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Oracle Drops Sun's Commitment To Accessibility 220

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-need-it-until-you-need-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "What I feared has come true: after buying Sun, Oracle had a look at its accessibility group and made big cuts in it by firing the most important contributors to the Linux accessibility tools. This is a very sad day for disabled people, as it means we do not really have full-time developers any more." The coverage in OSTATIC has a few more details, including the caution: "This just shows that all too few companies are sponsoring a11y work. If one company laying off a couple of developers spells trouble for the project, then there were problems before that happened" (thanks to reader dave c-b for pointing this out).
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Oracle Drops Sun's Commitment To Accessibility

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  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:56PM (#31068260) Homepage

    Surely this does not come as a surprise to anyone?

    Oracle, who have deliberately lessened the abilities of their own products (from a reasonably solid database system 10 years ago to a steaming turd now) in order to sell more licenses to do the same amount of work will continue to cut anything that is not immediately profitable.

    Anything that Sun pursued on moral or ethical grounds, and anything that shows "future promise" will be axed as soon as they spot it.

    As well as anything that could potentially compete with their more expensive in-house crap.

    People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry. However, as a corporation, Oracle can and will have all relevant American laws re-written/re-interpreted as necessary to see all commercial deployment of MySQL in the USA dead within two years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      It might not have been a surprise but it is very unfortunate that Oracle did this.

      • Pardon my naivete, but couldn't this be an opportunity for some other company to step in and fill the gap left behind by Oracle?

        • by kobaz (107760)

          Pardon my naivete, but couldn't this be an opportunity for some other company to step in and fill the gap left behind by Oracle?

          Sure. Any time there is a lapse in development from the big companies, the little ones have plenty of room to step in. But accessibility is not a huge market and it makes the most sense for one of the big companies to push it out as a loss-leader for community benefit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by euxneks (516538)

      People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry. However, as a corporation, Oracle can and will have all relevant American laws re-written/re-interpreted as necessary to see all commercial deployment of MySQL in the USA dead within two years.

      MySQL needs to be forked, before it gets forked in the rear by Oracle.

      ...I apologise for the horrible pun.

      • Insightful!? (Score:3, Informative)

        by aztracker1 (702135)
        It's not like anybody would ever [planetmariadb.org] think of such a thing [drizzle.org].
        • by kobaz (107760)

          What leads you to believe that both of those projects are forks of MySQL? I'm not familiar with either one, but from the little poking I've done... they seem to have nothing to do with MySQL/

          • by kobaz (107760)

            Arg... Haha... Apparently I missed this on the drizzle site:

            "The code is originally derived from MySQL."

            But I don't see such mention on the planetmariadb site.

    • by williamhb (758070) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:46PM (#31068530) Journal

      Surely this does not come as a surprise to anyone?

      Oracle, who have deliberately lessened the abilities of their own products (from a reasonably solid database system 10 years ago to a steaming turd now) in order to sell more licenses to do the same amount of work will continue to cut anything that is not immediately profitable.

      Anything that Sun pursued on moral or ethical grounds, and anything that shows "future promise" will be axed as soon as they spot it.

      Or, if we take off our doom-coloured spectacles, we might realise that Oracle (largely a server applications company) and Sun (largely a server hardware company) probably don't consider a niche open source desktop environment to be part of their core business. In other news, I hear the Dunlop tyre company hasn't spent much on improving the accessibility of car stereos either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VendettaMF (629699)

        Which is all well and good until you look at what else Oracle are cutting/dropping/lining up to destroy.

    • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:02PM (#31068600) Journal

      People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry.

      Its funny. With all the hubbub surrounding MySQL, hardly anyone has even bothered asking what's going to happen to OpenOffice.org.

      • by wrook (134116)

        OO is a very important project which has done a lot to show people that open source software is viable for desktop environments. But, and I say this as someone who uses oowriter every single day, it should be replaced with something better. There isn't a single program I use that causes me as much grief as oowriter. I'm working as a teacher in Japan right now and making handouts every day for my students -- actually, at this point I think it might be better to say I'm writing a textbook. I use a huge am

    • by Xest (935314)

      It seems to be a growing trend- accessibility doesn't seem to matter anymore.

