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IDG Gives Novell a Podium, Zonker Denouncements Come

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, SLES/SLED, SUN at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Novell — like Microsoft — gets special treatment from IDG, with which it does business; MySQL acquisition debated further

OTHER than Microsoft, there are companies like Novell which feed pay-to-say firms like IDC [1, 2]. There is a good return on such investments, just like in lobbying, no matter how unethical it is.

Here is Novell’s Zonker getting a seat at IDG, from which to promote Novell in the press (quite frankly, as usual). From Novell’s marketing team:

Yesterday, Network World rolled out a new podcast series, Open Mic with Zonker, hosted by openSUSE community manager, Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier. The new series promises to give an insider’s view on what’s hot and new in the open source community with lively interviews.

In this first podcast, In the Linux Driver Seat with Kernel Developer Greg Kroah-Hartman, Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier talks with Greg Kroah-Hartman about the Linux Driver Project.

Here is the page in question. It’s a pair of Novell employees promoting Novell’s SUSE edition of Moblin (which has its problems). How familiar.

Does IDG present marketing here or is it actual coverage that’s separable from commercial interests? This question is rhetorical. Novell pays a lot of money to IDG through advertising and IDC contracts.

Zonker also carries on comparing Free software to religion (at least based on terminology [1, 2, 3]), which is not entirely surprising.

We have a lot of “true believers” in the FOSS community, which is fine except that many seem to think that they’re talking to other “true believers” when they’re really talking to people who couldn’t possibly care less about software licensing.

“True believer” is a term conventionally used in debates against atheists. To his credit, however, Zonker agrees with Monty’s solution to Oracle-MySQL while obviously rejecting Stallman’s ideas.

I prefer Monty’s solution to Stallman’s.

The headline of the above essay is “RMS says GPLv2 isn’t good enough to protect MySQL (but it is).” Given Novell’s rejection of the GPLv3, would there not be a conflict of interests here? Zonker works for Novell. Here is Stallman’s proposal:

The European Commission should block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL as part of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Oracle seeks to acquire MySQL to prevent further erosion of its share of the market for database software licenses and services, and to protect the high prices now charged for its proprietary database software licenses and services.

All along (since the beginning of this saga and the very announcement of a takeover) I have been against Oracle’s buyout of MySQL, especially given its history of buying its competitors [1, 2]. It is therefore reassuring to see more opposition to Oracle buying MySQL.

Software freedom activist Richard Stallman and the non-profits Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and Open Rights Group (ORG) have issued a strongly worded letter to EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. In it they demanded that Oracle not be allowed to acquire MySQL.

For obvious reasons, Sun employees are unhappy about this.

It was a surprise to see Richard Stallman’s signature on a letter to the European Commission calling on them to block the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle with its proposed acquisition of Sun.

Piana’s position is a bit surprising (he did legal work for Samba):

This is absolutely frivolous, and it reflects a misconception of how the forces in the Free Software space work. It is not that a successful dual licensing enables a successful Free Software project, it is a successful Free Software project that permits to a dual licensing strategy to survive.

At the moment, however, Richard Stallman and Monty Widenius are the latest and most prominent sources of opposition, whereas the former CEO of MySQL holds the very opposite view. Based on my conversations with him, he is a “pragmatist”.

Monty Widenius, one of the original founders of MySQL, has called for Oracle to sell off the open source database so that its pending acquisition of Sun will not reduce choice in the marketplace.


Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has firmly rejected the prospect of selling off MySQL. He argues that the open source database doesn’t compete with Oracle’s enterprise products. The two database offerings target different sections of the market, he contends.

It’s unclear if the EU regulators will accept his view and allow the deal to move forward, but the delays are certainly damaging. While the EC is conducting its investigation, IBM is cannibalizing Sun’s server business and picking the bones clean.

What makes this situation tough is that Sun loses a lot of money in the mean time and another 3,000 employees are to be cut. In many ways, Oracle has already caused much damage to its competitor MySQL, which holds almost 50% market share in developing countries.

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