When I was freshly elected at the OpenOffice.org’s Community Council the Free Software Foundation approached us with a question related to our extensions web site. Basically they felt that we should not be hosting non Free Software extensions and requested we take those down otherwise they would open their own extensions site.
For the sake of clarity, extensions are “plugins” for OpenOffice.org that work very much like Firefox plugins. They extend the feature set of OpenOffice.org and are a great way to grow our community. I should mention that the number of Free and Open Source Software extensions outgrow by far the number of the proprietary ones: They are in fact more the exception than the rule. The Community Council has been working on a press release which we just released and that you can read on this page. I am sorry we could not find a good solution, but we have essentially and respectfully agreed to disagree on a topic which I find quite unimportant. Shortly after I posted the announcement on behalf of the OpenOffice.org project, I received a flurry of emails, both satisfied and unsatisfied, both public and private.
As for my very own, personal opinion, I do have the highest respect and regard for the Free Software Foundation and count myself as one of their most fervent supporters. But I would have hoped that they understand the merit of prioritizing their agenda items and the timing of their actions. When the FSF approached the OpenOffice.org project via our Community Council we were shaken by the buyout of our main sponsor, Sun Microsystems, and had to reassure both our contributors, our users, and perhaps ourselves as well. The request from the FSF caught us off-guard and although we dealt with it with the utmost attention, I could not help but think that the folks over there in Boston must be living in another dimension. I got the feeling they were like a bunch of officiers from the logistics department of an army who would stop everything on the wake of a war just because the markings underneath the trucks have not been properly painted.
Seriously, did they have nothing better to do ? Asking questions on the future of our project? On the ODF standard? On how the new main sponsor thought of its future leadership? On the changing grounds of FOSS vs. proprietary software in the context of the emergence of cloud computing? Really, did they have nothing on their plate besides picking the five proprietary extensions on the OpenOffice.org website and make a whole cheese out of it? Now the FSF seems busy creating another extensions website, which I can’t help finding useful for OpenOffice.org, as it is just a second “app store” for our users and a second venue for our developers. Congratulations, FSF, you know how to pick your fights.