OpenOffice Fork becoming a Split
Sunday, 17 October 2010

Oracle members of want breakaway Document Foundation members to leave its community council. Is this the way open source is supposed to function?




Three current members of the (OOo) Community Council are also founder members of the Document Foundation (TDF) which having forked from OOo has launched its own product, LibreOffice. At last week's meeting of the OOo Community Council they were asked to resign - but they resisted at least until after further discussion.

We've reported previously on the fork between and The Document Foundation which plans to bring out LibreOffice as an alternative open source office suite. The divisions between the projects are now becoming clearer.


A post today on Slashdot reports,  

"In an unprecedented move with respect to other forks, Oracle asked the founders of the Document Foundation and LibreOffice to leave the Community Council. Apparently there is a conflict of interest, which concerns the Oracle employees."

The situation is currently rather unclear as the chatlog of the Community Council Meeting of 14th October, chaired by Martin Hollmichel, reveals.

The main item on the agenda for the meeting was "Where do we stand?" with its details stated as:

"Now that many members of the community council support the Document Foundation: how do find the best way to go on?"

Rather than providing summary of the discussion the OOo websites suggests that interested parties read the IRC Log.

As it is a long thread here is our summary:

It was in the public session of the meeting that Pavel Janik, a developer on the Czech OpenOffice localization and not connected to Oracle raised the idea of conflict on interest and stated:

In my normal life, the "good grace" and "gentlemanship" force people to step down when they work for the other companies, lawyers can't work for both sides etc. This is normal and I expect the same from people with COI in our OOoCouncil.

In the Council session that followed his statement was quoted and endorsed by Louis Suárez-Potts, a Community Development Manager in and an Oracle employee.

Another Oracle employee, Matthias Huetsch, who like both Janik and Suárez-Potts is a QA engineer for OpenOffice, also voiced an opinion,

For me it is as simple as it was for pavel: you can't eat the cake and have it too, both at the same time

Three of the participants in the meeting are among the founder members of TDF (The Document Foundation) and current members of the OOc Council: Christoph Noack, Olivier Hallot and Cor Nouws. The main proponent of the idea that they could continue to be part of OOo was Cor Nouws who stated:

But for me, there is no real conflict of interest at the moment.

He was backed up by Hallot who asked,

"do we have competition? ... because if we have not, then there is no COI"

Andreas Bartel (previously with Sun and now with Oracle rejoined):

are you serious? we have competition or we will have soon at conferences, with customers, with community newbies etc

Key points of the discussion addressed to the TDF founders were:

Matthias Heutch: You can not eat the cake (go away and set up a competing project) and keep it to (try to govern the project that you were just leaving)

And as points addressing Cor Nouws:

Louis Suárez-Potts: You are entitled to work with the OOo community but your role in the CC can cause confusion, as it is a representative role

Eike Rathke (another Oracle employee): Not helping OOo is not the point. The COI is having a seat both in TDF and in the OOoCC.

Louis Suárez-Potts: The point is to reduce, as much as possible, confusion and conflict of apparent intention

Towards the end of what had became a contentious exchange Louis Suárez-Potts made his position clear:

I would like to propose that the TDF members of the CC consider the points those of us who have not joined TDF have made about conflict of interest and confusion ..... I would further ask them to resign their offices, so as to remove the apparent conflict of interest their current representational roles produce

and Cor Nouws replied to him ok with your first proposal, and I would like to talk more at least with Martin (Hollmichel)

It was agreed the Cor Nouws and Martin Hollmichel would be in communication over the weekend and in view of the need to arrive at a resolution the idea an emergency meeting on Tuesday was raised.

So while it is true that the Oracle members of the committee want the Document Foundation members to quit the situation is as yet unresolved.

Further reading

Log of OOo CC meeting 14th October

New bid for freedom by OpenOffice

OpenOffice fork is real



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Last Updated ( Monday, 25 October 2010 )