Oracle submits OpenOffice.org code base to Apache

Backers of the LibreOffice offshoot say they are open to merging with OpenOffice

Oracle is submitting the code base for OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation, where the productivity suite will live on in the group's incubator program for open source software initiatives, Oracle announced today.

"Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well-established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development," said Luke Kowalski, vice president with Oracle's Corporate Architecture Group, in a statement.

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"We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing," said ASF president Jim Jagielski in a statement. "Today's submission of the OpenOffice.org code base is testament to our track record for successfully incubating highly established, well-respected projects, such as Apache SpamAssassin and Apache Subversion."

Jagielski has also been proposed to serve as a mentor for OpenOffice.org as it becomes an incubation project, or "podling."

IBM also released a statement Wednesday, saying it would strongly support the incubation process.

Although Oracle previously said it would no longer actively manage OpenOffice.org and planned to transition it to a "purely community-based open source project," the chosen home was not made public until now.

Oracle, which acquired OpenOffice.org through the purchase of Sun Microsystems, made a brief go at selling a commercial version of the suite under the name Oracle Open Office. It also announced a related product, Oracle Cloud Office. But the vendor scrapped both applications in April, ostensibly due to a lack of interest from customers.

Oracle had clashed with members of the OpenOffice.org community, some of whom broke off to form an offshoot project called LibreOffice and a related group, the Document Foundation.

The Document Foundation hailed Oracle's move in a blog post Wednesday, albeit with some caveats. "It is great to see key user features released in a form that can be included into LibreOffice," it stated. "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."

But that process won't be automatic, it added. "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."

The Document Foundation is willing to begin talks with ASF, it added. "We all want to offer corporate and individual users worldwide the best free office suite for enterprise and personal productivity."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Chris's e mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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