“Sun’s open-sourcing of StarOffice Suite is the single largest open-source software contribution in GPL history and it adds a key application suite to the open source portfolio,” said Marco Boerries, vice president and general manager of webtop and application software at Sun Microsystems, Inc. “This announcement will leverage StarOffice Suite’s role as the leading productivity suite for multiple platforms and will further increase our momentum as the only competitive alternative to other office suites. Sun will also continue to develop and aggressively market future versions of StarOffice Suite, which will be based on OpenOffice.org.”
“Since innovation happens in many places, making the source code for StarOffice Suite available will enable the enormous community of developers to bring their expertise and energy to improve and expand the reach of this full-featured software suite. But OpenOffice.org is much more than just source code–it also includes APIs and XML-file formats. This will allow developers to easily work across platforms and have a huge impact,” said Boerries.
see 2000 – SUN MICROSYSTEMS OPEN SOURCES STAROFFICE TECHNOLOGY
That worked, more or less, until Oracle tried to stomp all over FLOSS developers by contribution agreements and stacking the management of the organization. Then LibreOffice forked and thrived, doing it the right way inviting widest participation. Now, Oracle, seeing that their methods were feeble by comparison, attempts to thwart LibreOffice by converting the licence to ASL. I am also shocked that IBM, who derived their own product from OpenOffice.org, does not see clearly enough the benefits of FLOSS development that they support ASL over GPL along with Oracle.
I suppose IBM feels that keeping its own product closed source/non-free is in the best interests of IBM but I think they are short-sighted. The reason Linux, ODF, Android, and so many other open technologies work so well is not because of the individual contributors but because the FLOSS community is the right way to produce software. Any non-free implementation is liable to be more limited, buggy and frail than the FLOSS equivalent.
Attempting to put OpenOffice.org under ASL is nonsensical in the long run. Either or both of these things will be true:
- It will cost IBM more to develop.
- LibreOffice will eventually become a superior product.
Oracle and IBM’s handiwork will be to delay the inevitable triumph of LibreOffice. You cannot do better than FLOSS, no matter how much you try because the world is a bigger organization and can produce its own software. I don’t see LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org getting back together now. The die is cast.
Bob Sutor wrote, “In some sense, the value of a standard is proportional to the number of people who use it. An Apache implementation of a standard means that software, be it open source or proprietary, can start using the standard quickly and reliably. An Apache implementation of a standard immediately increases the value of the standard.” That assumes that more people will use FLOSS+proprietary than merely FLOSS. That is not in evidence as OpenOffice.org is widely used on that other OS and there are billions of people about to enter the Age of IT and are extremely sensitive to cost. FLOSS has explosive growth behind it as well as ahead of it. Oracle dropped the development of OpenOffice.org as soon as the FLOSSists left camp after all.
see Mark Webbink’s summary of the situation on GROKLAW – CLA Redux – The Donation of OpenOffice to the Apache Foundation
Read some of the comments. Many different views are evident.