A decision to remove OpenOffice.org from the default Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) release sparked so much controversy that developers have reversed the decision.
The dispute over whether to include OpenOffice.org in the default shipped version of the UNR came to a head last week with developers on both sides of the fence arguing their case. The initial decision made by the development team was to leave OpenOffice.org out of the shipped version and force users to rely on Google Docs, or other similar online applications, to fill the gap.
The rationale behind the decision was that OpenOffice.org is a significantly large application and consumes considerable resources. Netbooks are traditionally smaller in capacity than standard desktop or laptop PCs and are primarily aimed at web-based tasks such as checking email, browsing the web or chatting online. In this respect having a web-based office suite made sense.
Critics, however, argued that netbooks were more than just web-browsing tools and were used more widely by remote users for reviewing, or even creating, office-style documents. They also argued that netbooks were increasingly popular among students who preferred them for their price and portability and did use them to create new documents.
Following the initial outcry over the decision to leave OpenOffice.org out of the shipped version, a compromise was suggested. Rick Spencer, the developer behind the initial decision, also suggested that lightweight alternatives such as AbiWord and Gnumeric be included in the UNR release in place of OpenOffice.org.
By the end of last week, however, the decision had been reversed and Spencer said that after discussions the development team had decided to revert to including OpenOffice.org in Ubuntu by default.
In a similar vein the UNR team also decided to remove applications that rely on Mono from the standard release. Mono is the open source world’s version of Microsoft’s .Net framework. Popular applications such as Tomboy – a sticky note application – run on the Mono framework. The decision to remove Tomboy and other Mono-based applications is to remove the need to include the entire framework in the default release.
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