By davidleetodd on Sep 10, 2007
People often ask what the difference is between OpenOffice.org and StarOffice. This question has been popping up more often after Google's announcement that it would distribute StarOffice for free as part of the Google Pack of desktop applications.
Here's my take on this, gathered from my colleagues on the OpenOffice and StarOffice teams, especially Louis Suarez-Potts, OpenOffice.org Community Manager.
OpenOffice.org is a community Open Source project, released under the Lesser General Public License. Anyone can download either the binary or the source and redistribute them, at no charge, subject to the restrictions of the license. Sun is the biggest contributor to this project, but by no means the only one. Sun's contribution to this project is its gift to the world.
Like the Linux community, the OpenOffice.org community encourages others to develop their own distributions -- “distros” -- of the OpenOffice.org software by picking and choosing from its modules, and by adding their own modules. StarOffice is such a distro, created by taking the OpenOffice.org core, and adding various commercially-oriented modules, such as an advanced spellchecker licensed from a third party. The fact that Sun Microsystems created the StarOffice distro, and charges for it, does not mean that Sun considers StarOffice to be more “official” that OpenOffice.org, any more than Debian or Ubuntu is more “official” than the Linux kernel. StarOffice is just oriented toward a particular market segment.
There are other distros that target other markets. Sun created another distro called StarSuite that is oriented toward the Asian market. NeoOffice is an independent distro that has been ported to the Macintosh Aqua user interface. Novell created its own distro as well. The Google Pack StarOffice distro is a non-commercial version that is limited to Windows platforms.
The OpenOffice.org ecosystem encompasses all these distros, and also includes many indpendent vendors who provide support, training, consulting and other services for the various distros. Sun sells support and other services for OpenOffice.org, StarOffice and StarSuite, and cooperates with independent support vendors in various markets. We take pride in our major contribution to this ever-growing, open ecosystem.