Some problems.

Besides the ecosystem company (and sustainable LibreOffice development)
point of view, my comment above was also meant for the "direct" customer

In my opinion (and from own experience at the City of Munich),
LibreOffice (and other FLOSS software) is often not suitable for many
large enterprises "as is", so a good way of managing the lifecycle and
getting issues addressed (i.e. professional support of some kind) is
required to make it work well and users happy.

The problem is that if management was persuaded it was a good idea to
introduce LibreOffice just because it's "free as in free beer", you
won't have (and will have a hard time getting) the resources to handle
issues appropriately, so it's better to avoid wrong expectations.


Hi Thorsten,

Michael Weghorn wrote:

In the former case, adding the relevant information (professional
support available and encouraged for enterprises) more explicitly to the
website or maybe using existing mechanisms to inform the user (like
mentioning support in the donation/contribution infobars or add a "Tip
of the Day" with that info) might be a good way of dealing with this, in
my opinion.

Yes - the important aspect here being, that many users in a corporate
deployment would never see the download page. So indeed a way to bring
those facts in front of users' eyes is important. The Personal (or
rather more likely, given the discussion here, Community) tag would
deliver that.

But clever ways to insert that into info bar or tips of the day would
be cool, too - it's just that a window title bar mention is visible
~all the time, whereas info bars are used sparingly.

I have no insight into the psychology here though, whether one or the
other approach would be more effective in nudging. Perhaps we can try
both? :wink:

In my opinion, the "Personal" tag is more nudging, which is actually why
I like the other approach better.

The upside (or downside, as you see it...) is that those who "know what
they're doing" and for whom LibreOffice as provided by TDF may be an
acceptable approach after all (s. some notes on potential scenarios in
the previous email), can still decide to use it without being "forced"
to use another product.

This is why I mentioned this mostly helps for the "former case" (i.e.
educate those people that actually don't know, not those who
deliberately decide not to buy a "Professional Edition").

Best regards,

Hi Michael,

Michael Weghorn wrote:

In my opinion (and from own experience at the City of Munich),
LibreOffice (and other FLOSS software) is often not suitable for many
large enterprises "as is", so a good way of managing the lifecycle and
getting issues addressed (i.e. professional support of some kind) is
required to make it work well and users happy.

Seconded. And it's one of the greatest advantages of FLOSS in the
enterprise - people can absolutely tailor it to their _specific_ needs
and requirements, by adding the features & fixes they need.

That's particularly appealing to larger-scale deployments (where
economies of scale offer good value-for-money on a per-user

Would be great to market this better.

The problem is that if management was persuaded it was a good idea
to introduce LibreOffice just because it's "free as in free beer",
you won't have (and will have a hard time getting) the resources to
handle issues appropriately, so it's better to avoid wrong

Quite. This situation is bad for the company, bad for the users, _and_
bad for us in the project. And it's sometimes ~impossible to change
minds after the fact. So for LibreOffice, past mistakes of
"overselling" to the enterprise (though I believe we inherited many of
those wrong expectations from OOo) are coming back to haunt us now.


-- Thorsten

Hi there,

  I thought I'd pull together a thread that runs through a
subset of the comments here:

Here is Mark S writing in bugzilla:

Let LibreOffice stay LibreOffice, and let any commercial derivatives
deal with naming issues of their products on their own time.

  Several other comments are more of the form:

    "your problem, not mine", or
    "TDF doesn't need to nurture an ecosystem -
     why complain to TDF" ?

  So - of course, that is on one hand fine. Hypothetically TDF
could sit at the center of a pure volunteer project, perhaps with
enough mentors and enough donations that might work out (though on
current trends this might also result in a project a tenth of the
size). On the other hand getting there from here, while not loosing all
momentum would be wrenchingly problematic.

  I guess there are some elaboraions of this:

The 'free beer' argument starting to become annoying;-). I'm hearing
lots of self-pitty.
Nobody asks a company to contribute to the LibreOffice code (for free).
Yes, it belongs to a model where you believe in.
If you believe code be open source, while making profit, it's also your
task to come up with a business model generating revenue.

  Sure, so - it's a harsh market. TDF can choose to make it
harsher by competing with the ecosystem that creates much of the
LibreOffice code, and mentors much of the developer community. Or it
can be passive and do nothing to nurture investment. Or it can create
space for those that contribute to its mission and help out. Having a
clear approach is helpful though. One of the problems is ambiguity:
bait & switch: encourage the investment, but squash the returns by
changing the rules =) That is why having a long-term settled consensus
is really helpful.

The world is hard and pretty unfair.

  Indeed, on the other hand - my hope is that we shouldn't use
that as an argument to structure things to be deliberately unfair. To
a large degree TDF helps to seed the environment for the ecosystem to
flourish around the codebase and fulfill its mission with it. Arguably
(and I would say this) TDF cannot fill every niche, and serve every
market itself - for a host of reasons.

I'd blame the lack of sales on Collabora having a really bad website

  So, if getting sales is only a function of a really good website

I think it was Brian Tracy who wrote if your website can't sell the
qualified prospect, it needs to be redesigned.

