TDF "competing" with the ecosystem - thoughts?

Hello everyone,

In recent discussions here, there has been some talk about TDF “competing” with the ecosystem, along with related topics about whether our statutes mean LibreOffice should be free as in zero-cost. In the interest of balance, I’d like to mention what TDF has done in recent years (including what I’ve done) to regularly and consistently promote the ecosystem:

  • Rebranding TDF’s version “Community” to distinguish it from what the ecosystem offers

  • Mentioning the ecosystem in press releases, that go out to hundreds of journalists around the world

  • Prominently pointing people to the ecosystem on the download page

  • Mentioning the ecosystem companies in videos that get hundreds of thousands of views

  • Interviews with ecosystem companies on the blog, about their contributions

  • Highlighting ecosystem contributions in presentations that we give, and share with others to give

  • Posting on social media features contributed by the ecosystem

  • Pointing people to the ecosystem when they email info@ with a related topic

So to me, the idea that TDF “competes” against the ecosystem is unfair. TDF grows the overall LibreOffice userbase and awareness to benefit ecosystem companies, and as listed above, has done a huge amount already over the years to promote the ecosystem.

What do others in the community think?



Hi Mike, all,

Good point. To my understanding it has been more in the sense of “let’s act wise” than “it is actually happening”. Personally: I see positive cooperation all along.
But honestly, I didn’t read every post, so possibly I missed some statements that are talking about ‘negative in the here and now’?

Looking forward to that!


Mike, you’re presenting a defense against concrete accusations - not vague, abstract notions - as you yourself mention. But you can’t just spin off from an existing discussion and start a new one with no context…

Plus, are you sure you’re asking the right question? I mean, the TDF board is headed by an ecosystem company CEO; so is the majority faction on the board; and many of the trustees also hail from ecosystem companies. So, obviously the TDF is well aligned with ecosystem companies. The question might be whether, without this level of involvement/influence, such a tendency to compete is likely to evolve or not. (And my answer would be “I don’t see why that would happen, that wouldn’t help the TDF and people would have better things to do with their life”.)

Mike was reacting to a statement (sometimes hidden in some sentences) which was repeated several times over the past months and years. While I do not think that the statement was referring to the team’s activities, I do understand the frustration as the team is in the middle of most activities, and the marketing activities - which are affecting the perception of the outside world - are driven by Mike and myself, and we are both members of the team. Unfortunately, we are all victims of a situation which has evolved in a negative way over the years in term of relationships between individuals and groups, and we are now reacting as if every statement is focused on each one of us (individually) even when they are (hopefully) more generic. Although I try to analyze what I read without involving my emotions (being old enough to separate my rational brain from my emotional one), I must confess that is extremely difficult to maintain this attitude after hundreds (or even thousands) of messages where everything is discussed “at nauseam” so many times to make the discussion meaningless (a concept doesn’t become true or false based on how many times it is repeated).


I’ll also add another comment I made on the design channel:

If we consider the developer hires by the TDF, who are intended to focus on:

  • RTL(-CTL) support
  • Accessibility

… that is a prime example of how the TDF is complementing and buttressing the activities of ecosystem companies: The ecosystem companies don’t offer “accessibility as a product” or “an RTL version of LibreOffice” - so this only enhances the companies’ products’ attractiveness and widens their potential audience, while benefiting the core product in exactly the same way.


This is what I tend to think, too, which made the contention around the issue of hiring developers all the more mystifying. If the hiring of these two developers is harming the ecosystem in some way, we certainly aren’t hearing how.

TDF is also putting a lot of resources into mentoring new contributors, which of course helps LibreOffice but also creates a pool of potential recruits for the ecosystem who are already familiar working with LibreOffice technology. How is that competing against the ecosystem?

Hi @mikesaunders,

All of those are great for motivating ecosystem companies(*) to invest and contribute to LibreOffice (which is ultimately one of the main goals of TDF).

However, I dont think that to be directly related to how TDF invests its funds: There, I think Eyal is spot-on: for LibreOffice, it is best to have both ecosystem companies contributing to implement features non-contributing users are willing to pay for and TDFs funds being used for those are important for the project, but no sufficient funding from non-contributing users nor enough volunteer contributions are available.

