In a surprising move, Oracle hands over the source code for OpenOffice, the popular open-source office-productivity suite to its erstwhile adversary, Apache.
The open-source office-productivity
suite OpenOffice has a surprising new home: Apache. There was some speculation
Oracle might donate the project to the The Document Foundation, the group of
developers that split from OpenOffice to launch LibreOffice last fall.
OpenOffice will join Apache
Software Foundation as an "incubator" project, Oracle said June 1. As an
incubator project, OpenOffice must mature and prove its viability and
sustainability before graduating to full project status. Oracle has assigned the
trademark to Apache, as well.
"The Apache Software
foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer
contributors to collaborate on open-source product development," Oracle said.
Oracle had promised that it
over the open-source project and donate it to the
community April 15. The company also appears to be trying to silence its
critics who claim the database giant is anti-open
. Donating the code to venerable Apache, home of the popular Apache Web
Server, proves that Oracle is committed to the developer and open-source
communities, the company said.
"Donating OpenOffice.org to
Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open and well-established
infrastructure to continue well into the future," said Luke Kowalski, the
vice-president of Oracle's corporate architecture group.
The move was surprising, as
Oracle and Apache have had a contentious relationship over another open-source
project, Java. Oracle
as part of its lawsuit against Google for violating Java
patents in the Android mobile operating system. Oracle also blocked Apache's
Project Harmony from getting a Java license, which resulted in Apache quitting
IBM relies heavily on
OpenOffice and the ODF (Open Document Format) for its own Lotus Symphony office
suite. The company, which had been lobbying for Oracle to spin off Open Office
in the first place, immediately welcomed Oracle's decision.
"We look forward to engaging
with other community members to advance the technology beginning with our
strong support of the incubation process for OpenOffice at Apache," said Kevin
Cavanaugh, vice president of collaboration solutions at IBM.
It is unclear what will
happen to LibreOffice's cadre of supporters as OpenOffice moves into Apache's
fold. Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, the Open Source Initiative, the Free Software
Foundation and Google backed The Document Foundation and LibreOffice
LibreOffice was launched by
core OpenOffice community members who were frustrated by Oracle's tight control
over the project, which the company had inherited as part of its Sun
Another point of contention
between LibreOffice and OpenOffice will be over licensing. OpenOffice, as an
Apache project, will now be released under the Apache Software License.
Previously, OpenOffice was licensed under GPL (GNU Public License), GNU LGPLv3
(Lesser General Public License version 3) and MPL (Mozilla Public License).
Under GPL, LGPL and MPL, developers who modify and reuse code are required to
give it back to the community. Under Apache's license, developers don't have to
give back the modified code.
By donating OpenOffice to
Apache, Oracle missed the opportunity to reunite the OpenOffice community,
according to Italio Vignoli, a member of the Document Foundation's steering
committee. The differences between the Apache License and the LGPLv3+/MPL mean
none of the "rich innovation" from LibreOffice's contributors could be
incorporated back into OpenOffice, Vignoli said. OpenOffice also has "many
pieces of code" that are "not compatible" with Apache's license, and will have
to be "dropped or rewritten," said Vignoli.
The spell checker,
cryptography support and many file filters are among the numerous features that
Oracle does not own the rights to in OpenOffice, as they belong to the
individual developers now working on LibreOffice. Those features, licensed
under LGPL/MPL, can't be moved to Apache at this time.
However, any features that
are included in OpenOffice can be rolled into LibreOffice, The
noted in a blog post.
"We regret the missed
opportunity but are committed to working with all remaining community members
to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org,"