Subject: Re: What should Sun do?
From: Adam Turoff <ziggy@panix.com>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 16:36:09 -0500

On Wed, Feb 02, 2005 at 11:21:15AM -0500, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Anthony Long writes:
>  > Do people think it would help the image of Sun to donate the 
>  > OpenOffice.org codebase and project to a non-profit consortium made up 
>  > of key players such as Sun, Red Hat, Novell, and others who have a stake 
>  > in OpenOffice.org?  Would this help increase code contributions from 
>  > other corporations and individual volunteers?
> 
> Why not just donate it to the Mozilla Foundation, or the Gnome
> Foundation, or the Open Source Initiative, or the Public Software
> Fund, or the Free Software Foundation?  What purpose would another
> non-profit serve?

Direction.  Governance.  Independance.

The Perl Foundation started out as Yet Another Society (might still be
incorporated as such), with the noble aim of providing an umbrella
non-profit infrastructure for other free software projects to use.  It
never worked out that way though.  YAS sponsored one or two Mozilla
developer meetings at CMU, helped out the Python Software Foundation out
of a spirit of community-mindedness, but never really focused on
anything other than Perl matters.  And non-Perl projects never really
warmed up to the offer, either.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, few projects wanted to
relinquish their stewardship to an non-profit entity with different
goals and aims, regardless of how benign that stewardship would be.
Second, it really isn't wise for a non-profit to receive copyright
assignment of open source code of unknown provenance, especially as a
large one-time assignment.  And when donations enter into the equation 
(charitable or otherwise), the whole mess gets rather, um, messy.


I've got a pet theory that forming a non-profit foundation is a
necessary and important milestone for an open source project to achieve.
We hackers tend to talk up the hassle and bother of the process, but it
really can't be all *that* bothersome, or else we wouldn't have a dozen
or so open source foundations.  If we all joined together under, say,
the Elbonian Software Foundation, we'd all lose because it would need to
become quite bureaucratic, and one IP case would impact a whole bunch of
open source software.

-- Adam