GPL Keeps Open Source

By Charles Garry  |  Posted 2006-03-01 Print this article Print

Alive"> The main point that everyone, zealots et al, should remember is that open source cannot be stopped by Oracle or anyone else. The GPL (General Public License) has rendered that scenario implausible. Would it be difficult to fork the code of MySQL or any other open source project like JBoss (also rumored to be in Oracles sights) and continue to present a purely open source option? Not really.
Dont you think Oracle has already thought this through? Unless there is some specific non-competition clause, Sleepycat developers could take their share of the spoils and start a new company, doing the same thing the day after the deal with Oracle closes. After all, they are not stealing code from Oracle as it already exists in the public domain.
Read more here about Oracles recent acquisition of Sleepycat Software. The same would be true if Oracle bought MySQL with the exception that former MySQLers could not use the name MySQL for the database they would be forking because the copyright or trademark would belong to Oracle. If you currently use MySQL or JBoss, do you really care what the name is if you still have access to the software and the people that have supported you all along? Perhaps I am in the minority here or perhaps it simply makes for more pithy commentary to simply bash Oracle for this new strategy of buying open-source companies. As I stated in my Oct. 13, 2005, commentary on the Innobase buyout, I believe that Oracle simply recognizes the momentum that open source model has built up. I believe Oracle simply wants to get plugged into the existing communities and see what opportunities might develop in the future. After all, let us not forget that MySQL, JBoss, Sleepycat and others were created to make money. Even developers of open-source software have to eat, buy clothes and watch cable television. That all requires money. Oracle needs MySQL perhaps more than MySQL needs Oracle. So I do not anticipate any huge changes in the relationship between those two companies to alter the status quo in the open source space. Nor do I anticipate any impact being felt by users of MySQL or Berkley DB. Oracle wants to eventually make money. They certainly didnt make these acquisitions for the huge maintenance dollars. Without MySQL, what would Oracle do with Innobase? This has to be about growing the space and looking for new opportunities. Having another software heavyweight involved will only grow the open-source market, not hurt it. So everyone should take a chill pill. Slip on their Birkenstocks, and spin up some Bob Dylan, because the times they are a changing. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.


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