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[tdf-discuss] Proposal to join Apache OpenOffice


Greetings All,

Some of you will remember me as a long time member of the OpenOffice.org
community.  In fact, back in the day, it was sometimes just myself and
Michael Meeks who were openly complaining on the OOo mailing list about
Sun's handling of the "community" :-)

I'm writing today about what is going on over at the Apache project.  When I
heard Oracle was donating the OpenOffice code to the Apache project, I
headed over there to see what was going on.  I offer this brief report to
bring everyone up to speed:

- According to officers of the Apache Software Foundation, Oracle donated
OpenOffice to the ASF by executing the ASF's standard copyright grant.  This
grant allows the ASF to release the OpenOffice code under the Apache
License.

- The ASF however has a process to accept a project.  The OpenOffice project
is now in the proposal stage.  If accepted, it will join the Apache
Incubator and become a "podling", which is basically a
project-in-development.  During the podling stage, the project would be
expected to complete the steps needed to become a full ASF project.  Among
other requirements, the podling project has to review the copyright history
of all code to ensure it has a clean "title" and is or can be licensed under
the Apache License.  If it completes that process, it then becomes a full
Apache project.  See
https://blogs.apache.org/foundation/entry/incubation_at_apache_what_s

- While the code donation was made by Oracle, the primary champion in the
effort to get the code accepted as is Apache Project is IBM.  Let's have no
illusions or delusions about this.  IBM has a self-interested motive in
championing this project.  Basically, IBM would like to setup a community
where both it and other contributors make contributions under the Apache
License, and then IBM would take some or all of those contributions and use
them in its proprietary products which includes for example IBM Lotus
Symphony.  The Apache License specifically allows this.  In fact, the Apache
License allows anyone to take the code and use it in their own project, open
source or closed source.  In the Apache world, that is considered a feature
not a bug.  The ASF would like to see as many people using the code as
possible, and for that reason, their license is as liberal as possible,
allowing anyone to use the code.  That is exactly the reason that IBM is
championing this as an Apache Project, rather than a LGPL project.

And that brings me (almost) to the point of this email.  Any code
contributed to the Apache OpenOffice project could be used by anyone,
including The Document Foundation, which can take the code, integrate it
into LibreOffice, and release it under the LGPL.  Sounds like a good deal,
huh?

Here's the rub.  IBM, as I mentioned, is doing this for self-interested
reasons.  I would like to propose the members of LibreOffice community get
involved in this for similarly self-interested reasons.

I understand there are some bad feelings toward IBM.  Basically, there is
the perception that IBM has been taking OpenOffice code all of these years
and contributing little back to the OpenOffice community.  That is probably
true.  As far as I can see, IBM has at least been taking much more than it
has given back.  I'm not sure that can continue though, because as the
champion of the proposed Apache OpenOffice project, IBM is going to have to
contribute.

So you might say though, why not just sit back, let IBM make contributions
to Apache OpenOffice, and then we'll just cherry pick what we want for
LibreOffice.  Well that would certainly work, but I don't think it would
work as well as getting involved.

There is also another player in this, and that is the Apache Software
Foundation.  The ASF is an honorable organization with a long track record
in open source and they are dedicated to fostering a community.  In the ASF,
anyone can contribute.  Contributions and participation are made by
individuals, not by or on behalf of companies or organizations.  The
community determines the direction of the project.  Membership in the
community is based on merit, which is measured not just by code
contributions, but by anything that supports the project, which could also
include documentation, testing, bug reports, etc.

So while the LibreOffice could just sit back and cherry-pick the project, if
its members get involved, they can help determine the direction of the
project, ensuring that the project direction and design decision are
compatible with LibreOffice and have the maximum value to LibreOffice.  The
ASF has no problems with this--in fact, they encourage it.  Just as IBM is
getting involved in an Apache OpenOffice project because they want to use
the code in their products, the ASF will welcome TDF members getting
involved for the same self-interested reason, to use the code in
LibreOffice.

Critically, at this stage in the process, everyone has a "free pass" to get
involved.  Normally, once the project is up and running, you would have to
demonstrate your merit before you can join the project.  But for the next
few days, while the project is in the proposal stage, the gates are wide
open--anyone can join as an initial member.
 
So here is my suggestion: I propose the everyone here head over to the
Apache Incubator and join the proposal as an initial member.  To do that,
simply:

1. Go to http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal
2. Click "Login" at the top.
3. Follow the directions to create an account.
4. After your account is setup, go back to
http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal and if you still see
"Login" at the top of the page, click on it and login using the account you
just created.
5. Go back to http://wiki.apache.org/incubator/OpenOfficeProposal and click
"Edit (GUI)".
6. Scroll down to the "Initial Committers" table, right-click on the last
row, select Row -> Insert After, then add you name to the table.  Note: the
"Initial Committers" are the initial project members.  While "Committers"
imply code contributors, it is not just limited to that--anyone can be a
committer.
7. In the Comment field at the bottom of the page (below the text editor),
enter "added self to Initial Committers", then click "Save Changes" above
the text editor.
8. Check the page to make sure your name appears.
 
That's it.  It does not obligate you to make any code contributions, but it
will get you in on the ground floor and allow you to participate in the
direction of the project.  I just did it myself.

Some of you may have noticed that Greg Stein, a member of the Apache
Software Foundation Board of Directors has joined this list and offered to
answer any questions.  Please feel free to ask him about anything that is on
your mind.  He would be a better person to answer, since I'm new to all this
Apache stuff myself :-)

Best Regards,

Allen



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