Sun engineers are to lend a hand in the port of OpenOffice to Apple's Mac OS X.

OpenOffice.org, an open source rival to Microsoft Office, already runs on the Mac using X11, the windowing system designed to work with Unix applications. Now it looks like work is accelerating on a Mac-native version that won't require X11 at all.

In his blog on the GullFOSS website, Philip Lohmann, project lead for the Graphic System Layer Project, reported that Sun engineering has added its support to the effort to bring forth a Mac-native version of OpenOffice.

Lohmann admits it's been a long time coming.

"The MacOSX porting history is basically as old as OpenOffice.org itself. Practically from the start there was the plan to have a native version for Mac, however as a first step the community decided to produce an X11 port which - since OOo already had several X11 ports from the start - seemed to be a good way to get a version quickly as temporary solution," he wrote.

Lohmann said he and fellow Sun developer Herbert Dürr will work on the Mac-native OpenOffice release, and he expects that other Sun developers will join in as help is needed.

"Some may ask: Why is Sun joining the Mac porting project? If you look around at conferences and airport lounges, you will notice that more and more people are using Apple notebooks these days. Apple has a significant market share in the desktop space. We are supporting this port because of the interest and activity of the community wanting this port," wrote Lohmann.

OpenOffice is designed to be an open-source, free alternative to Microsoft Office and other office productivity suites. It includes a word processor called Writer, presentation software called Impress, an equation and formula editor called Math, a graphics application called Draw, a spreadsheet application called Calc and Base, a database based on the HSQL engine.