Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Oct 2010 21:56 UTC, submitted by poundsmack
Features, Office "A group of key OpenOffice.org contributors and community members recently decided to fork the project and establish The Document Foundation in order to drive forward community-driven development of the open source office suite. Oracle has responded to the move by asking several members of TDF to step down from their positions as representatives on the OOo community council."
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Unfortunate impasse with this fork
by BlueofRainbow on Tue 19th Oct 2010 00:32 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

As an user of software, I have encountered what appears to bad forks as well as good ones.

I see a good fork as one when a group of interested developers takes ownership of the code from a developer-owner who has essentially retired from the project he/she has created. The case of Syllable (from Atheos) comes to my mind. I'm sure there are many others, even some in which the original developer-owner continues later on in a slightly different direction/fashion while remaining "compatible" on the core of the project.

I see a bad fork as one when a group of interested developers seeking to bring improvements to a project, yet is seemingly forever being denied/hold back by the original developer-owner splits from the committee/organization overseeing the project. Divergences in direction of a project do not have to lead to this - however this appears to be a frequent situation in most technology driven projects.

Not being intimate with the whole background, I see the story as one about a bad fork although in this case, the original developer-owner also maintains an independent (commercial) branch of the code.

From this, I feel that it would be better if The Document Foundation has the same status as that of Oracle within the OpenOffice Org and that both - with their respective own branches of the code - remain in collaboration to have an aligned common core which would allow sharing of improvements for the ultimate benefit of the end-users.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The original developer-owner of OpenOffice, Sun, is dead. Does it count as a successful fork from that point of view ?

Reply Parent Score: 4

FreeGamer Member since:
2007-04-13

You don't seem to understand the politics behind this fork.

Currently, if you wish to contribute to OpenOffice.org, you must sign a copyright waiver that gives Oracle (formerly Sun) ownership of your contribution and the right to do with it as they please. This is a massive barrier to contributing.

Since the open source release of OpenOffice.org, a decade ago, Sun has been promising to set up an independent foundation to manage OpenOffice.org which would allow community ownership of the project. Oracle has been ignoring this subject since the acquisition of Sun. So, the foundation has not been forthcoming, and control of the project is still under the Oracle (formerly Sun) corporate umbrella.

This fork is for the freedom of the project. It is not to do with features (although the current structure of the project was blocking certain features) but to do with how the project was run. It should be doing better than it is by now, given it's critical role in the open source desktop and the number of companies that work with it.

The fork is to take a corporate-run open source project and make it a community-run Free software project.

Reply Parent Score: 9

Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

You don't seem to understand the politics behind this fork.

Currently, if you wish to contribute to OpenOffice.org, you must sign a copyright waiver that gives Oracle (formerly Sun) ownership of your contribution and the right to do with it as they please. This is a massive barrier to contributing.

Lots of companies involved in Open Source do this. Just the top of my head, SuSE also forces you to sign a copyright waiver.

Reply Parent Score: 2

BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

Thanks for the clarifications.

It appears that Oracle only continues, albeit more strongly, the approach originally taken by Sun in preserving a corporate ownership of the code-tree. Too bad.

From the general perception of Oracle expressed in many comments on OSNews, it is unlikely that it will do an opening gesture for full collaboration with the community - for example assigning the ownership of the code contributed to OpenOfficeOrg to the organization it-self. This would also require an appropriate license to support this spirit so that Oracle and The Document Foundation can each pursue their respective goal/vision - one commercial and one communial.

As an end-user, I would be turned off if having to deal 2-3 years down the road with two incompatible "Open Office" file formats and/or ways of doing things because of the divergences arising form this fork.

Reply Parent Score: 1