A group of developers has decided to fork Sun’s (now Oracle’s) stagnated Open Office project. Those involved in the OpenOffice.org project have now formed The Document Foundation. The Register reports, “Oracle, meanwhile, has been humiliatingly invited to re-join the OpenOffice community by applying to the Foundation. It’s also been asked to donate the OpenOffice.org brand that it owns to the community.” Until Oracle makes the decision whether to relinquish its rights to the name, the code base stewarded by the Document Foundation will be called LibreOffice. (The openoffice.org site still points to an Oracle Web page.) Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, the Open Source Initiative, the Free Software Foundation, Google and various others including the “French Community” have joined the Foundation.
Although, theoretically, any open source project can fork, in practice it is a rare occurrence. This development shows the increasing disdain of the open source community for Oracle — a company that was once noted for buying open source companies (and thus succeeding to rights in MySQL, Open Solaris, Java, SleepyCat, and InnoDB), and is now noted for anti-open source tactics such as its recent lawsuit against Google. Oracle’s litigation tactics and perceived failure to properly steward these projects for the benefit of the community has caused at least one commentator to call the company open source public enemy number one — even surpassing Microsoft. (The article in the prior link BTW is an interesting catalog of past and existing open source forks.)