      Just 5 to 10 years ago, it was a big deal, people made sure to factor it in to web design and so forth, but now we're at a stage where HTML5 is on the horizon, and it's added a load of new features without any care for accessibility- canvas and the video tag for example, in the case of the latter there really should've been the option to supply subtitles as an element parameter meaning even if people didn't want to supply subtitles

      • by delinear (991444)
        Up to 20% of the population suffer some form of disability, and it's likely a significant higher proportion of site visitors suffer a disability (internet usage being higher in this group). If companies spend more than 20% of their time implementing accessibility then they're doing it wrong, it's not that difficult, but at the same time if they can afford to offer zero support to one in five of their potential customers then they're probably not going to stay in business too long.
        • by Xest (935314)

          You're right that a large percentage of the population suffer disability, but you're wrong to assume that the same percentage require additional accessibility support with software.

          That percentage includes things like Aspergers, ADHD, Depression, Epilepsy, Autism, ME, in some countries even obesity is included. None of these really prevent people using standard interfaces apart from in the most extreme circumstances.

          So the percentage of people who actually need accessibility support from a development stand

  • Oracle DB (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Monday February 08, 2010 @09:59PM (#31068276) Homepage

    Oracle has a solid core DB engine. It dates back to the seventies, but it has evolved and it's still really good. Everything built around it is pretty much crap. But people buy from Oracle for the DB engine, then get stuck buying a lot of other super-expensive, bad quality software. I love PostgreSQL, and it's getting better every day, but there's still some stuff the core Oracle engine did ten years ago you can't get anywhere else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtaylor (70602)

      there's still some stuff the core Oracle engine did ten years ago you can't get anywhere else

      I am genuinely interested in what these include, particularly the business case or problem you are solving with them. There are lots of features or specific implementations of features that are unique to Oracle.

      • Re:Oracle DB (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:33PM (#31068464) Homepage

        It's not any one thing. It's lots of little things. Lots of flexibility and subtlety with SQL statements. Some obscure functions you wouldn't find anywhere else. More powerful and intricate subqueries and triggers. Extreme flexibility in modifying existing tables and other data structures live. An almost insane level of customizability (any good book on Oracle spends half the book talking about installation.) Now it's not perfect, they still don't have a proper time/date format (time_t anyone??), making date calculations across timezones and taking daylight savings into account a real pain.

        Granted, most people don't need this stuff. PostgreSQL is good enough for most roles. The complexity versus reward ratio might not work out for a lot of things anymore, nevermind the cost. I'm out of the game now, so I don't know what the latest stuff does, but they were definitely ahead of the pack for a long time. But they're kind of just going on inertia now. They don't even define themselves as a database company anymore, though that's the only really good product they have. I probably wouldn't buy it today, but I have some fond memories, and it really helped me to build some great stuff.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          That's not because it's insanely flexible. That's because Oracle installers stink. I've had to rewrite the Linux installer every single time I've used it over more than a decade. It's nearly as stupid as the Java installers on Linux: it does _not_ take a running Java instance to simply drop a lot of files into a directory and make a few symlinks. I'm afraid that now we could have the worst of both worlds.

      • I am genuinely interested in what these include, particularly the business case or problem you are solving with them.

        One from my limited experience: Recursive queries.

        Example: Create a tree structure where every node has a reference to its parent. Now try to select all the leaf nodes under a given $node.

        Several commercial DBMSes will let you do this directly (eg, CONNECT BY in Oracle). Postgres and MySQL cannot, and you have to create a loop where you select all nodes where parent = $node, then take tha

      • Re:Oracle DB (Score:5, Informative)

