Things are not looking well for the Apache OpenOffice project.

A recent email by Apache OpenOffice vice president Dennis Hamilton informs that the project may shut down. Hamilton, a volunteer for the position, cites the lack of volunteer developers to enable the project's continuance.

"I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner," writes Hamilton. "It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together."

Hamilton adds that as of late, both the project's capacity to produce secure software and respond to documented bug reports in a timely manner have been put into serious question. Both elements are part of the Apache project maturity model.

The project's dwindling developer support is reflected in its version update releases, which have been scarce since last year. Apache OpenOffice has had only one update release in 2015 and that is version 4.1.2 last October.

During 4.1.2's release, a documented report regarding the memory corruption vulnerability that can occur when documents are loaded on Impress was also submitted. However, it wasn't until March 2016 that Apache OpenOffice developers figured out a source-code fix. By June 2016, the vulnerability reporter expressed his/her concern regarding its prolonged disclosure and proposed that he/she will disclose it.

The team released an advisory regarding the said vulnerability on July 21. A hotfix was made available last week, Aug. 30, Tuesday.

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) Board also tasked its project management committee (PMC) to address the inability and find a solution, prompting the committee to report monthly instead of quarterly, which was the case prior. In his email, Hamilton proposed the project's retirement as a possible remedy.

"It is remiss of me not to point out that retirement of the project is a serious possibility," comments Hamilton. "My interest is in seeing any retirement happen gracefully."

The Apache OpenOffice is a successor of the open-source office suite, which was often bundled with Linux distributions. However, in recent years, most Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, shifted from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, an OpenOffice fork that builds on the original OpenOffice code base.

LibreOffice came about through the collaboration of many volunteers that used to work on OpenOffice. Most of them left in 2011 after Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems and decision to discontinue the project. Oracle then contributed OpenOffice to the ASF and thus, the Apache OpenOffice we have today.

Photo: ubberdave | Flickr 

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