Apache OpenOffice.org, day 10 catch up

10 days ago, Oracle had announced that they would contribute the OpenOffice.org code to the Apache Software Foundation.

Too bad that I was on vacation then. I first did read this on Monday 6th, when already 800+ mails have been sent to Apache's incubator mailing list, and it became 1400+ until I finally caught up reading them all. On average, there seem to be 400 mails per month. Now with the OpenOffice.org contribution, there are 1400 in 1/3 of a month. Seems the interest is (of course) really huge!

In the beginning, there have been many discussions on why Oracle didn't contribute the code and trademark to The Document Foundation (TDF) instead of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), and whether or not this step would split communities, which project developers would prefer and so on.

Of course there also have been many licensing discussions about having a very permissive license like ALv2 vs. a copyleft license like LGPLv3.

There are good arguments for both of them. A very permissive license like ALv2 allows people to create commercial products based on that code, without the need to contribute changes to the code back to the project. This can have the positive effect that companies contribute a lot to the project, to have a stable base for their own product, but it can also result in companies only taking code from the project, and never contributing back anything. Having a copyleft license means that companies might not be able to build their commercial products on that code base, and therefor wouldn't spend any resources at all.

I think ALv2 was a very good choice. This way, OpenOffice.org can become the base for many commercial products as well as for other open source products.

The only issue is that OOo makes use of some LGPL code. This needs to be cleaned-up before Apache can provide a full featured version of OOo. But others can combine the ALv2 licensed code base of OOo and complement it with the missing LGPL libraries. The licenses are one-way compatible. It needs to be discussed how new releases of OpenOffice.org can be provided in the near future.

So what will come next?

First, Apache OpenOffice(.org) is not an Apache incubator project yet. The proposal is available, and is being discussed on the general incubator mailing list. Soon there will the voting whether or not it really will become an incubator project.

It's also unclear what the name could be. Some call it "Apache OpenOffice", and some want to keep the name "OpenOffice.org". The first name is missing the fact that the registered trademark is OpenOffice.org, not just OpenOffice. The second one is missing the fact that an Apache project needs to have the name Apache in it. It needs to be seen what the final name will be.

Please forgive me if I got anything wrong with all the Apache rules - this is also new to me ;)

Here are some references that I found in the various emails which might be useful for understanding the Apache processes:

Once the project is accepted as an incubator, and the necessary infrastructure is in place, the initial code hand-over can happen, and all people interested can help with many different kind of tasks. Feel free to join :)


Dear Malte, could you please be so kind to give some little information about the OpenOffice.org team in Hamburg. It would be very interesting to hear whether everyone is still in place and what the general future is regarding the commitment of Oracle to OpenOffice.org. Thanks!

Posted by Aldi on June 10, 2011 at 04:07 PM CEST #

Hi Malte ! I'm very happy to see you on the project and I totally agree with your "next decades" vision of the project. Let's work together to see that really comes truth ! Best, Jomar

Posted by Jomar Silva on June 10, 2011 at 05:31 PM CEST #

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Malte Timmermann


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