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OpenOffice's Future at Apache

Reactions: Oracle Donate OpenOffice to Apache

Jessica Thornsby

Free Software Foundation worried about license change.

Freelance developer and trainer and ASF member Christian Grobmeier has posted his thoughts on OpenOffice being donated to Apache.

He views OpenOffice.org as fundamentally different to all the other projects currently incubating at Apache. Its size alone means that it’s more “a foundation incubating into a foundation,” and this raises a whole host of new issues, such as conferences, education and support. He stresses that the ASF have had experience with these topics already, but in a different way to how it has previously been done in the OpenOffice.org community. “I expect many things to be changed within incubation,” he says, citing a paring down of OpenOffice.org’s current, multiple mailing lists as an example.

But, he is positive about OpenOffice.org’s future at Apache:

“I am pretty sure this podling will be established. After all concerns and problems, OOo is a strong trademark, attracting tons of people. And the ASL is a very good license, which might be a good alternative to some people.”

Grobmeier states that he is hoping the Apache Software Foundation can collaborate with The Document Foundation in the future. The Document Foundation have also posted about a potential collaboration between them and Apache, even stating that the ASF coming into possession of OpenOffice could be the catalyst that brings their LibreOffice product and OpenOffice into a “single community of equals.”

However, Brett Smith, who works in the Licensing Compliance Lab at the Free Software Foundation, is less positive about this development. In a ‘Statement on OpenOffice.org’s Move to Apache’ he claims that the move means “it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as nonfree software.” He writes that the Apache License is a non-copyleft free software license that means anyone in possession of the software can distribute it under nonfree terms. Previously, OpenOffice was distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License.

“While we do recommend the Apache License in specific situations, we do not believe it is the best choice for software like OpenOffice.org,” he concludes, encouraging OpenOffice users to switch to The Document Foundation’s LibreOffice.

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