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Sun Refuses LGPL for OpenOffice; Novell forks

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the there-is-no-dept dept.

Novell 258

TRS-80 writes "Kohei Yoshida wrote a long post on the history of Calc Solver, an optimization solver module for the Calc component of OpenOffice.org. After three years of jumping through Sun's hoops on his own time, Sun says it will duplicate the work because Kohei doesn't want to sign over ownership of the code. Adding insult to injury, Sun then invites him join this duplication. Because of Sun's refusal to accept LPGL extensions in the upstream code, Michael Meeks (who recently talked about Sun's OO.o community failings, and ODF and OOXML) has announced ooo-build (previously just for build fixes) is now a formal fork of OpenOffice to be located at http://go-oo.org/. "

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And we think EULA's are bad (2, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835559)

There is just as much or more license squabbling in the OSS world as there is the other world.

It's kind of sad.

Blame the big corporations?

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835599)

Sun is a big corporation?

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (4, Insightful)

darien (180561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835665)

There is just as much or more license squabbling in the OSS world as there is the other world.

Yeah, but in the OSS world we still have access to all the software that's in dispute...

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835695)

Wonderful. And if they also tweak document formats, will the two versions be able to read the different formats just fine?

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (5, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835821)

That's actually the nice thing about the OASIS format, it's already documented and standardized. Other office suites, such as Koffice; already use OASIS so the standard already has more weight than any office suite. In the end I would think that the fork will probably go nowhere, but if it does gain momentum then we can probably only benefit from the competition. A lot of people like to bitch any time effort is duplicated and any fork (or competition) is a waste of time, but those people only need to look at XFree86 (remember those guys?) vs Xorg. From what I understand, Sun drives away a considerable amount of support by wanting to be in total control instead of a steward of the project, so maybe a fork will produce results.

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835889)

Yes, because in the absolute worst case you can always compile the necessary bits and link them yourself, on your own machine. The "derivative work" you are then creating constitutes Fair Dealing (since otherwise, one or both components would be unfit for their rightful purpose); although it would infringe copyright if you passed it on to any third party (possibly, if you even so much as showed it to any third party; while it's obvious what "showing" means in the case of a video/audio recording or book, the position w.r.t. a computer program is less clear.)

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (2, Insightful)

bogie (31020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835829)

Yes but usually that means someone is trying to close up or abuse source code licenses and someone else is trying to keep them open.

Plus say your right. What's worse? Companies that are constantly trying to force you into licenses that are restrictive and downright abusive/harmful to you or your computer? Or individuals who are constantly fighting to ensure that you/society only benefit from the software license?

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836085)

I wasn't calling one or the other worse. I was pointing out that people will whine and fight in all situations.

Re:And we think EULA's are bad (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836047)

There is just as much or more license squabbling in the OSS world as there is the other world.
It's kind of sad.
Blame the big corporations?


License squabbling happens when a project grows, and there are far more interests involved than you can imagine.
It's got nothing to do with OSS vs. commercial software.

The alternative is Sun and Novell forming their private militia and sending hitmen to hit their competitors. In a country with a developed legal system, we rather slap each other with licenses.

Nothing's perfect.

The limits of FOSSie communities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836331)

One can probably describe mathematically the maximum size of a FOSSie project before it starts to splinter. A project can only have so many people working on it, and then, exactly like we see with Teh Lunix, it will start to splinter, and then the splinters will splinter, and so on.

This is another among millions of reasons OO.o will never be a competitor to MS Office, at least not a serious competitor (a market share below the statistical margin of error doesn't equal competition). As time goes on, OO.o will have less and less ability to keep it together, and will eventually devolve into a "core" OO.o group who works on the nuts and bolts at the root of the project, while everyone else does the UI and stuff.

That was Teh Lunis's solution, which is why all he cares about is the kernel- the distro hell is everyone else's creation, and now their problem. And as we've seen with all of Stallman's cultists, Teh Lunis doesn't supply enough anti-MS hate speech to keep teh Lunix-using masses satisfied. So as time goes by, even Teh Lunis becomes irrelevant, while Stallman just works on forcing the masses to use the software he approves for them.

It's all about freedom of choice... or rather, freedom FROM choice: use Stallman-approved software, or else they send the dogs after you. The BBC can let you know all about how that one works.

So here is how it's going to work, guys: Sun and IBM are going to own Teh Lunix, because the rabid MS-haters have already sold it to them in order to finance their war efforts, and Sun and IBM were more than happy to have something hurt their competitor. That's pretty much a done deal. Now we will just have to wait and see who gets to own OO.o.

When will people learn? (1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835561)

When will people learn that bickering like this is completely pointless and is in no one's best interests?

Re:When will people learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835633)

Ok Stallman.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

iworm (132527) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835753)

Yes it is.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835841)

No it isn't. ;-)

Re:When will people learn? (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835879)

Yes it is. Listen to your parent, didn't they teach you to respect your parent?

Re:When will people learn? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836361)

Answering for the guy you quoted:
Shut up kid! ;D

Re:When will people learn? (3, Funny)

iworm (132527) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836413)

Yes it is.... Is this the five minute argument or the full course of ten?

