Does the Sun Shine at Oracle?

There’s been much coverage and speculation of what might or might not happen following the announcement that Oracle would like to buy Sun Microsystems and Sun are apparently happy to be bought by Oracle [note the deal hasn’t actually happened yet].

I’ve not said much on this because, speculation is, frankly, pretty pointless. We have no idea what is going to happen in reality and I certainly do not have an ear in Larry or Jonathan’s Office. Oracle are going to pay a great deal of money for Sun and they will get a company that is is well liked by many – but not all – in the FOSS community. What do they have that Oracle want?

  • Solaris – A nice operating system for servers. Important to Oracle for a number of reasons. A great deal of their database solutions run on Solaris. Open Solaris is available under an OSI approved Licence.
  • Java – Almost a world in it’s own right and something that is very, very important to lots and lots of companies including Sun’s other early suitor, IBM. Personally I reckon this is Sun’s jewel-in-the-crown. Not for monetary value necessarily, but because it touches almost everyone in some way. From the Java web site: “Java powers more than 4.5 billion devices including: 800+ million PCs, 2.1 billion mobile phones and other handheld devices (source: Ovum), 3.5 billion smart cards, Set-top boxes, printers, Web cams, games, car navigation systems, lottery terminals, medical devices, parking payment stations, and more.” Java is free to use and there is the Open JDK available under the GPL.
  • Lots of hardware – Are Oracle interested in this? Several commentators think not and come up with a credible scenario whereby Oracle can sell off the h/w bits and get back most of what they paid for the whole business. Here’s a nicely succinct piece as an example. That’s quite a compelling story but only time will tell. Maybe Oracle does want to expand into h/w too? Who knows. It would help it compete more against HP and IBM in areas where they were “partners” before…
  • MySQL – Lots of worried voices in the blogoshpere and others keeping surprisingly quiet. Much of the mainstream MySQL code is GPL.
  • – This could hold tremendous opportunity for Oracle should they wish. Take on MS? They could really hurt Microsoft’s cash cow (Office) if they decided or wanted too. is licensed under the LGPL.

Oracle is not unknown in the FOSS world. It has a number of FOSS products and projects such as their own Linux, the InnoDB engine that is used in MySQL (today they released a new embedded version, under the GPL), remember the Berkeley DB from Sleepycat Software? Yep. They have that too (OSI Approved License).

So, not much idle speculation from me. But here are few others speculating that I found interesting:

Ars Technica.
Glyn Moody.
An informed prognosticator.
Matt Assay.

Please drop by any other good links that are worth reading or comments you have. But remember, there’s no point in getting wound up or anxious. Nobody really knows what is going to happen but one thing is certain if the deal goes through; the Free and Open Source Ecosystem has just landed a very big fish indeed…

Oracle Good – Microsoft Bad? You bet.

Two very interesting news articles appeared overnight.

Oracle continues to invest in the Open Source eco system by helping to improve development platforms that can use Oracle’s database engine. They have just released to the Open Source community (under a valid Open Source License) an improved OCI8 driver for PHP that should enable much better scaling and Enterprise level transaction capabilities to one of the world’s most popular development languages – PHP. The headline reads:

Oracle Contributes Breakthrough PHP Code To Open Source Community
New PHP Driver Brings Enterprise-Class Scalability, High Availability to Web 2.0 Applications

This is a GREAT move for everyone concerned. It means Enterprise users of PHP can use the database engine they trust. It also means that PHP gets an improved enterprise class database driver. It also means that Oracle’s driver – being Open Sourced – will almost certainly get better over time as more and more developers’ eyes fall on their code…

Now, let’s compare this with the reported comments of that calm, considered, articulate (sarcasm intended) and socially inept chap from Microsoft. But first, you have to see these short videos if you haven’t before. Just remember that this is the CEO of Microsoft, and these are not unique. There’s quite a few more like, and some even worse than, this on YouTube.
Would you buy anything from this man? Seriously?So what’s he been saying now? It’s all over the web again; basically he threatened Red Hat, and Red Hat’s users, along with most if not all of the FOSS community with Patent lawsuits. But once again he failed to say what patents were being breached and how. Groklaw has a comprehensive review of the proceedings thus far – including the apparent “scramble by M$ lawers” to – as yet unsuccessfully – come up with an “official” position and explanation of what he really meant. And we thought The Labour Party were good at spinning.

As the Open Source community has said time and time again, show us the code that infringes on your oh-so-precious patents and we’ll either fix it or prove prior art (invalidating the patent claim). But no. The idiot continues to mouth off without thinking and all he will achieve by doing this is alienating more and more of his own customers and the free world.

Maybe he should go and have a chat with Larry Ellison?

As a slight aside, and from what I understand about this sort of thing, here in the EU most of these claims are totally invalid anyway as we don’t allow the patenting of software ideas in the same way. Guess where he was when he made these comments? Yep; here in the UK – Jerk.