Oracle 'donates' OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation

Oracle has ceded control of the OpenOffice.org code base to the Apache Software Foundation Incubator project, it announced on Wednesday.

Oracle has ceded control of the OpenOffice.org code base to the Apache Software Foundation Incubator project, it announced on Wednesday.

OpenOffice.org is the most popular free productivity suite, and a major rival to Microsoft Office. The software giant said it was 'donating' the open-source code so as to "demonstrate its 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," Oracle Corporate Architecture Group chief Luke Kowalski said in a statement. "The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development."

The ASF's president, Jim Jagielski, said the foundation welcomed "highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing". Jagielski is the proposed "podling mentor" for the OpenOffice.org community during the incubation process — despite Oracle's talk of 'donation', a lengthy process precedes the ASF's acceptance of candidates.

The Document Foundation (TDF) forked the OpenOffice.org project after Oracle took over Sun Microsystems, the project's proprietors, last year. Unlike the ASF, TDF — whose fork is called LibreOffice — reacted neutrally to the news, although it welcomed the release of "key user features... in a form that can be included into LibreOffice".

"The Document Foundation would welcome the reuniting of the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle," TDF said in a statement. "The step Oracle has taken today was no doubt taken in good faith, but does not appear to directly achieve this goal.

"The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms — licensing, membership and more — to the existing OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects. We regret the missed opportunity but are committed to working with all active community members to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org."

TDF noted in its statement that, "on the bright side", the new arrangement provided 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 statement read. "The Document Foundation believes that commercially-friendly, copy-left licensing provides the best path to constructive participation in, and growth of the project."