        by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:01AM (#31068936) Homepage
        • Standy databases. Yes, I know MySQL and PostgreSQL have some replication, but it's nothing like DataGuard. Do you want physical or logical? Log shipping or transactional? How about maybe you'd like to activate and test your standby database and then press a button and it's back to where it was?
        • Oracle streams - a form of SQL-level replication. Master-slave, multimaster, transformational, complex business rules, etc. Nothing like it in open source.
        • The whole family of Flashback: e.g., "I'd like to do a query and have the results as of the state of the database four hours ago". Or "I'd like to immediately change the database back to its state at 01:20:03am". Or "oops, I dropped a table, please bring it back instantly." Etc.
        • High-performance compression that in many cases is faster than non-compression. You can encrypt it, too.
        • For nearly every DB feature, Oracle has "more". It's great you have B-tree indexes - Oracle also offers bitmap and there are cases where they are really useful. It's nice that you offer hash partitioning (if you do), but Oracle can partition on a half-dozen different things. Etc.
        • RAC (Real Application Clusters) - active/active (or as many "Actives" as you'd like) clusters, all instances talking to the same DB.
        • Online redefinition (change your tables, views, etc. and have Oracle store everything up until you snap everything over at once - great for reducing downtimes).
        • Very sophisticated introspection. By this I mean the amount of stats the DB collects on itself. There is an insane level of instrumentation and it's very easy to see where waits and delays are.
        • Ability to generate and playback workloads.
        • A lot of migration assistance - e.g., "here is how your database would run if you upgraded it", "here is the SQL that will not run as well if you upgrade", "here is the recommendation for fixing your PL/SQL to run better in the next version," etc.
        • Query analysis is enormously better than open software (explain plans, etc.)
        • Auditing is several orders of magnitude more advanced
        • Star queries, OLAP, cubes, spatial, all of that.
        • XML and text support are much better.
        • Virtual Private Databases
        • PL/SQL, Java, etc. native to the DB, as well as an entire GUI-front-end building system (Application Express)
        • A fully-integrated volume/filesystem manager (ASM), cluster software, and VM, all manageable by the DB ;-) ASM is really very nice.

        I'm sure I'm missing some things - those were off the top of this Oracle DBA's head. Here [oracle.com] is a quick list of features.

        I love PostgreSQL as well, and MySQL to some extent, and even SQL Server. But they're not Oracle. DB/2 is the only thing approaching its class (along with more specialized niche players like Teradata). Most of the features I mentioned above don't come into play until you're in a 24x7 high availability environment, are trying to minimize downtime, or are working at big scale.

        • Re:Oracle DB (Score:4, Informative)

          by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:36AM (#31071804)

          Oracle streams - a form of SQL-level replication.

          Sounds like a subset of functionality is coming in PostgreSQL 9.0, which supports streaming replication in addition to transactional and log shipping.

          High-performance compression that in many cases is faster than non-compression. You can encrypt it, too.

          Here you can see Greenplum's commercial PostgreSQL offering which is 10x-20x faster than stock PostgreSQL. [blogspot.com] A large portion of its performance boost comes from its support of high performance and effective compression as well as parallelism. I strongly suspect its faster than Oracle in many use cases.

          It's great you have B-tree indexes - Oracle also offers bitmap and there are cases where they are really useful. It's nice that you offer hash partitioning (if you do), but Oracle can partition on a half-dozen different things. Etc.

          PostgreSQL has had bitmap indexes for a while now. Not to mention you can actually create your own index types too. PostgreSQL is very extensible. That's one of the reasons why PostGIS [refractions.net] is so capable. And please note they just announced a major new release. [refractions.net]

          Let's also not forget PostgreSQL, like Oracle, supports function indexes, which are in of themselves extremely powerful.

          Online redefinition (change your tables, views, etc. and have Oracle store everything up until you snap everything over at once - great for reducing downtimes).

          PostgreSQL can do this too for most everything. There are some exceptions but by in large, PostgreSQL has this covered.

          PostgreSQL is one of the few databases which supports transactional DDL and has done so for a very long time. So for example, you can create types populate and even create indexes within a single transactional boundary. Which means you can actually do all this within the confines of a TPC transaction, which can wait a long time (logging implications and caveats here). Then when ready you can commit the TPC transaction and *BLAM*, you new table, fully populated, with deferred index creation, is now online. That's just one example of what can be done with PostgreSQL.

          Query analysis is enormously better than open software (explain plans, etc.)

          PostgreSQL has very good query analysis features. Its query plans are also excellent and typically does so without the many hints Oracle often requires. Having said that, IMO, PostgreSQL query plans are only exceeded by that of Oracle's and even then PostgeSQL genetic planner offers capabilities to niche projects unavailable in even Oracle.

          Virtual Private Databases

          Hotly debated on PostgreSQL mailing lists. PostgreSQL offers this capability today via its schema and security models. They just don't call it VPDs.

