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Sun Refuses LGPL for OpenOffice; Novell forks 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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Sun Refuses LGPL for OpenOffice; Novell forks

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @08:56AM (#20835699) Journal
    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.
  • by hub ( 78021 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:06AM (#20835783) Homepage
    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.
  • by Anarke_Incarnate ( 733529 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:09AM (#20835811)
    Easy to reply to:

    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?)
  • 'Formal Fork' ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmeeks ( 1166463 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:16AM (#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.
  • by mmurphy000 ( 556983 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:24AM (#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).

  • by gral ( 697468 ) <[kscarr73] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:44AM (#20836259) Homepage

    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.
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:52AM (#20836351) Homepage
    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.
  • by dominux ( 731134 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:46AM (#20837175) Homepage
    I do understand their point about the JCA. Linux can probably never move to GPLv3 (or GPLv4) even if Linus wanted to because there are far too many people with a copyright interest in the code, some of whome will be deceased. The JCA allows SUN to do two things, act as owner of the full code (for license changes or other legal issues) and also release the code in StarOffice. The price of the first is the second. On balance I would not have a problem with the JCA. It does allow SUN some special rights, they also have some special responsibilities. In the distinctly possible scenario that Microsoft start to pick a legal fight with OpenOffice.org then we all get to sit back with popcorn and watch SUN (and probably IBM) slug it out. Linux does not have a corporate backer, which in itself is a pretty robust strategy for avoiding litigation. The JCA is an alternative strategy. Sun are gambling that the revenue they get from StarOffice will be greater than the probablity*cost of lawsuits. It does not look like there was much communication with Kohei about the issue, that is probably a shared problem (poor communications are almost always on both ends). I can understand SUN not wanting to make an exception to their strategy, but it does not look like they explained their point of view very well, and they don't seem to have explored all the options for structuring the code as a plugin (a plugin model for things like the solver could be quite interesting).
  • by Bananenrepublik ( 49759 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:50AM (#20837233)

    How is Sun's policy any different than the FSF's policy for GNU projects they manage?
    I'm curious about this myself. When I assigned some of my copyrights to the FSF I got a contract that says amongst other things that even though the FSF holds the copyright, they won't use all of their rights to the code, by guaranteeing that they will only distribute it under the terms of free software licenses (this is defined in some way, I could look the specifics up if anybody is interested).

    If Sun doesn't have a clause like this, I don't see why anybody, especially any commercial entity would ever sign away their copyrights to Sun. Otherwise Sun could e.g. sell parts of OO (say ODF support) to Microsoft, weakening any contributor's (and thus competitor's) position in the process.
  • by The Mysterious X ( 903554 ) <adam@omega.org.uk> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:54AM (#20837311)
    In which case, you would just fork the last free version put out by Sun.
    Whilst they can relicense, they cannot apply it retroactively.
  • by eviltypeguy ( 521224 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @12:52PM (#20839331)
    That's wrong. Actually the latest version of the SCA explicitly promises that contributions will remain under a free software license. Also, it is *joint* ownership. Which means you still have all the rights you did before to the code, it's just that Sun gets all of the same rights too.
  • by mgpeter ( 132079 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @06:09PM (#20844187) Homepage
    I am pretty sure Debian/Ubuntu uses the oo-build version as per this interview with Michael Meeks:

    http://www.tuxdeluxe.org/node/184 [tuxdeluxe.org]

    Not 100% sure though (the easiest way to find out if you are using the ooo-build version or the "official" version is to see if the "greyed out" icons are just not displayed ("official version") or are actually "greyed out" (ooo-build version). Also the oo-build version does have a zoom drop-down on the task bar.

System checkpoint complete.