Larry Ellison: “If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We'll Simply Take It.”
Larry Ellison: “We Have to Exploit Open Source.”
Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications
Summary: Oracle’s latest casualty is commercial support for Glassfish JEE Server, but replacements for Java continue to multiply
Oracle has hardly been friendly towards FOSS, and that’s putting it very politely. Oracle actively attacked some FOSS (like Android) and shelved some important FOSS projects like OpenOffice.org, eventually turning it into Apache OpenOffice and then turning its back on it. In addition, Oracle’s abandonment of Java products seems evident  (Glassfish JEE Server this time), leaving the likes of Red Hat to bridge the gap , joining the likes of Google with Dalvik. Oracle has been a disappointing steward of Java and Java-based projects, so when it comes to branching off in different directions, that’s just fine. As for MySQL, MariaDB — like LibreOffice — helps keep it somewhat safe from Oracle’s neglect  (a lot of applications out there still depend on MySQL [4,5]) and there are some big new storage players [6,7] which jeopardise Oracle’s core business (MySQL was an Oracle rival, but so was Postgres, well before Apache Cassandra and and Apache Hadoop).
It remains hard to explain why Oracle turned its back on OpenOffice.org like this. Back in the days Oracle put its weight behind ODF and even opposed OOXML, which is a growing problem . Now we have two options , both the IBM-backed  Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which is mostly driven by users’ needs (see  from Charles-H. Schulz), has frequent releases , and is focused on innovation , not profit. There are smaller players in this lucrative area of office suites, both Free/libre  and proprietary , but none is as important as what used to be StarOffice. Nothing other than OpenOffice.org could really challenge and replace Microsoft Office in businesses (from proprietary lock-in to freedom and standards).
The important thing we can learn from all this is that when software is free in the licensing sense it is extremely difficult for aggressors like Oracle to kill. The licence of the code protects the software; developers can take the code and continue the work elsewhere, as long as there is enough demand to drive development. There is another lesson to be learned here. For a business, it is a lot less risky to choose Free/libre software as chances of discontinuation are fairly low, especially when the software is well-established (like Linux and Apache). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
After more than three years of development, Red Hat has released version 1.0.0 of Ceylon, its homebrewed, open-source programming language that’s designed to be a replacement for Java.
Early on, Ceylon was billed as a “Java killer” by some, but lead developer Gavin King has denied that doing away with Oracle’s platform was ever his intent. In fact, even the earliest builds of Ceylon produced code that ran on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).
Instead, King sought to create a new language that could run alongside Java but would be based on more modern class libraries and would have a syntax more amenable to defining user interfaces – something King believes there is “no good way” to do in Java.
The news came out at the Extremely Large Databases (XLDB) conference in Stanford, California on Wednesday, one month after El Reg reported that Google had assigned one of its engineers to the MariaDB Foundation. News of the swap was not an official announcement by Google, it came out during a presentation by Google senior systems engineer Jeremy Cole on the general state of the MySQL ecosystem.
Apache has just released Apache Cassandra v2.0, the latest version of its popular highly-scalable, big data distributed database.
The Palo Alto, California-based company is a Yahoo Inc spin-off founded in 2011 by a team of software engineers working on Yahoo’s Apache Hadoop implementation.
Twelve (TWELVE!!!) years ago I asked OpenOffice users “Are you advocating OO correctly”. Six years ago I said the same things in a different format. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a perfect proof that that kind of advocacy IS right, but so far has been never practiced enough.
Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice are the modern descendants of OpenOffice.org. For the last few years, almost all Linux distributions have included LibreOffice as their default office suite. However, in the past eighteen months, OpenOffice has reappeared, newly organized into an Apache project, and free software users now have the choice of two full-featured suites instead of one.
The latest, and most significant, enabler of enterprise use of Apache OpenOffice is our IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice offering. Although individual end-users and even small businesses can easily deploy Apache OpenOffice on their own (75 million downloads testifies to that), larger enterprises with more complicated and demanding needs benefit from the kind of expertise that IBM can provide. So I’m glad to see this offering available to fill out the ecosystem, so everyone can use and be successful with Apache OpenOffice, from individual university students, to small non-profits, to large international corporations.
A few weeks ago we started to have a quite interesting discussion on the LibreOffice project’s marketing mailing list on how to engage users in our community. Readers of Moved by Freedom – Powered by Standards may remember that during the LibreOffice Conference of 2012 in Berlin, the marketing strategy had already defined that the mission of marketing for the LibreOffice project was not to market a product but rather to grow the size of the community of contributors, improve the communications and raise the brand awareness of LibreOffice. This strategy was clearly reaffirmed during our second marketing workshop in Milano in September 2013.
LibreOffice was bumped today for version 4.2.0 Alpha 1, the next major update to the popular open-source office suite.
… and so does pesky market research. The IT bubble has been spreading the word about this Forrester report and as you can imagine it got many of us wondering what it really means. Well it got me wondered about a few things too, but perhaps not for the same reasons others twisted their heads around..
It certainly is not intended for people who, like me, appreciated the combination of simplicity and power that was the hallmark of previous versions of Pages. I realize that it must be hard to maintain the right balance between simplicity and power when you try to add more features, more customizability, and so on. But Apple’s engineers appear to have chosen to keep the emphasis on “simplicity” at the expense of “power”. They have not just neglected to add features to bring the feature set of the application closer to that of a word processor like Microsoft Word. They have actually removed many features for no apparent reason other than to bring the application in line with its iOS counterpart, which is, inevitably, much less powerful.
I guess that, in an era of mobile, touch-based computing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Apple engineers to understand that document writers spend most of their days with their hands on an actual keyboard, and providing easy access to functionality via the keyboard is particularly important for them.
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Summary: Microsoft wants to befriend its prey, but antitrust complaints against Microsoft helps remind the prey of what it is
Microsoft has got unbelievable nerve trying to devour Java and GNU/Linux (see prior coverage in [1, 2]), which it files antitrust complaints against.
The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom. Here is an update about the UEFI antitrust complaint, which says progress is being made because “The European Commission is waiting for Microsoft’s comments on a complaint against secure boot in Windows 8 before it takes its next step, according to the lawyer who filed the complaint.
“The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom.”“José Maria Lancho, a Spanish lawyer who filed the plaint in March on behalf of 8,000 computer users who are part of Hispalinux, told iTWire that once the Commission heard back from Microsoft, the next step would be to review the company’s comments and then decide about the preliminary injunction request which he had lodged.”
As covered here before, there are additional reasons to worry about UEFI, patents included [1, 2], but the matter of fact is, there is an inherent incompatibility here with the concept of freedom, unless of course the user manages the keys on his/her computer hardware.
For Microsoft, UEFI is a victory on two levels; one is the fact that GNU and Linux become harder to explore and the other is that people become accustomed to having no freedom with devices they buy (Xbox One takes that further with the application layer and surveillance). █
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The venus flytrap of software
Summary: Reality check for those who try to characterise Microsoft as ‘playing nice’ with GNU/Linux and Java
Java and Linux found ubiquity of unprecedented scale owing to Android. Microsoft knows that it lost the operating systems battle of this decade, so it responds by trying to extort, blackmail, and sue for patent tax. In addition, it is trying to devour the competition.
The other day we wrote about malicious attempts to absorb Free software in the spying platform called Azure. Well, we missed some references from Microsoft boosters and “useful idiots” like Cynthia Harvey (on “Open Java” in proprietary Microsoft) and Adrian Bridgwater, who promoted this dangerous move as well. The Microsoft “Linux”-flavoured marketing from Mary Jo Foley was equally bad and as noted the other day, they say nothing about patent tax, surveillance, and proprietary trap. Anyone stupid enough to choose Microsoft for GNU/Linux or Java hosting deserves a Darwin Award.
The FSF, in the mean time, warns that Vista 8 is a PRISM Edition, noting:
Microsoft is intercepting your stuff and sending it to the NSA (and the CIA and the FBI).
Everything from Microsoft should be assumed to be embedded with NSA surveillance and no OEM should impose Windows on new PCs for this reason. Of course, as usual, Microsoft will try playing dirty with Intel’s UEFI, making it abundantly difficult to install and run GNU/Linux. Watch how hard it has become for some who experiment with GNU/Linux. To quote a new example:
I have decided to run ArchLinux for the upcoming experiment. As of yet, I’m not sure what my contributions to the community will be, however, there will be more on that later.
One of the interesting things I wanted to try this time around was to get Linux to boot from the Windows 7 bootloader. The basic principle here is to take the first 512-bytes of your /boot partition (with GRUB installed), and place it on your C:\ as linux.bin. From there, you use BCDEdit in Windows to add it to your bootloader. When you boot Windows, you will be prompted to either start Windows 7 or Linux. If you choose Linux, GRUB will be launched.
Before I go into my experience, I just wanted to let you know that I was not able to get it working. It’s not that it isn’t possible, but for the sake of being able to boot into ArchLinux at some point during the experiment, I decided to install GRUB to the MBR and chainload the Windows bootloader.
Guess how this ended. Microsoft is trying to portray itself as a ‘friend’ of GNU/Linux now, despite doing more than ever before to impede its use, especially on desktops. No well-informed person can say that Microsoft is no longer a criminal organisation masquerading as a producing business. The marketing changed (PR and euphemisms, even embedded ‘journalism’), but the reality is much worse. Don’t get devoured by Microsoft. █
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Summary: The company which is attacking Linux/Android/Java in court is trying to lure GNU/Linux and Java proponents into its own yard, which is taxing Free software and letting the NSA spy on everyone
“The SCO case helps remind us how Microsoft really feels about GNU/Linux.”Meanwhile, as other reporters reveal, Microsoft’s proxy Silver Lake is still trying to occupy Dell, with limited success. This is a big deal as it would deal a big blow to GNU/Linux servers from Dell.