          PL/SQL, Java, etc. native to the DB

          PostgreSQL blows Oracle and every other database out of the water when it comes to native PL language support. What's you're flavor? PL/pgSQL? Perl? Python? Tcl? Java? C? Lua? And I think I many be forgetting a couple.

          No bones about it, Oracle is more feature rich. It is true Oracle still addresses many high end solutions where stock PostgreSQL does not yet compete. Just the same, many commercial PostgreSQL offerings are starting to compete in arenas which were previously Oracle only domains. Furthermore, stock PostgreSQL continues to egress further and further into extremely large databases and warehousing solutions. Additionally, once you step outside of high end databases, for the vast majority of people, PostgreSQL is a very competitive solution to Oracle and in many cases, unofficially faster.

          It sounds like you need to take a hard second look at PostgreSQL because based on my of your comments, it sounds like you're somewhat out of touch with the current capabilities and features provided by PostgreSQL.

    • As long as Oracle is not selling Linux, Oracle has no legal obligation under 508 to make Linux accessible.

      A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free. This was possible as long as Sun was doing the heavy lifting of developing access tools that are required in government settings, under section 508 and ADA.

      If accessibility development for Linux goes away, U.S. government offic

    • Just don't try to get to it from SQL Server. What a nightmare to set up and maintain. Queries time out, leaving the SQL job thinking it's connected but Oracle is just sitting there, for days on end. No our SQL timeouts aren't disabled.

      Initial setup was a pain as well. 600MB install to get a handful of .dlls to make an Oracle.OleDB connection. The "client lite" installs didn't work one bit - kinda like some random guy putting files in a zip and telling you to put random things in random folders and run

      • Hey, I still miss the day they got rid of the curses installer for the java crap. :) However, I was fortunate enough to work in IT for 15 years, and I never once ran Windows. My Oracle experience is mostly on Solaris, with some HP and Linux. Believe it or not, the last time I ran Windows on my personal desktop was when 3.1 was still current. I actually made it a condition of my employment, I'd tell my boss straight up on my first day, that I won't run Windows, let me know now if that is a problem.

  • Bad title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:01PM (#31068286)

    It should say: Oracle breaks their commitment to accessibility, that they inherited when they acquired sun.

    In other words, Oracle is going back on their word, and is perhaps about to show how dishonest, despicable, and evil they (apparently) are, or not, depending on whether they keep their word (or not).

    Once you make a commitment, you can't "drop it". You either uphold your promise, or you break it.

    It looks like Oracle's about to break their promise.

    It doesn't matter at all that people who worked for Sun originally made the promise. Oracle acquired Sun, so they acquired all their promises, obligations, and dirty laundry too.

    Revising or 'dropping' a promise you made is called reneging on obligations you made.

    When a company says they're committed to something, they've made a promise. They can't become "uncommitted" or "no longer committed" without either succeeding, or having lied in the first place.

    • Re:Bad title (Score:4, Insightful)

      by williamhb (758070) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:34PM (#31068466) Journal

      It should say: Oracle breaks their commitment to accessibility, that they inherited when they acquired sun.

      In other words, Oracle is going back on their word, and is perhaps about to show how dishonest, despicable, and evil they (apparently) are, or not, depending on whether they keep their word (or not).

      Did I miss the press release -- does Sun now own Linux or Gnome in order to be solely responsible for its accessibility? Surely that'd be the bigger news story if it were true. I was under the impression, and I suspect so is everyone else on Slashdot, that Linux and Gnome are independent open source projects owned by the community; if Sun choses not to contribute code to a particular portion of the source tree any more, so be it, and we should thank them for their extensive work thus far, rather than pillory them for no longer being willing to be the only sucker actually doing anything about this community responsibility to improve Gnome's accessibility.

      I mean... those villains at Sun/Oracle haven't repainted my house for me either, or swept my yard -- the scoundrels!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by B3ryllium (571199)

      But "drop" is an SQL command, thus, it makes the headline punny.

    • Revising or 'dropping' a promise you made is called reneging on obligations you made.

      No, dropping a promise is not reneging on obligations. Sun promised to work on accessibility, however they were in absolutely no way obliged to work on accessibility. There is a big difference between the two.

    • Re:Bad title (Score:5, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:21PM (#31068720) Homepage Journal

      I agree, the headline's wrong. But not about what got broken. When did Sun ever make a "commitment to accessibility"?

