Monday, 21 December 2015 09:49

Collabora making modest profits on LibreOffice Featured


A little more than two years ago, the open source consulting company Collabora took over the job of commercialising LibreOffice, the free office suite that is produced by an army of developers.

At that time, a number of LibreOffice developers moved from the Germany-based Linux company SUSE and became staff of Collabora.

Michael, Meeks, (seen above) the lead developer on LibreOffice at Collabora, says he is motivated by the increasing number of commits that Collabora makes.

"At least that's what motivates me; I spend a good chunk of my time trying to get the economics and business side right to create a virtuous circle of increasing investment into the LibreOffice code," he told iTWire.

"In terms of updates; we've made a (modest) profit in our first two years of working on LibreOffice, and we're growing as a company and in our upstream contributions."

According to recent statistics, there are 100 million active users of LibreOffice, including 18 governments. The office suite supports 189 file types. There is commercial support for the suite in 37 countries, with 37 per cent of those added by Collabora.

Said Meeks: "We sell long-term maintenance and Level 3 support services around our own distributions of LibreOffice - which are branded Collabora Office, Collabora CloudSuite and GovOffice. The latter has five years of support and a slower release cadence to suit the government market. So much like a RedHat model.

"Buying support and maintenance enables people not only to get a great service, and peace of mind in case anything goes wrong, but also helps to fund our very significant investment in terms of code contributed to LibreOffice, for example around a third of commits in the last year."

Statistics show that Collabora made 6210 commits in the last year, Red Hat Linux 7541 and volunteers 4968.

Referring to the latest development, of offering LibreOffice in the cloud, Meeks said: "CODE (Collabora Online Development Edition) is a development release so that people can easily get stuck in and play with this great combination of LibreOffice Online and ownCloud inside a GNU/Linux VM. The hope is to get more people excited about the possibilities here and enable them to contribute easily."

"Clearly Collabora has no plans to host this ourselves, or provide any Google Docs style service. We provide a key piece of software for our partners."

Looking ahead, Meeks said Collabora was enthusiastic to be working with ownCloud around building a combined commercial offering for support & services here - two great FLOSS companies working together is always good news. We should have more to announce early next year."

LibreOffice is a fork of the office suite which was owned by Sun Microsystems and became part of Oracle when the latter bought Sun early in 2010. The project was forked in September 2010 when the original developers realised that it was going nowhere under Oracle's stewardship.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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