Red Hat to stop packaging LibreOffice for RHEL

Trending 3 months ago

Red Hat is to extremity packaging a autochthonal type of nan LibreOffice suite for its endeavor Linux distro.

According to a post connected nan Fedora Development mailing list, nan charismatic RPM packages for LibreOffice were orphaned. Existing RHEL releases 7, 8, and 9 will still beryllium updated, however.

The charismatic stated logic is that nan institution is switching manpower to fixing much captious issues, specified arsenic support for precocious move scope displays, and that uses of nan RHEL workstation distro who request LibreOffice tin instal nan Flatpak type instead.

This doesn't look to beryllium a nonstop consequence of nan good publicised Red Hat layoffs backmost successful April, which resulted successful calls to unionize. The proximate origin seems to beryllium that nan Hatter who was nan product's lead maintainer, Caolán McNamara, has discontinue and gone to work for Collabora, nan superior institution down nan ongoing improvement of nan FOSS agency suite.

But this did airs a problem for nan Big Purple-backed free distro, Fedora, and arsenic a result, a sizeable thread grew from nan post. A caller maintainer, Gwyn Ciesla, has already volunteered to return over. The suite does person a formidable list of dependencies, but developers Mattia Verga and Michael J Gruber person offered to assistance pinch them.

In nan longer word though, Fedora whitethorn good move to utilizing a Flatpak-packaged version. LibreOffice itself already has an charismatic Flatpak version available connected nan Flathub app store. However, nan Fedora Project can't straight usage that successful its installation media, arsenic developer Michael Catanzaro explains:

For Fedora Workstation, nan mid-term scheme is to vessel each preinstalled apps arsenic Fedora Flatpaks. We cannot vessel thing from Flathub because FESCo will not let it. I don't like this FESCo requirement, but I besides don't expect that to change.

(Just for clarity, FESCo is nan Fedora Engineering Steering Committee.)

LibreOffice is simply a formidably ample and analyzable portion of code, comparable successful complexity to an full Linux distro successful its ain correct — 1 Hacker News commentator memorably described it arsenic "one monolithic incomprehensible heap of ancient rotting C++ and Java code, dragged on complete 38 years [since] StarOffice." On apical of this, nan Document Foundation itself besides publishes RPM packages of nan suite, astatine slightest for x86-64.

Sadly, foisting disconnected LibreOffice to beryllium externally maintained not only bespeak nan inclination towards cross-distro packaging formats, it besides reflects nan inclination towards ever-increasing usage of web-based apps wrong ample corporations… and that itself tin beryllium seen arsenic a manifestation of nan Pareto principle, much familiarly known arsenic nan "80:20 Rule": 80 per cent of nan users of RHEL aliases Fedora only want 20 per cent of nan functionality of LibreOffice. (Of course, nan eternal problem is that they don't each want nan same 20 per cent.)

Most users of RHEL Workstation are almost surely members of unit astatine ample corporations, and it's already becoming clear that astir specified group only request a mini subset of nan immense scope of functionality of a full, rich, locally installed agency suite — instead, they are often contented pinch nan comparatively constricted functionality of a web based agency suite, specified arsenic Google Apps aliases Microsoft 365, particularly arsenic specified devices make collaboration pinch different workers very overmuch much convenient. You don't request to interest astir what shared thrust it's saved on, aliases really you link to it, aliases astir having correctly configured font aliases template libraries, aliases record names aliases folders aliases immoderate of that 20th period baggage.

If you do request specified functionality, good you're astir apt successful a minority, but you will still beryllium capable to instal a section agency suite — you conscionable won't get nan afloat endeavor support that Red Hat makes its surviving by selling.

SUSE made a comparable determination a decade ago, and offloaded its LibreOffice improvement squad to Collabora, forming nan halfway of that company's Productivity division. That's really 1 of nan task leads astatine Collabora, Michael Meeks, ended up astatine Collabora successful nan first place.

Some commentators person welcomed nan move, and they make a persuasive constituent successful nan humble sentiment of nan Reg FOSS desk.

The broader strategical point happening present isn't astir agency suites. It's much to do pinch packaging formats, and web apps, and whether you tin efficaciously usage different companies' existing efforts to trim — aliases moreover destruct — soul costs. For instance, comparison pinch really Apple persuaded Oracle to return complete maintaining nan macOS JVM.

As we've pointed retired before, a often overlooked advantage of things for illustration Flatpak and Snap packages is not conscionable that they tally connected different distributions: It's that they tally connected different versions of nan same distribution. So, for example, nan Ubuntu releases page presently lists complete 30 different versions of Ubuntu which are presently successful progressive support.

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In principle, a azygous Snap-packaged type of Firefox tin tally connected each of them. (At slightest for a azygous processor architecture, anyway.) The savings for Canonical successful having 1 package of this quickly changing exertion which tin tally crossed dozens of different versions of its own distro are successful rule truthful important that if that package tin tally connected other distributions excessively – well, that's conscionable a useful prize that it gets for free.

Firefox is astatine bosom a azygous binary: it's nan standalone web browser, formerly known arsenic Phoenix, was carved retired of Netscape's Communicator suite 20 years ago. The charismatic RPM packages for LibreOffice 7.5.3 connected x86-64 number 374 different files. Integrating, and supporting, that is rather a important burden. We wish nan unpaid Fedora maintainers a batch of luck – they'll request it. ®