451 CAOS Links 2010.12.17

CPTN Holdings unmasked. Oracle updates MySQL. And more.

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“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Florian Mueller reported that the Novell patent acquiring CPTN Holdings is Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle.

# The VAR Guy told the (previously) untold story of Novell’s sale to Attachmate.

# Attachmate committed to support the existing roadmaps and release schedules for Novell and SUSE products.

# Oracle announced that MySQL 5.5 is now generally available.

# Oracle announced Oracle Cloud Office and Oracle Open Office 3.3.

# ComputerWeekly published a nice round-up of the FSFE’s challenge to the EC’s SACHA II contract.

# The FSFE welcomed the revised European Interoperability Framework.

# Mesos (resource sharing for cluster apps inc Hadoop) has been proposed as an Apache incubator project.

# Jive announced the new Jive Apps SDK beta and plans to contribute parts of it as OSS.

# FuseSource launched a new enterprise subscription offering for Apache CXF.

# Rackspace acquired (OSS-based) cloud-server management provider Cloudkick.

# Red Hat announced the general availability of JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform 5.1.

# David Nuescheler and Bertrand Delacretaz assessed the impact of the ASF leaving the JCP.

# Percona added HandlerSocket to its Percona Server MySQL distribution.

# Talend provided initial details on its data integration product roadmap following the acquisition of SOPERA.

# Magento claimed year-on-year growth of almost 250%.

451 CAOS Links 2010.01.25

WordPress Foundation formed. Reaction to Oracle-Sun approval. And more.

WordPress Foundation formed
# Matt Mullenwag launched the WordPress Foundation.

Reaction to Oracle-Sun’s EC approval

# In a memo Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz encouraged the company’s employees to emotionally resign from Sun.

# EnterpriseDB and PostgreSQL co-founder Bruce Momjian issued a statement on the EC’s decision to approve Oracle-Sun.

# Mike Hogan asked, did Oracle make concessions to the EU?

# Savio Rodrigues discussed Sun & Oracle’s impact on open source acquisitions.

# Save MySQL campaigner Florian Mueller commented following the EC’s clearance of the Oracle-Sun deal.

# Josh Berkus clarified his presentation on Sun and ten ways to destroy a community.

# Ingres CEO Roger Buckhardt analyzed the impact of Oracle-Sun on the database market.

Best of the rest
# Internetnews.com reported on Red Hat’s plans for JBoss in 2010.

# Red Hat’s opensource.com community site is now live.

# Talend introduced and open source Master Data Management (MDM) product.

# Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager, is leaving Novell.

# JavaWorld compared JBoss and SpringSource.

# MuleSoft updated Tcat Server with support for the newest version of Apache Tomcat 6.0.24.

#OSS Watch discussed control versus community.

# McObject’s Perst open source, object-oriented embedded database now supports Microsoft’s Silverlight technology.

# GigaOM discussed how Red Hat has avoided the recession.

# Carlo Daffara discussed how open source enables new ways of cooperating.

The case against the case against Oracle-MySQL

Matt Asay is right, in my opinion, to point out the inherent bias in the case Monty Widenius et al have made against Oracle’s potential ownership of MySQL. I would go further, however, in stating that the case being made against Oracle is flawed by the fact that it is so self-serving. For instance:

  • I previously noted that the Widenius/Mueller case against Oracle owning Sun/MySQL is entirely dependent on the theory that Oracle will not invest in the ongoing development of MySQL, which is something it has publicly committed to doing.
  • The case against Oracle owning Sun is also based on the theory that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate revenue is via dual licensing. This is clearly not the case. It might be true that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate the level of revenue required by Monty Program is through dual licensing, but that is not the same thing.
    It might also be true to say that the only way for a fork of MySQL to generate the level of revenue required to be self-sustaining is though dual licensing, but that statement is dependent on the theory that Oracle will not invest in the ongoing development of MySQL, which is something it has publicly committed to doing.

    The launch of Amazon’s Relational Database Service clearly proved that it is possible to generate revenue from MySQL as a third party without dual licensing. RDS was dismissed by Florian Mueller, in an “information kit” sent to analysts/journalists as being “not a real ‘fork'”. This may be true, but it does not prove that RDS is not a viable way for a third party to generate revenue from MySQL, it just proves that it is not the way Monty Program chooses to generate revenue from MySQL.