Re:When will people learn? (5, Interesting)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835775)

While I agree with you that forking generally isn't good, at times it can possibly be a good thing. Take a look at XFree86/Xorg. Since the fork Xorg has had massive improvements, finally getting X to a modern state. Hopefully this fork will work on improving OOo, specifically in the GUI and speed areas (Novell, please at least copy Lotus Symphony's GUI or MS Office 2004 (OS X) but implement in native controls making use of system settings (it should follow my icon theme and font settings at least)). While I use OOo, it really doesn't seem as if Sun has much of a goal for it. The GUI isn't very intuitive, it still is horribly bloated, and overall it doesn't integrate with the system and looks hideous. Each new release doesn't seem to have any noticeable improvements over the previous. It just feels really stagnant. Hopefully this fork will have some direction and actually have a goal of competing with MS Office.

They really need a goal like this [launchpad.net] .

Re:When will people learn? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835847)

Hopefully they rip all the Java out too.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835983)

Novell, please at least copy Lotus Symphony's GUI or MS Office 2004 (OS X) but implement in native controls making use of system settings (it should follow my icon theme and font settings at least

I always get a kick out of posts which start going into details of what they want company X to do, as if they're around and care what you say.

Remember the Novell Vice President: "If you care what I say, you have no girlfriend".

I suspect he believes this goes both ways, and wouldn't risk losing his girlfriend, so...

Re:When will people learn? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836067)

> "Miguel de Icaza, founder of ... Mono"

Not exactly a great recommendation, considering how hard it sucks to have Mono (both the disease and the programming language).

The guy shouldn't have to assign copyright. As long as he's LGPL'ed the code, what's the big deal? And this applies equally to the license nazis at the FSF who insist that code be assigned to them, rather than just licensed under the GPL or LGPL. Control freaks is what it sounds like.

Re:When will people learn? (2, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836351)

There are good reasons [gnu.org] for requiring copyright assignment. For the FSF it's reasonable enough since in return for the assignment they promise to license your contribution as free software. Sun are requiring copyright assignment and then planning to incorporate your code into the proprietary StarOffice, which some may see as unfair.

Re:When will people learn? (3, Insightful)

gral (697468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836387)

In that case, then everybody should just place their code under a BSD license, and be done with it. Doing this means your code can NOT be legally defended.

If there is a Legal dispute over the code, we would have to round up EVERYBODY that contributed to the codebase. They would ALL have to travel to Boise, IDAHO, or some place in Egypt, or Australia, or where ever the dispute is filed. Once their, they would EACH have to give a dissertation on what they contributed. If even one person doesn't show up, then you would lose, much like if a football team showed up with not enough players.

How many legal disputes would it take to make sure a person NEVER contributes again?

The GPL and LGPL are licenses, that allow a whole lot of different things to happen, but they are still LEGAL licenses that if you really want people to abide by them, you will have to be able to defend in court.

I am not a lawyer, but I have been the Documentation Lead on the OOo project for the past 6+ years.

Re:When will people learn? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836495)

Scott, the solution would be to share the copyrights with a non-profit that would have some kind of process that would make relicensing quite difficult, even though not impossible. This legal entity could be defending the code. But creation of this kind of entity would be contrary to the will Sun has to control everything. I am currently maintaining a WordPerfect import filter. A code where Sun did not do a single line if not some build breakages fixes when their build-system changed. I stupidly assigned once upon the time my copyrights to this code to Sun (as other of the authors did) in the hope that "OpenOffice.org community" will help to maintain it. The only error we made was to believe that there is something like a developer community. Now, Sun owns the code where they did not do a single comma. And the only contribution was to complicate the updates so much that one gets simply discouraged

Re:When will people learn? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836643)

True, copyright assignment is just good sense. The real issue is that Sun can't be trusted to be the copyright holder. For one they hold the project in their talons under an iron grip when the project should be in the hands of the community. For another, Sun blatantly does exactly what everyone fears when assigning copyright, they take your code and sell it as proprietary software.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836407)

Sun insist that you assign copyright to them, so that they can use your code in their proprietary, closed-source StarOffice application. This is almost exactly like OpenOffice.org -- except that you have to pay for it, and you're restricted how many copies you can make and how many computers you can use it on. (The LGPL ordinarily forbids a completely closed-source release; you can link a closed-source program against an LGPL program, but you have to make the Source Code for the LGPL part available -- unless, of course, you are the copyright holder.)

FSF suggest that you assign copyright to them, in order that you can benefit from their legal services. If someone tries to rip off a GPL application over which they have copyright, FSF can bitch-slap the offender on your behalf. You can write GPL code without reassigning copyright; but if someone misuses it, it's your responsibility to keelhaul the pirates.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836601)

No, the FSF *require* you to assign copyright to them in any code contributed to any of the GNU applications (emacs, gcc, binutils, etc) - the same as Sun do with OpenOffice.org.

Re:When will people learn? (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836217)

The GUI isn't very intuitive, it still is horribly bloated, and overall it doesn't integrate with the system and looks hideous.

