The fate of OpenOffice.org
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 03 June 2011

Oracle's decision to hand over what is left of OpenOffice.org to Apache is being greeted as "a missed opportunity" or "the least bad option" according to your point of view.

Oracle announced its intention to hand over what was left of OpenOffice.org to the open source comminity in April. Now it has emerged that the Apache Software Foundation is to be its new home.

This decision has been welcomed by IBM which it was was speculated was instrumental in persuading Oracle to let the project go while there was still the chance of reviving it.  IBM has been one of the biggest investors in OpenOffice and has most to lose.

Writing on the Ostatic blog Sam Dean comments:

Of all scenarios for the future of OpenOffice, this is probably one of the most favorable ones. Very few organizations have the track record of following open principles and standards that the ASF has. If you're an OpenOffice user, this handoff from Oracle is most likely good news.

 

 

From the point of view of many in the Open Source community an even better option would have been to hand the OpenOffice code over to The Document Foundation to enable it to be reunited with the forked LibreOffice but this would have been a step too far for Oracle.

On his blog Sean Michael Kerner writes:

If LibreOffice didn't exist, Apache would be a brilliant home for OpenOffice.

But then he explains why he thinks it no longer is the best option:

  • Reality is that LibreOffice is a vibrant project that has put out the BEST VERSION of OpenOffice ever.
  • Reality is that the heart and soul of what used to OpenOffice is now vested in the community of developers that work on LibreOffice.
  • Reality is that EVERY MAJOR Linux distribution now includes LibreOffice

and contines:

Oracle, Apache and IBM need to wake up and see reality for what it is. Continuing to perpetuate the myth that OpenOffice.org can somehow survive as a separate project without the support of LibreOffice and the Linux community is a fallacy.

 

While The Document Foundation is obviously disappointed at Oracle's decision describing it as "a missed opportunity", it has announced its willingness to talk with Apache Software Foundation, following an email received from ASF President Jim Jagielski, anticipating frequent contacts between the Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation over the next few months.

TDF's statement also comments:

On the bright side, one benefit of this arrangement is the potential for future-proof licensing. The Apache License is compatible with both the LGPLv3+ and MPL licenses, allowing TDF future flexibility to move the entire codebase, to MPLv2 or future LGPL license versions. The Document Foundation believes that commercially-friendly, copy-left licensing provides the best path to constructive participation in, and growth of the project.

At the moment everyone is assuming that the handover will go as planned but Bertrand Delacrétaz, a member of the board of directors of the Apache Software Foundation cautions that:

Becoming an Apache project is a process, not just a decision

and explains:

The only way to create new projects at Apache is through the Incubator, so if project FOO wants to join the Apache Software Foundation, that can only take the form of a proposal for incubation  ...That proposal is then discussed and sometimes questioned ... until consensus is reached ... a process that can take from a few months to much longer depending on the code base and the community that froms around it.

So it seems nothing is settled yet a while.

Related articles:

Oracle hands over OpenOffice to community

 

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