Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
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The existing OpenOffice.org code-base should be made available under our preferred (dual) license: MPL / LGPLv3+, with Oracle retaining the copyrights. We believe that the MPL (over say an Apache license) as a copy-left license, is crucial to community growth and acceptance, and has proved itself with Mozilla.ie. the idea that we require an entity in place to use a copy-left license effectively is nonsensical. Furthermore, the idea that we would treat a single large player as a special case requiring them to assign code, when our other contributors continue to own their part of the franchise is odd.
I think that you may be missing some key points. Apache represents a mature, established, and stable home for OpenOffice with a respected governance model.So far so sensible.
It costs a lot of money to create and support a new foundation and maintain a high volume download site. These are not insignificant considerations.
Indeed these are useful considerations - so lets look at these questions:
Does this need to break the bank ? As previously discussed, TDF's income from donations and sponsors is rather less than an order of magnitude smaller than ASF's entire budget. So by inspection this seems an unlikely contention, bearing in mind that most of our download bandwidth cost (for our huge binaries) is (kindly) carried by our extensive mirror network.
We can look at other organisations serving web-pages, say the Wikimedia foundation to get an idea. It seems that they serve 10bn+ page views each month, at a cost of less than $10m per year (which seems to include some real staffing cost). This gives a very upper bound guesstimate of 1k page views per month per dollar. If we have 100m users that visit us once per month, that gives an outside, upper bound of $100k pa. That looks reasonably affordable, with suitable sponsorship. A wikipedia page hit I assume is some very funky database interaction, with rich media and image contents coming from hugely concurrent read/write access of tens of thousands of disparate pages. The TDF website has some quite simple static-izeable pages with typically a very simple flow through to the download page so my guess would be at some fraction of this cost. Perhaps I made a numerical blunder ? Our current spend is of the order of rather under $10k per annum.
Another good question, thus far, not very much. The number of excellent Free Software lawyers, willing to donate their time on a pro-bono basis is most encouraging. Our preferred jurisdiction takes some time to incorporate in, otherwise this is not (thus far) a real cost.
Nobody wants to spend time money and energy on legal, adminisetrative, and political overhead when they could be coding.
Personally, I love that attitude, though there is a rich seam of irony in hearing it from the political, non-coding department. Of course there is the issue of show me the code ! - so far nothing; only blogs, E-mails and hopeful looking statements. (ie. administrative and political overhead). Perhaps when we see code, more informed decision making will be possible. Having said that, being encouraged to be just a coding machine - while devolving the tricky issues of licensing and governance to other higher minds, can lead to real problems. Licensing matters.
Furthermore, There are likely interests involved who have an interest in doing real innovation in the document space involving such things as rich semantics and analytics. Think of what Watson could have done if it had access to "smarter" documents.
Some sadly unspecified likely interests who would want to innovate in the document space - so that Watson: a bit of proprietary software (albeit built using a lot of open source) from a single vendor can do better. At least, this possibility is not something that motivates me to work harder, or to contribute code under a non-copy-left license. I for one, would not like to live in a star-trek future if it was built on proprietary software.
The powers that want to invest in and evolve OpenOffice will be much more comfortable in Apache, as will their customers. The various parties including Libre office and the Linux distos need to seize upon this opportunity to reconcile and drive value creation from a collective investment. With the Oracle developer subsidy gone, to both both OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the remaining parties need to work together and make a concerted effort to recruit new parties with new ideas. This could be a great outcome!
More hidden powers that want to invest, but just can't if they cannot sit inside Apache (or is it proprietise?) - show me the powers! might be a good riposte. It is hard to make a balanced judgement on the basis of likely hidden things. As for working together - I can only applaud the idea. Step one for working together is, I would hope not starting and supporting a competing project. As for recruiting new parties with new ideas - who can argue with that ? It is the old ideas such as demanding the right not to contribute in a timely and constructive way that stick in my throat. Indeed, arguably a major motivation here is to get the politics around contribution, its extent and timing out of the project, permanently.
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In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Novell, The Lithuanian Gov't or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's also important to realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy. Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences, bio. or fun.Michael Meeks (firstname.lastname@example.org)