24 September 2010

Oracle Doesn’t Get Open Source

Oracle claimed that the EU didn’t get open source when they tried to prevent Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. It’s plain to see that the acquisition was purely to destroy the competition. Sun is dead and it’s software is slowly being buried with it. Well, not quite; Sun actively developed three of the worlds most important open source contributions; Java, MySQL and OpenOffice.org. Regardless of the loopholes that Oracle is trying to pursue with their current case against Google, once a copyleft license is applied, the product effectively becomes the property of the consumer.

When the deal was announced, the open source community was up in arms however i believed that Oracle was simply waking up to the necessity for open source in the software industry. The world is not ready to drop the proprietary model just yet but a software company the size of Oracle must have realised that they were falling behind. I was wrong, Oracle have no clue about open source and apparently have no intentions to find out. They’ve rebranded the products and will likely cripple the code with proprietary bits and pieces but we will never lose the original products. What we need now are organisations that are willing to fork and continue to build on those projects.

Jack Wallen from ZDNet suggests that Google fork Java in order to continue the Android OS which makes extensive use of Java. Google certainly have the resources and the Dalvik VM is already going down that path and now with the addition of legal issues it makes sense. We will have to wait to find out the fate of the other projects but MySQL is a fundamental part of the Internet as OpenOffice is to most Linux distributions. Everyone is affected by the loss of Sun not just the open source community, what’s most concerning about the deal is that once MySQL has been successfully forked and becomes another competitor to Oracle DB, The company is back to where they were at the end of 2009. Was the $7.4 Billion acquisition worth it?

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