Open SourceSoftwareWorkspace

Apache Re-affirms Backing For

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The Apache Foundation has declared as an official part of its incubation scheme

OpenOffice has been given a vote of confidence, after its new owner declared that the open source office productivity suite was now officially part of the Apache family.

The official announcement came after ongoing questions and concerns about the long-term viability of OpenOffice. Last week, there were financial fears for the project after a major fund raising campaign began for OpenOffice, which used dramatic language, saying that cannot be allowed to die, and that a sudden end to would be disastrous.

OpenOffice Breakaway

There is little doubt that has been facing a tough time of late. Historically it had faced simmering tensions between software giant Oracle and open source advocates, ever since the database giant acquired Sun Microsystems (which distributed OpenOffice at the time).

In September last year these tensions erupted into the open when a number of developers officially announced their independence from Oracle. They did this by creating an independent organisation called ‘The Document Foundation’ (TDF), because they felt that Oracle was not interested in working with the open-source community. TDF announced they would distribute a version of the open-source office productivity suite under the name “LibreOffice”.

Soon an increasing number of developers began to join the LibreOffice camp.

Oracle Response

Oracle reacted by formally announcing that it was turning into a fully community-based open source project in April this year. And then, in June, it was revealed that OpenOffice had a surprising new home with Apache.

At that time, TDF insisted Apache may not have been the best home for the project.

“The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms – licensing, membership and more – to the existing and LibreOffice projects,” a TDF statement said.

Meanwhile LibreOffice has been widely adopted since its launch, with an estimated 25 million plus LibreOffice users worldwide.

Apache Announcement

Into this mix therefore the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has decided to formally announce that “ is now officially part of the Apache family”. It added that the project is now being developed as a pod-ling in the Apache Incubator under the ASF’s meritocratic process informally dubbed “The Apache Way”.

The project is known as “Apache (incubating)”.

“The Apache Pod-ling Project Management Committee (PPMC) and Committer list are nearly 10 times greater than those of other projects in the Apache Incubator, demonstrating the tremendous interest in this project,” said Apache.

“As with many highly-visible products, there has been speculation and conjecture about the future of at Apache,” it added. “More recently, destructive statements have been published by both members of the greater FOSS [Free and Open Source Software] community and former contributors to the original product, suggesting that the project has failed during the 18 weeks since its acceptance into the Apache Incubator.”

“Apache is not at risk,” it confirmed. “As an end-user-facing product, is unique in comparison to the other nearly 170 products currently being developed, incubated, and shepherded at the ASF.”

And the new owners offered something of a olive branch to TDF, along with an appeal to stop the spread of FUD (fear, uncertainity and doubt) about OpenOffice.

“We congratulate the LibreOffice community on their success over their inaugural year and wish them luck in their future endeavours,” it added. “We look forward to opening up the dialogue between Open Document Format-oriented communities to deepen understanding and cease the unwarranted spread of misinformation.”