Hmm it wasn't long ago I heard praises of OO since while Office 2007 changed its UI dramatically to deal with control bloat, OO kept the 2003-style interface. I mean you do realize: Open Office literally has the Office pre-2007 UI, in fact OO has less controls and toolbars than Office 2003 did.

I'm seeing more and more opinions in the other direction, which means the tide is turning. I guess the infamous Ribon wasn't that bad after all.

Re:When will people learn? (3, Interesting)

femtoguy (751223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835883)

I don't know that his is actually so bad. Remember that open source is all about choice. In the proprietary world, there is a huge advantage to being the one standard program, and so companies have used file formats to guarantee their positions. In the open source world, the open office xml file format is an open standard that anybody can use. We can easily have IBM with their office suite, Sun's Star Office, OpenOffice.org and a fork of it, KOffice and everybody can choose whichever version they want, as long as they use the standard file format. It's perfectly analogous to the web. It doesn't matter that some people use IE, others firefox, and others iCal or lynx, because html is standard, and anybody can implement it. In the end it is data that matters, not programs or platforms. This is the great strength of open formats and open source. Let people choose their programs based on their features and use interaction rather than being forced by format externalities.

pet peeve: know vs think (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836155)

"I don't know that this is actually so bad"

compare:

"I don't know that the sky is blue"; meaning that the sky is blue, but that you don't know it.

Ergo.. "this is actually so bad" - but you don't know it.

What you're looking for is:

"I don't think that the sky is blue"; meaning that the sky may be blue, but you disagree.

"I don't think that this actually so bad"; meaning that it may be so bad, but you disagree.

Re:When will people learn? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836509)

[quote]It doesn't matter that some people use IE, others firefox, and others iCal or lynx, because html is standard[/quote]

Yeah... right.. no problems at all, it all just works!

Btw, iCal for surfing the web? I guess you can export your calendar as HTML but ... ;D

Anyway would be intresting to hear why Apple doesn't use ODF for iWork 08.

No Dept? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835567)

This is the first story I've seen on slashdot without the 'From the xyz-dept' :/

Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (-1, Troll)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835579)

1. MS sees OOo as a threat
2. MS convinces Novell to get into bed with them
3. MS convinces Novell to push on Suns licensing of OOo
4. MS convinces Novell to fork OOo in order to fragment the OOo community
5. MS profits by maintaining their Office monopoly

Discuss...

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835651)

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised.

But who the hell does the Kohei guy think he is? "Hey guys, I just wrote this small addition to your software. Can you please relicense everything so I can commit it. Oh and by the way.... I won't be assigning copyrights on the submission to you." I can just imagine how well it would go over if I wrote a driver for some new piece of hardware and asked Linus to relicense the kernel under the BSD license so I could commit.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (5, Informative)

hub (78021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835783)

There is not relicensing involved. You don't understand. OOo is licensed under LGPL. But Sun want to *own* the code (which basically allow them to not comply with LGPL, therefore sublicensing). Kohei is just a developer that does not want his code (he wrote on his free time) to become non-Free. By keeping the copyright he prevent this to happen.

JCA (3, Interesting)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836079)

For core changes to the OpenOffice.org code base, Sun requires joint copyright assignment (JCA), whereby both the original author(s) and Sun jointly hold copyright. This allows Sun to relicense the OpenOffice.org code as needed (e.g., GPLv3).

IANAL, but with the JCA, nothing would prevent Kohei from making his code available under LGPL or any license he chooses outside of OpenOffice.org. However, by not signing the JCA, Kohei is preventing his code from being part of the core Oo.org code base. For whatever reason, the Oo.org team must want a solver that is part of the Oo.org code base, so if Kohei won't sign the JCA, there are few available options.

What would be interesting is if there were a way to basically split Kohei's solver component into three pieces. One is the GUI layer (there's menu choices, presumably leading to solver-specific dialog boxes), one is the bridge to communicate with the underlying spreadsheet data, and one implements the solver logic proper. Packaging that last piece as a LGPL third-party component, reusable among other projects (e.g., Gnumeric), might be acceptable to the Oo.org team, provided that the Oo.org-specific UI and data access bridges were part of the core project. I have no idea if this kind of code split makes any sense, since I've never written a solver, though Kohei references lp-solve, suggesting that part of his code might be able to be split into an nlp-solve...

Re:JCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836291)

It is even more simple than that. Basically, this solver can be nicely separated including the menus into a component that communicates with OOo core using only the published UNO interface that extensions use. It could be included as a LGPL only component. The only think that Sun would not be able to do with it is to add some proprietary bits to it without releasing them into the community. Is this what they are trying to do?

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836477)

No, you don't seem to understand.

Both he and Sun would have copyright to the code. He could do whatever he wants with it.... he just would have no say in what Sun does with his submission.... which is totally fair IMO.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835659)

Nonsense; Sun can fix this trivially by simply accepting code under their own terms: the LGPL.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835675)

The OOo community, or, that is, both developers not working for Sun ;), have been talking about a fork for a while, well before the whole MS/Novell thing. Sun won't take any code from anyone not willing to assign the copyright to them, which pisses a lot of people off. They also won't take code that deviates from the strategic direction Sun wants to follow. Development proceeds at Sun's pace, which as some say -- giant land tortoises move faster. The OOo community needs to fork OOo for the good of the project.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (4, Insightful)

glop (181086) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836001)

I agree, it would make sense to have GPL or LGPL OOO without this copyright assignment thing.

