Why TDF should be the place for one united Community

I have not been subscribed to the OpenOffice.org marketing list for months, but due to Louis’ recent Cc, I was made aware of the discussion going on — so, as a representative of TDF, but also as someone for whom personally the community means a lot, let me say a few words.

I indeed see the current situation as an ideal basis for uniting things. The diversity the Community is in now doesn’t help anyone. If you now think we, TDF, are happy and get satisfaction out of the current situation, you are terribly wrong. Even if we expected something like that to happen, our intention was to safeguard the project from this eventuality, not to profit from it.

We all have similar goals: a free office suite, available to everyone. So let’s not discuss about the past, about what has happened and about the reasons that led to this, but rather focus on the future.

I want to openly repeat our invitation to everyone to join The Document Foundation and the LibreOffice Community. Why do I think that we are the right place to continue the work?

In yesterday’s blog post, we summed up where we stand, and reading it will help to understand the current situation:


  1. We are vendor neutral. I am sorry that I have to object to Louis’ statement of us being a proxy for Microsoft — nothing can be further from the truth. I must confess, that by statements like these, I feel even personally insulted. I spend many hours per day on a pure volunteer basis, and if anyone can point on those of my doings that are proxying for Microsoft, I would be interested to hear them. Otherwise, I’ll ask to stop spreading those wrong assumptions — as they are simply that: wrong.

  2. We have a strong legal backing, not only by the German nonprofit “Freies Office Deutschland e.V.”, but also by the Software in the Public Interest (SPI), and we are on track with establishing the Foundation as a legal entity. Even right now, we have all options needed for dealing with legal aspects, accepting and spending money. We already can and do maintain trademarks, brands and other assets.

  3. We have an independent infrastructure that works and is not controlled by nor depends on a single entity. In addition, as we are not using a fixed web framework, we are very flexible in what we do.

  4. We have not only gained a lot of momentum, but also a strong developer base of more than 200 volunteers, amongst them 40 who contribute on a very regular basis. Yes, of course, any contribution corporations with paid developers do are highly welcome and help a lot — but already right now, we are in a status where we could drive the project without them, if the worst case would occur. This is something we never managed to achieve in ten years’ of OpenOffice.org.

When I first read the Oracle announcement from April, talking about an independent, noncommercial entity, my first thoughts were — and still are — “this is exactly what TDF is doing”. I have seen proposals of setting up another foundation, or moving to an existing foundation that is not TDF. Honestly, this does not make very much sense to me. It would again lead to a diversity, would require many efforts, and would continue to irritate the market at large.

Why reinvent the wheel? OpenOffice.org is already very special in many of its processes. Having it under the umbrella of another, existing entity, would require lots of changes to fit in there. TDF has, from the very beginning, been shaped as a new entity with processes that fit to what we have accomplished the last years. We changed things that didn’t work, and improved things that do work — isn’t this the best basis to build on? Let’s not waste energy in once again trying to fit under an umbrella, but rather work jointly together on our future.

I am not saying that TDF does everything right and 100% perfect. We are giving our best, and I think we do a fairly good job. I’ve seen comments that TDF is missing big corporate support, and that the whole ecosystem is at risk. Again, I consider this terribly wrong. Of course, we would love to have much more support from corporations already, but building this up needs time, requires trust and confidence, and after all, support is growing rapidly. If anyone thinks by setting up a new foundation or by doing a few phone calls you can get big corporate support, I must say that almost sounds illusionary. And does it really make sense that in the future, two entities will try that out? Wouldn’t it be much better to speak united, with one voice?

In my letter of resignation last October (http://www.mail-archive.com/dev@marketing.openoffice.org/msg11691.html), I’ve said that I am looking forward to talking again about options to cooperate. I feel that time has come now.

So, I would be really interested of what actually prevents from cooperating with TDF, and uniting once again. Are there any valid reasons? Let’s leave out what happened in the past — a lot of bad words have been said, but digging into that does not help.

What compelling reasons are there to not work together again, in one Community?

TDF is there, TDF is open, and to me, it would be the ideal home of a united Community. The decision about that requires no leader, but you, anyone of you, can make it on your own.

Our future can be bright. Let’s make it together.


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