With all the Oracle-related antics going on this fall, it seems safe to say that those of us in the FOSS community haven’t really needed to watch much TV.
After all, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve dropped our jaws in amazement, all just by observing the drama going on right around us with regard to OpenSolaris, OpenOffice.org and all the other projects whose fates were cast to the wind when Oracle purchased Sun.
So, we’ve got two forks of Oracle-owned projects — OpenIndiana and LibreOffice, both intended to rejuvenate projects that had been left to stagnate in Redwood Shores. We also know that Oracle plans to stick with OpenOffice.org itself, rather than donating the brand to the Document Foundation.
We’ve seen Oracle sue Google over Java, of course. And more recently, we’ve also seen the emergence of a fork of MySQL called SkySQL.
‘A Really Dumb Move’
Just when it seemed like things might be settling down in the world of OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice, however, the hostilities have now started up afresh, thanks to a request from the OpenOffice Council for members involved with LibreOffice to resign.
Let’s hope the Hollywood producers are listening — this saga has everything!
Not that Linux bloggers have taken to the latest news kindly, mind you — and rightly so.
“A really dumb move” is what Computerworld’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols called it, for example.
“Of course, this is all a piece of Oracle’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach to all the open-source programs it inherited from Sun,” Vaughan-Nichols went on. “Oracle may support open source in general, but it’s doing a lousy job of doing what’s best for its own open-source programs.”
Similarly: “Made me go get LibreOffice” was Yamaplos’s response in the Computerworld comments.
“I am very disappointed with Oracle,” agreed an anonymous reader. “All we can say to Oracle now is, ‘Bad Oracle! Bad Puppy!'”
Indeed, “LibreOffice hasn’t come a moment too soon,” agreed AlexHudson on LWN.
Wave after wave of like-minded comments were soon washing onto the shores of the Linux blogosphere, so Linux Girl knew it was time to get a boat and start rowing.
‘A Monumental Mistake’
“I think this will probably wind up being a good thing in the end,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza told Linux Girl. “LibreOffice will be freed from Oracle entirely.
“Everything Oracle touches turns into a problem; why not take their hands off one of our most important pieces of software?” Espinoza added.
Of course, “I’m not sure if Oracle understands the free software world enough to know what a monumental mistake they are making,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack opined.
‘I Just Hope OraKill Doesn’t Buy Novell’
Indeed, “when Oracle went after Google over Java, I made a joke about how OraKILL was trying to kill off everything they bought from Sun — first the MySQL fork, then the Java flap. What next … OpenOffice?” said Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site. “Now it’s not so funny.”
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison “doesn’t seem to ‘get’ the open-source model — that forks are a good thing,” Hudson added. “They serve both as a feedback mechanism (the ‘good bits’ can always be added back to the mainline project) and as a sandbox for testing out new ideas without potentially alienating current users.”
That’s why “it’s strange to hear about ‘conflicts of interest’ over people who serve on both boards,” Hudson opined. “It seems to me you would WANT people who are in touch with what’s happening with a major fork to be on board — pardon the pun.”
Then again, “Oracle is no stranger to conflicts of interest — they just paid HP millions to settle their latest lawsuit,” Hudson concluded. “I just hope OraKill doesn’t decide to buy Novell next — I *like* OpenSuse!”
‘Oracle Doesn’t Get Open Source’
Similarly, “this is a bad move by Oracle,” agreed Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project.
“Generally in the open source world, conflicts of interest really don’t surface in the same way,” Travers explained. “The only possible conflict of interest would be loyalty to Oracle as a company vs loyalty to the project as a whole.
“I’ve been through projects which pulled this sort of crap,” Travers added. In fact, “it was one of the reasons for LedgerSMB to fork from SQL-Ledger.”
‘Better Off Without Them’
So, “this tells me that Oracle doesn’t ‘get’ open source,” Travers concluded. “They want large, prominent projects they can simply control. In the end, though, the most vibrant and successful open source projects are not rigidly controlled by a single commercial entity.”
Blogger Robert Pogson agreed.
“Oracle does not seem to get Free Software,” Pogson said. “Clearly LibreOffice and the world are better off without them.”
Of course, here in the world of FOSS, no view is ever unanimous.
‘I Wouldn’t Have Been as Nice’
The LibreOffice people were “RUDE,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet opined. “There is no other way to put it!
“Put yourself in Oracle’s shoes,” hairyfeet went on. “You just bought this MASSIVE company, you have dozens of products you’re gonna have to sort through, dozens of jobs and titles to decide whether to keep, integrate into what you have or cut loose, and then these twerps come out of nowhere and say, ‘We don’t like you, so we are taking your software… BTW we would like the copyrights and patents too, and if you’re real nice, we’ll let you sit on OUR board and have a little say.'”
Oracle “hasn’t had time to do anything!” hairyfeet exclaimed.
“I personally wouldn’t have been as nice as Oracle,” he concluded. “I would have told them which bridge they could jump off of, followed by having my army of lawyers descend upon them like the hammer of God if they so much as used a single screencap without written permission. That is NOT the way one does business.”
Oracle had years to plan what it would do with OpenOffice.org.
"On January 27, 2010, Sun was acquired by Oracle Corporation for US$7.4 billion, based on an agreement signed on April 20, 2009. Sun Microsystems, Inc. was subsequently renamed Oracle America, Inc. "
An outfit like Oracle does not buy a big outfit without plenty of due diligence and planning. So it is wrong to claim Oracle did not have time to sort things out before LibreOffice happened. Before the offer and acceptance, SUN had plans for OpenOffice.org and they would have been discussed with Oracle. The reasons for forming LibreOffice antedate the purchase by Oracle by years. Oracle likely knew it would happen before they made the offer. Oracle just does not give a damn about FLOSS or they would have let OpenOffice.org be FREE.
I cannot imagine this will help their already weak user base. It is one reason Open source is pretty much dead and has always been dead. Competing against yourself will surely be the end to you.