweaked file format and killing off productivity by means of the ribbon (and mucho marketing lies pretending to be better at ODF formats then LO/OO), but I have no problem contributing annually to an Open project, as long as it remains open (so not á la CDDB of old).

      I think it's a matter of principle and fairness.

      1. Qumefox

        I honestly think the only office developers microsoft employs are all just UI devs who constantly have to rearrange the UI in a scamble to be doing something in order to keep their jobs. Everyone else got made redundant because little else under the hood really changes.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        I even licensed PKARC. I was probably the only one in Europe who had the official 5¼" floppy in its thick white plastic cover,

        Oh, no you weren't!

        ... but I wonder where mine is ... and whether I still have a drive that can read it ... or a PC that can talk to that drive ...

        Oh, I do wish USB 5.25" disk drives were a thing!

  7. steelpillow Silver badge
    Trollface

    Remember Open Office

    There is already a corporate edition of LibreOffice. It's called Apache OpenOffice and it's what LibreOffice forked to get away from.

    I smell monkey poo.

    1. lsces

      Re: Remember Open Office

      LibreOffice came about because Oracle tried to seize control of OpenOffice after acquiring it from Sun. It was that money grab that resulted in most of the developers walking. It only became Apache OpenOffice because Oracle would not back down and simply pass the name to the original developers. The RIGHT thing to do now is to merge the two back into 'OpenOffice' ?

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Remember Open Office

        Merging into OO is not practicable, the licenses are too different. The Apache license allows you to copy OO code across into LO, but LO is under the GPL and its code cannot go the other way. The only merge route would be to pull the extra OO functionality into the LO codebase.

        But OO's main differential from LO is its corporate feature set that LO threw out when it forked and has avoided like the plague ever since -- oh, wait...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Remember Open Office

          Typical of that restrictive GPL....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC - Re: Remember Open Office

            Your comment is either ignorant or in bad faith.

            I've read again the T&Cs of the GPL and the only restriction it clearly states is that you as a distributor are not allowed to impose additional restrictions on the GPL code you use in your products. So if LO can import code from OO but not the other way around, it means to me that OO is trying to impose some new restrictions on top of those imposed by GPL when distributing the code.

            I'm not necessarily saying you're wrong because you didn't present any argument supporting your opinion. Your turn now.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @AC - Remember Open Office

              Wrong. The "restrictions" you mention posed by the apache license would be to remove the additional restrictions added by the GPL.

              If someone take apache code and close-sources it, would you still say it's the apache license that can't take the code back becuase it wants to add "restrictions" to remove the restrictions added?

              Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

              Similarly, the argument (not from you) that the GPL is more free than the BSD license because it restricts people from taking the code without giving back is not a freedom, it's a restriction.. However "fair" one deems that restriction, it is one.

              Most GPL fans don't even understand the license.. One was complaining once because some company qas selling a product (perfectly legally) that contained GPL code he'd written. There are many with the same opinion.

            2. the spectacularly refined chap

              Re: @AC - Remember Open Office

              It's quite the opposite: the GPL doesn't allow redistribution except under GPL terms in totality. Sure, you can't add terms but you can't remove them either. The OO licence is actually more permissive but it allows you to impose additional terms on top. The conditions the GPL applies remain on any code flowing in the opposite direction.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Remember Open Office

          There was even a grant awarded jointyl to both projects that the LO team used the GPL to sabotage. It's a pity and now that OpenOffice is with Apache, it would make sense to align the licences again so that code can flow freely in both directions. Not that I expect this top happen, but it would still be nice.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Charlie Clark - Re: Remember Open Office

            Maybe that grant had some strings attached. I'd be interested to find more information about it.

  8. gobaskof
    Unhappy

    If they say that is for personal use only they may need to change the project name to "The software formerly known as LibreOffice".

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      They didn't say that it is for personal use only.

      My home wordprocessing needs are "hardly at all", but I also see a role for a program configured to do simple things simply and also explain them simply. For personal uses. For simple minded people. Although I don't think that this is that, and even if it is, being libre it can come with the serious stuff in board as well.

