IBM has surprisingly thrown its weight behind OpenOffice.org in the OpenOffice.org vs LibreOffice fight. Tomorrow IBM will announce the donation of the source code of their free office suite – IBM Lotus Symphony – to the Apache OpenOffice.org. It is a bit puzzling why IBM is supporting OpenOffice.org over LibreOffice – perhaps it is because of the less restrictive Apache License. (LibreOffice is released under GPL and LGPL.)
IBM Lotus Symphony itself is based on OpenOffice.org. However, it includes several enhancements that IBM has made.
In an email to the Apache OpenOffice.org mailing list, Rob Weir, the ODF Architect at IBM’s Collaboration Solutions division wrote that they will release the Lotus Symphony to the Apache OpenOffice.org Project under the Apache 2.0 License. IBM will also help in integrating the Symphony components into OpenOffice.org.
First, we're going to contribute the standalone version of Lotus Symphony to the Apache OpenOffice.org project, under the Apache 2.0 license. We'll also work with project members to prioritize which pieces make sense to integrate into OpenOffice. For example, we've already done a lot of work with replacing GPL/LPGL dependencies. Using the Symphony code could help accelerate that work and get us to an AOOo release faster. We've already converted the help files to DITA, which could help accelerate that work, if we chose to go in that direction.
Weir also mentioned that the the Lotus Symphony UI has received good reviews and suggests that OpenOffice.org might want to integrate the UI.
In the same email, Weir admitted that IBM has not been “exemplary community member” of OpenOffice.org. He said that IBM hopes to fix that with a fresh start at Apache.
However, we at IBM have not been exemplary community members when it came to OpenOffice.org. This wasn't necessarily by design, but for various reasons, that was the effect. Yes, we participated in various community councils, and sponsored conferences and worked together on standards. But when it came down to the code, we maintained Symphony essentially as a fork, and although we occasionally contributed code back, we did not do this well, or often.
Now, the ball is in Apache’s court. They will consider IBM’s offer and if they think that it will help OpenOffice.org, they will accept it. If they think otherwise, well, they continue as before. However, sources indicate that Apache might accept it.
While I support The Document Foundation and LibreOffice over Apache and OpenOffice.org, it will be interesting to see what changes comes about in OpenOffice.org if they choose to integrate the Symphony components.
IBM will officially make the announcement tomorrow afternoon at the ODF Plugfest in Berlin.