Oracle Wields Java as a Weapon
I'll say this for Oracle, at least it's consistently contradictory. The executives will extol the virtues of their partners, then turn right around and kick them in the--well, you know--and deploy an "innovative" copy of their partner's free software.
Or they'll claim to love open source, then let a prominent open source project suffer death by ignoring.
Or they'll tout open standards, then turn around and use patents on a standard programming language, then sue one of the biggest users of that technology.
Yes, consistent indeed.
Last week, when Oracle announced it was suing Google for alleged infringement of Oracle's Java patents, my initial reaction was one of resigned realization: when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems last year, I always wondered if it was just to get control of MySQL, arguably Oracle's once-biggest potential threat. They weren't doing anything with OpenSolaris, after all, and just this week at LinuxCon, praised Linux to the heavens.
Yesterday, I realized, was the other piece of Oracle business plan: buy Sun, get Sun's Java IP, and then start shaking down as many Java implementers with deep pockets as possible. Repeat.
As programmer Joe Cheng tweeted so eloquently last night: "One word: SCOracle."
There are, of course, many learned and experienced pundits offering early analysis of this lawsuit, so I won't belabor the point. Bruce Perens asks, what about the Java patent grant? And Joel West has an excellent play-by-play on his blog, tagging this as a likely negotiation ploy.
Instead of adding my voice to the rising cacophony of dismay, I want to put the question out there that's been bothering me quite a bit as I've watched Oracle kill or weaponize components of Sun:
What's going to happen to OpenOffice.org?
The open source office suite, once owned by Sun, is now part of Oracle's stable of properties. The question then becomes, will Oracle continue to feed and care for OpenOffice.org, or will it put the project out to pasture, as it seems to be doing with OpenSolaris?
OpenOffice.org doesn't need Oracle to survive, of course, but without corporate backing to keep the project's lead developers going, OpenOffice.org, the best platform for open document standards to date, would likely suffer.
So we should ask Oracle what they plan to do with OpenOffice.org.
Then figure they'll actually do the exact opposite.