      1. Jurassic Hermit

        MS Works

        Microsoft Works was ideal for those users. It's to MS' eternal shame that they threw Works in the bin and then foisted a complicated Office suit upon them...and then proceeded to dumb it down for that audience, thereby alienating professional / corporate users.

        1. keithpeter

          Re: MS Works

          MS Works and Clarisworks (aka Appleworks) did the job for basics.

          I wonder what a simple cross platform light weight 'works' application with fresh code might look like. Sternly limited feature set (no Chandler Project stuff) aimed at making documents.

          Gnumeric is still going strong. Abiword seems to be alive but with bugs...

        2. John Slater

          Re: MS Works

          Yeah, I hate wearing complicated Office suits too

        3. ovation1357 Bronze badge

          Re: MS Works

          Are you kidding? Works was that pile of junk that got bundled with consumer PCs which was pretty limited in functionality but worst of all had a proprietary file format that could only be read by itself. I seem to recall that you couldn't export files in any useful interchange format.

          I for one am very glad it's gone.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: MS Works

            I half agree. For me it was of limited use. For the friends and family it was as much as they needed. Just as Microsoft Money was all they needed for home finances. (And maybe a very small business).

            But MS killed these useful SOHO packages off to be replaced with a business focus and big expensive packages.

            Even the Home versions of Office seem designed to discourage home users. Why else would Publisher be excluded but Powerpoint included. Who needs Powerpoint for home use, or even, for the most part in schools or small/home offices.? Publisher is really good for designing small projects like club posters, home made greetings cards, menus and the like. But maybe not for typesetting a full DTP project that a Professional version user might need to do.i.e. It's an ideal amateur DTP programme, not a pro one.

  9. Jim-234

    I guess it will have to be forked again, hopefully by someone who is interested in not turning it into another crappy corporate subscription program and using FUD and weasel words to try to bully folks into paying someone money for what a whole bunch of people did for essentially free.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Indeed, someone who will continue to upgrade your software for no reward at all. In other word, an idiot. We need more free software maintainers from the idiot community. But most of them are working at Microsoft. :-)

  10. nautica
    Thumb Down

    Death, taxes, and money grubbing: the three universal constants.

    "...It is all about money and the business model of TDF and LibreOffice..."

    Thirty years ago or more, my son gave me a very well-done plaque to put on my desk, or the credenza behind me. Its message is timeless; I still have it--

    "No matter what they say the reason is, the real reason is always MONEY"

  11. Lee D Silver badge

    I don't mind them making money.

    I don't mind them selling the product.

    But don't mess with the description of the software, pretend it's anything other than an open-source project, or have plans like this behind the scenes without including the community.

    I would now literally prefer someone to fork it with another name that does nothing more than take LibreOffice, remove the names and junk like this, and then put it on another website. All because you tried to hide it.

    The irony: I have in the past, and would again, pay you money for LibreOffice. I would support fundraisers. I'd pay for a "LibreOffice CD" or whatever. I'd donate just to keep you guys open.

    But you already have a strategy that doesn't include things like that.

    You decided already.

    So I've decided. If that junk is in the next version I download, I go looking for an alternate or stay on the previous version.

    I use a ton of OS projects with viable commercial offerings of the same code on the same website by the same company with the same name. Just do that. Don't try and make one software look "worse" to make yours look better when that software is actually "ours"... because I have the source on my hard drive.

  12. MatthewSt Bronze badge

    But the plans were on display...

    ... in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

    1. MarieAntOnNet

      Exactly what I was thinking! The Prophet Adams called it again!

    2. ovation1357 Bronze badge

      I'm glad I checked the comment before posting the exact same thing! Good job!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a third way

    and I'm surprised they don't mention it. Same product, same features but with two tier support. Community support for the free edition, professional support with strict contractual obligations for the commercial version. If you don't enter the license number during the installation you end up with free, best effort, community supported edition. You're worried about support or you want a customized version ? Pay for a commercial license.

    One example of FOSS product doing this is Zabbix and it seems to be working. Red Hat EL did it for a long time too. Worst thing they can do is to split it into personal and commercial editions and reserve highly useful and desirable features for commercial users only. If they do this we might see another FOSS office suite showing up to fill up the space and TDF might have a taste of what happened to OO.

