Oracle Hands OpenOffice Off to The Apache Software Foundation

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 02, 2011

In the wake of Oracle's April announcement that it will move to a community-based project everyone wondered what would be the result concerning The Document Foundation and LibreOffice. As reported on OStatic then, The Document Foundation said that there will be no merger of LibreOffice with OpenOffice, but that it would gladly accept any developers wishing to leave for LibreOffice. That left a lot of questions about the future of the popular OpenOffice productivity suite. Now, Oracle has announced that it is contributing OpenOffice to the Apache Software Foundation. That may be good news for OpenOffice.

All the way back in 2009, we wondered what might come of OpenOffice in the wake of Oracle's proposed (at the time) acquisition of Sun Microsystems.  Now, Luke Kowalski, vice president, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group, says:

"With today's proposal to contribute the code to The Apache Software Foundation's Incubator, Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the developer and open source communities. Donating 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."

That may sound like a heavy dose of PR, but the Apache Software Foundation actually has an excellent track record as a steward of open source projects, and lots of experience being a good steward.  IBM’s Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of Collaboration Solutions, also announced in the Oracle statement:

"IBM welcomes Oracle’s contribution of OpenOffice software to the Apache Software Foundation. We look forward to engaging with other community members to advance the technology beginning with our strong support of the incubation process for OpenOffice at Apache."

Over the years, IBM itself has tried to push its own productivity applications in a mostly futile attempt to compete with Microsoft Office. IBM inherited a lot of these applications in its acquisition of Lotus, and its Lotus Symphony Office Suite is based on OpenOffice. 

Apache officials have told ZDNet that it will be relicensing OpenOffice code under an Apache 2.0 license, but they also note that Oracle only owns copyright on, not on OpenOffice itself, which is an open source project. Of all scenarios for the future of OpenOffice, this is probably one of the most favorable ones. Very few organizations have the track record of following open principles and standards that the ASF has. If you're an OpenOffice user, this handoff from Oracle is most likely good news.