"business users come this way" -- unsure about the future of Libreoffice?


I wonder what made the foundation’s decision makers come up with “business users come this way” idea?

I’m talking about the download page. And the “ecosystem” partners (eco meaning commercial)

The point appears to be sourcing out the “support” functionality to commercial partners / “eco” partners.

Then, if a business company using Libreoffice want “safety”, they might elevate to "business users’ altitude… and start paying those “eco” partners… who hopefully donate to Libreoffice on symbiotic basis…

And they, the business users, will also get custom functions, and other nice things, which normal Libreoffice users won’t.

The problem with this is obvious:
one can’t go in two directions at one time

Apparently, the result is going to be that Libreoffice users will acknowledge that they are only the “free for ever” plan’s subscribers, accepting the limitations, starting with the lack of support, and accepting that they’re not getting “all” but some.

Funny, that I’m still writing this on a page at ask.libreoffice.org … a community page which works and gives great – and a great amount of help – for much more people than just who ask !!
This is the opposite direction to the “business users come this way” direction.

= = = = my question:

Shouldn’t Libreoffice be FREE, and equally FREE as in free beer, free Coke, as well as free access, for individual users and business users too?


Shouldn’t Libreoffice, the foundation (what a nice term!) stay away from commercial partnerships?

and yes, I am aware that Linuix Mint, for example, do advertise business partners who sell computers with Linux Mint installed on them…
not to mention that unlike Debian or Libreoffice, Linux Mint has a dot com website…
and I’m also aware that Ardour, for example, doesn’t give support and the latest version to everybody but to financial subscribers only…

I mean, Libreoffice is still in an especially GOOD standing in terms of non-commerciality, too :slight_smile:

*** thank you for developing Libreoffice * * *

The CEO probably doesn’t want to use ask.libreoffice.org. Nothing changes for you, you’ll still have the same access to everything, and more if business contributes more to development. Issues for business users often cost much more than the cost of support so the service needs to be available before they can be confident to use LO.


thank you,
your answer is enlightening, and I’m saying this without a bit of irony! : )

I have no answer to this high-value question.

Having worked in companies where office apps were M$, “no question, this is it, get back!”, without even evaluating if they were fit for the job, simply “because everybody else uses them”, I don’t remember any event where we got real useful support from our business providers.

First aid was provided by colleagues, then by IT team (when they understood the problem at stake – it was obviously not an installation or OS one, rather something related to work flow, not the same as theirs). Perhaps the IT guys had a paid hotline subscription so that they could filter and organise the requests in order not to overload the hotline. But I never saw a real efficient solution come out of them. Hotlines usually are fine for basic level assistance (because users never read the [censored!] manual) but fail miserably when it comes to pinpoint issues such as procedure automation.

In a multi-thousand employees company, there are people at different hierarchical level. It is obvious that the CEO must have “it works immediately” set of tools. He/She won’t spend his/her time solving the bug. So there will be an assistant in charge of the issue with a deadline of only a few minutes. But the average clerk is not in such a favourable situation. Perhaps, at this level, AskLO can be the right support (valuable but not committed).
In between, a targeted paid support might be the correct service. But it depends on the contract terms.

Without any information on contract contents, it is impossible to tell if such a direction is hell or bonus.


thank you for your thoughts… and for the insight into the real life context…

The point appears to be sourcing out the “support” functionality to commercial partners / “eco” partners.

Wrong. “sourcing out” implies there was some support previously provided by the Foundation, which from now on would be transferred to some external party. This is completely incorrect. The Foundation has never provided any kind of “support” to users, commercial or otherwise, other than providing the necessary home and infrastructure for the project itself. The support that has ever existed was - and is - provided by the community; and nothing changes here. But the point is to emphasize to enterprise users the ever existed fact, that they should not expect any enterprise-level support for LibreOffice from TDF; they must either rely on their own staff in supporting the software, or find a partner who would provide necessary L3 support.

And they, the business users, will also get custom functions, and other nice things, which normal Libreoffice users won’t.

Wrong. The idea here is exactly the opposite. Instead of creating an “open-core” solution, which would be very unfortunate, we want everything to be fully functional for everyone.

So it’s hard to answer a question, that is based on wrong ideas.


This also is a very wrong idea. There seems to be some curious way of thought among many “free software lovers” who do not understand what the community is; they imagine that the community consists only of volunteers, and anything “commercial” is outside of the community.

But TDF was initially created to give home to community consisting of all kinds of contributors, both volunteers and commercial companies, that would work together, each providing new value to the project. The goal was from the start to have multiple commercial community members, and that way both ensure stable and high-volume contribution, and be vendor-neutral, independent on some single commercial contributor who would provide most income/contribution/whatever. So again: commercial (and not only commercial!) L3 support providers are equally part of the community. And trying to demonize that part is detrimental to the health of the project as a whole.


as I was thinking, after reading your thoughts, ajlittoz and flywire,

I thought that a new service could be set up: “workflow protection”,
which businesses using 10+ and 20+ and 50+ and 100+ and 1000+ libreoffice instances could “subscribe” to…

it could start with their explaining their workflows…
the number of them would also count in terms of the subscription…

then, in a universal language (such a thing sure exists), their workflows would be “saved” or “registered”…

this already would make giving help to them a huge step easier, I guess…

when they ask for help… their workflows will be known and clear at the help desk…

and HELP could be of two types:
“beforehand” and “in production”

beforehand they could get advice, even a description, like a manual…
which they could stick to… like Aviators : )

in production – meaning also “urgent help” and “unexpected problems” – they could get fast and effective help…

and as subscribers, they can be sure that whatever comes up, they’ll handle it…

and fees could be determined dynamically…
more times, higher complexity, greater numbers, greater fees…
and the other way around, too…

I only think that “workflow protection” would be something that would attract and reassure business heads… which would be like rephrasing in a more informative way than “businesses come this way” … which the private users would easily accept, I believe…

thanks again for your thoughts, both of you : )

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Your split in a 2-tier scheme is a very good idea I never thought about.

It looks to me that a prerequisite to the beforehand stage is a set of templates reflecting the described workflow. Thus the “operations manual” is not a generic one, but an optimised digest targeting users needs.

The general flaw in office automation is to consider that PC usage is “obvious” and common sense. I always saw failures in any organisation when new tools were introduced without specific clerk training. The failure resulted from the fact that clerks used the new tools as they did with the previous one(s) without taking the time to learn the difference and replacing their routine with a new one.

So the hard point is not in the tool itself but in business organisation and staff readiness.


when they ask for help… their workflows will be known and clear at the help desk…

Most work processes and even more so the company manual are subject to company secrecy.
Consequently, you will probably not pass it on to LibreOffice.

I was not talking about manufacturing processing but about administrative workflow. I don’t think there are many differences around. All the more when LO is involved (mainly Calc spreadsheets and Writer document models). Exact document contents is private.

I hope companies are wise enough to secure the limits of assistance by third party in their contract specifications.