IDG News Service - Oracle suddenly announced Wednesday it was submitting the codebase for OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation, ending speculation about the open-source productivity suite’s fate following Oracle‘s recent announcement it would be transitioned to a “solely community-based project.”
OpenOffice.org will start off in the ASF’s incubation program as a “podling” — the first stage in a multistep process toward becoming a top-level project within the organization.
There are many questions remaining about OpenOffice.org’s future, however, such as how it will co-exist with LibreOffice, the offshoot project formed last year by a number of OpenOffice.org community members after a falling-out with Oracle.
Here’s a look at some of the top issues regarding Oracle’s decision, and where OpenOffice.org goes from here.
Q: Will OpenOffice.org thrive or flounder at Apache?
Some interested parties think OpenOffice can do very well there.
“We should all be excited to see OpenOffice move to a foundation with the stature and track-record of Apache,” said Rob Weir, ODF (Open Document Format) architect at IBM, in a blog post. OpenOffice.org as well as IBM’s own Lotus Symphony Suite, which is based on OpenOffice.org code, support the ODF standard.
Apache hosts a diverse array of successful open-source technologies, such as the Tomcat server and Hadoop data-processing framework, Weir noted. “These diverse projects are run according to meritocratic development process, a tried and tested governance model, strong shared technical infrastructure, a pragmatic, commercially-friendly open source license and a set of social conventions known as the ‘Apache Way.’”
Hopefully, OpenOffice.org at Apache “will be viewed as a way to bring together some of the threads that have separated from the main project trunk over the last few years,” said Bob Sutor, vice president for open systems and Linux at IBM, in a blog post. “This is a place where people can get together under one virtual roof and turn OpenOffice.org into what people always thought it could be.”
Ultimately, as with all open-source projects, OpenOffice.org “will sink or swim on the basis of contributions,” Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady said via e-mail.
LibreOffice has seen decent uptake, with Linux distributions such as Ubuntu adopting it at the expense of OpenOffice.org, he noted. “That siphons off some of the available energy in the space.”
But OpenOffice.org is important to companies like IBM, which users can expect will make substantial investments in continued development of the codebase. That “gives it a good chance to be viable moving forward,” O’Grady said.
Q: Why did Oracle give OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation and not some other group, such as the Document Foundation, the group that oversees LibreOffice?
“Only Oracle can answer this, but it is clear from past history that Oracle prefers to work with foundations that have both history and long-term experience working with enterprises,” O’Grady said.