Note that this alternative OOO would be able to use any code from Sun and offer developers an added incentive: they don't have to assign ownership to Sun or anybody. And that can be a big incentive these days after a few projects having closed their source (remember sourceforge, that was not pretty... And more recently CUPS was bought by Apple. Which is not bad per se but I could understand that people who spent a few months of their own time working on it might be unhappy that they did not get a cut of the sale price...)

Of course Sun contributed the main code base and you could see the contributions as a reward to them. But it only works if the new contributions from others are small compared to Sun's. When they become big, you can understand that the contributors might want a more democratic way of handling things.

That's why the FSF says you should assign the copyright to them. But recently they showed that they could use that to make everything GPL3, which is hardly a consensual proposal.

So I guess that the Linux way is pretty good: get code from people who prove they own it and make it GPL. Distribute everything under GPL and count on the absence of a single copyright owner to make sure the initial contract (the GPL version X) will be maintained forever.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (2, Insightful)

Taagehornet (984739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835733)

Discuss...

No, please don't. Please stop your trolling. Please refrain from dragging MS into each and every discussion. It only derails the discussion and lowers the overall quality of this site.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (3, Informative)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835811)

Easy to reply to:

OMGZ!! NOBELL IS THE DEBIL!!!!!
Or.....they are actually fighting for a less restrictive license, in the LGPL.......
Dude, if you have no idea about the MS/Novell agreement (and judging by your post, you do not) then please keep your "mouth" shut. Seriously, it just makes you look stupid and appeals only to the foaming "NOVELL SUCKS!" crowd.
You use so much Novell sponsored code if you use OO.o, KDE, Gnome, Linux Kernel, Tomboy, Beagle, and a ton of other things. Novell is in various F/OSS groups to HELP the F/OSS community, and have been there before the MS deal. They are using their patents to fight patent trolls, stood up to SCO to help Linux when SCO sued IBM, etc

What more do you need as proof? Do they have to use a pair of rusty pliers to put Miguel in his place when he mouths off about something inane (as per usual?)

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835901)

What more do you need as proof? Do they have to use a pair of rusty pliers to put Miguel in his place when he mouths off about something inane (as per usual?)
Yes, please.

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836235)

Nah, just give Miguel a dose of Mono (the disease, not the code), because it certainly makes my linux boxes sick until I disable it.

Imitate a Microsoft product? Talk about having low expectations!

Re:Conspiracy theory - MS behind all this? (1)

eokyere (685783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835823)

bullshit.

With apologies (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835581)

to Michael Jackson and Weird Al Yankovich:

They told him, we don't your code around here
Don't wanna see your source, make it disappear
The license they don't like, and they made that clear
So fork it, Just fork it.

You better take your code, better do what you can
Don't wanna see it die, 'cause Sun wanna be da man!
You wanna own your code, better do what you can
So fork it, but you don't wanna be mad

Just fork it, fork it, fork it, fork it
No wants this to get too heated
Show 'em the way to free code that's right
It doesn't matter how the code comes to light
Just fork it, Fork it
Just fork it, Fork it
Just fork it, Fork it
Just fork it, Fork it

They won't take your code, best to leave while you can
Don't wanna fight with Sun, you wanna be da man
You wau wanna keep the code alive, just do what you can
So fork it, Just fork it,

Finally. (-1, Redundant)

etnoy (664495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835587)

I, for one, welcome this fork and hope that development will become better. Let the flamewars begin!

This is exactly like the BSD wireless thing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835601)

another (l)gpl thug trying to infect a project by offering a trivial contribution under a license different than that of the project.

The arrogance is astounding.

Re:This is exactly like the BSD wireless thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835755)

Nah, you did not understand. He is wanting to submit it under the same license the project is releasing, under LGPL. Sun is not accepting the contribution because he is not giving them the _copyright_. Nothing like GPL vs LGPL stuff. Kohei's solver is a free software released under the same license OpenOffice.org is.

Not an official "Fork" (4, Interesting)

mgpeter (132079) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835635)

This is not an official "fork" of OpenOffice.org. This is simply a way for Windows user's to get a nice "Development version" of the office suite similar to what is deployed on most GNU/Linux Distributions. Of course if you don't want to use a "Development Version" on your workstations, you can get a stable version of the OOO-Build service with Novell's version of OpenOffice.org for Windows (which is what I prefer).

Welcome back, ooo-ximian! (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835647)

So, I guess it's back to the Openoffice 1.x-days, when I routinely emerged ooo-ximian for my Gentoo workstations (better integration with KDE using native dialogs et al).

As long as they don't get "exclusive" features that are only in one version and not the other, this probably won't be a problem.

