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Oracle drops OpenOffice on Apache, shuns forkers

LibreOffice re-unification rejected

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Oracle is shunting OpenOffice onto the Apache Software Foundation, sidelining the original OpenOffice community that forked off the project as LibreOffice last year.

On Wednesday, Oracle said that its contribution demonstrates Oracle's commitment to the developer and open source communities. "Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future," the vice president of Oracle's corporate architecture group, Luke Kowalski, said in a statement. And the move was immediately welcomed by both Apache and IBM, one of OpenOffice's biggest beneficiaries through its use of Open Document Format (ODF).

But the move cuts off the coders who, in September 2010, unhappy with Oracle's treatment of the project, created LibreOffice under the aegis of The Document Foundation. At the time, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, the Open Source Initiative, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and Google backed LibreOffice and The Foundation.

Further, as Oracle was congratulating itself for being a good friend to developers and open source projects, The Document Foundation told The Register that in moving OpenOffice to Apache, Oracle rejected the Foundation's advice on the future of OpenOffice.

The Document Foundation tells us that Oracle approached the group for suggestions on OpenOffice, which it duly offered. Namely, the Foundation said that Oracle should put OpenOffice code under a Mozilla Public License/Lesser General Public License version 3 dual license and transfer the OpenOffice domain and trademark to the Foundation.

Instead, Oracle moved the code to the venerable Apache, father to such projects as the Apache Server, and it seems that Oracle will retain the OpenOffice trademark. Oracle's announcement only discussed the code.

Fork you for forking

LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice formed by core OpenOffice community members. They created the project – and The Document Foundation – out of their frustration with Oracle's unwillingness to relinquish control of the project, which the database giant inherited as part of its purchase of Sun Microsystems.

OpenOffice joins Apache as an incubator project. It must mature and prove its viability and sustainability before graduating to full project status. The code will be licensed under the Apache Software License. Previously, OpenOffice code has been licensed under the GPL, LGPLv3 and MPL.

The GPL, LGPL, and MPL are copyleft licenses, meaning that if you modify and reuse code in certain situations, you must give it back to the community. But Apache is non-copy-left, meaning you can modify and reuse code without giving back.

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