☆ Is LibreOffice Open-By-Rule?

+5Charles-H Schulz from The Document Foundation submitted the data for a benchmark evaluation of LibreOffice. I have read his evaluations and added scores, giving a current evaluation of +5 for LibreOffice (on a scale of -10 to +10). This would firmly identify LibreOffice as open-by-rule.

There is still some room for improvement, but that’s to be expected from a young organisation with ambitious goals. I look forward to being able to re-evaluate in a few months.

Rule Data Evaluation Score
Open, Meritocratic Oligarchy Community postings and
While the LibreOffice project is only 4 months old both its development track and its community governance show a fast pace of developers’ growth and an open and meritocratic oligarchy. This last point is particularly reflected in its bylaws that emphasize the notion of openness, freedom and meritocracy. 

Score: +1 for open to all contributors, 0 for unproven meritocracy, +1 for structured leadership

Modern Licence Licensing Explanation LibreOffice inherits from the licensing of OpenOffice.org and the copyright assignment schemes from both Oracle and Sun Microsystems. This means that the bulk of the code, that stems today from OpenOffice.org shares the same license of its older brother (LGPL v3). Yet newly developed code done inside the LibreOffice project has a triple license: (L)GPL v3 + and MPL.  It is thus a situation where LibreOffice has no other choice than to deal with previous licensing choices, not to make new ones. 

Score: 0 for OSI-approved licensing not under the control of the community

Copyright Accumulation Policy statement LibreOffice got rid of any copyright accumulation in the sense of copyright assignments to The Document Foundation and does not require a contributor agreement. +1
Trademark policy Draft trademark policy The trademark policy is almost finished at this point. It attempts to define specific allowed uses for logos, etc. without stumbling too much in certain GNU/Linux distributions’ own policies. While this is a big plus (these distributions’ developers are often part of the LibreOffice core team) it has been noted that the Trademark policy itself is sometimes complex to understand, especially for business uses. 

Score: 0 for trademark policy under community control (+1 once completed)

Roadmap Release plan Efforts are made to make LibreOffice releases predictable and the plan looks good. However it does not mean we know what feature would be included for each release. 

Score: 0 for intent to have a schedule and roadmap, +1 once established

Multiple co-developers List of contributors Contrary to OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice has always wanted to be a diverse community. At this stage the main contributors are Novell and Red Hat, followed by an impressive numbers of independent developers (patches between the “independent” and the corporate are about 50/50). Expect Canonical to ramp up its contributions with its new hire(s). +1
Forking feasible Developer how-to One can fork LibreOffice very easily. The problem is that it’s a very heavy application that has its own technologies and idiosyncrasies that most of developers would need to get really familiar with before trying to fork it. LibreOffice has already invested a lot of effort improving this situation and it will continue to be a priority, so this rule should eventually score +1. 0
Transparency Steering Committee While the Document Foundation is being set up not everything in its governance is fully enabled: for instance the Document Foundation still has to elect a full-fledged board, as the present Steering Committee is only an interim one. However significant efforts have been made to make the governance transparent. +1
Total +5

Many thanks to Charles for the submission. More submissions most welcome.

7 Responses

  1. Can’t say the actual outcome surprises me much, but this makes a nice validation of the assessment tool.

  2. Looks to me like we are moving to a point where you can easily clone the organisational practices.

  3. […] about Free and Open Source projects, I couldn’t resist to submit LibreOffice to Simon Phipps’ benchmark. On a scale going from -10 to +10, Simon gave LibreOffice +5, which is quite good and this number […]

  4. Excellent article. It is nice to see that there are some people that are evaluating products by some measures.

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