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From Michael Meeks <michael.me...@suse.com>
Subject Working on a project roadmap ...
Date Wed, 26 Oct 2011 11:25:37 GMT
Rob,

	TLDR summary: we all have flexibility, and yielding to IBM's
	choice of the ASF is to let a corporate minority choose The
	Apache Way for a majority that wants to be their own
	self governing meritocracy.

	But of course there is much more nuance:

On Tue, 2011-10-25 at 07:41 -0400, Rob Weir wrote:
> > Given licenses are the expression of the ethos of a community, it's
> 
> LO had no choice but to take LGPL.  So more necessity/inertia than
> ethos.  And -- according to Michael -- when it thought that MPL might
> be more acceptable TDF was quick to add MPL for new code
> contributions.  This shows an ethos of flexibility.

	Sure TDF is flexible, and in many ways far more flexible as a small
separate project than AOOoI can be as a small part of a much larger,
much more established project. I see that as a great strength, others no
doubt see it as instability and weakness :-)

>   This is a good thing.

	Completely agreed. Indeed - in my view it is entirely right for the
contributor meritocracy as a whole to make project decisions, such as
licensing, in a collective fashion.

	As such, if the TDF board, ESC etc. can be persuaded that using an
Apache license is the best way to go forward, and that the benefits to
everyone (perhaps new contributors) outweigh the (extremely substantial)
negative impact of loosing contributors that feel strongly against this,
the cost of having to re-write their contributions, deal with the
repercussions etc.: then that is indeed a decision we can make. The fact
that IBM is represented only by proxy in that decision is due to their
regrettable lack of engagement with our process, and relatively small
contribution to date (and not for want of us reaching out to try to
include you guys).

	However you touch quite well on the real root issue here.

	ASF is a very well known entity it has a substantial raft of
set-in-stone policies covering many (but clearly not all) aspects of
community, licensing, governance, fund-raising, trademarks, branding,
and more. It even has a popular brand around that raft of choices: The
Apache Way that should be protected. That is great. The ASF is a good
and worthy institution that reflects it's memberships wishes and
produces good software. They are also seriously inflexible on these
topics, since they believe them to be the best, as is reasonable and
their right. The Apache Way no doubt works excellently for many projects
that voluntarily submit to it.

	However, from my perspective, allowing a minority contributor: IBM to
choose ASF, and thus try to dictate this slew of set-in-stone
pre-decisions to the wider community is highly antisocial. That
effectively robs us by dilution and inertia of any real choice in most
of these matters forever. This to me is the primary annoyance here, not
licensing per-se which is only a symptom.

	To point out that TDF is flexible and therefore must be the one that
change, whereas ASF's inflexibility (carefully chosen for this attribute
by a minority contributor) means they cannot change - is to get rather
close to the nub of the problem. It also looks a little disingenuous.
AOOoI participants clearly have a similar flexiblity: the freedom to
join TDF, and let incubation amicably lapse.

	It is of course a minority's right, and apparently ASF's choice to
support such actions - but they are emphatically anti-meritocratic when
you look at the bigger picture. To have (well meaning) people (who have
contributed even less than Rob) imposing one company's choice of
set-in-stone pre-decisions on the project, day after day would be fairly
horrendous.

	Thus - while it is reasonable enough to fork, have your own project,
build your own competing community, do your own thing etc. to -then- try
to damage and divide the LibreOffice community along licensing lines is
viewed as an extreme and un-necessarily hostile move; and one that we
must react to.

	I think my take is that meritocracy and fair governance is more
important than any particular choice of licensing, and I'm saddened that
ASF's action -seems- to suggest that it is fine to help to divide an
existing community along these lines, siding with a corporate minority
vs. the wider majority. Actually, to be fairer to ASF I think they were
to some degree duped into this by being given a rather unbalanced view
of how the existing contributor base broke down that made this look much
more nuanced than it really is, and of course releasing OO.o under AL2
is a prize of some order.

>   One option TDF/LO did not have at the time was to take the
> core OOo code under ALv2

	We certainly always -had- the option to ask people to dual license
their contributions under ALv2/LGPLv3+, what made you think we didn't ?
this was a conscious choice.

> It might make sense to evaluate the new possibilities, including
> possibilities for collaboration, enabled by this change, a change
> that was not even remotely foreseeable, and therefore was not
> considered, when TDF/LO first started.

	Au contraire - many outcomes were considered, and still are. The choice
of license was designed to appeal to as many contributors as possible,
and take account of the long history of the project and our experience
of corporate interactions with it, along with how best to encourage good
behaviour and express what we expect of contributors. Possibly that
calculus will change over time - lets see.

	To converse your request, it might make sense now - that the balance of
the community is clearer, to evaluate joining TDF and becoming the
valued contributor in good standing that we'd love to have IBM be. ASF
could help by making it clear that this is a no-hard-feelings type
outcome. As a half-way step you could contribute to both projects
concurrently perhaps. You have that flexibility. I suspect that such
suggestions will bring a similar but converse allergic reaction to the
one I have :-)

> > disingenuous and divisive to assume any community will drop its governance
> > approach like this, Pedro. It translates as "the path to collaboration is
> > your surrender; we can negotiate once you've done that".  You make it sound
..
> "If libreoffice encourages, but not requires, AL2 for stuff in the
> core package, that would be a huge  advance to get a bit nearer both
> camps."

	Sure, but this approach is highly likely to detract from the ultimate
goal - which has to be a single, meritocratic community, with consensus
licensing, governance etc. decided by -that- community. Submitting
changes to both camps, and getting nearer, will put pressure on those
who do not choose to bow the knee, damage collaboration, and will create
more merging pain. Furthermore supporting the division that AOOoI has
created here is tantamount to backing the idea that one small player
should be able to dictate terms to everyone else. I for one have had a
stomach full of big companies dictating things to the OpenOffice.org
project in the past.

> This is not asking for LO members to surrender or fall on their
> swords.  It is suggesting that information be made available to LO
> developers who might wish to voluntarily make their code available

	My personal take is - that people contributing their code under AL2 are
complicit in this fragmentation and are helping (broadly) a single
player behave in highly sub-optimal way. I'd strongly discourage such
action as only helping to prolong the agony here.

> under ALv2 as well as the existing LGPL/MPL.   Please correct me if
> I'm wrong, but I had the impression that nothing at TDF/LO that would
> prevent someone from doing this?

	Nothing legal; only social, ie. not undermining the very basis of
community and meritocratic governance that I prize in TDF ;-)

	Regards,

		Michael.

-- 
michael.meeks@suse.com  <><, Pseudo Engineer, itinerant idiot


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