Every once in a while, some extremely popular open source project faces what is generally regarded as one of the most painful, frightening experiences for such a project and its user community: the fork. An argument can be made that divergent evolution for purposes of specialization — such as when Knoppix burst onto the scene, based on Debian but customized for use as a LiveCD — is not a “true” fork. A fork, one might argue, is only what happens when the codebase is copied and taken in a slightly different direction because it is intended to replace (or at least compete with) the original project due to disputes between people who have different visions for it, rather than being intended to complement it by filling an otherwise empty niche.LibreOffice is a recent example of such an acrimonious fork, though the overtones of LibreOffice’s guiding Foundation are consciously friendly. This fork is a direct result of Oracle acquiring OpenOffice.org as part of its Sun buyout. In the words of Glyn Moody’s article, “The Deeper Significance of LibreOrrice 3.3,” in ComputerWorld UK – Open Enterprise:Real forks are relatively few and far between precisely because of the differences between forking and fragmentation…. Read full this story
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