OpenOffice May Be Doomed


The people behind OpenOffice say the free software may need to be ditched. A lack of staff working on the project is making it increasingly difficult to be confident about maintaining security in the software.

The news comes in an email from Dennis Hamilton, vice president of the Apache group that oversees the software. He writes that “there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together.”

According to Hamilton, the lack of staff is causing two major problems. One is that too often the project finds itself in a position of having to disclose security vulnerabilities without already having developed “mitigation” such as a patch. At one point that year that even meant having to recommend using rival software as a workaround.

The second problem is that there’s now a genuine possibility of the project not having the required number of people under its own committee rules system to approve and release a new edition of the software.

ZDNet notes the lack of OpenOffice developers is at least partly because many have jumped ship to the rival project LibreOffice.

Hamilton says that “retirement of the project is a serious possibility” for dealing with its woes. Discussing hypothetically how this would work, he suggests effectively freezing the project so that people can download the most recent edition if they want and access archives of development discussions, but that the project makes clear there’ll be no new editions and then ceases ‘official’ communications.