  • The case against Oracle owning MySQL is also dependent on the theory that MySQL has progressed to the point where it is a viable “option to replace an existing Oracle installation”. This is wishful thinking at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.
    Ask someone who uses both Oracle and MySQL – Mark Callaghan for example – and they will tell you that despite the advances made by MySQL the two are not directly comparable. MySQL has undeniably been deployed to replace Oracle Database installations, but invariably this is due to the fact that the Oracle Database was not the right tool for the job in the first place.
    Too often IT users use a sledgehammer when a hammer will do, and the growth of MySQL was driven by the fact that it was the right tool for web-facing PHP applications. As we previously noted, Oracle executives once dismissed MySQL as a Toyota compared to its 747. It was a comparison that MySQL used to its advantage. Maybe today MySQL has grown some wings, but it is still more suitable for short-haul than trans-Atlantic flights.

    Perhaps this is missing the point, though. Perhaps without Oracle’s ownership MySQL could become a true competitor to Oracle. The “Project Peter” presentation suggests that Sun thought it could. I am not convinced this was anything other than an internal exercise.

    The only time MySQL executives ever made any statements about competing directly with Oracle, to my knowledge, was during the announcement that MySQL was being acquired by Sun, and senior executives later admitted that was the result of getting carried away. MySQL is fundamentally not designed to to do what Oracle Database is designed to do. If you wanted to create a database to compete directly with Oracle you’d be better off starting afresh than building on top of MySQL.

  • The case against Oracle owning MySQL is also reliant on the idea that “the only proposed remedy through which Oracle could ensure that MySQL continues to be a significant competitive force in the database would be a commitment to divest all MySQL assets to a suitable third party” (again from Mueller’s information kit). However, as Groklaw has pointed out, Monty et al previously suggested to the EU Commission in a questionnaire that the license on MySQL should be changed to the Apache License (Mueller has subsequently denied ever suggesting a license change, prompting this response from Groklaw).
    Additionally, our recent survey of open source users demonstrates that there would be limited market acceptance for the forced divestiture of MySQL to another vendor. Just 4.3% of all respondents and 3.9% of MySQL users thought that Oracle should be forced to sell it to another vendor. This is not about user interests, it is about the interests of Monty Program AB.
  • Last, but by no means least, the case against Oracle owning MySQL is flawed in its reliance on FUD and ad hominem attacks. As Groklaw points out, the case was laid out by alleging that the GPL has the potential to infect proprietary software.
    Things went from bad to worse with the response to Eben Moglen’s view on the case. Mueller wrote that “Compared to Richard Stallman [Moglen is} very unimportant in a GPL context”. Not only that but that when Mueller met Moglen in 2004 Moglen “was primarily interested in obtaining funding (at the time from MySQL, on whose behalf I met with him) for some initiatives of his (at the time “patent busting”, a pretty pointless approach that never got anywhere but some lawyers made some money with it)”.

    Mueller recently wrote (in another email to analysts/journalists) that “lobbying is typically what companies do when they can’t win on the substance of a case”. I hate to think what position you have to be in to decide that bad-mouthing one of the most respected lawyers in free and open source software is going to get you somewhere.

    It would be bad enough if it were only Mueller. Recent Henrik Ingo of the Open Database Alliance stated that Mogen “is working for Oracle here” and “is arguing Oracle’s case best he can”.

    This is at best misleading and at worst (taken in consideration alongside Florian Mueller’s statement about Moglen) a slur on Moglen’s integrity. Moglen’s opinion paper clearly states that it was submitted “at the invitation of Oracle’s counsel, but I am not receiving any compensation, fee or reward for so doing.”

  • UPDATE: Finally, we have Monty Widenius’s plea to his fellow MySQL users/developers in which he criticizes Oracle for involving customers in a competition hearing (and there I was thinking it was all about customers) and takes Oracle to task for not promising a number of things. Many of these he has a point about, but then when did MySQL AB or Sun make promises about the following?
    – To keep (all of) MySQL under an open source license
    – Not to add closed source parts, modules or required tools.
    – To not raise MySQL license or MySQL support prices
    – To release new MySQL versions in a regular and timely manner.
    – To continue with dual licensing and always provide affordable commercial licenses to MySQL to those who needs them (to storage vendors and application vendors) or provide MySQL under a more permissive license
    – To develop MySQL as an Open Source project
    – To actively work with the community
    – Apply submitted patches in a timely manner
  • AND ANOTHER THING: The case also relies on the theory that MySQL acts as a price constraint on Oracle Database. However, as Stephen O’Grady points out: “Remember June of 2008? Oracle hiked its prices by 15-20% with no detectible impact to its volume. If MySQL was a real, substantial alternative, wouldn’t we have seen wholesale migrations away from Oracle to MySQL? That we didn’t, and continue not to, tells me they’re two different markets.” Good point well made.