Having both clearly maximizes the improvements on LibreOffice.

So maybe I overlooked something here, but I dont see a too direct connection between celebrating contributions and where to invest TDFs own resources. Would be happy to be enlighted on that.

Best Regards, Bjoern

(*) Currently active but also and future candidates, who see and appreciate this.

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It’s not that mystifying: Money going to paying developers is money not going out via tenders to ecosystem companies. That’s a reason why ecosystem companies would be concerned about this turn of the TDF. And another concern might also be that “with food comes appetite”, so that once TDF has developers, it may want to expand its cadre of developers and take on more ambitious initiatives which would compete with ecosystem companies.

Of course, I’m only speculating here about what such concerns might possibly be.

I am motivated - as staff member and long time contributor - to deliver value in Help, in core, and other companion services to business offerings of all ecosystem and communities, by enriching the documentation contents. I dislike to be labeled as a cost figure. That does not motivates me.


Hi all,

hmm, if this is about in-house developers vs. tenders, then I certainly understand some of those concerns and I dont think they have to do with money per se. When TDF was tendering, it “only” had to take the role of a product owner – and quite a few times that role was escalated to the board, because staff didnt feel able to fill it. The pro-bono board doing this “as a sidejob” was asking … quite a lot, esp. since stakeholdership is very muddy.

However, TDF with in-house developers will have to do more, not less: It essentially needs to be a full engineering organization (including PO), which it has no experience with, on quite a small budget. This includes reporting what is done (what is the goal and scope), why (how was the task prioritized, why was it deemed more relevant than other options), successes and failures (did it work out? if not, why?) at least as transparent as it would be for the boilerplate heavy tenders. IMHO, it is quite reasonable to be very careful about that.

Best Regards, Bjoern

“here about what such concerns might possibly be.”

They would be now the same they had been 10 years ago:

TDF is not equipped to handle development

When you contract out a task you pay for a result, not an effort.
When you hire people you have the burden to make sure that these people produce, that they are competent and stay motivated…
Who is going to decide to can a dev that is nor working out at TDF ?
Is it the same person that decide what he will work on ?
Who will evaluate the quality and quantity of dev output ?

Hiring dev and maxing out the recurring expense is a sure way to run the foundation to the ground.

When we have a slup in donation, what is going to be cut ? who is going to make the call ?

It is dangerous and irresponsible. The only interest I can see is if you are running say a hosting company providing a stack of opens source software, and you cannot afford dev and can’t code yourself, you might find it attractive to have a few devs that you can ‘influence’ into doing your biding…But for the foundation itself, it is very dangerous and that was identified and carefully avoided when the board consisted mostly of people who knew how software is developed.

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The concerns you describe are not specific to ecosystem companies, they’re general concerns (and likely out of scope for this thread).

“The concerns you describe are not specific to ecosystem companies”

Of course not, they are specific to TDF.

you claimed: “t’s not that mystifying: Money going to paying developers is money not going out via tenders to ecosystem companies. That’s a reason why ecosystem companies would be concerned about this turn of the TDF.”

I suggest to you that TDF’s Trustees should be very concerned about this turn of events, for the reasons indicated

Hiring dev is not going to significantly impact the ‘ecosytem businesses’ but it will impact TDF financial stability

Of course not, they are specific to TDF.

Perhaps my last comment was a bit ambiguous: I was talking about the concerned party, not the object of concern. Non-ecosystem-company people would be just as concerned, or unconcerned, about the TDF hiring developers, for the reasons you mentioned.

Hi Eyal,

No need to speculate :wink: - it is as simple as Bjoern explains here.
It is also referred to in the decision to hire developers.

Hi Mike, all,

And it is not only these things: there is enormous work done in QA, documentation, release engineering, UX/design, localization, infrastructure, administration, events… All this - and there must be more - makes LibreOffice in it’s full width a successful project where volunteers, staff, developers sponsored by companies cooperate. Full stop. Simple as that.
Although cooperation is not always that simple… but :wink:

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Hi Olivier,

Fully understandable. It is the sort of feeling you get if only the cost side is looked at and too little attention is paid to the work and the dedication you have…