Re:Welcome back, ooo-ximian! (1)

eobanb (823187) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836453)

As long as they don't get "exclusive" features that are only in one version and not the other, this probably won't be a problem.
But that's exactly what's happening. The go-ooo build of OpenOffice includes things like VBA support, reading MS Works documents, WordPerfect graphics import, and EMF+ rendering. The official Sun-maintained version does not have these features.

Why demand signed-over ownership? (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835687)

Why do Sun demand that ownership is signed over, can't they just accept dual licensing - that is you license it under the LGPL and license it specifically to Sun under other terms (eg BSD) so they can reuse it in staroffice.

Re:Why demand signed-over ownership? (4, Insightful)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835785)

Same reason FSF demands that ownership is signed over

Re:Why demand signed-over ownership? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836203)

Why demand signed-over ownership?
Same reason FSF demands that ownership is signed over
I guess you're right: both Sun and the FSF request copyright assignment because they want the flexibility of re-licensing the code later on, without contacting the multitude of authors who have contributed to the code-base.

However there is a notable difference between the FSF and Sun. The FSF has a plainly-stated goal that they want to promote free software. Thus if you agree with their vision of what "free software" means, and you trust them to "do the right thing" then copyright-assignment is a good idea, since it relieves you of the work of keeping up with licenses and legal issues (in fact, the FSF explain [gnu.org] that their primary motivation for copyright assignment is to have a robust legal case for enforcing the GPL). However it should be noted that the FSF makes strong verbal (and legal) commitments to keeping the code open and free. For instance, they are just as happy with people licensing as "GPL X or later" as they are with code assignment.

Sun makes no guarantees about openness or freedom going forward. If they retain ownership of the codebase, they could decide to create closed-sourced, proprietary versions in the future. They could relicense the code in all kinds of ways that contributors hadn't intended. Critically, people can't trust Sun to "do the right thing"--because they have neither earned that kind of trust (which is fine, they are a company not a non-profit), and because they do not make strong verbal/legal statements about keeping code open and free.

So while there is a correspondence between Sun asking for copyright assignment, and similar requests from various free-software efforts, the critical difference is the stated and implied intentions of the person to whom you are assigning copyright.

Re:Why demand signed-over ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835905)

In an open source world where everybody behaves reasonably,
- the submitter grants the community owner of the software (Sun, the FSF, whoever) sufficient rights such that they can integrate and distribute the code without changing their license.
- the community owner does not request that copyright is signed over.

This will then cause some problems later on when the project wants to change the license. But then, thats only fair.

BTW, in various countries signing over copyright is legally impossible.

Thomas

Re:Why demand signed-over ownership? (2, Informative)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835969)

Note that Sun requires joint copyright assignment (JCA), whereby both the original author(s) and Sun jointly hold copyright. This allows Sun to relicense the OpenOffice.org code as needed (e.g., GPLv3).

IBM Seems to Be Forking Too (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835699)

I submitted a story about this a week or two ago [slashdot.org] . I think it's also worthy to note that IBM seems to have done the same thing [desktoplinux.com] .

What was the story I submitted tagged as? 'fudfudfud'

I wonder how many forks we'll see? I also wonder if anyone's going to actually make this real open source or if each company is going to fork their own copy and call all the shots on it? I hope someone learns that to be the OpenOffice you have to be open to community ideas, wants & needs as well as truly governed by the community.

Re:IBM Seems to Be Forking Too (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835965)

I came here to say "what would happen if everyone/ibm did it aswell, so then we can have four office suits? openoffice, staroffice, novellwhateveroffice and ibmlotusoffice, great!!"

Kudos to Sun for buying it in the first place and releasing it for free.
Less so for the others...

Re:IBM Seems to Be Forking Too (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836213)

There have already been temporary OO.o forks from Debian; first they built a Java-free OO.o, then some or other Debian developer managed to build a 64-bit-clean OO.o before the "official" Sun one.

Anyway, as long as one of the forked versions is released under the GPL (you can re-licence LGPL code to "full" GPL, but not the other way around) then there is no reason for version proliferation to happen. Even GPL v2/3 compatibility issues will sort themselves out in time. It will be legal to take LGPL code into a GPL project; but anyone still using the LGPL will have to rewrite new from scratch any new code that was released under GPL or else move to mixed-licencing.

What's most likely to happen is that Sun will have to swallow their pride and begin accepting contributions without copyright reassignment -- meaning they can't be integrated into the proprietary StarOffice. But in reality, the sort of person who pays for StarOffice is the sort of person who'd pay for OpenOffice.org on a CD and not notice the difference. StarOffice won't be missed.

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835703)

Which is worse?
forking
or spooning with M$

Isnt this pointless?? (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835709)

Considering that IBM has just put > 30 programmers fulltime working on OO (Yes I understand under a new name), isnt all of this squabbling kind of pointless?? Also, with this amount of squabbling going on, I really do have that IBM just forks their changes and continues to maintain the codebase with a fulltime staff. Someone needs it...

Re:Isnt this pointless?? (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835789)

And the 1 million dollar question is: "Is Sun forcing IBM to hand over the ownership on all of its contributions?".

