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From the Whispers of ApacheCon…

From the whispers of ApacheCon, OpenOffice.org may never leave the incubator project. The intention may be to do a thorough code audit and produce one last, clean release that the rival LibreOffice can absorb.

That was what you may have heard 10 months ago,  if you listened to the rumormongers.   Certainly there were a lot of rumors being spread.  (Or should we call it FUD?)  Whatever you call it, the whispers continued, in a negative propaganda campaign that the open source community should be ashamed to be associated with.   Even just a few weeks ago I heard from one LibreOffice lead that he was certain that the Apache OpenOffice podling would never graduate and that we’d fail, give up, shut down the project and give the OpenOffice trademarks to LibreOffice.  I’m sorry to disappoint, but this kind of FUD has an expiration date, and that date is now.

From the whispers of ApacheCon…

Yes, you will hear talk of OpenOffice at ApacheCon next month, a lot of it, but it will be quite in the open, no whispers there.  The Apache OpenOffice Project, no longer a “podling”, (Did I neglect to mention that we graduated from the Apache Incubator in a unanimous ASF Board resolution?) will be running a track dedicated to OpenOffice and related technologies.

And as for a clean release that LibreOffice can “absorb”, they are welcome to it.  In fact they have for several months now been merging (“rebasing” is there preferred term) Apache OpenOffice code into LibreOffice, and I couldn’t be happier about it.    Ironically, after demonizing the permissive Apache License,  it is for this very reason that LibreOffice is doing this “rebasing”, to escape from the constraints of LGPL.   After all the demagoguery, their source files will now carry an Apache License notice.

I need not repeat the long list of other false predictions and rumors: that we would never be able to bring the product’s IP up to Apache standards (we did), that we would not be able to issue security patches for OpenOffice (we did),  that we would never get a release out the door (we did, twice), that we had delayed too long in our release and were thus irrelevant (we had more downloads in 4 months than LibreOffice has had  in 2 years), that we would never contribute developers to the OpenOffice effort (we have), that we would never donate Symphony to Apache (we did), that we would dominate the project (we don’t) or that we would force Symphony to be the new base of OpenOffice (we didn’t), etc.  The FUD went on and on and continues even today, combined with exaggerations of their own modest achievements.

It is probably a vain hope to expect the FUD to stop now that we’ve graduated, though I would be happy to be wrong.  But at the very least I think we’ve established a record of accomplishment that stands in stark contrast to the repeated false predictions of the anti-Apache whisper campaign.  And it is worth noting this,  and preserving some skepticism when hearing further FUD from these same sources.   And this is something worth saying louder than a whisper.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • dipesh 2012/10/21, 1:48 am

    Maybe the right time to finally close that topic? There will always be fan-boys on the one or other side spreading whatever. The best way to handle that seems to be vocal in the progress that is happening.

    Personally I hope following things will happen:
    1) BOTH sides realize the other side will stay to be there. Gratulation, you got competition.
    2) BOTH sides realize that its not worth to fight for the 1% market share the other side has. Let’s focus on the 99% MSOffice :)
    3) This needs collaboration. Come on, get over it and focus on the common goal to get ODF market share improved. It just does not matter if its morr LO.org or more AOO as long as its one of them (or Calligra, heh). If one of them or both or all three is able to spread ODF more, to increase ODF market share ALL of them will profit.

    For AOO: I would love to see a roadmap and some kind of table showing the goals reached and those who are planned to have reached sooner or later. Some high-level “this is happening and this is going to happen”. Would be imho the best way to proof whoever claims no-progress wrong and, more important for me, shows the direction AOO is heading into.

    Thanks to the AOO, to the LO.org and Calligra communities for driving ODF forward and giving users REAL choice, security of investment and interoperability.

  • Anonymous 2012/10/21, 5:33 am

    I think this is good news that IBM is still investing its resources in this area.

