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October 14th, 2013

Watching the Penguin’s Back at All Things Open

You can be certain of one thing; if you’re a penguinista I’ll have your back at the All Things Open conference. I’ll be paying attention. Plenty of good companies and organizations will be represented at the the conference, to be held next week in Raleigh, but it is an enterprise conference so there will be a few snakes slithering about.

Mainly I’m talking about Oracle and Microsoft.

Ross Gardler, speaker for Microsoft at All Things Open

Ross Gardler, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

Oracle will be giving some kind of presentation on MySQL (the presentation is only called “MySQL,” which really doesn’t say much). The speaker will be Dave Stokes, who seems to be dedicated to the open source database, at least that’s what I gather from an interview posted in September on opensource.com and from his blog Open Source DBA’s Blog. He first worked for MySQL as a PHP programmer back in the days before the DB was gobbled up by Sun for a billion bucks. He’s been a community manager for Oracle’s MySQL for nearly four years.

He also seems to have a healthy sense of humor. When asked by opensource.com what we could expect from his presentation at All Things Open, he answered with tongue-in-cheek:

“My presentation will be the ultimate event of the century filled with humor, pathos, and will inspire all who are attending to greatness, all while stressing my humility.”

Of course, I could be wrong about the answer being an attempt at humor. Perhaps Mr. Stokes has just been hanging around Larry Ellison too much.

All kidding aside, I wouldn’t be attending this presentation even if I didn’t suspect it’ll be too technically oriented for my taste. The hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, the Unbreakable Linux saga, the OpenOffice.org/Document Foundation mess and Oracle’s handling of MySQL have collectively left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t trust Oracle one whit and I have little interest in what they have to say.

I would, however, be interested in the presentation on MariaDB, the MySQL fork that’s being adopted by many Linux distros, if its scheduling didn’t conflict with a “must see” workshop that’s on my list. Oh well, you can’t see everything.

Microsoft will also be in attendance.

While I trust Microsoft even less (much less) than Oracle, I’m very much interested in attending the presentation “Microsoft & Open Source.” It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of spin Redmond will be putting on open source. No doubt we’ll hear that the folks in Redmond are completely on the open source bandwagon and that they love open source nearly as much as they love closed source binaries.

Whenever Microsoft talks about open source, their words must be taken with a grain of salt. This is probably more true than ever right now, as the company is currently somewhat rudderless. Redmond’s take on open source going forward won’t really be known until after they’ve chosen a new CEO and that person has had some time to settle in and get a game plan together.

However, as Simon Phipps pointed out on InfoWorld back in February, long before Ballmer suddenly announced his retirement, the company has been relaxing their position on open source recently:

“Microsoft has been on a charm offensive toward the open source community-of-communities for several years. Before that, it had been simply offensive, as epitomized by CEO Steve Ballmer’s infamous assertion that Linux is a cancer — to my knowledge, an epithet he’s never withdrawn. … But at some point in the last few years, Microsoft’s strategists finally wised up to the fact that, while they still feared open source, it was better to make peace.

“We’ve recently seen three stories representing different fronts in that campaign. Last week I wrote about the extraordinary and welcome changes to the Windows Phone developer terms that actively favor open source licenses. The start of this week saw Microsoft recruit a prominent Apache community member, board member Ross Gardler, to its open technologies staff.”

Indeed, it will be Mr. Gardler, currently President of the Apache Software Foundation, who will be speaking for Microsoft at All Things Open. Needless to say, I don’t expect to hear that the company will be open sourcing any of their cash cows any time soon or that they’ve developed such a love of open source that they’ll cease extorting money from the makers of Android devices. Maybe we’ll hear about some new developers’ tools being made open source, especially tools for Windows Phone and RT app developers as the company is in desperate need for apps for mobile devices. Because ATO’s focus in on the enterprise, I’m sure we’ll hear about how Microsoft is working on developing better integration with open source applications.

I’ll watch this presentation with the eye of a skeptic and will let you know what goes down.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

1 comment to Watching the Penguin’s Back at All Things Open

  • Eddie G.

    Thanks Christine. I won’t be able to be there…but I trust your assessment of the situation….both Oracle and M$! Will be awaiting your report!….