Furthermore, Vaughan-Nichols writes that Oracle is contractually obliged to IBM to ensure the continued development of OpenOffice.org. If that is so, then you do not need to be a tactician to understand why Oracle might donate where IBM wanted it to. You might also view the donation as a peace offering after clashes with The Apache Foundation over various issues about Java.
As for the free office suite community, donating to Apache at least superficially satisfies requests that the code be turned over to a neutral, FOSS-friendly organization. Until yesterday, the community was planning to petition Oracle to donate the code (I know, because I drafted the petition), but the donation suddenly makes the effort moot.
All these advantages go a long way towards explaining why the official reaction is positive. Jim Jagielski, president of the Apache Foundation and the mentor for the new project, is quoted in the official release as saying, "We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing."
Similarly, when asked to comment, Louis Suarez-Potts, the long-time community manager for OpenOffice.org, wrote to me, "I am delighted that Oracle has chosen to give the code to the Apache Foundation. My hope, and indeed it's something I and others are working to, is that the division and consequent confusion about the identity of the OpenOffice.org community can now resolved."
Even The Document Foundation officially announced that "we welcome Oracles donation of code that has previously been proprietary to the Apache Software Foundation." Superficially, at least, everyone sounds pleased about the donation.
So why is the donation less than ideal? One answer is that The Apache Foundation has more experience with projects that involve servers and infrastructure than desktop appliances. If OpenOffice.org is going to thrive, then the Foundation needs to learn, and quickly.
Another reason is that the donation means that most of the OpenOffice.org code is now licensed under the Apache License, rather than the previous GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). That means that some parts of the existing code are now incompatible with the main license, and may need to be discarded or rewritten.
The difference in licenses also reflects a difference in FOSS cultures, since the Apache License does not prevent the code being used under a proprietary license. For at least some of the OpenOffice.org-LibreOffice community, this license is likely to be objectionable.
However, by far the largest problem is that what the Apache Foundation has been passed is a project with few, if any members. This leaves the situation much as it was with Oracle, with official title to the code controlled by one organization, and most of the development and innovation being done by another -- The Document Foundation.
What makes this development especially unfortunate is that, in the last couple weeks, the members of this joint community have been edging towards reunification.
The mutual distrust between Oracle and The Document Foundation, it appears, was largely on the organizational level. In the community, working relationships seem to have been at least partly preserved.
For example, Louis Suarez-Potts went out of his way to point out that he and Florian Effenberger, a member of The Document Foundation's Steering Committee, work for the same company and have "sought to maintain cordial and even friendly relations since last year." Similarly, Charles-H. Schulz, another member of The Document Foundation's steering committee, emphasizes that "We have here one community and two projects."