Re:Isnt this pointless?? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835977)

And the 1 million dollar question is: "Is Sun forcing IBM to hand over the ownership on all of its contributions?".

      No, but they'll just quietly patent everything :)

Re:Isnt this pointless?? (1)

hub (78021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835813)

It is called Lotus Symphony. And nobody has seen the source, despite being based on an obsolete version of OpenOffice.org

My wish-list.. (1)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835711)

So does this mean that someone will make a non-bloat version of OpenOffice? That would be a cool fork..

Re:My wish-list.. (1)

hub (78021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835853)

Novell has been working hard on making OpenOffice.org faster, and most of the work benefit Sun directly. Sliming it down is not simple.

Wait... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20835713)

So Novell are the good guy now? Or they... wait... no they're with Microsoft. Sun is against Microsoft, but can't accept upstream changes under LGPL... so Novell is forking... and... and...

**head explodes**

Let that be a lesson (3, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835727)

For all of you who think releasing your proprietary software under open source means just free community work and good PR.

If you keep acting as if you never did it, you'll wake up one day with the entire project forked by a competing company.

Re:Let that be a lesson (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835929)

you'll wake up one day with the entire project forked by a competing company.

      That really doesn't matter. People will use the program that suits them most. Forked or not.

      It's like having kids. You splice your DNA to your partner's DNA, and who knows what you end up with. Some will be decent people, others will be downright brats. Society as a whole will take care of deciding which "version" is worthy of success. Just because one of your kids turns out to be a brat doesn't mean everyone should stop having kids. The more variety the better.

      I tried to think of a car analogy, but couldn't.

Re:Let that be a lesson (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836113)

That really doesn't matter. People will use the program that suits them most. Forked or not.

Right, but if it wouldn't be forked, they'd be forced to use your own single version.
And as businesses are involved in making money, that's certainly the better alternative vs forking.

Re:Let that be a lesson (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836353)

Or, you know, you could just be better then your competition and actually actively prevent forking by listening to what your users want.

How is this an improvement? (0, Troll)

Jerry (6400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835729)

Jumping from one company that's in bed with Microsoft to another company that's in bed with Microsoft?

OpenOffice wasn't under Sun's umbrella of lawsuit protection from Microsoft. It won't be under Novell's umbrella of lawsuit protection from Microsoft.

Why didn't they just put in on servers that aren't supported controlled by either company?

Re:How is this an improvement? (1, Troll)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835777)

Because I strongly suspect there is an "agreement" with Sun/Microsoft on OO. This product is just way to threatening to MS longterm to not try to get some agreement with Sun in relation to how it is handled... Basically they would never want to get rid of it, but rather just slow/stagnate/bloated its development... That appears to be exactly what Sun is doing. It also helps explain IBM's entrance into the fray...

Goo? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835791)

Is this one of those GGG websites? I think Websense will probably start blocking this stuff.

go-oo.org? (2, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835807)

I have issues with that domain name.

I'm getting this feedback often... (0, Troll)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835855)

Over the past few months, I've been looking for an XML based open source system to handle all documents for a Hospital Information System. Several ISVs have suggested to steer clear of ODF as well as OpenOffice.org. Some of the main objections:

1. SUN isn't very forthcoming when it comes to including changes submitted in the main code.
2. The problems of bloat, poor performance, memory utilisation etc. have been inherited from MS Office.
3. The ODF spec is overly long and needlessly complex, to be implemented faithfully.

Maybe the pressure built up has finally yielded, resulting in this fork. Good luck.

Re:I'm getting this feedback often... (2, Interesting)

jsight (8987) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836123)

3. The ODF spec is overly long and needlessly complex, to be implemented faithfully.


I was with you up until this point. People who think this spec is long don't realize just how complex this stuff is. If you want interoperability to actual work, the spec needs to be much more comprehensive than the ODF spec actually is.

Have you noticed that the .ods spec doesn't even provide a comprehensive list of supported functions?

It's not needlessly long, its too short.

Re:I'm getting this feedback often... (3, Informative)

gral (697468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836259)

1. SUN isn't very forthcoming when it comes to including changes submitted in the main code.
2. The problems of bloat, poor performance, memory utilisation etc. have been inherited from MS Office.
3. The ODF spec is overly long and needlessly complex, to be implemented faithfully.

1. They have a setup pretty similar to the Free Software Foundatation (FSF). This is setup so if there is a legal dispute, Sun can send in their lawyers, and they don't have to round up EVERYBODY to come to court.


Would you spend $3000+ on a plane ticket to travel to Idaho for a Copyright challenge? If there is a legal dispute, that is what would have to happen, or we would lose by default, much like a Football team not showing up with the full team.


2. OOo did NOT inherit its bloat from MS Office. Part of it comes from the many tools used to make sure the software was Cross Platform. MS Office has a lot of bloat with NO Cross Platform features. What is their excuse?
3. ODF is 600 pages. That details the tags needed for EVERY single document type (Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, and Database) that OOo supports. The spec reuses HTML, MathML, and other pre-existing w3c standards, so implementation is pretty similar to already established standards.
Microsofts OOXML spec is 6000+ pages, and that details their Word, Excel, and Powerpoint specs. MS Access is not included. This document creates new "Standards" for pretty much everything.


