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Opinion: Oracle/Sun deal bad for free software ecosystem

by Jo Shields on 21 April 2009, 08:00

Tags: Sun Microsystems, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qarw4

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A case of open and shut

Sun as a company has been pretty rudderless for about a decade, with the left hand never really having a clue what the right hand is up to.

Part of its problem (and to an extent, the gain for people like me) is that it has a powerful portfolio of software solutions, some bought and some in-house, which it's been giving away for free.

OpenSolaris, MySQL, Java, Virtualbox (and the rest of the xVM suite) and OpenOffice.org are pretty headline pieces of software, and certainly MySQL and OpenOffice.org are of the utmost importance to the free software ecosystem.

Oracle on the other hand is not a particularly open company - the best it's done is rebadging Red Hat Enterprise Linux with some terrible artwork, and selling it (for big bucks) as supported by real humans.

Perhaps it's a dose of what Sun needs - some actual revenue streams to focus on - but for many of us, we're concerned about how a particularly cash-hungry company like Oracle will approach an almost ‘charity' piece of software like OpenOffice.org, and the associated staffing costs that come with it. Similarly, what will it do with MySQL, given their own core business?