Oracle Delivers Friday the 13th Bad Luck to FOSS
Despite personal beliefs, everybody treads a bit more carefully on Friday the 13th. But no amount of precaution could protect the Open Source community from the wave of bad luck that fell last Friday. Oracle finally lived up to the fears many have been afraid to speak.
The day began with the news that Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google for using code that allegedly infringes upon patents related to Java in their Android operating system. Many speculate the purpose is to cash in on some of money that Google is apparently making from the popular mobile system. They are goading Google into a nice settlement check and who could deliver larger? Oracle has always been about making money and they didn't buy Sun's Open Source assets for nothing. Not that Sun was making that much from Java, but speculation is that Oracle lawyers must have seen future patent litigation as another source of income for the behemoth. Others think Oracle is rightfully defending Java GPL requirements. This wouldn't be the first time Google has tried to sidestep some Open Source compliance with Android.
On the very same day news leaked that Oracle had shut down OpenSolaris. In another blow to Open Source, Oracle decided that Solaris should be unique and providing a freely downloadable version negates that. OpenSolaris also just might represent competition as a few struggling businesses opt for OpenSolaris instead of Solaris during these continuing financially challenging times.
Experts knew there was trouble ahead with the news of Oracle's acquisition of Sun. Monty Widenius fought against it, but Oracle gobbled Sun MySQL up with the rest. He predicted future issues and began forking MySQL before the ink was dry on the contracts. Most recently, Garrett D'Amore et al. based a new system on OpenSolaris, and said a full fork may be necessary if Oracle shutdown OpenSolaris development. It appears necessary now.
One has to wonder what may be in store for MySQL and OpenOffice.org. These two major mainstays for Linux and Open Source would be sorely missed. MySQL is commercial, but Oracle could very well stop the free older version availability under the same premise as used in axing OpenSolaris. It's quite possible Oracle may very well kill MySQL as competition to the lucrative but shrinking Oracle database market. Oracle could just choose to stop funding OpenOffice.org as well, virtually signing the death warrant for a piece of software almost every Linux user requires.
No one is really surprised. Oracle has always been a proprietary company. But Oracle's actions of Friday the 13th come only days after offering up a keynote at LinuxCon. This hits after last year's promises of no major changes in Sun's open source community assets. Those hoping for a new soft and fuzzy Oracle are no doubt sorely disappointed. Experts have already stated Oracle could turn out to be more of threat to Linux and Open Source than either Microsoft or SCO ever was.
Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.
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