Now for the disclaimer. My name is Scott Carr. I am an OOo volunteer. I have worked as the Documentation Lead for almost 7 years now.

Re:I'm getting this feedback often... (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836583)

2. OOo did NOT inherit its bloat from MS Office. Part of it comes from the many tools used to make sure the software was Cross Platform. MS Office has a lot of bloat with NO Cross Platform features. What is their excuse?


That's not true, and here is the proof [zdnet.com] . Anyone with a Windows computer can easiliy verify the results. MS Office is orders of magnitues faster than OO.o. A warm start of any MS Office tool (Powerpoint, Word, Exel) starts and loads the document in less than 1 second on my P4 3.2 GHz 1GB RAM computer. The reason why is obvious. Better platform integration, preloading libraries and yes, binary formats which is, and always will be, more efficient than XML.

Why get upset? (2, Insightful)

rindeee (530084) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835859)

This is one of the reasons the 'fork' exists. It's not worth getting worked up over. Sun has a particular license and that's their decision. Fine. If the community at large wants something different, they'll do it differently and it will become the defacto standard. Done.

Coding is commodity (4, Interesting)

XMLsucks (993781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835869)

When you contribute open source code on your own time, it is an implicit admission that your code is worth little, and so don't be surprised to see someone else take the same view and duplicate it! The value is the fun in writing it, thus there will be some handful of people on the planet that share the same sense of fun, and will duplicate the work. I've seen lots of my stuff duplicated. And I've duplicated other projects. That is how people have fun and learn.

Imagine if you'd gotten money from Sun for your code. Would you care (as much) if they ignored the code? They'd have the right by having purchased it. But having spent money on it, they'd probably be less likely to discard it, and to start from scratch. Money makes a difference.

Jeez, this post is the typical complaint seen in charity work: "Oh, they didn't value my work, and I have no sense of self-worth, so now I'm all upset!" "The people running the charity are all in a clique and don't pay attention to the contributions of the other charity workers. They're destroying the spirit of the organization. Lets go create another organization that cares!" And then the cycle continues. The basic mistake is in thinking that other people have to value your work. They don't. Only you do.

Hmm (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835881)

Sad to read this. Seems Open Office have two huge barriers to contributing - messy, crufty, monolithic code, and a bureaucratic development process.

Luckily my own experiences with contributing to the OpenJDK have been much better. Hopefully the experiences Sun learned in open sourcing Java can be applied to improving the Open Office project.

'Formal Fork' ? (2, Informative)

mmeeks (1166463) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835897)

So - fork is rather a pejorative term; it has always been the case (for one reason and another), that there are lots of different versions and derivatives of OO.o out there. Most obviously Sun ships a version of OO.o under a proprietary license, and many other vendors and small companies likewise - with different internationalizations, and (most often) some proprietary value add. http://go-oo.org/ [go-oo.org] has existed for many years as has ooo-build, and has been used rather widely as a place to share improvements and fixes layered on top of OO.o. Also, fork sounds like some drastic severing of ties - it's clear that we will continue contributing tons of effort to up-stream OpenOffice.org, much as before. So, at some level this is business as normal: just a set of LGPL pieces (and existing patches/improvements), bundled up and made more widely available than before; the only slight difference is that go-oo is all free software. HTH.

What will the fork accomplish in real terms? (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835941)

That is the question I asked myself. What lies beyond the issue addressed by the fork. I hope the fork will be able to solve the following issues I have with OpenOffice.org.

1: The "non-starter" speed. Even with the quickstarter, OpenOffice.org does not start that fast enough for me.

2: Absence of a full email client. I suggest they grab Mozilla's Thunderbird. I have no trouble with it at all.

3: Beauty. Heck, the [ugly and huge] icons on Linux can be made better looking.

4: Make its database offering comparable to Microsoft's Access. Right now, a lot of work has to be done.

Those are my US$0.02.

Did you know the the Canadian Dollar is now worth more than the US dollar? I just found out this morning!

Re:What will the fork accomplish in real terms? (2, Insightful)

fgaliegue (1137441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836443)

> 2: Absence of a full email client. I suggest they grab Mozilla's Thunderbird. I have no trouble with it at all.

Excuse me, but what place is there for a mail client in an _office document_ suite? Just because Microsoft does it with Office (read: Outlook, but I think I don't need to mention it at all) doesn't mean you have to bundle a mail client with an office suite at all.

Mail clients are plenty already, why bundle yet another one?

Re:What will the fork accomplish in real terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836475)

1: The "non-starter" speed. Even with the quickstarter, OpenOffice.org does not start that fast enough for me.

Could you put that in quantitative terms? How fast does MS Office start for you, how fast does OpenOffice.org start, and how fast would OO.o need to start in order to be acceptable?

2: Absence of a full email client. I suggest they grab Mozilla's Thunderbird. I have no trouble with it at all.

Wait, what the hell? Why does an office suite need an e-mail client at all? If you want to use Thunderbird, just install Thunderbird.