      Here's what they did have: their perpetual fantasy that they could come up with a desktop that would challenge Windows. Their latest form of this fantasy was Java Desktop System, which actually has nothing to do with Java. It's just a rebranded GNOME, ported to Solaris. When I was at Sun, Sun Rays running JDS were all over the place, and JDS was heavily pushed at our customers. Though even within Sun, use of Windows or Mac PCs (usually laptops) got more and more pervasive.

      JDS has to comply with federal accessibility rules, or nobody will buy it. (Nobody bought it anyway, but that's another issue.) So Sun needs GNOME to have good accessibility support. Presumably that's why Sun started contributing accessibility development. That's how all corporate contributions to OS projects happen — it isn't generosity, it's the contributor needing the product to do something it doesn't already do.

      I haven't seen any announcement, but it's to be expected that Oracle will finally put an end to this expensive and futile quest for a Windows-killer. Which is why you can't find JDS anywhere on oracle.com. (The old JDS page on sun.com redirects to Oracle's Solaris page.) If Oracle doesn't need JDS, then they don't need accessibility software.

      One of many Sun windmill-tilting projects that are getting the axe.

    • It doesn't matter at all that people who worked for Sun originally made the promise. Oracle acquired Sun, so they acquired all their promises, obligations, and dirty laundry too.

      No shit. I promise I will give all my friends 1 million bucks each. Now you go ahead and adopt me.

  • Good Luck. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ddxexex (1664191)
    I have to agree with Joanie that I hope that the laying off (not fired as in the summary) was an accident. But since they've laid off a bunch of other people working for accessibilty, it doesn't look all that good. Hope the letter helps, but if they've already started I don't think they mind having the bad "we don't like the disabled/orphans/elderly/puppies " PR. Good luck for getting the letter to work.
    • by osssmkatz (734824)

      Disabled people do not need your pity. They do need your support. I was unaware of these projects. As a disabled technology guy, that's sad. I support these efforts.

  • Perhaps Sun has "promised" too much over the years on things that don't produce a return on investment. Perhaps this is why Oracle scooped them up. Perhaps Oracle wants to remain profitable.
    • So what? That division was a good thing for society; the loss of it is a *bad* thing for society, and the fact that nobody is stepping in to pick it up is a bad thing too.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        So if sun had gone bankrupt rather than been bought, and the employees who got laid off got laid off along with *everyone else* doing anything open source @ sun.. would that have been a better outcome? Its time to get out of the 60s and realize that NOTHING is contributed by companies to Linux or any other open source project "because its the right thing to do", it is either done because they HAVE to do it due to licensing issues, or because they feel that long term it is a cost neutral decision, or will ne
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          should somehow "keep doing" things that clearly contributed to its slide into bankruptcy..

          I have yet to see anybody clearly demonstrate that this group contributed to Sun's slide to bankruptcy.

          Can somebody present facts to back that assertion up?

      • by nxtw (866177)

        That division was a good thing for society; the loss of it is a *bad* thing for society, and the fact that nobody is stepping in to pick it up is a bad thing too

        Lots of things are good for society. If this is so important, why don't *you* volunteer to help with open source accessibility?

        And if the "good" things drive a company towards failure [google.com]? Then there is less competition, less employees paying taxes to pay for social programs that benefit those who need accessibility features, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:17PM (#31068376)

    The main guideline for accessibility is Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. From the Wikipedia entry: "The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology."

    So if you want to sell to the federal government, you have to be 508 compliant. The EU has a comparable set of regulations. Oracle knows this and won't jeopardize their government sales by ignoring it, the opinions of the quoted blogger notwithstanding.

    • I suppose we could complain about Oracle selling inaccessible RedHat clone licenses, which are not accessible because the RedHat code they copied doesn't properly support Sun's accessiblity code (Orca, in particular).

      Anyone know a good lawyer who might want to do a bit of pro-bono work for the blind?

      • by nxtw (866177)

        Anyone know a good lawyer who might want to do a bit of pro-bono work for the blind?

        Is Section 508 something more than a set of obligations for Federal government agencies?

    • As long as Oracle is not selling Linux, Oracle has no legal obligation under 508 to make Linux accessible.

      A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free. This was possible as long as Sun was doing the heavy lifting of developing access tools that are required in government settings, under section 508 and ADA.

