Oracle Suit Against Android Threatens Open-Source Existence

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 pattern.

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 chopping block.

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 accomplish that.

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 essentially lifeless.

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 effect.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...