    I would also mention that going commercial would weaken their position against Microsoft offer i.e. for a few dollars more I can get the shiny one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a third way

      There is a very real problem with your argument. The vast bulk of LibreOffice was built before the current lot came along, and they don't own the copyright. So who deserves to get this money?

      It doesn't matter anyway as the best approach would be to sue for non compliance to the LGPL code that they ship. A nod to the Free-as-in-Freedom hippies who thought that the "Evil Government" would try to restrict their rights to use software.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: There is a third way

        Your argument doesn't address their comment at all.

        If you're paying for *support*, who wrote the software doesn't matter. You aren't selling the software. You're selling support.

        And that nullifies any LGPL issue. I can sell you support for bash, if I want. Doesn't affect the licence on the code, and I can have literally *nothing* to do with bash whatsoever, or even written a line of code in my life.

        That's how everything from Wine (Codeweavers) to Red Hat has always worked. You provide support for another's product and/or for your own product that you give away for free, including the source. Same model for the GLPI helpdesk product, Asterisk, all kinds.

        "Here's our paid-for commercial version. We will answer the phone if you buy this, and help you get it running, installed or repaired. By the way, the software is basically just this open-source product which you can download and do what you want with, but you're on your own if you do."

        Unfortunately, the very next step is always "And here's a plugin infrastructure, and we now offer a closed-source plugin that only comes with our commercial version. There's nothing stopping you writing an open-source one, because the code for the plugin infrastructure is in both versions. But we aren't giving you the source to own in-house closed-source plugin. Good luck!".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a third way

          If it said "Click here if you want paid support..." like RedHat does no one would mind. It doesn't though - "for individual use" strongly implies that the software is not licensed for professional use.

          *Everyone* is allowed to use LGPL software, and LO can't change the license because they didn't write the vast majority of the code.

          1. Adair Silver badge

            Re: There is a third way

            I'd be fine with that - 'Click here for paid support' - especially if that included a sensible 'pay per ticket' system for anyone at any time. We would still be free to use community support, but if we wanted to actually 'talk' to a 'qualified' person the option would be there.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a third way

          Why even bother with the smoke and mirrors of different versions?

          Simply offer paid support for libreoffice. If you need the paid support, you give them your support id (or whatever) - no need for a superficially different branded product.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: There is a third way

            Agreed. By far the simplest, cleanest solution. Click here for a free download and here for a support contract.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: There is a third way

      But that would require them to release less buggy versions and LibreOffice has a terrible record in this respect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is a third way

        Fixing bugs isn't sexy and it's not what Millenials want to spend their time doing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a third way

          Millenials aren't sexy, either - they are in their thirties.

          (In my mid-fifties, but still knows that millienial is not a synonmy for 20-somethings: they became adults at the turn of the millenium, it isn't when they were born).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There is a third way

            "Millenials aren't sexy, either - they are in their thirties."

            Then where do the terms "cougar" and "MILF" fit in your scheme of things?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There is a third way

              Then where do the terms "cougar" and "MILF" fit in your scheme of things?

              Right next to "Hentai"...

              1. DropBear

                Re: There is a third way

                Dear Lord. If mature players and tentacle sex are essentially the same thing to you, you badly need to get out more.

    3. khinch

      Re: There is a third way

      To me, this seems a far better option than what they're proposing. I'd even say they could go a step further and offer one product but with a paid support offering.

      I think their plan to offer certification is a step in the right direction also, just a shame it's getting introduced alongside such a controversial change.

  14. Agent Tick
    Meh

    Let's see how it really comes....

    "?Same product, same features but with two tier support?"

    I want to believe this but....unlikely to happen - guess the personal edition will become a slim version edition.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Let's see how it really comes....

      It can't become slimmer than the existing version simply because the existing version is open source and once it's available there's no way to make it unavailable.