3: Beauty. Heck, the [ugly and huge] icons on Linux can be made better looking.

True, but that shouldn't interfere with productivity at all.

4: Make its database offering comparable to Microsoft's Access. Right now, a lot of work has to be done.

On one hand, this is true. On the other hand, Access sucks anyway -- why not just use a real database like MySQL, PostgreSQL, or any number of others?

Did you know the the Canadian Dollar is now worth more than the US dollar? I just found out this morning!

Welcome to last week!

Re:What will the fork accomplish in real terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836619)

"1: The "non-starter" speed. Even with the quickstarter, OpenOffice.org does not start that fast enough for me." /shrug

" 2: Absence of a full email client. I suggest they grab Mozilla's Thunderbird. I have no trouble with it at all."

hell no. use your mail client. don't expect everything to contain a mail client.

" 3: Beauty. Heck, the [ugly and huge] icons on Linux can be made better looking."

i agree here.

" 4: Make its database offering comparable to Microsoft's Access. Right now, a lot of work has to be done."

actually - the sooner was stop calling access a database, the happier i will be. it's solves no problems larger then what could be solved in excel - and worse - it gives business users the false impression that what they've done is useful to developers.

OpenOffice probably not the right horse to back (1)

heffrey (229704) | more than 6 years ago | (#20835993)

Linux is obviously the benchmark for any project that wants to take on an entrenched proprietary market leader. While Sun insist on owning everything in OpenOffice/StarOffice my bet is that it will never be able to take on MS Office in the way the Linux takes on Windows.

Truly what Linus has been doing all these years is remarkable.

Unfortunate but defensible, and maybe a solution (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836015)

I have written code for PHP, and they require it be owned by the PHP group for inclusion. This is no different.
nt part of
There are some facts, Sun is a business and as such they have to make sure their business is viable. The solver is an important part, and since sun does use OpenOffice.org as the basis of StarOffice, they will want to make sure they are in proper legal standing to do so. If they make mods to the module, then all their mods must be published and there may be instances where this is not something they may legally be able to do.

I'm a free software developer who uses my code base for private consulting purposes, when people contribute patches, I require the copyright be assigned to me because I can't jeopardize my ability to use the code for a private contract. I fully understand Sun's position.

I think the solution is to pay a one time fee to the author(s) for a license fork with a guarantee that the code will remain "open." That will save Sun the trouble of re-doing the work. That will save face with the community i.e. all your work really does have value.

The power of Open Source (2, Interesting)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836093)

Only in open sourced code could a fork like this be made. If it had been Excel he had written this code for he'd probably be getting sued for breeching some patents.

FSF? (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836121)

How is Sun's policy any different than the FSF's policy for GNU projects they manage?

Re:FSF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836261)

Sun re-sell OO.o as proprietary software. They also license it behind closed doors, under secret terms to other parties, in purely their own business interest.


The FSF does everything in the open, and acts in what it perceives as the best interests of the whole Free software community.


There is no comparison.

The right to fork is the right to be free! (1)

anwyn (266338) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836337)

Many people have a negative impression of forks. This view is incorrect. The threat of forks is the prime factor that protects free software users from exploitation by free software project leaders. When you get free software, you basicly have no right to demand anything from the software developers. As proprietary software has shown, there are many ways for the author of software to exploit end users. With free software the only factor that prevents this fear of forks! Project leaders know that if they go too far in the "wrong" direction, their project will fork! This is why forks are usually unnecessary.

Project forks are like the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Everyone knows the potential is there, so therefore it hardly ever happens!

Still, no one likes a gratuitous fork. Such forks are likely to fail. When a project forks, the leaders of the new branch are usually extremely apologetic explaining why the fork was necessary.

What if you are not a developer and do not have the technical ability to fork? How are you protected?

You are protected by the free rider principal. If you are justly unhappy with the way a project is going, chances are some developer is also. You can take a "free ride" on some one else's fork!

The right to fork is the sole protection end users receive from free software licensing. The right to fork is the right to be free!

I wonder (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836339)

Your OpenOffice.org

As the homepage of the fork prominently states "Your OpenOffice.org" I have a few questions:

1) Is it ethical to use the name or domain name of the forked software? ("Your Mozilla.org" anyone?)

2) Is it not a trademark infringement? Note: even unregistered trademarks are protected to a certain extent (at least under US trademark law).

3) Is it not unfair business practices?

What people don't realize is that copyright licenses (e.g. GPL) cover only the softweare. Names and brands are not "copyrightable" so the GPL does not cover them (and gives no license to use them). Implicit and default trade name and trademark protection rights are granted by trademark law, business code, etc.

Re:I wonder (1)

hub (78021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836511)

OpenOffice.org IS the name of the software. Look at the about box on Sun versions. Look at the website http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org]

I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20836435)

Why did Sun reject the license? Wikipedia says that OpenOffice is licensed under LGPL, so what's the problem?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836539)

The problem is that they wouldn't be allowed to incorporate it into StarOffice, or any proprietary software they may wish to develop in future.

OpenOffice still exists (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 6 years ago | (#20836491)

As we can still get OpenOffice how does this matter? FUD?
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