News Analysis: Oracle's suit against Google over Android is only the first shot in a war to end open-source software in all of its forms.
There's no question that Oracle just hates the very idea
of open-source software. The suit against Google over its use of Java in the
open-source Android mobile operating system is really just part of a
If you look at what's happened already, the pattern has
become clear. Oracle has already killed Open Solaris, sending out a note to
developers that there will be no more updates to the code. It's already clear
that MySQL, which Oracle sees as competition to its own database, is on the
The rest of Sun's open-source legacy is going the same
way. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, in his blog, contends that Oracle is
also intent on killing Red Hat and, if possible, Linux. Java, of course, as
an open-source technology is also probably on the chopping block, as is
indicated by the suit against Google. About the only major open-source effort
not mentioned so far is OpenOffice, which was certainly supported by Sun and is
now likely to lose whatever support it might have had there.
The only reason I can think of that Oracle would keep
OpenOffice alive is because it would annoy Microsoft. But remember, Oracle CEO
Larry Ellison has a stated goal of not only winning, but making sure everyone
else loses. He won't be satisfied by just annoying Microsoft, so if he can find
a way to use the work that Sun engineers did in helping create OpenOffice to
build a commercial office suite to challenge Microsoft, then that's probably
what will happen. OpenOffice will become OracleOffice if there's a way to
Once Oracle has had a couple of years to complete its
version of ethnic cleansing, the open-source landscape will look like Kurdistan
after one of Saddam's gas attacks. Bodies everywhere, and a landscape that's
It's true that there are already plans to keep the open-source
movement alive. The engineers working on Open Solaris have already started
working on a Solaris beyond Oracle. But whether they can make it fly is open to
question. Perhaps they can-so many of Sun's engineers have bailed from Oracle
that the knowledge pool is available. But there still needs to be a framework
and an organization. Perhaps that will come together, and perhaps it won't.
A little farther down the piles of devastation you'll see
MySQL. You can assume that its days are numbered. Oracle is not going to let a
direct competitor to its own core software product survive. Likewise, Java's
days are also probably numbered. While Oracle can't kill it outright, if the
company starts filing lawsuits wherever Java is used, it'll have the same
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.