You've probably seen the big news in the Open Source world already. Oracle is hijacking Red Hat's Linux distribution and will ship a version named Unbreakable Linux, undercutting Red Hat's support pricing. Thanks for doing all the work Red Hat, we'll take it from here. To me, it appears that Oracle cares nothing about the open source community. The open source community thus far has thrived using a culture of collaboration and friendly competition (competition of alternative options). Oracle is getting into open source with the mentality of cut-throat competition. They previously bought the company behind the transaction engine that MySQL used, forcing many to reevaluate if they could rely on MySQL features owned by another proprietary database company. And the problem I see is not that they are going to offer a competitive Linux distribution at a lower price point. It's that they don't even have the decency to build their own competing distribution like Novell/SUSE.
I've never really been a big fan of Oracle software myself, mostly because of the big monolithic lump that they ship. It's not exactly a light solution. I've also always found their claims of having the most used application server a bit dubious considering they seem to count every cd they ship whether someone uses the app server or not.
I'm sure they'll get some traction in the corporate world. There is still a great divide between the corporate open source circles and the technical open source community. Companies will be willing to lump their Linux support in with that giant Oracle contract that they already have. It will be interesting to see how the technical community reacts to this news though. I don't think the community traditionally supports this kind of behavior. I think we'd all be better off if we could foster more cooperation between corporate and community groups.
One thing I find very ironic is that Red Hat just purchased the JBoss Group, which made waves by proclaiming they owned open source by buying up projects such as Hibernate and listing (Apache) Tomcat as one of their projects on their website. I've heard that Oracle has been making similar proclamations that they wanted to own open source as well. No wonder they were trying to buy JBoss before.
Perhaps some good will come of this. There are many companies that are dumping their products into the OSS space. Some are trying to give new life to an uncompetitive product. Others are "donating" code they don't want to maintain into groups such as the Eclipse Foundation to try to get publicity. Then there are companies open sourcing projects that truly add value to the whole community. This creates so much noise out there that you sometimes have to look deep to find the gems that are available. Hopefully this event will make other companies think long and hard about why they are considering open sourcing their projects so that both the company and the community benefit from the contributions.
And in the end, a little disruption to force companies to improve can be good thing. Just watch out for those sharks in the pool.
BTW, CentOS has been producing a non-Red Hat branded version of RHEL for a long time making the core features of RHEL available to everyone (This is great for product testing). I wonder if Oracle has poached some of the CentOS developers or if they are launching this initiative with an internal team.
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