      If accessibility development for Linux goes away, U.S. government office

      • by nxtw (866177)

        I think I've read this before... [slashdot.org]

        As long as Oracle is not selling Linux

        Oracle is selling Linux [wikipedia.org]. Or at least "support" for it, which includes patches. Now they're also selling Solaris, or at least "support" for it.

        A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free.

        Really?
        You mean there aren't a whole lot of RHEL or SLES subscriptions from the US government?

        If accessibility devel

        • by afabbro (33948)

          Oracle is selling Linux. Or at least "support" for it, which includes patches.

          That is a very powerful "at least". Oracle does not sell Linux. You can download OEL. You cannot buy it. You can buy SUPPORT for it, but there is no way to "buy" OEL.

          • by nxtw (866177)

            That is a very powerful "at least". Oracle does not sell Linux. You can download OEL. You cannot buy it. You can buy SUPPORT for it, but there is no way to "buy" OEL.

            Patches are not freely downloadable from Oracle; these require an active support subscription.

    • by nxtw (866177)

      Oracle knows this and won't jeopardize their government sales by ignoring it

      How much of what Oracle sells is subject to this?

      It seems to apply to end-user hardware and software, which would exclude Oracle's main database product...

  • Some perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:24PM (#31068426) Homepage

    While anyone losing their job is a bummer, the tone of the submission is a little histrionic. What actually happened here is that Oracle laid off two people who were working on accessibility. Again, that's a shame... but as the OSTATIC article points out, if Gnome accessibility work was really just two layoffs away from ending for all time, there were problems with the project before Oracle ever got here.

    Also, Oracle already sponsored an OpenSolaris accessibility group, and now they're in charge of the OpenOffice accessibility work as well, to say nothing of making sure their business applications are up to government standards... is it really fair to expect it to shoulder the burden of accessibility for Gnome, too?

    Maybe Novell wants to hire these guys? Or Red Hat?

    • Re:Some perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:45PM (#31068520) Journal

      It turns out that one of the people Oracle fired is effectively the Linus Torvald of Linux accessibility. He architected it, and wrote a ton of it. It's like firing Linux, and complaining that after all, it's only one guy.

      As for OpenOffice accessibility, kiss it goodbye on Linux. Without Willie or a team of several guys to replace him, it will slowly degrade in to unusablity.

      I'm 100% with you on the other guys hiring Willie. My preference would be Canonical (Ubuntu), but RedHat would be a decent fit, and I could even live with Novell. Maybe they could start working off the evil taint.

      • by nxtw (866177)

        My preference would be Canonical (Ubuntu), but RedHat would be a decent fit, and I could even live with Novell.

        SInce when has Canonical ever contributed anything major to the non-Ubuntu community?

        With their more or less nonexistent track record in doing so, and uncertain financial future, preferring Canonical only seems rational if you want to see failure...

        • I have specific reasons for prefering Ubuntu. In particular, I use it at work. Even more specifically, I'm losing my central vision, and have decided to take some control over accessibility in the distro I use. I'm working with other guys on a derivation of Ubuntu for the blind and visually impaired - Vinux [vinux.org.uk]. So far as I can tell, there are two really good linux distros for accessibility: Vinux, and Adriane Knoppix [wikipedia.org]. I'm working with the founder of Vinux, Tony Sales, to build the Vinux/Ubuntu Lucid relea

    • by fusiongyro (55524)

      I'd tend to agree, but then again, to develop this kind of thing requires a lot of special information. You can't just throw somebody into developing accessibility software, and I doubt you can just wait for a community member to show up and start writing it. The target market here can get pissed off about the quality of the software without necessarily having the ability to acquire and apply the skills necessary to fix it. And as others have pointed out, the ADA makes accessibility legally mandatory rather

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        And as others have pointed out, the ADA makes accessibility legally mandatory rather than optional for lots of government deployment scenarios.

        That's why I'm thinking Novell or Red Hat. You think they don't wanna sell Linux desktops to government customers? Oracle has invested plenty into Linux, but the desktop area isn't so much its concern.

    • by xant (99438)

      While anyone losing their job is a bummer, the tone of the submission is a little histrionic. What actually happened here is that Oracle laid off two people who were working on accessibility. Again, that's a shame... but as the OSTATIC article points out, if Gnome accessibility work was really just two layoffs away from ending for all time, there were problems with the project before Oracle ever got here.

