Andrew Sayers andrew-ubuntu-devel at pileofstuff.org
Tue Dec 30 00:29:18 UTC 2008

Speaking as someone with a strictly armchair interest in this topic, I'd
like to make a few observations here -

The way (non-Sun) people talk about OO.o reminds me of the way people
used to talk about the pre-Firefox Mozilla project - worthy and
important, but with low developer morale due to an ugly, hostile
codebase.  A certain amount of mud will always get slung at a project of
OO.o's size, and Sun often have valid excuses for the mud that gets
thrown their way, but I've never heard a community member stand up and
defend Sun's behaviour, or give examples of how Sun went the extra mile
to help them out.  That silence speaks more to me than the noise on the
other side.

The evidence seems to be that when Sun's OO.o team makes its mind up,
only action can force them to change it - you can't debate them into a
better solution.  As such, it's important that other players in the OO.o
game have a good set of actions available to them.  Go-oo is one such
action, giving community developers an easier target for adoption of
their code - somewhat analogous to Andrew Morton's branch of Linux.
Go-oo also makes further actions possible - some subtle, some drastic.
Developing a good vocabulary of actions will be important in order to
improve the development process without suffering the upheaval that
would come from an x.org-style fork.

Towards the subtle end of the scale, Go-oo makes it possible to start
referring to the Sun codebase as "Sun's tree" rather than "upstream",
forcing Sun to earn their reputation as the "true" version of OO.o.
Towards the drastic end of the scale, Go-oo could request that Sun pull
the patches they're interested in, rather than getting patches pushed at
them with whatever extra paperwork they request, putting the cost of
Sun's bureaucracy back on Sun's balance sheet.

So what does this mean for Ubuntu?  Mainly that we need to weigh our
actions not only in terms of what produces the best short-term results
for users, but also whether the message it sends will improve the
process in the long-term.  As Joe said, publicly ditching the upstream
OO.o would send far too negative a message right now.  If Sun continues
to drag its heels, the next move might be to start talking about how
Ubuntu adds value over the "basic" OO.o, putting some gentle corporate
pressure on Sun to get their act together.

	- Andrew

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