Give up spoon-feeding: Use a fork instead.

Weeell. It’s a heck of a day today. And somewhere along these lines, you are probably going to see why this blog wasn’t so active these past months. I will not go over the announcement again here, you can find it at our new website. But I would like to give more details on and if possible explain what we’re doing and why we are doing it.

But first let’s check the basics. What did we announce today?

  • a new initiative to secure the future for the community.
  • this initiative will take the form of a foundation called The Document Foundation.
  • we want to be a better community, populated and sustained by a large diversity of contributors
  • we want to develop better, more hackable, and sustainable software
  • we have binaries available for download starting from today: Download Libre Office (but enjoy consciously: it’s beta-quality)
  • we believe in Free Software: LibreOffice is under the LGPL v3 license .
  • we believe in Open Standards: we will support, promote and contribute the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and will join the OASIS consortium as soon as possible.
  • we believe in meritocracy
  • we do not believe fiduciary copyright agreements are a good thing: In fact, we don’t have any, which means you get to keep your own copyright on your own contributions (lucky you).
  • yes, we have developers. Lots of them. But we need more, and especially, we need you.
  • we invite everyone, yes, everyone, even Oracle, to join us, provided you agree to be a contributor on equal footing with the others.
  • “But you’re working with Novell! Oh my Gosh you’re working with Novell! You’re a traitor!” That might sound surprising but although we use the ooo-build system the similarity with Novell’s Go-OO stops there. We do start with the vanilla version, do not include the Go-OO patches (okay, we do include some nice ones, but no weird ones) and add our very own patches to the sauce. Besides, the OSI and the FSF seem to think it’s totally fine, and we will not ship Mono, ever. Feeling better now?

Now let’s dwell a bit deeper on what we announced. So why did we announce the birth of The Document Foundation? Why not? A foundation for had always been planned. But after ten years, this promise was never fulfilled, and it would seem that the new owner of Sun Microsystems, Oracle, is not keen on engaging too much with the community about this. So we decided to move on by ourselves, and move this project forward. Let’s be frank: Every FLOSS project has its own set of issues. Inside we have many issues, even though it’s one of the friendliest and most welcoming community you’ll ever find. But 10 million lines of code that are not easily hackable, a certain heaviness in our process and governance structure made us feel like we had to change something. In fact, I would go as far as claiming that the Document Foundation is the ultimate victory of the old “StarDivision” and I do feel this is their moment of glory, even more so if they choose to join us.  We feel that what we’re doing is fundamentally right and is a real opportunity to deliver the promise of Free, Libre and Open Source Software.

Of course, some people will observe that we don’t seem to have a lot of resources, and they would be right. Let me be very candid on this: The answer is the Community. Sounds naive? Let’s take a step back for a moment. When the Mozilla Foundation was announced, these guys counted less members and entities supporting us from day one. And what we are focusing on, indeed, is our community. We’re putting our community first, because that is something we somehow forgot to do in the (recent) past. It’s time to change that, and it’s time for The Document Foundation.

Stay tuned!

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