01.16.08

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Why Sun’s Acquisition of MySQL is Bad News to Linux

Posted in Database, Deals, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Patents, SUN, UNIX at 11:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…but not necessarily to GNU and Free software

Last month we wrote about various risks MySQL was facing. The company is relevant to this Web site for a variety of reasons (not just because it’s powered by MySQL) and as you have probably heard by now, there was a major acquisition by Sun Microsystems. Here are some of the impacts of this acquisition, as explained by a group of separate sources. The impact of software patents is a tad alarming.

MySQL AB, a company outspoken in its criticisms of software patents, will become part of Sun Microsystems, which tolerates such patents, presumably as a kind of necessary evil. This will leave the anti-software patent leadership in the hands of the EFF, Richard Stallman, and the like, while we wait to see if a new corporate champion emerges.

It was made very clear some months ago that Linux kernel developers were unhappy about OpenSolaris. Here is one possible interpretation:

By buying MySQL, Sun clearly wants to buy into that stack and success – and push out GNU/Linux, either with OpenSolaris (for those startups that Schwartz mentions), or with the full-fig Solaris for the “traditional” (= boring and conservative) enterprises.

It’s a clever plan that makes sense on paper, but it remains to be seen whether LAMP will get junked in favour of SAMP. I doubt it, personally, because despite all the excellent work Sun has done in the field of open source, there remain lingering suspicions, fuelled by its insistence on retaining significant control over both Java and OpenOffice.org.

Don Marti has this to add:

MySQL and Solaris are both using an advanced tracing tool to smoke out performance problems, and Linux doesn’t have anything like it.

On the brighter side of things, MySQL has a larger cushion of cash to find comfort in. Additionally, Sun has already adopted the GPLv3 (in places) — a licence which at least one prominent Linux kernel hacker detests.

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2 Comments

  1. Vexorian said,

    January 17, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Gravatar

    I do have mixed feelings about this, when you think about it, if OpenSolaris would go to GPLv3, there would be no need for the Linux kernel, after all most of the things we call “Linux” now are simply not Linux, just apps that run on top of it.

    If both OpenSolaris and Linux were GPLed, then only the better technology would prevail, of course since they would be open source, prevailing would simply not happen. I think it would be sane competition between OS products.

    On the other hand, if Linux stays on GLPv2, and Solaris then goes to GPLv3 it would show that Sun has better intentions regarding GNU than Linus, and that might spin stuff a little.

    But I would also prefer the community-built Linux over this Solaris thing that began as a product from some major corporation.

    So, I don’t know.

    Mysql is open source, so Sun can’t really exploit it to force people into Solaris (And this is the reason “free software zealously” is a good thing and is based on VERY pragmatic reasons, it prevents companies from taking away our freedom.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Gravatar

    I’m with you on this 100%. I’m not anti-Sun at all and the headline is not a statement against Linux. I’m still waiting to see what Simon Phipps et al do with licensing of OpenSolaris. I did an interview with Stallman last month and he actually asked me to post a correction about his views on Sun. They are not as open as they would have you (or him) believe. That needs to be mended in order for confidence of free software users to be won. I appreciate Sun’s effort to change and even the offer to protect Linux against patent litigation.

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