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If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company 237

Posted by kdawson
from the gedanken-experiment dept.
An anonymous reader points out Glyn Moody's thought experiment: what if Oracle bought up the entire open source ecosystem? Who would win, who would lose? And how might an open ecosystem grow in the wake of such an event? "Recently, there was an interesting rumour circulating that Oracle had a war chest of some $70 billion, and was going on an acquisition spree. Despite the huge figure, it had a certain plausibility, because Oracle is a highly successful company with deep pockets and an aggressive management. The rumour was soon denied, but suppose Oracle decided to spend, if not $70 billion, say $10 billion in an efficient way: how might it do that? One rather dramatic use of that money would be to buy up the leading open source companies — all of them."
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If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company

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  • Hello Oracle, come and buy my company.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:44PM (#33049616)

    Somehow I doubt they'd be buying up projects like Drupal, Wordpress, or Joomla. But I could see them buying up companies like Jaspersoft, Openbravo, etc. that produce enterprise grade OSS tools used for BI, ERP, etc. which does fit nicely into their business market. Although seeing Oracle in action in the past, it would likely be that they would buy then slowly let the products wither and die to they are no longer a threat to their core business.

    • by IMightB (533307) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:50PM (#33049726) Journal

      The problem with that is since they are Open Source, the project forks and continues on Business as Usual. Look at MySQL for an example. Even if the codebase officially known as MySQL withers on the vine, there's still at least 2 forks I can think of that are viable.

      • by Surt (22457)

        Yeah, to really kill open source, you have to buy up the key developers and put them on non-compete contracts. It would probably even be a cheaper strategy. 10 billion could pay 60 thousand salaries for a year ... if they actually have 70 billion they could make a pretty significant dent in open source, particularly if they target only people developing stuff that competes with them in any way.

        • And even that's a problem: non-compete clauses are generally unenforceable in California, and other states, seeing how successful that has been, have been considering following their lead in that regard. Further, it is very questionable whether a non-compete clause agreed to in one state is enforceable in another state.
          • by Surt (22457)

            Yeah, noncompete was an unfortunate choice of words ... I actually meant an exclusivity contract, which is entirely enforceable since it doesn't incur the wrath of any of the right-to-work laws.

          • by Sparr0 (451780)

            Wrong kind of non-compete. You don't forbid them from doing stuff later, you just make their non-competition a requirement for getting paid this month.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        The problem with that is since they are Open Source, the project forks and continues on Business as Usual. Look at MySQL for an example. Even if the codebase officially known as MySQL withers on the vine, there's still at least 2 forks I can think of that are viable.

        So in the same sentence you manage to say it's fractured into several forks yet at the same time it's business as usual? One of the things businesses look for when they invest in a product is long term viability. Branches forming and withering, names changing, support greatly varying, all of that effectively stops much of the corporate adoption. It's not about killing something forever, if you can throw enough shoes in the machinery then you win long enough to turn a good profit. Just look at Microsoft and

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Alex Belits (437) *

          Aren't you supposed to tell us that GIMP does not support CMYK? I thought, Microsoft doesn't pay those who don't include dissing GIMP and OpenOffice into every comment, or at least proclaim their love for Linux before spewing their anti-open-source propaganda.

  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:44PM (#33049618) Journal

    Then you'd get $10 Billion dollars worth of Forks starting off the last release, and everything would be the same as usual, except that Oracle would have acquired a lot of software.

    It would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution. The same thing would happen elsewhere.

    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:52PM (#33049774) Homepage
      It matters because when you buy the "leading open-source company", you also buy the programmers, many of whom will go on to work for Oracle. An open-source project without any developers is probably much better for its users than a closed-source project without developers, sure, but it's still a major setback.
      • It's not so much a set back as it is a delay.

        Oracle hasn't done anything with MySQL, despite hiring their leads and axing the rest, MySQL is just as much an OS solution today as it was last year. It's only a matter of time before new developers pick up where MySQL left off under some other fork. Maybe MariaDB?

        It's no doubt that Oracle wanted to do this so that Oracle's slow progress will be ahead of what their lead competitor was at - their product becoming clearly superior so boosting sales.

        The problem is

      • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @06:37PM (#33051538) Homepage

        It matters because when you buy the "leading open-source company", you also buy the programmers, many of whom will go on to work for Oracle.

        Not just their programmers - but also their customer base.
         
        Despite the anarchistic "Everyman is own IT department" fantasies of the FOSS movement, most companies and individuals just want something that works. The days when every business, large and small, had to have management, staff, and gurus to roll their own and keep them rolling are viewed with horror as the 'bad old days'. The idea that the software that keeps their business ticking depends on 'some guy in a basement' and his friends are viewed as equally terrifying. (Which is why these FOSS companies exist in the first place.)
         
        Slashdot (and by extension the FOSS movement) really needs to realize that in the real world, people and businesses don't jump to forks for political reasons and in fact are cautious about changing things at because the costs (in actual money) and disruptions that accompany such jumps.

    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:02PM (#33049906)

      We started using PostgreSQL back when Sun bought MySQL. And I can't say we've had any real complaints and actually have found PostgreSQL to be easier to maintain with less table corruption, etc..

    • Take a look at contributions to open source projects that are popular in enterprise environments -- large percentages of the patches come from open source companies. If Oracle bought up all these companies, there is no guarantee that those patches would continue to be contributed, particularly if the projects directly compete with Oracle's offerings. Sure, volunteers can do a lot, but it is nice to have people who are paid to develop these projects, particularly since there is a good level of assurance th
    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:19PM (#33050162)

      It would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution.