451 CAOS Links 2009.10.21

The future of MySQL. The SCO Group terminates Darl McBride. And more.

The future of MySQL
Monty Widenius urged Oracle to give up on MySQL in order to land Sun while Richard Stallman, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and the Open Rights Group sent a letter to the EC urging it to block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL. All of which prompted Florian Mueller, who it should be noted is working with Widenius as part of his campaign, to claim that there is growing public opposition to Oracle owning Sun’s MySQL.

Meanwhile The VAR Guy reported on rumours that Oracle is to combine Unbreakable Linux and the MySQL database following the completion of its acquisition of Sun, Carlo Piana explained why he offered to help Oracle’s legal team in its attempts to acquire Sun/MySQL, and Matt Asay argued that EU’s MySQL inquiry may backfire for open source.

In the interim, Sun Microsystems is to lay off up to 3,000 people.

Incidentally, one of the implications of Stallman’s letter, as pointed out by Matt Asay and Simon Phipps is Stallman’s admission that the GPL alone doesn’t guarantee software freedom

Best of the rest
# SpringSource released version 3,0 of its Spring Java development framework and also announced tc Server Developer Edition.

# The SCO Group eliminated the positions of CEO and president, waving goodbye to Darl McBride, while announcing a new restructuring plan and the desire to raise funding and sell non-core assets.

# Jive Software announced that it has received $12m from Sequoia Capital in its Series B round of funding.

# REvolution Computing announced $9m in new funding and named Norman Nie CEO.

# The Symbian Foundation announced the release of the platform microkernel (EKA2) and supporting development kit under the Eclipse Public License (EPL). http://www.symbian.org/media/news/pr2009_10.php

# Infobright has appointed Mark Burton Interim CEO.

# Talend launched Talend Integration Suite 3.2.

# BonitaSoft unveiled Bonita Open Solution 5.0 BPM software.

# Open-Xchange and SugarCRM partnered to combine their open source collaboration and CRM software.

# Rapid7 acquired Metasploit, the organization behind the open source penetration testing framework.

# SplendidCRM 4.0 Community Edition runs on Microsoft’s Azure platform.

# Zend Technologies has released a public beta of Zend Server 5.0, the new version of the company’s PHP Web application server.

# IBM and Canonical are teaming up on a Ubuntu Linux-based hybrid cloud computing and desktop product for businesses.

# As Red Hat passed Microsoft’s stock price, CIO.com asked, now what?

# Zmanda teamed up with ParaScale to launch a Disk-to-Cloud (D2C) backup product.

# Sandro Groganz listed the top commercial reasons why open source communities matter.

# The Open Database Alliance entered phase two, with the involvement of Georg Greve.

# A graphical representation of six different models of co-creation/open innovation.

# Bradley M. Kuhn: “Open core is the new shareware“.

# Andrew Aitken: Open Source and The Geographic Divide – Europe and North America.

# Glyn Moody presented the reasons why open source companies need to give up control.

# Savio Rodrigues noted that with open core, the question is when to give up control.

# Sandro Groganz reported on marketing “At the Edge of Open Source Communities and Companies”

# Carlo Daffara argued that COMmunity+COMpany is a winning COMbination.

# James Dixon claimed that the Free Software movement limits its own future.

# IPwatchdog reported that open source success must embrace proprietary features.

# Mark Logic released its open source MarkLogic Toolkit for PowerPoint to integrate Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 with MarkLogic Server.

# Savio Rodrigues argued that open source vendors should focus on value and price.

# TechWorld reported that IBM is to offer open source VoIP for small businesses.

What about Woman’s Hour? Free speech, free markets and the future of MySQL

A controversial issue in the UK this week is the BBC’s decision to invite the British National Party – the far-right, whites-only political party – to appear on Question Time, the BBC’s flagship political debate programme.