    There was a blog entry recently (which escapes me right now) that at a recent ODF meeting in Berlin zero ibmers were present which was kind of worrying but if IBM still is fully behind ODF as this progress hints then there should be no reason to worry, whether you prefer AOO or LO.

  • Karellen 2012/10/22, 3:51 am

    Why is “rebasing” in scare quotes? It’s pretty widely used term for a particular type of code merge.


    Your sentence about the reason for rebasing seems at odds with the information at the link you posted to. According to that, they relicensed their code so that they could then rebase their changes on top of AOO (“With the relicensing of the original OpenOffice.org code-base to Apache License 2.0 by Oracle, we’re now able to incrementally rebase our own code on top of that.”). But, aren’t you implying that the rebasing is (or is what allows) the license change (““rebasing”, to escape from the constraints of LGPL.”) – which is backwards?

  • Rob 2012/10/22, 8:30 am

    @dipesh, Thanks for your thoughts. “Progress” is hard to compare between the projects since one project releases its alpha and beta builds. If they have a 50% performance regression in one release (a bug that never existed in AOO) and fix it in another release, is this progress? It was certainly reported that way, a 100% performance improvement! And they also have vaporware goals of iOS and Cloud support. So comparing the two projects based on claimed goals and claimed progress is difficult. It requires a critical eye. However those journalists covering this area seem to have abandoned neutral journalism for advocacy.

    @Anonymous, if you recall where you saw this blog post, please forward it.

    @Karellen, The rebasing is in order to escape LGPL. I don’t think this is in doubt. See: http://lwn.net/Articles/498898/

  • Karellen 2012/10/22, 10:08 am

    @Rob – ah – thanks for that link, it makes more sense now.

    I had assumed that any re-licensing problems would be from getting permission from the rights-holders of new LO code to allow their contributions to be put under new licences – as is a relatively common problem with OSS relicensing.

    From that link, I now understand that that seems to have been sorted with relative ease[0], and the problem is that new LO code under the new license(s) can’t be applied to the old OOo codebase, as those sets of licenses are incompatible.

    Appreciate the clarification.

  • dipesh 2012/10/23, 2:02 am

    Guess I wasn’t clear enough with my wording. What I meaned is the progress AOO makes, plans to have made. I am really not interest in a comparision with other projects but in reading first hand whats going on in AOO, where its heading too. I mean there ARE great things going on in AOO. Focus on them and spread them.

    For journalism: They write what gives attention and sells. Just make sure there are plenty
    of good news easy to discover and to make articles from and be fine. If you
    target tech news such kind of progress-table & roadmap like I suggested would be
    maybe a good start to give them something to write about that sells. Ideally with lots
    of awesome technical details :)

    What I REALLY wonder about is that up till today there are no news about AOO4, no
    image-walkthroughs of how Symphonie-UI in AOO4 would look like, no news about
    plugins, server-integration and so on. You really must be into all this to see
    the opportunities AOO4 can give. To bad this did not make it into articles yet so
    everybody can see & understand :-/ I think this is a wasted opportunity. One that
    has potential for lots of good news.

  • Anonymous 2012/10/28, 4:56 pm

    This was the blog entry I was referencing, mentioned here because I read it a day or two before this Graduation entry:


    • Rob 2012/10/28, 7:51 pm

      @Anonymous, thanks for the reference. Indeed I have been to many plugfests, including a some recent ones that lacked participation from LibreOffice. Did I make a big fuss out of this? Of course not. As for my commitment to ODF, I’d love to debate that with you, but I must now prepare for the ODF TC meeting tomorrow that I will be chairing.

  • Anonymous 2012/10/30, 4:28 pm

    Sorry if I came unclear on this – I definitely was not trying to question/debate about your commitment but I was rather surprised to see such a blogging and was genuinely wondering whether it’d be a sign of some strategic change from IBM part but was relieved to notice that it would not seem to be the case after reading this blog posting, as I tried to explain in my first comment.

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