He doesn't get it

Story: Where is the outrage as Oracle bids for open source?Total Replies: 4
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Mar 01, 2006
5:30 AM EDT
Tom has already put forward this thesis on his blog


and in a comment there I've tried to enlighten him about the futility of any attempts to destroy open source threats by buying off companies built around them. But this story shows that he still doesn't get how open source works, especially concerning the power of forks to keep things going.

Mar 01, 2006
5:55 AM EDT
I think you do make the point around which this eventually revolves:

Quoting:But if there is enough demand, new open source companies, based around either the original or the forked code, will soon appear, especially if there is a pool of disgruntled coders who depart Oracle-acquired businesses.

This is absolutely true. But let's assume for the sake of argument that Oracle isn't the only company that buys into this business strategy of buying open source companies.

So, they buy a company and the developers fork off. That fork turns into a company and that company gets bought so the developers fork off again. With just a couple of players doing the buying this scenario could repeat ad nauseum.

Now take Tom's point:

Quoting:No IT manager in their right mind is going to try and build with a forked-off IT infrastructure combined with a license jungle. Just pay one check to one guy: Larry, Bill or SAP.

Forget the license jungle part. To be honest, I don't buy that part of it.

You might get an IT manager/group/whatever to sign off on a forked-off infrastructure, but a second? A third? At some point, the "pay one check to one guy" idea starts to actually make sense.

Here's my question in all of this. What good would come from bringing the outrage? Suppose everybody screams at the top of their lungs that Larry Ellison is doing bad things. Is that supposed to make him stop? Last time I checked, his acquisitions violated no laws.

Are we supposed to believe that Larry Ellison won't do something he wants to do because other people don't like it?

I'm beginning to giggle uncontrollably.

Mar 01, 2006
7:51 AM EDT
These articles make it sound as if the whole "open source", that is, Free Software movement revolves solely around the database market, as if databases are the only type of software that FOSS movement is making.

Because of that, these stories almost smell like FUD. They seem to be hyping up the possibility of Oracle buying the movement, and FOSS is no more. Give me a break!

I'd still agree that you just can't buy a movement nor a community. I agree with glynmoody. Oracle can buy all the FOSS companies they want, but the thing is that those companies wouldn't live without the community around them to begin with, and if the community, that is the movement we are talking about, doesn't like what Oracle does, they'll depart and what will Oracle be left with? It'll sure have a product in their hands, but they wont have a community support and they wont be the only one who has that product, because it was Free Software and community forked it off and they're happily using it and omitting Oracle from the picture. I indeed think Oracle just doesn't understand what it is doing. They are trying, applaud them for that, but they're gonna fail.

Also, the forked off code doesn't have to have only a company formed around it. Community can decide to create a nonprofit project, a foundation, meant to maintain and develop the code. This foundation isn't a corporation that can be bought, but still offers the same value (if not more) that a company would offer. This way, buyout of any company related to that code makes even less sense.

Oracle seems to be realizing it's in trouble. It is pressured by the FOSS disruptiveness and it is trying to fight it. But FOSS is just too disruptive for them to be able to successfully employ any legal means of the old ways to stop it. It is not FOSS that should adapt, it is Oracle and the likes who should adapt to the new FOSS world or wither away!

Thank you Daniel

Mar 01, 2006
8:40 AM EDT
Thinking about this in terms of databases only or Oracle only - either on the part of the author or us rebuttal artists - is dangerous. It allows those who would do wrong to do so under everyone's noses because nobody believes it can be done. And in terms of Oracle taking over Open Source via database company purchases, it can't be done.

Likewise, the notion of this not working because not all projects develop into companies allows wrong to be done because, again, nobody believes it can be done. True, if a project stays community-based, it can't be bought but that's not where the issue lies.

The whole notion of a company getting tired of having a project that they use get forked can eventually effect Linux by making it appear unstable to corporations everywhere. "We wanted to give Linux a chance. We wanted it succeed! But we can't switch our database/web/app/whatever infrastructure every time somebody decides they want to buy a company."

Sure, that reasoning is nonsense but tell me you can't hear CEO's everywhere spouting off exactly that kind of nonsense.

Will this effect us - and by us I mean those of us who frequent LXer? Not at all. Linux will continue to grow and become more of what we want but through the workings of people like Larry Ellison, the progress that Linux has made in the enterprise in the past few years can get knocked back a number of years.

Having said all of that, I'm not saying that it will happen or even that it's likely. I'm just saying don't dismiss it off-hand because you don't believe it can happen. Always analyze.

Mar 01, 2006
9:17 AM EDT
So the question then basically remains if these buyouts can slow down or even kill FOSS in enterprise?

Well, there probably are multiple factors to consider. One of them is the factor of choice that FOSS companies have when presented with an acquisition opportunity. They can well choose to refuse the offer much like MySQL did thus keeping their portion of the FOSS market open for business. Though it is true that MySQL was cornered here by Oracle because it somewhat depends on the companies Oracle just bought, it is possible that the community projects that may be forked would suffice to sustain MySQL in case of Oracle doing wrong with the code (that is discontinuing the Free Software versions of the code).

But that also brings another point. Does it even make sense for Oracle to discontinue the Free Software licensed versions considering that exactly these free versions was what keeps community stick to it and further considering that the companies they just bought have their communities as critical elements to their business?

In other words, by discontinuing Free Software versions, Oracle may well strip the value of what they just bought, because alot of that value lies in the community. They just can't risk loosing the community around those companies and I hope they realize that.

If they do realize that, then the only thing we'd be left to get used to is that now the Oracle is the main benefactor of the business model to which we, the community, are the crucial part of. We'd have to see how many of us can take that by counting the forks that might spring up after this. :)

We will see, but I think that even in the enterprise, FOSS does bear certain amount of resiliance exactly for the same reason already outlined: the community - It's such a crucial keyword to Free Software and Open Source.

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