Critics fear that the move will legitimise the BNP’s far-right views, while the BBC has defended the invitation on the grounds that its role as a politically neutral public service broadcaster would be undermined if it excluded the BNP – which won its first European Parliament seats this year with an estimated million votes.

To me it is clear that no matter how abhorrent the BNP’s policies on certain issues may be the BBC has a duty to invite it to participate as it is a legitimately recognised political party. We live in a society that protects and promotes free speech with the only limit being when the speech in question goes beyond what is deemed to be legally acceptable.

Many would argue that the BNP’s policies have already overstepped that mark, and I personally have a lot of sympathy for that view, but the illogical nature of the argument against the BNP appearing on Question Time is that campaigners are not seeking to prevent the BNP appearing on the BBC at all, but only from appearing on Question Time.

MP for Neath Peter Hain has stated that the BBC’s “obligation to respect the right of a minority who have voted for the BNP… is already adequately upheld in BNP party election broadcasts, and when they are interviewed on political programmes such as Today or Newsnight.”

On Monday night Hain appeared on Newsnight (UK residents only) to attempt to explain to an incredulous Jeremy Paxman why it was okay for the BNP to appear on some BBC programmes but not others, prompting Paxman to ask facetiously; “what about Woman’s Hour?”

I was reminded of this discussion while reading the open letter to the European Competition Commission by Richard Stallman, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and the Open Rights Group arguing that the EC should block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun. It followed shortly behind the press release sent out by Monty Widenius which explained why he believes Oracle should sell off MySQL to ensure that it is in a position to acquire Sun.

The overall tone of both documents imply that it would be okay for some vendors to acquire MySQL but not others, and that Oracle is not a suitable candidate. The Stallman/KEI/ORG letter explicitly states: “MySQL was acquired by Sun in February 2008, in a transaction welcomed by many users because of Sun’s good reputation among advocates of FLOSS software, and a belief that Sun would position MySQL as a strong competitor.”

Meanwhile Monty Widenius’ press release states: “Oracle should resolve antitrust concerns over its US$7.4 billion acquisition of Sun by committing to sell MySQL to a suitable third party.”

So it was okay for MySQL to be acquired by Sun and it would be okay for MySQL to be acquired by a “suitable third party” but it is not okay for MySQL to be acquired by Oracle.

The “What about Women’s Hour?” response to this letter is “What about IBM?” Would Big Blue be considered friendly enough to FOSS to be allowed to acquire Sun and MySQL had it gone ahead with its plans? What about SAP? Or EMC? Or HP? While we’re asking questions, where were these campaigners when Yahoo was buying Zimbra? Or Citrix was buying XenSource? Or VMware was buying SpringSource?

The answer, of course, is that those acquisitions were not seen to be potentially anti-competitive. We live in a society that protects and promotes free markets with the only limit being when the impact on competition goes beyond what is deemed to be legally acceptable.

It would be understandable if the complaints focused on the negative impact on competition. However, the Stallman/KEI/ORG letter only mentions competitiveness in passing, and Monty Widenius’s press release doesn’t refer to it at all.

Instead they have resorted to spreading what can only be described as fear, uncertainty and doubt.

“If Oracle is allowed to acquire MySQL, it will predictably limit the development of the functionality and performance of the MySQL software platform,” begins the Stallman/KEI/ORG letter.

Florian Mueller, quoted in Monty Widenius’s press release, took things a step further: “every day that passes without Oracle excluding MySQL from the deal is further evidence that Oracle just wants to get rid of its open source challenger.”

It is a claim that borders on the absurd. Could it not be that every day that passes without Oracle excluding MySQL from the deal is further evidence that Oracle just wants to keep MySQL and use it to its advantage? Not least since Larry Ellison said Oracle has no intention of spinning off MySQL and further promised that MySQL will receive more money for research and development.

The Stallman/KEI/ORG letter further describes Ellison’s statement that MySQL does not compete directly with the Oracle Database as “outlandish” despite the fact that it reinforces the competitive history of MySQL, as confirmed recently by former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos.

We have previously noted that Oracle could kill off MySQL as a commercial product if it wanted to, but probably won’t, but that the acquisition does pose a potential threat to the the competition.

The only possible argument in favour of the EC blocking Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL is that it is damaging to competition, not that it is damaging to MySQL itself. Otherwise we are asking the EC to rule on whether Oracle is open source-friendly enough to own MySQL, and that is neither something that an organisation like the EC is equipped to answer nor something that it should be asked to decide.