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From Florian Effenberger <>
Subject Re: Apache Incubator Proposal: Splitting the Community?
Date Fri, 03 Jun 2011 15:20:45 GMT
Hello everyone,

and thanks for the feedback to my initial mail. I've read many other 
messages and blog postings, and would like to focus on just a hand full 
of points that I think are crucial. Everything I leave out I do not 
leave out because I consider it unimportant in general, but because I 
think other aspects are more important for the moment. If there's a 
particular point you would like to have discussed, or a particular 
question I have overlooked, please ask - as said, I am happy to answer 
all of these as good as I can. Again, all replies here are my personal 
ones, as longtime volunteer contributor, and are not necessarily TDF 
statements. However, as we seem to agree in that a community is made out 
of individuals, this seems to be a good start.

I first would like to answer the question, about whether I have mixed 
feelings or not. I share the TDF statement that we are happy that Oracle 
has taken this step, because giving assets to an independent 
organization is a good way to go, and a good start. That is what I find 
positive about that step - Oracle could also have simply decided to keep 
their assets and do nothing with them, or sell them to a commercial 
entity, so having it with a foundation is much better. So, it is 
positive to me that an independent foundation is involved. What - and 
this statement is what might have lead to confusion about my feelings - 
I do see with great concern is the need for a second project to be 
set-up at Apache or any other entity.

Of course, people can choose, open source has the freedom to create 
derivative works, and the last that I want is to take those freedoms 
from anyone. I also have heard voices that we would be afraid of losing 
the driver's seat, or that we would be simply surprised and annoyed by 
the recent move, and therefore are against it, because we would have 
loved to see Oracle donating assets to us. Let me speak for my self: I 
do this as a pure volunteer work, I am not backed by any corporation, 
and I invest a lot of time and heart into these things. Dedicating 
myself to be against someone or something, or acting just out of envy, 
is surely not what I plan to use my spare free time for. I am also sure 
that TDF and ASF can cooperate and act like adults.

I on purpose leave out the discussion about (re-)licensing here, as 
others can comment much better about the impact of the various licenses, 
and how they play together, and what ASF could to with the software 
grant they received, may it be with or without other entities. I'd love 
to focus much more on the community and project side of things, and this 
is the part of my initial message that I still feel is unreplied: Why do 
we need a second project? From all those who propose the project at ASF, 
I have not heard much feedback on why this should happen, or otherwise 
said, on why TDF would be the wrong place to do it. I do not want to 
juggle with numbers, but I guess nobody can deny that TDF has set up a 
project, processes, infrastructure and an environment to work in, that 
there is a lot of stable basis. And I guess that nobody can doubt we 
have been as open and transparent as possible. And, looking at the 
activity inside the project, I guess nobody can deny 
either that at least the vast majority of the community 
has moved on to TDF. I am not saying 100%, I am not saying 99%, but 
saying that there was a vivid community activity within 
the last months would be wrong, too.

This is the point where I would like to answer to the next question. 
Rob, you asked whether IBM is a member of LibreOffice. Formally spoken, 
corporations cannot become members of TDF, but only individuals can be, 
and if I understood it right, this is a similar approach than Apache 
takes. On the other hand, since September 28th, there has been lots of 
chances to get involved. We have weekly open calls, we have mailing 
lists, and you also have contact data of many of the Steering Committee 
members. If you are interested to get involved, you could have done so 
anytime. Discussion about the governance, about the location of the 
foundation, even about the license of future software contributions, 
have been taken in public, with enough time to react for anyone. IBM, as 
far as I know, did not participate in that, so it is not us to blame if 
for you now certain things are not as you would like to have them. Only 
those who raise their voice can be heard.

So, as I feel my question in the first mail has not been answered yet, 
I'd like to repeat it, and extend it on one further question, to 
everyone who supports the incubator proposal:

- What is wrong about the TDF that is better at ASF, for being the home 
of a free office suite?

- Why didn't those who propose this project talk to TDF about the issues 
that mattered to them and tried to change it?

To me, the current approach feels like denying cooperation with TDF at 
any price, without giving us even a feedback on what is wrong with the 
approach we are taking. Within any open source community, a very open 
and transparent communication is crucial and key to any vivid 
development, so not only for TDF, but also for those who have to decide 
on having the project as incubator at ASF, it would only be fair to get 
a reply.

Again, I very much respect the Apache Foundation and what they do, and I 
am not saying it is a bad home for an open source project. What I am 
saying is that TDF has all the processes running, has stable 
infrastructure, a working release cycle, has support from enterprises, 
has many volunteers, for exactly the project that is being proposed. In 
a nutshell, many of the things an OOo at Apache project would have to 
find and create already do exist. Wouldn't it be better to work together 
on joining forces, having a cooperation inside TDF? The approach we have 
taken does give individuals as well as representatives of corporations 
power and influence to change things whe way they need them. Nothing is 
fixed, the community - where everyone can be part of - decides. Anyone 
who brings in either volunteers or paid engineers working on the code or 
in any other field, based on our meritocratic approach, would have an 

I simply fear that there is a project set-up in parallel, whereas there 
already exists a wider community, an ecosystem, with processes, 
infrastructure and releases, and many sponsored and volunteer 
contributors. This would mean engagement is spread to two projects, 
rather than standing out united, speaking with one voice. And it would 
once again confuse users, leading to market irritation at large. 
Especially because no reason is given on why this should happen.

I hope I replied to all questions asked. If I missed something, this was 
not on purpose, so feel free to ask again, and I will reply to the best 
of my knowledge.

Again, I am here any happy to hear the problems you see in TDF, why you 
think another home is to be preferred. I am happy to hear and discuss 
them in public.

Thanks for reading,

Florian Effenberger <>
Steering Committee and Founding Member of The Document Foundation
Tel: +49 8341 99660880 | Mobile: +49 151 14424108
Skype: floeff | Twitter/ @floeff

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