  15. Just A Quick Comment

    This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

    We need software like LibreOffice, partly to try and help keep M$ honest (note I used 'try' and 'help' - I don't have a lot of faith). If I didn't need MS Publisher to handle my homemade booklets (I just don't get on with PagePlus) then I wouldn't pay good money for my Office subscription, plus I need to know the basics of Word, Outlook etc to have a chance of teaching/helping others - it's what I sometimes do...

    I still advise them to get free (and Free) software, when it's of good quality and suitable, so stuff like Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice (plus Avast) are always high on my Recommended list.

    1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

      Microsoft is honest. They don’t pretend to be free. They spend money on developing (or at least buying) their products and you know where you stand.

      1. ricegf

        Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

        They don't pretend to be honest - or did you miss the entire "Would you like to switch to Edge? Yes or Yes?" fiasco?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

          did you miss the entire "Would you like to switch to Edge? Yes or Yes?" fiasco?

          Yes.

      2. ovation1357 Bronze badge

        Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

        Honesty and Microsoft is an oxymoron.

        Yes they may well invest in development and charge for their product but they've been playing dirty tricks for years; from using secret internal Windows APIs to outperform and/or break the competition, to inventing their own dog's dinner of binary blobs wrapped in XML and calling it an 'Open' format as a direct attack against the Open Document format that they could have embraced instead.

        Microsoft has and always will go to great lengths to protect their market dominance and it don't care too much about who gets hurt in the process.

        N.B. There were similar shenanigans in DOS where they are reported to have changed things just enough to ensure that a competitors product wouldn't work

    2. Qumefox

      Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

      You are aware that AVG/Avast got caught selling users browsing history to corporations, right?

      I'd hardly call them "Free" software. With AVG/Avast, you're the product.

  16. Pangasinan Philippines

    Free Vs Paid

    I worked in Government office and the time-keeping (flexi-time) was originally a paper exercise.

    A co-worker wrote a simple program that allowed time entry and updates to hours worked etc.

    This gave a paper printout which we handed to line manager. Costed nothing.

    Then the department decided to use on-line forms.

    The free version was not considered as there was no long term support or updates available.

    A commercial version was bought for (I believe) a few thousand pounds.

    1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: Free Vs Paid

      It was tax payers’ money. Why would government department care?

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Free Vs Paid

      Same, all the time, but sometimes it works out.

      We bought a very expensive access control system. It provided only the very barest of reports, in ancient HTML, generated from a Java server-side applet, and they were basically unchangeable.

      One of the things we wanted was a firelist - just a list of who is "in" or "out" of the building. It's literally, in coding terms, "what was the last transaction today for each user". Did they last tag out? Or tag in? Or have they not tagged in at all today? That lets you know if someone never came in, if they came in but have definitely left, or if they came in and are still milling around somewhere. All three are important because you often got "Oh, but I've seen X today." - yes, you did, but they've gone since.

      Anyway, the software report was useless. It couldn't be triggered at a particular event or time. It had to be accessed with a web browser. It was clunky, took many logins and clicks, and sometimes Java just fell over - oddly if you specified criteria to narrow it down, it used to fall over more often (i.e. "I only care about John"... crash. "Okay, give me EVERYONE." Report comes back just fine).

      So I'd been working with the same software at a previous employer and I had written a script. The software was based on a Firebird database (a bit like SQLite - a single flat file is your SQL database, so no install dependencies, etc.). So I just installed a small command line tool to query the database and wrote a script to query everyone's last transaction for that day. Took me about an hour. Ran that software for about 10 years now, over two different employers.

      The beauty also is that because you can just make it a "one-file" script, you can make the access control software run it on a particular alert, which you couldn't do with their own reports. So when the fire / lockdown alert is triggered on the system (which would normally open or lock the doors respectively), you can get the software itself to run the script which can print out / email the report automatically. Generally speaking, before we've even got out of the building or - sometimes - before the alarm is even audible in some buildings (there seems to be a slight delay in the fire alarm networking, but I don't touch that) you get an email with everyone's name and what they last did.

      Hell, I bought thermal receipt printers and each building gets an automatic printout within seconds. You can literally hear the alarm, RUN for the doors (not that I would recommend that) and on your way out, there'll be a printout ready for you to grab and check off names. (Note that we're not *reliant* on that, but it's a far quicker way to check than manually checking the staff lists that are taken out as part of the fire procedure).

