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From Phil Steitz <>
Subject Re: OpenOffice: were are we now?
Date Mon, 06 Jun 2011 05:47:25 GMT
On 6/5/11 10:16 PM, William A. Rowe Jr. wrote:
> On 6/5/2011 11:43 PM, Phil Steitz wrote:
>> Agreed.  I wish I had a clearer idea of what constitutes a good
>> reason to reject an incubator proposal on principle, though - even
>> just a good enough reason to reject this one.  As long as there is
>> some promise of building a community and IP / grant issues are not
>> insurmountable, we tend to say yes.  In the present case, we are
>> avoiding discussion of two core issues:
>> 0) Where do we draw the line in terms of commercial exploitation of
>> the ASF and the apache brand - and how do we even define "exploitation"?
>> 1) Do we feel obligated to "do no harm" to OSS communities outside
>> of the ASF?
>> I know there is an easy answer to 1) that "competition is OK; we
>> have that inside the ASF ... blah, blah" but that is rationalization
>> in this case.  We are talking about *the same codebase* and
>> basically forking the community.  Is that consistent with our
>> mission?   If not, is that inconsistency a "good reason" to reject
>> an incubator proposal?
> Actually, we aren't, and the TDF/LO project will tell you as much.
> They have made a great deal of progress and diverged from Oracle's
> code.  In the interim, contributors continue to patch OOo code.  So
> these are not the same, now.  But even if they were, every fork
> starts at the same place as its parent; you comment is nonsense.
> A TDF package would likely leverage GPL resources such as icon sets,
> fonts, and other desktop elements that we routinely reject from the
> ASF code.  An ASF package would likely leverage BSD licensed icon
> sets and the like (or at least under an appropriate CC license, not
> NoDerivatives).  These have diverged and will continue to diverge.
> There is a host of code at the center that can, and should continue
> to be commons, for the benefit of everyone, and that's what these
> lengthy discussions are all about.
> If you want examples of commercial "exploitation", we aught to have
> rejected stdcxx (used ongoing by RougeWave after graduation), and
> Geronmio (used ongoing by IBM after graduation) etc etc etc.
> There is a real question here; does the fork at the incubator seek
> to do something that can't be accomplished at the parent (child, in
> this case) project?  The answer is yes, the licensing differs, and
> the ASF is in a position to obtain the entire codebase under more
> liberal license terms than existing commercial exploiters had paid
> for, previously.  That is a quantitative and qualitative difference.
> But what if a dozen committers came to us from project X, and asked
> to begin a fork, for the only reason that they couldn't get along
> with the personalities at the existing project.  Would we say no?
> I tend to doubt it; if there were willing mentors and it appeared
> that the proposers were serious in moving the code forward, I guess
> that the incubator would say yes.  And this is extreme example is
> clearly not what we are talking about with OOo.
>> Item 0) is harder.  I don't think we have anything close to
>> consensus on what is OK.  Many of us seem to have just accepted the
>> fact that companies use the ASF to "collaborate as peers" and there
>> is nothing wrong with BigCos using the ASF as a low risk, low cost
>> environment for commercial software development.  As long as
>> individuals can at least in theory also get involved and the paid
>> developers play by the ASF rules, many (most?) of us seem to be OK
>> with it.  So other than exclusionary practices or smoke-filled room
>> decision-making what do we object to?  Projects that produce only
>> cripple-ware or encourage lock-in to closed source commercial
>> products?  Projects that damage other OSS communities?
>> I admit that I am more conservative than most on the issues of
>> growth and commercialization that we have been wrestling with
>> @apache for as long as I have had the privilege of being involved 
>> here.  That conservatism leads me to recommend strongly that we take
>> the items above very seriously and consider taking a more selective
>> approach to what we allow in the incubator and a more hard line
>> approach on how we engage with commercial entities.  I am on the
>> fence in the present case.  Personally, I think we do have an
>> obligation to "do no harm" or at least "do no harm needlessly" to
>> external OSS communities and there is more to the ASF that the ASL. 
>> I also think it is appropriate for us to consider whether we, the
>> members of the ASF, should devote the considerable energy and
>> resources required to support what looks to me like a commercial
>> collaboration in search of a community.
> Wow.  Did it occur to you that the original project, Apache httpd,
> was commercially exploited by vendors *even prior to the creation
> of the Apache Software Foundation*? 

There is a difference between commercial entities using code vs
manipulating communities.  Clearly we disagree on this and what the
ASF is for.  Fine.  I hope there is room for both of our views.

>  And somehow, people still wanted
> to have the source code, hack on it, and give back.  Even those very
> vendors.  The second and third project were exactly what you have
> described above, Tomcat and XML.  Why do you suppose the ASF should
> consider undoing the roots from whence it was born?
> Let's spin backwards a bit more... it was abandoned by the authors
> who moved on to create entirely closed solutions.  And within not
> five years the original creation leapfrogged the closed alternatives.
> Every fork creates harm.  I'm optimistic that after these very
> educational discussions, here and at TDF, this will be one of the
> least harmful cases ever.  The fork exists, and the prime question
> is should the ASF accept transfer of one prong of that fork?  Unity
> is not an option per Oracle.  The fork was created by the TDF in the
> hope that the fork does more harm than good.  And with some level of
> collaboration between OOo-future and TDF, I expect it will, whether
> OOo lives at the ASF or elsewhere.
> ASF members wish to devote considerable time and energy to this
> project, so exactly who the hell are you to decide what they should
> and shouldn't devote that time and energy to?

I am just a volunteer who has seen the ASF struggle with
growth-related issues for several years now.  I think it is a fair
question to ask whether we should think about different / more
selective criteria for entrance to the incubator.  Sorry if asking
that question offends you.

>   Go through the entire
> incubator list looking for commercial projects that sought collaboration
> by opening their kimono.  The results might surprise you, in spite of
> how long you've volunteered at the incubator and the projects which
> you have mentored.
> I'm sorry that I'm aggravated, but your comments above just don't jive
> with my understanding of what the ASF does, which makes them somewhat
> questionable in terms of measuring sticks to evaluate incubation here.
> There are some questions remaining, but these are not those.

This illustrates what I said in my original post - we do not have
consensus on the core issues that I presented.  Of course, It is
possible that I am just a solitary lunatic :)  Sorry to have
aggravated you.

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