Forking

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Forking

Postby enderandrew » Sat May 03, 2008 9:23 pm

I know the go-oo community seems to have downplayed the term fork and their seperate repository, but between go-oo, OxygenOffice, Symphony, and NeoOffice, I'm curious how Sun and the OOo community is going to respond and move forward.

As I understand it, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the major issue with many of these projects is that Sun insists on owning the copyright for all code in OOo, which discourages many from submitting code upstream. This is useful to Sun no doubt in that it allows them to include that code in StarOffice, as well has relicense the code if need be. However, I was under the impression that they'd be able to include the code in StarOffice no matter what, as the code is GPLed. Is there any real reason why Sun must own the copyright on all contributions, and can a compromise be proposed that would address Sun's needs while also encouraging community contributions?

Symphony is largely a different beast, but I'd love to see go-oo, OxygenOffice and NeoOffice fold back into the primary OOo tree. NeoOffice's improvements for Mac OS X versions should no doubt be part of mainline OOo, and at the sametime NeoOffice users would benefit in many ways by folding back into trunk. 1 - They wouldn't wait for releases, as NeoOffice releases no doubt are predicated on waiting for OOo releases and then modifying them. 2 - They'd gain features from go-oo, OxygenOffice, etc. by everyone coming together. Converesly, go-oo would gain Mac OS X versions, etc.

IBM and Sun are two industry giants trying to capture market share from Microsoft. IBM is now a supporter of OpenOffice, even though they are releasing a competing, proprietary product. I'd contend that Lotus has a stronger brand identity than StarOffice, and in a perfect world, I'd love to see Symphony merge with StarOffice/OpenOffice. Many of the UI improvements could/should go into the OOo trunk for everyone to use. Symphony gains the other apps/modules of OpenOffice, as well as the latest 3.0 codebase, docx support, etc. The combined Symphony/StarOffice product becomes a commercial product that Sun and IBM could both sell, with full suppport for the proprietary Lotus formats.

Doesn't this just seem like a win-win? Doesn't this all make just a little too much sense not to happen? All these competing projects aren't just dividing developers, users, and causing feature fragmentation. They are also weaking the mindshare and brand indentity by confusing users. I firmly believe the best way to compete with the extremely dominant Microsoft products is to unite in brand identity and function.

This may not be the best forum to reach the appropriate parties, but I'd love to start a discussion on the issue, flesh out ideas, and then attempt to contact the appropriate parties with those ideas.
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Re: Forking

Postby Villeroy » Sat May 03, 2008 10:36 pm

I believe this is the completely wrong forum to disuss these issues in a qualified manner. I believe you can find huge discussions in the archives of the respective developer forums. There must be reasons for the current situation.
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Re: Forking

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat May 03, 2008 10:45 pm

Right.
This is just a user to user forum. The goal is to help users, using OOo, SO, NeoOffice and so on.

I move the thread to the General discussion BTW. You can look at the mailing lists like a forum with interfaces like Nabble: http://www.nabble.com/OpenOffice-f12770.html. Try to dig it.
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Re: Forking

Postby TerryE » Thu May 08, 2008 1:17 pm

enderandrew wrote:As I understand it, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the major issue with many of these projects is that Sun insists on owning the copyright for all code in OOo, which discourages many from submitting code upstream. This is useful to Sun no doubt in that it allows them to include that code in StarOffice...


Not quite. See the Sun Microsystems, Inc. Contributor Agreement. All contributors to OOo core must sign this. In a nutshell, this states that the developers must have correct title to their contributions (which they retain), and that they agree to grant Sun and OOo a royalty-free licence to use such contributions. So this is a long way from their insisting on ownership. We've had other topics discussing why some Enterprises would wish to procure a supported version of OOo (for example see OOo in DoD). Sun feel that they need to be free to sell a supported version. I actually agree with them. Clearly they can't accept contributions into the core which would prevent them from doing so.

If a contributor wants to write something that they want to retain full title on, then the correct way to do this is through an OOo extension.
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Re: Forking

Postby AndrewZ » Thu May 08, 2008 3:20 pm

Is there any real reason why Sun must own the copyright on all contributions,


The Free Software Foundation that we thank for the GNU licenses, the GCC compiler, etc. also does copyright assignment. They are a icon of free (open source) software, but in the FSF case it is more extreme than with Sun.

http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_n ... apers.html

can a compromise be proposed that would address Sun's needs while also encouraging community contributions?


Sun could create an independent organization such as the Eclipse Foundation that owns and operates OpenOffice.org.

This may not be the best forum to reach the appropriate parties, but I'd love to start a discussion on the issue, flesh out ideas, and then attempt to contact the appropriate parties with those ideas.


Perhaps you'd like to research links on the subject, and you could post them here with summaries like a bibliography. I am sure there are many to find. To start, here is one blog post from the Novell perspective. Michael has more similar posts and links.

http://www.gnome.org/~michael/#2008-03-06
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