      Anyway, did this at one employer. Moved onto the next. Discovered they had the same software (and were serviced by the same friendly engineer! Love that guy). Checked with the employer and implemented the same system again.

      Obviously, in those years, people have constantly asked if there's a "supported" method. There is. Pay a fortune to the manufacturer for a "firelist module" for the software, that's not as good, produces a rubbish hard-to-read report, can only print on A4 (you wanna wait for the laser printer to warm up?), is several pages long, etc. etc. Told them to stick it. Free script has worked better for a decade.

      The best irony, however, was when my old employer tried to replace the system that I'd left there with the official one. They hated it. Demanded the company change it. A bit of history: I left that employer under such a cloud that I reported them to the authorities (I discovered they were doing illegal things) and many senior managers were forced out of their jobs because of my and other's reports and within a year almost nobody on the staff remained of the original employees and there were a dozen unfair dismissal lawsuits from people like me because they'd basically tried to sack all the dissenters. So they basically tried to scrub everything I'd ever put in place. Anyway...

      The access control company were told they needed something better, so they went through all their channels. They told my previous employer that they didn't have an official module but that they could get something working. Something that one of their engineers had seen at a client's place. Said engineer was my friendly engineer. Said client was my new employers. Said system was MY system. That the old workplace literally had before they started changing everything.

      I offered to sell them my "supported" version of the same system, for slightly less than the price that the manufacturer would charge for their rubbish firelist module. They then got wind of where it had come from, and sadly didn't take me up on the offer. I was very pleased because I didn't really want anything to do with them, but would have greatly enjoyed having to go back to that place to show them how to put my own system back how it had been when I'd left... at great expense.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Follow

    The Money.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

      Something FOSS freeloaders refuse to understand. Most developers like to be paid just like everybody else, and running an infrastructure does cost. Those money need to come from somewhere.

      The pool of people working for nothing in their free time is limited, as in some way they need a lunch too, sooner or later.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @LDS - Re: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

        Did your mother sent you an invoice for the breastfeeding ? Just asking.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: @LDS - "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

          You're going to ditch your mother when she's old and ill?

  18. Jakester

    No more donations from me

    I prefer Libre Office over MS Office and use it exclusively at home ant some at work for spreadsheets with pivot tables. I used to periodically donate to Libre Office, but will not be doing that anymore since they appear to be going commercial.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: No more donations from me

      Evidently your donations were not enough....

    2. EastFinchleyite

      Re: No more donations from me

      There is a fine balancing act to be achieved here. TDF must be an expensive operation to run but it also relies on the voluntary contributions of skilled people. I expect those people do it out of personal interest and possibly a sense of community. I can understand how those people could object to their efforts being used for commercial gain.

      One way out of this would be for those volunteers to frame their contributions with license restrictions so that TDF can only incorporate the results in the free personal edition of LO. If TDF and their "ecosystem companies" can't accept that then they should employ people to do the work done by the volunteers and become a real commercial enterprise rather than profit on the backs of unpaid labour.

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    “If people are interested [..] they should have subscribed to the board-discuss mailing list,”

    That is last century's Usenet mindset - if you're not on the mailing list, you don't count.

    We're in the 21st Century now. People no longer subscribe to anything, they rant on Twitter.

    Like it or not, they are still your users.

    You should listen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “If people are interested [..] they should have subscribed to the board-discuss mailing list,”

      Users...or LUSERS?

      Just because they rant doesn't mean they're actually users.

      Haters gonna hate, after all...

  20. x 7

    We've been here before

    Who remembers Star Office?

    That's the original commercial version. And its dead as a Norwegian Blue

    Or the Lotus Symphony suite, also dead

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We've been here before

      Star Office? Not dead yet, still running in one of my VMs!

  21. Mrs Trellis of North Wales
    FAIL

    Beware of the leopard

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Upvote for the handle.

  22. Robert Grant Silver badge

    For B2C, can they make the cloud version a subscription, and keep the desktop software free?

