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Ellison & the GPL Part II

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Larry Ellison and Oracle’s apparent lack of respect for the GPL. The FOSS community should find this especially disturbing due to the boatload of open source projects now controlled by Oracle after its acquisition of Sun. Not the least of these is MySQL, the workhorse database that practically runs the Internet, which is available under the GPL and various proprietary licenses. After Oracle unceremoniously dropped support for OpenSolaris, the open source version of Sun’s (now Oracle’s) UNIX OS, we can’t help but wonder if the GPL’d version of MySQL will be next.

Ellison is probably not very enthused about the open source aspects of MySQL. For one thing, he probably sees it as competing with Oracle RDBMS, which just happens to be Oracle’s cash cow. He could just quit supporting the GPL’d version by refusing to open source new code added to the proprietary versions but that would only invite a fork. As I mentioned yesterday, the open source implementation of MySQL is too important to fail, so we could expect IBM, Google and others to pick-up the ball in that case, and continue development of a MySQL fork.

Ellison & the GPL Part I

You would think a firm that fancies itself a Linux development company would have some respect for the GPL. With most companies, you’d be right. But not with Oracle. It becomes more obvious with each passing day that Larry Ellison has absolutely no respect for the GPL. The FOSS community would do well to consider Ellison to be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing and act accordingly – for “FOSS-friendly” Oracle might pose more of a threat than Microsoft ever did.

Ellison seems to be making the GPL his play toy, shamelessly looking for holes in the license to exploit to his own advantage. Several years back, to show his displeasure at Red Hat for potentially moving into his territory when they acquired JBoss, he boldly announced the release of Unbreakable Linux, which was really Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) rebranded as an Oracle product (which he was perfectly free to do under the terms of the GPL).

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

Can Android be More Open?

M. G. Siegler is right. Android is not as open as many of us would like, at least for the user. But while it’s certainly not as open as any garden-variety Linux distro, it’s certainly much more open than the norm for Linux embedded on a device – and let’s face it, an Android smartphone is nothing but an embedded device. The functionality of your device is determined not by you the user, but by a combination of the handset maker and the carrier. According to Siegler, that needs to change – and I agree.

In case you missed the article, Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With, which appeared last Thursday on TechCrunch, Siegler has a variety of complaints about Android handsets, beginning with one that will be very familiar to anyone who’s ever bought a computer from Dell with Windows preinstalled:

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

The Zen of Open Source

There is a spirituality involved with the open source process.

Open source proponents, especially those who earn their living distributing or supporting free products, are more often than not adamant in proclaiming there is nothing spiritual or religious about the FOSS model. They maintain the position that the GPL and other open source licenses are only ways of doing business and getting code written. Open source isn’t a New-Age-feel-good-and-meditate sort of thing. It’s a business model, pure and simple, and everyone knows that businesspeople can’t afford to get embroiled in the murky world of spirituality.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The business world is full of people who refuse to let any sort of spirituality, be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or something else, intrude into any area of their lives. They are pragmatists who believe the only divine forces that need concern them are the gods of money and growth. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this viewpoint, and most of us encounter it often since it tends to be held by those at the top of the food chain, even in the open source world. These are the nonbelievers.

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

Mandriva Linux Reportedly at Death’s Door

The online rumor mills are spitting out reports that Mandriva, once a rising star in the Linux world, is facing grave financial difficulties. According to rumor, the distro is desperately seeking a buyer and if one isn’t found soon they will close their doors.

As of Monday, the story was being reported on at least a half-dozen sites, all coming from the same source, a short article in French on Mandriva Linux Online, which bills itself as “an unofficial site dedicated to beginners on Mandriva Linux.” The poor quality English translation of the article provided by Google is confusing and somewhat unclear, but it appears that without a cash infusion, Mandriva will not be able to make payroll much longer.

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

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