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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 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 "
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Sun Refuses LGPL for OpenOffice; Novell forks

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  • by Ferzerp ( 83619 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @08:43AM (#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?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @08:51AM (#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.
  • by darien ( 180561 ) <darien@ g m> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @08:52AM (#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...
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:00AM (#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.
  • by Taagehornet ( 984739 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:01AM (#20835733)


    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.

  • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:06AM (#20835785) Homepage
    Same reason FSF demands that ownership is signed over
  • by archen ( 447353 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:09AM (#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.
  • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:10AM (#20835829) Journal
    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?
  • Why get upset? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:13AM (#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.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:22AM (#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

    1: The "non-starter" speed. Even with the quickstarter, 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!

  • by glop ( 181086 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:27AM (#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.

  • FSF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:34AM (#20836121) Journal
    How is Sun's policy any different than the FSF's policy for GNU projects they manage?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:40AM (#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 [] 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.
  • by gral ( 697468 ) <> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:54AM (#20836387) Homepage
    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.
  • by fgaliegue ( 1137441 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @09:57AM (#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?
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:20AM (#20836833) Journal
    Copyright assignment to those in control of the project is a good thing. It consolidates interest, makes it possible to make licensing decisions and changes in the future, and allows the project to be defended legally.

    It is also probably time for an OO fork. Forking is not evil or bad, forking is powerful and must be used with caution but it is the ultimate power the community has. I'm not especially surprised that Sun spent all that time previously talking about the evils of forks, it is only fitting since Sun intends to control anything they contribute with an iron fist. The project is stagnant, not because people don't contribute but because Sun doesn't accept changes or only wants certain features in StarOffice.

    There should probably be a fork if we want to see something useful arise from OO but it shouldn't be run by Novell or Sun or IBM or any other corporation. A fork should be run by the community, for the community. A community run foundation or non-profit should be at its head with a no sale of the codebase clause in its charter. If Novell wants to donate the bandwidth then so be it.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:31AM (#20836975) Journal

    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.

    Except that the terms of ownership are pretty weak under GPLv2, so what precise good would it do Sun and IBM?

    I just love these near-psychiatric paranoid delusions some hold.
  • Re:FSF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AceJohnny ( 253840 ) <jlargentaye@g m a i> on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @10:37AM (#20837051) Journal
    well, Sun is a corporate entity with a final motive of making money.

    The FSF is a non-profit organization with a final motive of keeping software free.

    That said, it has been argued that Sun are nice guys regarding open-source today, but you never know how they'll act tomorrow (if SCO taught us anything).
  • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:23PM (#20839843)

    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.
    Competition in software both commercial and open source is good and of benefit to everyone as long as the communication protocols (including file formats) do not become locked up in proprietary IP or DRM. Proprietary formats are what lead to stagnation in software by companies that just milk their locked-in installed based for all they are worth.

  • by Trelane ( 16124 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @01:42PM (#20840137) Journal

    Bad analogy.

    Very good analogy, actually.

    I doubt anyone is going to pay you to take care of them.

    No, nobody pays you to look after your own kids. OTOH, people do get paid all of the time doing the work (i.e. for looking out for someone else's kids.) Still others do it voluntarily, be it in an orphanage, family situation, or just friends.

    some coders can actually get paid for the code they produce, because their code is worth the purchase...

    They get paid by others for the work they do (i.e. producing code), the same as some people get paid by others for the work they do (i.e. babysitting, daycare).

    In other news, you don't pay yourself for the car you built, or the program you wrote either.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson