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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“If an Open Source Product Gets Good Enough, We’ll Simply Take It.” –Larry Ellison
Summary: A roundup of news about Oracle, which took and ripped apart many valuable Free/Open Source software (FOSS) projects
MATT ASAY, who sells FOSS databases (a disruptive force), points out  that “Oracle Still Hates Open Source Software” because, based on some reports [2,3], The United States’ Department of Defense is being lobbied by Oracle to avoid FOSS. Remember that Oracle has roots and connections with the CIA/NSA. This is an organisational position, not some opinion posted by an employee in some personal blog. Oracle’s current position on patents is also troubling.
As pointed out by some , VirtualBox is oddly enough one of the few FOSS projects which Oracle did not shoot in the back , maybe because it helps run proprietary operating systems. Most famously, Oracle chose to litigate with software patents over Java and pretty much abandoned OpenOffice.org, passing it to Apache at the end. Microsoft Office is widely loathed by technical people , so Oracle missed a real opportunity here. South Tyrol wants to be using ODF/LibreOffice  to avoid layoffs (through savings) while LibreOffice conferences  and workshops  show that despite SUSE stepping out of backing/support for this project (just like Oracle), FOSS is just too hard to kill. Too bad for Larry Ellison, who can’t just buy FOSS out of existence… █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Oracle wants the U.S. Department of Defense to believe open source costs more and is less reliable. Too bad the DOD knows better.
Oracle has never been shy about promoting its products. The Register is reporting today that Oracle is recommending that the military stay away from open source apps.
Oracle has popped out a white paper that may well turn some heads, because it contains robust criticism of open source software.
Titled “The Department of Defense (DoD) and Open Source Software” and available here as a PDF to those with Oracle accounts or here in Dropbox, the document’s premise is that folks in the USA’s Department of Defense (DoD) could think it is possible to save money if they “… avoid buying commercial software products simply by starting with open source software and developing their own applications.”
It’s been interesting to watch which components of Sun Microsystems’ portfolio of products–many of which were open source projects–Oracle has chosen to embrace or abandon since its acquisition of Sun. One project that it hasn’t jettisoned is VirtualBox, which has just arrived in a new version 4.3. The popular hypervisor is now tuned to work with operating systems that have just arrived, including Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.9 ( “Mavericks” ), and it’s also tuned to work smoothly with Linux distros. The new version also supports multi-monitor setups and touch interfaces conventions.
Oracle announced the release of VirtualBox 4.3, this is a major release that comes with important new features, devices support and improvements
I hate Microsoft Word. I want Microsoft Word to die. I hate Microsoft Word with a burning, fiery passion.
This year saw, among other conferences, the second marketing strategy workshop for the LibreOffice project. While a workshop’s slides tend to be rather short and relatively unimportant, I intended to publlish some feedback that’s on the Marketing Pad as well as my own impressions about the state of marketing activities in the project. My slides emphasized what was going wrong more than what was right but it was nonetheless useful to start the workshop on that basis.
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Summary: Oracle/Microsoft domination in databases is eroding as new players that consider themselves to be “open-source” gain traction
Google is phasing out and moving out of MySQL [1,2], dealing a blow to Oracle  after Oracle sued Google (over Android). Oracle has had a lot to fear because of Free software. Oracle essentially shares Microsoft’s pain. PostgreSQL, in the mean time, has a new release  and MongoDB , one of the NoSQL databases [6,7], shows promise. These new trends in the databases market sure work in favour of Free/open source software because the main gainers here are — for the most part — at least partly Free software. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle are poised to lose and Red Hat et al. will gain. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Linux distributors have been moving from Oracle’s MySQL to its popular fork, MariaDB – and now Google is also moving to MariaDB.
‘They’re moving it all,’ says MariaDB Foundation headman
In 2010, when Oracle took control of Sun Microsystems, they became the minders of a host of open source projects that included OpenSolaris, Java, MySQL and OpenOffice. They’ve since quit developing OpenSolaris, although the project lives on as the forked OpenIndiana project; OpenOffice now belongs to Apache; Java, especially on the browser side, has been beset by a long list of security issues and MySQL has been forked by its creator into MariaDB.
MySQL, MariaDB and PostgreSQL are three major open source databases which dominate the market. According to Jelastic PostgreSQL is neck to neck with MySQL fork MariaDB and MongoDB.
Forget about joins and SQL and try NoSQL databases – specifically MongoDB, the leading example
NoSQL isn’t just for big servers anymore, as Couchbase Lite brings open-source database technology to the mobile form factor.
Open-source NoSQL database vendor Couchbase is growing its portfolio from the server to mobile devices with its new Couchbase Lite initiative. Couchbase is also releasing a new server version as well, providing improved security and administration capabilities.
Couchbase develops and sells an open-source NoSQL database that to date has been a server-deployed product. The Couchbase Lite effort changes that, providing developers with a native small footprint database that can run on either Apple iOS or Google Android mobile operating systems.
Database startup Couchbase has developed what it believes is the first NoSQL database for mobile devices, but why would anyone want such a thing?
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Proprietary software giants love to spy
Summary: Proprietary software from the dominant database players (which recently got together) is expected to further violate privacy
After a recent interview with Larry Ellison it is no longer secret or just mere speculation that he is an NSA proponent (Oracle’s founders and the business have a renowned CIA-assisted/subsidised past), but what’s noteworthy is Microsoft’s view, which based on the company’s relationship with the NSA is more than happy and even eager to strengthen the NSA. How would China feel if it knew all those facts*? It is already investigating some US companies like IBM over privacy intrusions and it should know that HP has back doors in its storage servers (caught red handed).
Oracle recently got closer to Microsoft, which helped devour Java and add NSA surveillance to it (on the ‘cloud’). It is being noted by IDG that:
The new Microsoft-Oracle partnership benefits both companies, as Oracle gets access to Azure and Microsoft can finally license Java. Will the deal have any effect on either company’s enterprise customers?
Anyone who runs a program or a GNU/Linux distribution on Microsoft’s ‘cloud’ should expect NSA surveillance. But it’s not like this would bother Larry Ellison. More and more people will, over time, realise that the PATRIOT Act made it risky to host with US companies (or US-made software) anywhere, respective of the datacentre’s location (the Internet is global). █
* Having just spent 2 hours at a Chinese superstore, it seems evident that we in the West increasingly come to depend on China for everything, rather than the other way around. The US and UK governments are openly worried right now about dependence on Chinese hardware which could facilitate back doors.
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The demise of Blackberry is a growing patent-stacking threat to Linux and Free software
Summary: Identification of a looming threat to Android/Linux, especially from a company with history of Microsoft deals and a growing patent portfolio that’s being considered for sale
The United States, whose patent system is run by large corporations like IBM and Microsoft (the USPTO has long been operating outside the public interest), is a very threatening environment to Free/libre software. To distribute computer programs for free might not be legal there, but it only becomes a problem when distribution is of high volume and by a large company like Google. Microsoft even got large companies paying it for Linux, a widely used operating system kernel. This is unjust and the core cause is software patents.
“The first step to fighting patent trolls is to limit software patents to five years,” says this new article, which puts forth a sort of compromise which at least targets the real problem. To quote:
There’s a lot wrong with America’s patent system — it often serves to undercut innovation, limits competition, and rewards trolls. But there’s a relatively easy short-term fix: Cap software patents at five years from issuance, a position adapted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Defend Innovation Project. While comprehensive legislation is needed to fix patent law, this first step is critical to reviving and protecting entrepreneurship, R&D, and technological progress in the United States.
20 years if far too long a lifetime for patents that should have never been granted in the first place. Watch how software patents are preventing the spread of voice recognition, motivating this lawsuit over reasonably out-of-date ideas:
As Nuance Communications Inc. and ABBYY Software House — two competitors in optical character recognition — brought their long-running case to a jury in U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s courtroom on Monday, their lawyers traded classic barbs of patent warfare.
Representing plaintiff Nuance, partner James Bennett of Morrison & Foerster described ABBYY in his opening statement as “a follower, not a leader.”
Coming to the Russian company’s defense, partner Gerald Ivey of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner suggested that Nuance felt threatened by a more nimble competitor.
This is just protectionism. That’s what patents are about. When some companies cannot rely on technical advantage alone they then resort to patent monopolies.
Android, which is growing rapidly and taking over the world as a de facto platform (on which most Techrights posts are composed by the way), is actually the target of protectionism from the ‘old guard’ — companies it is making less relevant over time.
It is being alleged right now that patents from RIM might get sold. One reader wrote to say: “If BlackBerry sell company… Microsoft will… get QNX which is UNIX like operating system and… patents and QNX technology and Linux?”
“Remember SCO,” he added.
Well, Microsoft could pay BlackBerry to later see RIM/BlackBerry suing Android companies. The Nokia and SCO strategy more or less…
Blackberry is of virtually no practical use to Android backers; when Google bought part of Motorola and grossly overpaid it was intended to prevent Microsoft and Apple from getting the patents (which they had reportedly bid for, just like with Nortel).
What if another CPTN member like Oracle bought this company? A new interview with Oracle’s CEO was rather revealing. He spoke of Microsoft as an enemy of an enemy (Google) and one author thinks that “Oracle (ORCL) [is] The Perfect BlackBerry (BBRY) Buyer” (for patents at least). To quote:
So BlackBerry (BBRY) has put itself up for sale while also considering a private equity move. Some pundits wonder if the Z10 smartphone maker will break itself up into a mobile service provider and mobile device company. But The VAR Guy wonders: Does a more surprising fate await BlackBerry — at the hands of Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison? Before you dismiss Oracle potentially buying BlackBerry, consider this history lesson.
Microsoft has been publicly aiding Oracle’s litigation against Android, announcing collaborations other than CPTN (technical ones too) and filing together antitrust complaints. Here is more of what Oracle thinks of Google.
Speaking of Oracle, what about other CPTN members like Apple and Microsoft (to which Oracle is now very close)?
Apple has been fighting Samsung using patent-induced sanctions at the ITC, with support from Obama's government officials. The Against Monopoly Web site says:
ITC Allows Apple Imports That Violate Samsung Patents
The blog, Public Knowledge, argues that the International Trade Commission should consider the public interest in reaching regulatory decisions on patents. The Obama has so decreed when it overruled an ITC case and permitted imports of Apple phones that it had found to violate duly recognized patents of other companies, in this case foreign firms link here.
When I look at the mess in the whole patent system, I see a world of oligopolies and monopolies built on patents, supposedly designed to encourage innovation, but instead creating a self-perpetuating means to paralyze innovation.
Groklaw has been upset about this and the other day it covered Microsoft’s fight against Motorola, which now involves an injunction as well. To quote:
Judge James L. Robart has now ruled [PDF, 38 pages] on Microsoft and Motorola’s summary judgment motions, granting in part and denying in part.
The attacks on Android takes many different forms (also antitrust), but the main players behind this attack remain the same. Next week we will revisit the antitrust angle. █
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Summary: Microsoft’s hostility towards FOSS and Linux persists, based on the company’s actions
A few years ago Microsoft was building attack groups to halt migrations to OpenOffice.org. That was before Oracle messed things up. It is now being demonstrated that Microsoft is censoring results:
In its efforts to take down as much infringing content as it can, Microsoft has started to censor legitimate links to competing software. Hoping to remove pirated versions of Microsoft Office from the Internet, the software company has sent several DMCA takedowns to Google, listing copies of its open source competitor Open Office as copyright infringements. An honest mistake perhaps, but also a terrible one.
And Microsoft trying to accuse Google of doing this. Look who’s talking.
Incidentally, Microsoft hates Google so much that it is leaving out the market leader, Android, which is Linux-based. According to this report about the Microsoft-acquired Yammer:
Android, for now, remains on the outside of the Yammer love circle.
Also see this:
Yammer is opening up its social features to third-party enterprise apps built for iOS phones and tablets and Windows Phone 8 devices — but for Android for now.
And later they tell us that they’re warming up to Linux and playing nice, They just simply rely on moles like Walli to infiltrate FOSS sites and pretend there’s a pro-FOSS angle at Microsoft. Deeds don’t stack up to match the PR.
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Summary: Patent litigation, de-emphasis on freedom etc. now a common trick for dismantling FOSS projects as they emerge
With a licensing fiasco and other scandals abound, MySQL is hardly treated so favourably these days. Oracle‘s megalomaniac CEO (God complex like his best friend Steve Jobs) warned a long time ago that if some FOSS competition gets good enough, then he will just buy it. He bought several such products/projects and also started attacking FOSS in court, using patents of course. Recently he also joined hands with Microsoft. The real contender these days is free/libre software, not any particular brand. Few people will challenge this claim because of Android, Firefox, Apache, the GNU toolchain and so on (Microsoft is already trying to crush or subvert Apache from the inside, making it just another Windows/SQL Server ‘app’). The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout. Just look what Microsoft recently did to Barnes and Noble.
“The real contender these days is free/libre software, not any particular brand.”A few days ago we found this article about Microsoft’s friends at the Washington D.C.-based Blackboard, who infiltrated and disrupted the good FOSS project known as Moodle (I installed it on my site and experimented with it earlier this year)
The article asks: “How does one compete against FREE? That’s an interesting question for Blackboard, a company which creates learning management systems (LMS). Blackboard previously engaged in buying up and either dismantling or integrating the competition into its own products–such as Elluminate, Prometheus, or WebCT–but open source alternatives like Moodle and Sakai present a different issue.”
“The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout.”This has indeed been disturbing, We wrote about it before.
“In the meantime,” says this article, “officials at Blackboard, Moodlerooms, and NetSpot paint a rosy picture with a “statement of principles” that commit to keeping the OSS development alive. So far, there is no word on what may occur if a value conflict arises between Blackboard and Moodle, and there is no indication if there will ultimately be a split in the development community as happened after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems forked LibreOffice from OpenOffice. Informed of some pending corporate strategies, Moodle creator Martin Dougiamas shows cautious optimism for positive synergies resulting from more interrelation between Blackboard’s products and the two companies it purchased.”
Blackboard is trying to do here what other proprietary software giants did and it can result in reduced community support for the FOSS side, helping to strengthen a proprietary agenda. █
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Photo credit: Dana Blankenhorn
Summary: The anti-FOSS, pro-patents lobbyist Florian Müller (deceivingly called “FOSS patents”) is at it again and this time his lies are being challenged by one who is better informed about the subject at hand
Grooming an unaccountable liar for agenda-serving by spin is not a novel concept. Microsoft has done that for ages and it also paid Florian Müller to achieve this. Some people sell themselves this way. Perception management is their business model.
Oracle, a CPTN member and a Microsoft partner as of late, employed Florian Müller to help smear Android. This lobbyist is not known for using facts; being a lobbyist, he needs to use spin and lies. The amount of factual errors in what he writes led Pamela Jones to writing a detailed breakdown of his inaccuracies, preceded by:
Oracle is another client of Mueller’s. Oracle hired him to “advise” the company, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that he generally mirrors the Oracle point of view in an endless stream of anti-Google articles. And if that is what you want, X marks the spot. Read whatever you enjoy.
But if what you want is an analysis that includes both sides in litigation, not to mention predictions that actually come true, I fear you will not find it there. So let’s take a look at what he wrote about Oracle’s brief, and I’ll try to give you a better understanding of the issues in this appeal by adding some accurate information about Google’s position.
For those who see Florian Müller quoted in the press after mass-mailing journalists (that’s his business method and model), be sure to point out to the author who Florian Müller really is and what his record is. He sells agenda. A lot of reports don’t know this, so they continuously fall into his trap. He exploits their nativity and he misrepresents himself to them. █
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