Microsoft’s booster Kurt Mackie is currently openwashing Windows Server, trying to portray it as “supporting Linux” while a British Microsoft booster does the ‘pledge’ PR. All of these moves should be treated as nothing other than occupation.
As this ongoing case serves to remind us, Microsoft legal assault on GNU/Linux at IBM is not over. Here is the latest:
IBM has now filed its promised Motion and Memorandum for Partial Summary Judgment Based on the Novell Judgment [PDF] in SCO v. IBM.
I started to write IBM v. SCO, because that is what it really is now. For those who keep track, IBM had received an extension of time to file, until the 22nd, giving it an extra few days.
IBM points out that SCO doesn’t own the copyrights it sued over, the pre-1996 UNIX code, Novell does, so SCO is in no position to complain about copyright anything. SCO has already claimed that it’s talking about claims that now, after it lost the pre-1996 copyright claims, really have to do with post-1996 copyrights or contract issues. But you don’t get to rewrite your complaint any time you think it would be handy, and SCO’s complaint was all about pre-1996 code. Until now, the SCO attempt at a workaround.
The SCO case helps remind us how Microsoft really feels about GNU/Linux. When I spoke to the technical manager (director) of UKFast, a large UK host based near my house (and whose founder I have known for a decade), he told me that they were running GNU/Linux instances on top of Hyper-V and at the offices I saw GNU/Linux support staff being forced to work from Windows. This is utter incompetence and it’s a disservice to GNU/Linux. █
“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
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Summary: The Microsoft boosters from Miguel de Icaza’s company find new ways to disrupt Android promotion and promote Microsoft .NET instead
Fernando Cassia reminds us that “de Icaza is hell bent on destroying Java since he started his .Net clone”
He links to this new article which relates to Xamarin‘s attempt to sabotage Android with Microsoft .NET (or Mono):
A company has substantially ported Google’s Java-based Android software to use C# and the .NET framework, a move that could be the first step towards creating an Android-like operating system that avoids legal entanglements with Oracle.
When will the Microsoft fans from Xamarin realise that the Free software community does not care for their work? All they do is damage Free software and a lot of Microsoft promotion. █
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Summary: Almost two years since the launch of Oracle’s case over Java/Dalvik this whole argument carries on
THE CONFLICT over Dalvik meets conflict within Sun’s former management and one former head makes his views clear; Android is not infringing on patents/copyrights. The local press (California) further adds that this case shows the flaws of the patent system as a whole. To quote:
The big news out of the Oracle versus Google showdown on Monday was that one of Oracle’s patents was brought back from the dead, put back into play after the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office reversed its earlier rejection.
But let’s be clear: One zombie patent isn’t the remarkable thing in this case. The remarkable thing is that, when the dust settles, five of the seven patents Oracle claimed that Google violated will likely be overturned because Google forced the patent office to take a second look.
Developers of Android applications (of whom I will soon be one) suffer a great deal from software patents, but to giant corporations and their lawyers this is not a problem at all. All they want patents for is everything but innovation or competition. Throughout this coming month we’ll re-attempt to catch up with older patent news (personal life got in the way). There’s still a pileup of old news that’s important and relevant to us. █
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Summary: Recent steps from Oracle and the OIN indicate a weakening of the case against Dalvik
ORACLE has been trying to tax Android using software patents, but Groklaw thinks that “Oracle Must be Nervous” because the case sinks yet lower with the latest events taking place in the courtroom:
Oracle’s Case Against Google Sinks Lower
Ouch! Judge Alsup seems to be on his game. Neither the lawyers nor the judge could get the maths right on the potential damages in the case. Rather than $billions, they seem to be headed towards a few tens of millions, provided no more patents are thrown out and Google is found to violate copyright. Google is arguing that Java APIs are not copyright protectable and Oracle is holding that they are. Damages, if any could be very small in any case compared to the worth of the two companies.
Oracle is now asking for a fast trial (it began in 2010) and the OIN, which Oracle is a member of, is stepping up to defend some Java-like software (this was understated in the news, even our own coverage). If Oracle retreats from the patent case, will we see a lot of it ending like the SCO case, except for the bankruptcy? █
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Summary: Microsoft Linux (sometimes known as SUSE) still plays into the hands of Microsoft Corporation
OpenSUSE (the community/volunteer facet of SUSE) indirectly signed a deal with Microsoft and a sort of pact with Xamarin just over a month ago. Another release of OpenSUSE seems to be on its way (hardly any news from the project except for that) and despite the fact that Mono is a patent liability, OpenSUSE 12.1 removes Sun/Oracle Java but not Mono. This is consistent with everything we expect from a Microsoft-sponsored distribution and all the Novell videos in the world (here are some of the latest one [1, 2, 3] cannot hide the company’s close ties to Microsoft. In anything, those videos only validate Novell’s dependence on Windows and on Microsoft. █
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