   I think we're all hopeful that we can create an advert or
webpage that makes it impossible not to buy your product :wink: Brian's
quote mentions qualified prospects - that's much easier with a
sensible lead flow of people who are aware that you exist.

Beyond that - creating, maintaining and translating a website into
a handful of languages is an expensive hobby.

Budget US$100,000 per language per year, for a multilingual website.
This is addition to the cost of designing and maintaining the website.
Before adding languages, look at both the financial ROI, and PR value.
Will the language generate at least US$1,000,000 in additional business
each year ?

  Well, for our existing ~five languages - if we did that we'd
have to transition half of our development staff to marketing at some
significant loss to Free software; I assume you'll want a big budget
for paid multi-language advertising to bring people to that website,
and for sales people too to qualify the leads ? That would consume our
entire budget without any contribution back.

  Either way - given that the same website sells Online but not
Desktop, despite advertising both, my suggestion would be that making
people aware that they shouldn't be running large un-supported
deployments - is a leading factor here.

The last thing any business owner wants to hear from a current
customer is "I went with company x, because I didn't know you
provided that service."

  I think that's the fundamental problem here; getting the word
out effectively that the services around LibreOffice exist, and that
buying them is good for the customer, good for the codebase, so good
for all our users, and good for the community.



Hi there,

  This is a detailed mail, so it shows up as a TLDR; then a
status quo / resolution / benefits triplet, and a link to our FAQ.
We're excited about this as a way to decisively unwind a number of
inter-related problems at TDF. We'll keep an up-to-date version of
this in the FAQ.


  Collabora announces that it will move its work on Online from
TDF to GitHub, in order to ensure
future investment in the software development of Collabora Online and
LibreOffice. This will allow us to deliver on many of the requests
from the community and we expect that this will resolve the lengthy
discussions in the TDF Board around a fair strategy for "LibreOffice
online", thus freeing energy for other constructive topics.

* status quo / resolution / benefits:

** status quo: background & issues

  + the current status of "Online" at TDF is dis-satisfying to
  end-users, some community members, Collabora, and it creates
  strain in the LibreOffice project.

  + Online has been substantially created, sustained and
  continues to be developed by Collabora investment:

    + Collabora's 20+ committers provided 95%+ of the
      commits in the last year

  + LibreOffice Online has been a source-only project: a place
  to collaborate around development, with own-branded products
  versions derived from that. Publicly available products have
  encouraged people to buy support when under heavy use.

  + some TDF community, board and staff members have made it
  clear they don't accept this compromise, and want TDF to use
  the LibreOffice brand to distribute a competing gratis product
  in the marketplace driving the price to zero, (perhaps combined
  with nags for donations to TDF). Others wish to ship gratis
  LibreOffice branded builds not immediately but in 3-6 months.

  + still others dislike the idea of telling users that it is
  essential that they contribute to the project, in proportion
  to their ability. Others have concerns about even gentle moral
  suasion here eg. around tags & naming; others around donation
  requests. Still others recommend proprietary software, or sale
  of extensions as a solution. Some claim the TDF statues
  require one course of action, others that they do not.

  + this combination of uncertain direction, structure and
  statutes at TDF make it difficult for an investor today to
  have any confidence in a future return over the years in
  which that takes when the Online project is hosted by TDF.

  + TDF has historically avoided explaining clearly how
  LibreOffice is created even to its own community. It does not
  give effective credit to the commercial community members
  doing most of the indispensable work in any way
  that can drive a proportionate return. There is little
  confidence in this improving.

  + The prospect of the Collabora brand having to compete
  against something we ~95% build ourselves. ie. with products
  sold or distributed gratis under the popular "LibreOffice"
  brand - while Collabora continues to sustain, maintain, and
  improve the software in an effectively invisible way is deeply

    + imagine trying to explain to larger users why they
    should not use LibreOffice Online, but pay for
    Collabora Online. Absent significant help from TDF
    that is incredibly hard to do in a way that doesn't
    damage LibreOffice as a whole.

    + For TDF to provide significant support fairly, in a
    way that rewards investment, is incredibly challenging
    to achieve inside TDF's structures.

  + There are lots of good people on all sides of this argument
  who come from different perspectives. Many of them are
  unhappy; we seem stuck in a worst of all worlds position

  + There is an ironic tension here between wanting everything
  to be gratis, and wanting investment. Ultimately by making
  everything gratis, while not encouraging users to contribute
  financially, and having no credible plan to reward investment
  - TDF harms its own FOSS mission, which aligns well with
  Collabora's: to produce great FLOSS software for everyone.

* TLDR; resolution: a move.

  + To sustain Online and to improve it requires substantial and
  ongoing investment and focus, far beyond what TDF can provide
  via nags & donations. Any returns require a stable

  + We believe the most elegant way to resolve the strain and
  uncertainty is to move our existing sub-project & work around
  Online to a new project at Collabora.

