Apache OpenOffice turns to SourceForge for Distribution

SourceForge just a forge? Not quite, not anymore. SourceForge is investing time and resources to help open source projects to grow, and we do that through numerous ways. Take our recent collaboration with one of the most famous open source projects: the OpenOffice project, now incubated at the Apache Software Foundation.

SourceForge helps the Apache OpenOffice by serving downloads for the Extensions and the Templates sites, as well as the shortly upcoming Apache OpenOffice 3.4 Release.

Read below to learn more about how we pursue our mission to become the most trusted source for Open Source Software by doing, and what lessons we learned from working with the Apache Way.

Let’s start with a little background information about OpenOffice.

In the beginning it was StarOffice

Actually very few people know that OpenOffice was one of the first productivity suites around. In fact everything started back in 1984 when a company called StarDivision started to develop StarOffice. A few years later, in 1999, Sun Microsystems bought StarDivision, after which Sun Microsystems, just ten years ago started to distribute a version of it as open source software: OpenOffice.org was born.

Ten years later, Sun Microsystems was in turn acquired by Oracle, and in June 2011 contributed the suite, the trademarks and the domains to the Apache Incubator.

SourceForge’s Mission and What we do for the Apache OpenOffice Incubator

Our Mission is changed: it’s no longer just about providing a forge, we now ask ourselves what we can do for open source. The best way we found to serve open source projects is actually understand their needs, and help them to fulfill those needs.

In the Apache OpenOffice Podling case, we thought we could help by reengineering and restoring the Extensions and the Templates websites. As part of the incubation process at Apache, Oracle – former sponsor and host of the OpenOffice project – was progressively migrating services and websites under the Apache umbrella. In the process some of these services were momentarily discontinued or – like for the Extensions and Templates sites – moved to temporary locations which were unable to serve those services with the previous level of service.

Given the fact that a relevant number of services and websites were to be migrated, we stepped into the process to take care of two websites, providing OpenOffice users with a centralized access to important resources, like Extensions and Templates. We needed to reengineer both Drupal platforms, upgrade the supported PHP version and instruct the authentication system to serve over 40,000 users, formerly authenticated by the Oracle authentication server.

Both websites are now fully operational, restored and well supported at SourceForge at the following addresses: Extensions and Templates. In collaboration with the Podling Project Management Committee (PPMC) we kept Extensions’ and Templates’ users informed about all changes, as well as we finally provided them with stats about top downloads, geographies and operating systems.

It might worthwhile to mention that SourceForge is not locking in Apache OpenOffice in any manner. In fact all Drupal configurations and applications are available to the PPMC, and the ‘neighborhoods’ – def – serving those downloads are fully open source and available at http://sourceforge.net/p/allura.

As a matter of fact we serve the Apache OpenOffice project and everyone else keeping them out of ‘data jails‘ as Eric Raymond called them.

You can put data (the source code revision history, mailing list address lists, bug reports) into them, but getting a complete snapshot of that data back out often ranges from painful to impossible.

At SourceForge we provide a fully open source platform that make it possible for everyone to easily migrate data and projects. SourceForge is not just about free and open source software, but it’s about freedom of choice, and we’ll make sure you’ll keep using both our forge and directory by helping your project to grow.

Takeaways from the collaboration and the future ahead.

In the collaboration process we gained Apache OpenOffice’s trust — which is expressed in the Apache OpenOffice Blog entry about the project timeline as well as in Apache OpenOffice mentor’s appreciative words. Actually the partnership has been recently extended to solve another challenging issues: help Apache to manage the expected OpenOffice downloads’ peaks for the upcoming new release.

We let facts speak for themselves, and we are improving our ability to partner with well recognized open source players, the Apache Software Foundation, not very differently from what we have done for BerliOS or we’ll do for others in the future.

For serving our open source constituencies – developers and users – we allocate two engineering teams to provide a better dev experience, and an easy way to find open source software. Our mission has changed, and we are putting more of our energy into becoming The Most Trusted Partner for Open Source.

We love that people have started to notice that.

Thanks.

I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Ross Gardler, who mentored the SourceForge teams through the collaboration process, Rob Weir for his inputs and support, and Gavin McDonald and the whole Apache Infrastructure team, who provided us with all necessary information for a successful migration.

It is also appropriate to give credit here to our SiteOp team, especially Jacob Moorman, Wayne Witzel and Dave Brondsema, for enabling our Allura open source forge to deliver on performance and the overall project delivery. Our contractor Antonio De Marco, who turned all our specifications in a working platform.
Last but not least, I wish to say thanks to Andrea Pescetti, who provided us with all details about how the Apache OpenOffice Extensions & Templates websites work.

Roberto Galoppini, SourceForge Business Development Director and now Apache Open Office committer and PPMC member.

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