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Oracle proposes OpenOffice.org to Apache Incubator

Oracle bypasses The Document Foundation for OpenOffice.org handoff

In what may not be the best-kept secret, Oracle has finally spilled the beans: It's proposing OpenOffice.org as a Apache Incubator project — and not to The Document Foundation.

According to Oracle's release, "Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development."

Oracle had announced earlier this year that it would be passing the torch to the community, but failed to provide any specifics about the ultimate destination of OpenOffice.org. Now we know where it's going — and it's hard to argue with Apache as a reliable body to take up OpenOffice.org. However, one wonders how this will affect the fork of OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, which has been gathering steam.

The Document Foundation, the organization behind LibreOffice, has issued a statement, and says that it "regrets the missed opportunity" to reunite the projects, but looks at the bright side:

On the bright side, one benefit of this arrangement is the potential for future-proof licensing. The Apache License is compatible with both the LGPLv3+ and MPL licenses, allowing TDF future flexibility to move the entire codebase, to MPLv2 or future LGPL license versions. The Document Foundation believes that commercially-friendly, copy-left licensing provides the best path to constructive participation in, and growth of the project.

So, ultimately, TDF says that it's "neutral" for the foundation which "remains open to every company, individual or foundation that wishes to participate in co-development. There has never been a better time to get involved and advance the state of the art in free software office suites."

This may be an interesting case of "coopetition" between Apache and TDF, rather than animosity -- the TDF statement says that Apache Software President Jim Jagielski has already been in touch and that they anticipate "frequent contacts between the Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation over the next few months. We all want to offer corporate and individual users worldwide the best free office suite for enterprise and personal productivity."

So this may not be 100% optimal, but it looks like things are moving in a positive direction. It might also mean that Oracle and Apache are burying the hatchet. While it'd be nice to see Oracle cooperate with TDF, I suspect that the company has some legitimate reasons for favoring a well-established organization like Apache.

It's also worth noting that it's a process to become accepted in Apache's Incubator. I have a strong feeling that OO.org will be accepted, but it's not like Oracle can simply plop the project in Apache's lap.

Stay tuned — it's just getting interesting.

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