    + this accounts for ~1.5% of the size of LibreOffice
      core (openhub) and around 1% of the translation

  + This project would have continuity of license and FLOSS
    ethos. However it will be hosted outside TDF's
    infrastructure and regulation, hopefully as a friendly
    daughter project, using its own infrastructure. It would
    end up looking much like Fedora, openSUSE, Nextcloud,
    ownCloud, Seafile and many others.

  + Clearly TDF committership would transfer to Collabora Online,
    and we would welcome and honor all who wish to to contribute.

* TLDR; benefits:

  We expect that *iff* this move can be resolved in a
constructive and positive fashion, with a single clear destination
project then we would get these benefits:

  + Collabora will remove the reminder to users to get support
  for larger deployments (that annoy some) from CODE as part
  of this move.

  + By having a single Online project hosted by Collabora, a
  clear brand story easily establishes an appropriate credit for
  the origin of the product into every reference to it by those
  using it for free. Just like the other prominent OSS projects
  we integrate with.

  + This would remove the urgency around some elements of the new
  TDF marketing plans, Personal / Community etc. tags, external
  entities to offer downloads, difficult algorithms to work out
  whom TDF gives priority to in a (hoped for) LibreOffice
  Enterprise ecosystem, challenging trademark agreements etc.

  + The 'LibreOffice' brand would have a clearer scope: as both
  a Desktop product, and a core Technology which can be built
  upon to create amazing things such as Collabora Online.

  + There would be less aggravation in the board and community,
  and hopefully a return to positive mutual regard.

  + It would give confidence to Online investors that they
  control their destiny; with no-one else to blame.

  + This would allow investment to be sustained to fix bugs, and
  to create new FLOSS, meeting TDF's mission. This will continue
  to have a positive knock-on impact on improving the
  LibreOffice core: filters, rendering, performance, bug-fixes

  + This is an opportunity for TDF to focus its positive energy
  on its important mission.

  + This will allow Collabora to experiment with GitHub to see
  if it reduces the barrier to contribution, and increases the
  pool of available contributors.

  + Collabora hopes the move will aid in maintaining income to
  continue investing in LibreOffice: mentoring, contributing
  code, sponsoring the conference, funding via the Advisory
  Board, mentoring at hack-fests, helping at the ESC, serving
  on the board etc.

  + This would also re-balance contribution to LibreOffice core,
  making volunteers the largest committers once again, followed
  by Collabora, RedHat, CIB, NISZ, TDF etc.

* TLDR; Conclusion

  This is primarily a change of presentation, that can un-pick a
big knot of badness in the LibreOffice community. It is primarily
driven by the need for continued investment in Online, in addition to
the huge effort that Collabora and our partners have put into the
product to date.

  In our view it is the best solution for both LibreOffice and
Collabora. If the move is handled sensibly we can look forward to a
bright and co-operative future. We start work on that move today; and
encourage people to checkout: And
to get involved.

  Of course, we would love to see TDF coming up with the right
mix of structure, entities, stability, branding, appreciation of
corporate contributions and so on to build confidence that another
approach is possible. There is time before our next LibreOffice
release in January for the community to ponder what to do with LOOL,
and to do their own thing, or support this move to capture the
benefits outlined above.

Clearly Collabora participants would want to abstain on any board vote
to ship competing Online products, but do expect to be included in the
discussion around that.

* More questions ?

  There is an FAQ on-line here:

* Footnote: LibreOffice rocks

In case people got confused, it is worth saying that LibreOffice is an
outstanding piece of software, produced as part of a wonderful, wide
community by some of the best developers, translators, documentors,
etc. you're likely to ever meet. We see LibreOffice as having as
a bright future in two ways:

  + as a great, rich desktop & laptop product (as now)

  + as a core LibreOffice technology - provided via LibreOfficeKit
  and UNO APIs - as a re-usable piece of Office awesomeness that can
  be built on by other projects and companies like Collabora,
  CIB, and many others to build new & valuable products.

We commend it to you, if you’ve not tried before why not:

Of course, Collabora continues to be committed to supporting and
improving our whole product mix, including LibreOffice derived bits,
and contributing back our and our customer's work to the LibreOffice

Dear Michael,

thanks for the move to Colabora Online.

It’s very hard to guarantee sustainable development for the Collabora
employees and as General Manager of Collabora Productivity it’s your
job to take care of the staff. I wish you all the best, cause only if the
LibO dev’s has a bright future, the project will have it too.

In addition I don’t think that much will change between
LibreOffice and Collabora, cause as long as Collabora will find
funding work will be done for LibO.

As Collabora Online will be OSS I hope you make it as easy
as possible for contributors. At the end, the situation can

only improve, cause in the past LOOL was developed

mostly by Collabora and no community outside could be built.
Coming closer to Nextcloud (github) can also improve the situation.

As a LibreOffice contributor I’m happy to close the

private use discussion. But I hope that TDF will find some

sustainable ideas and concepts, cause the private use discussion
show very well, what didn’t work. Free use for everybody and
nobody (private, governments, companies) has to pay dev’s.

Best wishes