  23. Trey Pattillo

    Change the paid version name

    To possibly Mula$Office

    Now all know Libre if free to use by all and Mula$ has support or what ever associated with a cost

  24. holmegm Bronze badge

    What? No integration of Pocket like Firefox? I demand my money back!

  25. Terry 6 Silver badge

    In effect

    The risk and fear is that any separate paid version is going to become the cart pulling the horse. Once money starts to drive the development the free version becomes just an advertising front for the true priority - the paid version. And the developers will be far more motivated to develop for and encourage free uses to adopt, the paid version. Next step will be that you only get the (new concept in Office software) in the paid version and the FOSS version will be back in the old version.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: In effect

      But the OTHER risk and fear is that, without SOME kind of revenue stream, the money dries up and the whole works gets left in the dirt. It's a dilemma of lack of funds where not enough people are willing to give, full stop. So, do you come begging or do you just let it go?

  26. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I see no issue with Libreoffice partnering with companies to offer paid support for Libreoffice if it means that they can spend some of that money to make the software a bit more polished. As having a decent alternative to MS Office is important.

    If they need to make money to pay their bills they don't have a lot of choices, if they stick ads into software people would be up in arms. Look what happened with the Amazon search thing a few years ago with Ubuntu when they tried to generate some extra revenue from that.

  27. ben kendim

    "they should have subscribed to the board-discuss mailing list,”

    He must have pulled this gem from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    Philip Arthur Dent should have gone to the basement of the planning department to see that his house was scheduled for demolition.

  28. shovelDriver

    WTF is Vignoli

    "TDF's media relations and marketing guy Italo Vignoli"

    So we now have a marketing type making decisions on the future of open-source software?

    What is it OpenSourceSoftware.org says about that licensing process?

    "Open source licenses are licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition — in brief, they allow software to be freely used, modified, and shared. To be approved by the Open Source Initiative (also known as the OSI), a license must go through the Open Source Initiative's license review process."

    Hint: The keyword is "freely".

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does an open source project need a 'business model'? People work on stuff they enjoy.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      To be fair,though, that's also why some aspects of FOSS software can be quite ropey. Everyone knows that it's in need of a bit of work, but no one wants to do it.

      Change-logs as a small example, sometimes just a link to a "wiki" written in developer gibberish or a page in Git-hub that says nothing a normal user could follow. Or use guides that read as if they were written by a Martian, and full of unconscious assumptions about the users' prior knowledge.

      1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

        But to also be fair, there are plenty of examples of closed source software which has release notes that range from nonexistent to unhelpfully vague to gibberish to well written and clear.

        And likewise I'm sure the is plenty of FOSS where the release notes are excellent and actually the source code management (structure, commenting, documentation, version control) is also excellent.

        There's going to be a whole tonne of examples of hidden away behind closed doors of commercial code that's sold to clients at a high price and yet is very badly managed. There's going to be places where they've never even heard of version control, others where they use something but it's an unmanaged free-for-all so it's a huge mess, perhaps lots of bullshit commit messages and untidy merges; perhaps the devs all merge into the master (or equivalent) branch directly... They may also be using very outdated and insecure tools and coding practices...

        But you'll never know because all you get is the final build.

        I pick up something akin to 'code smells' even from software where I can't inspect the code. Often this is very expensive specialist software and it's of the worst quality... At least with FOSS one can take a look (or pay an expert to take a look) at the code and how it's put together. A seasoned developer will be able to quickly get an impression of whether it's software to embrace or to run away from.

        While FOSS may be free to use and 'unsupported' and Closed/Paid/Commercial may be 'expensive': neither factor alone gives any guarantee as to the quality of what you're buying.

        The worst bit is that in the commercial world, many providers of highly expensive software seem to get away with it being bug-ridden and poor quality. Somehow they don't often get taken to task over it, nor does the reputation seem to put off new clients. That always makes me a bit sad.

  30. F Seiler

    Now if the ecosystem companies set up an industry association to promote the paid support or customized commercial variants and the engine batch et al mentioned in those slides it made sense. That and TDF coordinating as needed. But for this to happen under the TDF umbrella seems really poortly thought out.

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