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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: Updates: IBM Lotus Symphony, Apache OpenOffice, IBM Docs and other fun stuff
Date Wed, 25 Jan 2012 13:40:35 GMT
On 25 January 2012 12:08, Graham Lauder <> wrote:
> On Friday 20 Jan 2012 09:24:44 Donald Harbison wrote:


> Now IBM has zero to negative reputation in Open Source with a reputation of
> being the most guarded entity on the block.

This might be your opinion, but I can provide just as much evidence
that IBM play well in open source projects they choose to engage with.
It just so happens that those tend not to be copyleft projects.

OOo is in a different world now. I am constantly mystified that old
hands were happy with the way Sun managed OOo but are concerned that
IBM are not good players in an open source world. I'm mystified
because I have never liked copyleft and centralised IP management,
I've never liked benevolent dictatorships (Linux Torvalds being the
exception), I've never liked corporate owned open source. I've always
been a permissive kind of guy. In my world IBM has been an important
player for a long long time. As long as I benefit from their resources
and I can choose to challenge their role in the project I'm happy.

Whether player Foo is a good open source player is all about
perception. Perception is always coloured by experience. My experience
puts IBM in a different place than yours does (for context, I have no
affiliation with IBM, nor have I ever had one. I did receive a
generous award about 10 years ago, this enabled me to pack in my job
and do real open source work as an independent. I have never done
anything under contract, or otherwise, for IBM).

> Then the above
> announcement, that was discussed in secret with the TDF but not a whisper to
> the community or even so much as a heads up to the mentors.

I'd ask that until proven otherwise people here assume the best of all
our volunteers regardless of their employment status. If there is
evidence of less than honorable intentions then we can use the Apache
Way to address that on a case by case basis.

With respect to the specific case you raise I can add some clarity. I
don't know what went on with the TDF but I do know that I, as a
mentor, was contacted about the best way for IBMers to handle an
upcoming influx of code and contributors. This was not news to me as
we were told in July that the Symphony code would be donated if the
community wanted it. I said (to paraphrase) "just inform the public
list of your proposal, make sure you acknowledge the community and
don't try to force your opinions". This was a private communication
between myself and an IBMer. It was a single email in each direction.
There was no concern expressed by myself as a mentor and thus no need
for further discussion.

> IBM staffers certainly seem to be making the most noise on the lists except
> when it counts.  Take this announcement as a for instance.  The response to
> concerns wrt the secrecy around this announcement from the top IBM guy here:
> "If you'd come up with a few more crazy conspiracy theories we would have
> talked to you!" and this to a mentor.

Lets stick to the facts. That comment was not to a mentor. It was on
the private thread pre-announcing the Symphony fork termination to the
AOO community.  A community member asked if this had been discussed
with the mentors as well as the TDF. The full quote was "Nope. The
Apache mentors were not spinning crazy conspiracy theories about IBM
intentions with Symphony and Apache OpenOffice.  If you were then we
would have had a conversation on this." As you can see from my comment
above this statement is factual. If it were not then I, as a mentor,
would have expressed my concern when it was posted.

(appologies for pulling a second sentence from the private list to the
public list, I feel it is necessary in this instance since only half
the story is here at this point).

One could argue that nobody had asked me (and I assume other mentors)
about the specific intention to cease the Symphony fork. However, I
don't see this would have changed my opinion. Inside the ASF we don't
care about why people are here, we only care that they play by our
rules. I'm confident, thanks to the non-IBM presence here, in the
ability of the Apache Way to ensure the Symphony donation is managed
in the best interests of the community.

It is with great pleasure I see IBM talking about volunteers,
community, proposals etc. It might all be doublespeak, but it might
also be an indication of good intent. At this stage, IMHO, the
evidence indicates good intentions. However, rest assured that as a
mentor I will help the community deal with situations where that good
intent is put into question, but I only want facts, not speculation. I
feel sure all the other mentors here will do the same (even those with
an IBM pay check).

I acknowledge that my confidence comes from the fact that I have seen
the Apache Way work for hundreds of other projects. I understand that
the OOo community has been abused in the past and I understand that
this will register here as concerns over significant contributions
from large players. It's easy for me to say "trust the process", much
harder for others so to do so.

> In general, I think, on the surface the positives outweigh the negatives and
> while the subtext takes a little translating at times, the ASF's positive
> actions with OOo give me a good feeling about the future.
> But there's that Bull Elephant again, so I keep a wary eye out.

As a mentor I thank you for your cautionary observations. It is people
like you that will ensure this project is a success. Thank you.



Ross Gardler (@rgardler)
Programme Leader (Open Development)

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