Sun Micrososystems freed OpenOffice.org a decade ago but kept tight controls that stifled the project. Oracle bought Sun but now has seen the light and has transferred the assets to the Apache Foundation.
While the Apache Foundation has some conflict with Free Software in its licensing, ASL is a Free Software licence and The Document Foundation and The Apache Foundation are in contact about future relationships.
“”We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing,” added Jagielski. “The ASF’s organizational, legal, financial, and infrastructure support gives incubating projects the ability to provide valuable software to millions of users without having to worry about liability. Today’s submission of the OpenOffice.org code base is testament to our track record for successfully incubating highly-established, well-respected projects such as Apache SpamAssassin and Apache Subversion.”
Incubating projects (known as “podlings”) benefit from hands-on mentorship from other Apache contributors and are guided on an array of processes and principles within the Foundation, including adopting the Apache voting structure and growing a vibrant and diverse community. Jim Jagielski is the proposed podling mentor for the OpenOffice.org community during the incubation process.”
According to the announcement on TDF-announce, “The Document Foundation would welcome the reuniting of the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle. The step Oracle has taken today was no doubt taken in good faith, but does not appear to directly achieve this goal. The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms – licensing, membership and more – to the existing OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects. We regret the missed opportunity but are committed to working with all active community members to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org. “
When all the dust settles, I expect OpenOffice.org and/or LibreOffice to grow in usability and reliability as a result of this move to the extent that Oracle was holding things back and to the extent that a wide variety of contributors can now more freely do so. It will be interesting to see how IBM and other big players who were associated with OpenOffice.org respond.
It would probably have been smoothest for the contribution to have gone to The Document Foundation but that does not seem to have been a concern of Oracle… The world needs productivity software for offices and will make it one way or another. The worst case scenario now is that the fork will become permanent and two diverse products will arise. The best case is that a merger will take place, preferably as OpenOffice.org reborn or as LibreOffice. The Apache Foundation houses a lot of projects but none are in the face of users on the desktop. This could be an opportunity to diversify but it is a large bite. The worst case is not that bad, either. Competition is good.
UPDATE Here’s Oracle and IBM’s comments.
“The Apache Software Foundation’s model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development.” — Luke Kowalski, vice president, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group.
Ha!. The same could be said for any other FLOSS licensing, including the GPL. Linus has no problem with individuals and corporations contributing code. What’s this about? It seems petty to me. ASF uses several software licences to distribute software. Presumably, if Oracle owns the copyright on everything in OpenOffice.org, they can just change it to something ASF likes, but OpenOffice.org has many licences and many components are not owned by Oracle so it may be something that throws a wrench into the gears to maximize angst.
SJVN has more on that… Even the trademark has gone to ASF. I wonder how long it will take to figure out the licensing.
UPDATE Ars Technica has a very comprehensive article about all of this.
see Ryan Paul – Ars Technica – Oracle spurns LibreOffice, wants to give OOo to Apache Foundation