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01 June 2011, 17:10

OpenOffice proposed as Apache project

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Oracle is to propose that becomes an Apache Software Foundation (ASF) project and enters the Apache incubation process. The proposal comes six weeks after Oracle abandoned commercial development of OpenOffice and said it was looking for a way to have the office suite managed by the community. Luke Kowalski, vice president of Oracle's Corporate Architecture Group said "Donating to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future".

Projects do not immediately become Apache top-level projects though. The incubation process allows the newly arrived project to work with mentors at the ASF and move towards operating in "The Apache Way", synchronising with the licensing practices, meritocratic governance and all the other elements of how Apache projects work. For it is proposed that the podling – the name for incubating projects – will be mentored by Jim Jagielski, president of the Apache Software Foundation.

The incubation proposal is yet to be formally submitted, but Jagielski told The H that everything that Oracle owned the copyright to will be donated and relicensed under the Apache Licence 2.0. There are a number of external dependencies on GPL and LGPL licensed libraries that the podling will need to work to resolve, either by replacement or relicensing by arrangement.

IBM appears to also be heavily involved in the process. Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of IBM Collaboration solutions said "We look forward to engaging with other community members to advance the technology beginning with our strong support of the incubation process for OpenOffice at Apache". Rob Weir, IBM's ODF Architect, extended an invitation in his blog to developers to join in the work that would be taking place under the Apache umbrella – "In particular, we need to attract a wide variety of project specialists. This includes C++ programmers (on Linux, Mac and Windows), QA (also on all platforms), help/documentation, UI/UCD, translation/globalization, accessibility, install, etc. Please keep your eyes open for an announcement from Apache in the next week or two, saying that the OpenOffice incubator project has been set up and is ready to accept members".

The Document Foundation (TDF), home of LibreOffice, the LGPL licensed fork of launched last year, were less enthusiastic about the move. In a blog posting, Florian Effenberger said TDF would welcome the reuniting of and LibreOffice into a single community but it felt that the Apache community had "different expectations and norms – licensing membership and more – to the existing and LibreOffice projects" and called it a missed opportunity. On the positive side though, he noted that the Apache Licence 2.0 is compatible with the LGPLv3+ and MPL which would allow TDF "to move the codebase to MPLv2 or future LGPL license versions". Effenberger expected TDF to be in discussions with ASF President Jagielski over the coming months as "we all want to offer corporate and individual users worldwide the best free office suite for enterprise and personal productivity".


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