      You know, as the parent, and the article said, if a project is in trouble because of two layoffs, then t

    • but as the OSTATIC article points out, if Gnome accessibility work was really just two layoffs away from ending for all time, there were problems with the project before Oracle ever got here.

      I don't really understand this. I do assume "for all time" is hyperbole.

      Important, popular, projects where most of the work is by one or two developers are common.

      Example: UW-IMAP (At least until recent UW budget cuts). Most used imap implementation on the planet?

      Example: troff, the original little-commented PDP-11 assembly language version. It was tense for those who depended troff to write manuals, dissertations or books when the developer died.

      Example: TeX

      Example: Macintosh Window Clipping

      Ex

  • If there's a need (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:45PM (#31068526)

    Since when did decisions by profit maximizing big business have any impact on Open Source Software? Yes, it may have been nice that Sun was spending money on supporting this sort of thing, but why have you come to expect - nay, DEPEND on a hand-out, as if the very life of the program was tied to it?

    When there is a need, the code will get written. By the grandson of the blind grandmother. Or the father of the deaf child. That has been the story of the whole open source movement to date. If you don't like what Oracle is doing, then fork and to hell with them. If you're whining because your subsidized job has been canceled - well too bad. Life sucks sometimes.

    There's a reason Sun was losing money and got bought out. If you can't work on your project without pay, well, your motives have suddenly become clear. You don't care about the project but rather the paycheck. Stop pointing out how wonderful your project was going to be - because obviously it isn't important enough for you to keep working on it without being paid. And for God's sake don't blame Oracle for taking a business decision. I know it's hard to think this way today in the United Socialist States of America, but maybe Oracle doesn't want to go under like Sun did and therefore is canceling frivolous "feel good" projects that add ZERO to their bottom line.

    • by nxtw (866177)

      Since when did decisions by profit maximizing big business have any impact on Open Source Software?

      since [google.com] the 90s [wikipedia.org] at the very latest.

      When there is a need, the code will get written.

      I think you underestimate the importance of corporate contributions [fedoraproject.org]. A more accurate statement would be: "When there is a need, a suitable commercial product will be licensed, or if none is available and the need is sufficient, the code will get written."

    • by pydev (1683904)

      maybe Oracle doesn't want to go under like Sun did and therefore is canceling frivolous "feel good" projects that add ZERO to their bottom line.

      Actually, having a extra bunch of good accessibility guys on their payroll would have contributed to their bottom line. Their decision is rather shortsighted.

  • I read the article, heart warming indeed. I am grateful of corporate assistance in Open Source, I render respect and appreciation for what has come as a result of combining capitalistic economics with social/community based efforts. A lot can happen put the two together.

    But, the article seems to portray doom and utter failure if it weren't for paid sponsorship of a particular sliver of Open Source projects. This is where the confusion sets in, because while there is a lot to thank business and their cont

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday February 08, 2010 @11:35PM (#31068792) Homepage Journal

    This is a very sad day for disabled people, as it means we do not really have full-time developers any more.

    When I read this my first thought was "They should march...Um. I guess they can't."

    LK

  • Will someone please inform a person too lazy to do more than a couple quick google searches, what, precisely "a11y work" is?

    I can infer by context, but a concrete definition is always best for the geek brain.
    • Couldn't help one more query (a little more sensible) where I eventually found the definition...

      Accessibility is often abbreviated to the numeronym a11y, where the number 11 refers to the number of letters omitted. This parallels the abbreviations of internationalization and localization as i18n and l10n respectively.

      Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_accessibility

  • by pydev (1683904)

    Experienced accessibility and GUI guys are hard to find and important to a company the size of Oracle. The people working on Gnome accessibility are quite good.

    Oracle should have kept them. They could have put them to work on other projects and let them continue Gnome work on the side.

  • I don't get it. Everyone here keeps talking like work on accessibility for the disabled is somehow a charity operation, even in open source land. Like there needs to be laws to mandated it, or no one would do it. Work on accessibility is a very very important corner of computer science in general. It is where some of the most groundbreaking crap us lazy people (sorry, the motivationally challenged) have derived the stuff we take for granted everyday now on our phones, our call centers, and so on. To talk ab

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