      I'd say that Oracle's acquisition of MySQL has done a lot more than cause a ripple. If I wasn't already dependent on it, I wouldn't even consider it for future development, and I am eagerly waiting for one of the forks to a) mature, and b) develop enough of a track record to risk depending on it for the long term, or c) to settle on one or more alternatives such as Postgres and/or some of the so-called NoSQL solutions. The situation with Java isn't as bad, as Java has a base of users (and the enormous anchor of IBM's investment in Java solutions) that is orders of magnitude greater than MySQL, so the leverage Oracle can exert is greatly reduced, but it's still a concern.

      Forks -- if you're going to build the necessary developer infrastructure around them and properly support and maintain them -- take time and, more often than not, money. And as a user, transitioning from one ordinary version to another is often expensive, never mind transitioning to a forked version that, more often than not, involves significant changes from the original trunk, MySQL and its descendants being a particularly illustrative example. It's not the end of the world, but it is often a very big deal.

      At the end of the day, if an open source project you depend on is maintained by a for-profit company, and the project is sufficiently valuable, someone will eventually come along and buy its maintainer. And if the project is cutting into the bottom line of the buyer, as was the case with MySQL and Oracle, you can be sure that the new owner will make the change as disruptive as possible. It's a basic vulnerability that is built into the commercialization of Open Source. Whether it's a significant risk with any particular project will vary, of course, but it's always there, and the ability to fork is not a panacea.

    • by westlake (615356)

      it would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution. The same thing would happen elsewhere.

      I wonder.

      How many FOSS office suites have the - alleged - maturity of OpenOffice.org?

      I believe Sun spent around $200 million on Star Office before open-sourcing OpenOffice - which remains an essentially in-house project to this day - and still second-tier, however much the geek would like to pretend otherwise.

      Oracle's core competence is enterpri

  • Oracle doesn't have enough $$, Warren Buffet doesn't, Steve Jobs doesn't, Bill Gates doesn't.

    Because as soon as I read here on /. that it is happening, I'll grab every single source package I can and make a fork. And I'll encourage everyone I know to do the same. And even at $1 per project, there would be an unlimited number of projects....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PalmKiller (174161)
      Whoa there, if I were a major contributor, and one of those dropped a few million in my pocket...or heck even enough to just pay off everything I owe, I might decide to stop developing it. As you probably know, if the major contributors of a project abandon it quietly, sometimes just the time lapse with no progress will kill off the project. My point is everything has a price...you just gotta know where to inject the funds.
      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @05:22PM (#33050906)

        Exactly. For some people, OSS is like a crusade, but for many others (most of the people doing the heavy lifting, especially at companies that would be bought) I'm betting it's a paycheck.

        For a "mere" $10 billion dollars you could just pay key people a few million each to stop working on products in whatever field and you'd have exactly the same kind of smothering effect on things as you would if you spent $70 billion to buy out the companies.

        For anyone who isn't ideologically driven to the extreme or independently wealthy, I'm going to say being offered $1-10 million to work on something else or even just stop working would be _quite_ effective.

  • How would this work? Can they technically purchase a whole project? What's to stop the community from forking? What would buying up a project that runs on donations and user support really consist of other than giving the owners large sums of $$ for publicly available code?

    • 1. Not everyone is a prima donna crybaby like Monty Widenius.

      2. Publicly available doesn't mean it doesn't have worth - and it would be a good way to have an "official" product in every category when you're selling - and supporting - a complete stack. And support is where they make their money. Those Oracle license would be worthless without support.

      3. Setting direction. If you want to be able to set the direction of a product, you need to pony up some money.

    • Mainly, what they can accomplish is to all-but-kill further open source development on a given project. It's very possible to fork, but that doesn't help much to move forward if they buy most of the people making useful improvements/additions to it.

      In most cases, I don't think this is smart business -- if you kill a MySQL (and I don't mean to get into the various politics or advantages of these different databases, they're just an easy example that most people will recognize) you probably don't drive enoug

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:46PM (#33049658)
    Open source is not a finite resource. You can't buy *all* of it. You can only buy the ones that are successful today. If (to take an example) Oracle made offers of employment that they couldn't refuse to the main programmers on The Gimp, then anyone who didn;t like the "selling out" (possibly because they didn't get made an offer) could just fork the last non-commercial version and continue down their own particular road.

    Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases. Certainly to the degree that made any sort of financial sense and maybe not to the satisfaction of the shareholders.

    • by Surt (22457)

      Buy enough developers, slow your OS competitors to a crawl.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases.

      Unless they used some of that 10 billion dollars to have the GPL declared invalid, or something to that effect. Yes, it's nonsensical, but $10 billion can help finance a lot of campaigns, plenty of astroturfers, and an army of lawyers, so I'm not so sure they couldn't do it.

      He who has the gold makes the rules.

      • Tell that to Cisco re: busybox, they'd love to know.

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Declaring the GPL invalid doesn't help Cisco use Busybox without the copyright owner's permission. The Busybox cases are not GPL cases, they are straightforward software piracy cases just the same as the guy who sells dodgy copies of Microsoft Office at car boot sales.

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      Yes but if you cause disruptive sudden forks in projects, you slow their progress writing new code and they can't use the same name necessarily so brand recognition is gone.

      It could also be disruptive in the sense that it will damage the reputation of open source.... "Do business with us, we're stable and we'll be here tomorrow. It's risky using free products developed as a hobby because those guys are an unorganized mess and in no position to provide effective support. Heck they may just decide to stop

    • Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases.

      That isn't what we're discussing, and I doubt very much if Ellison & Co, should they go down this road, would care one whit for monetizing any projects they acquire or with which they otherwise interfere. The idea is for Oracle to disrupt the development of any open source offerings that would compete with its own core products, much as Microsoft has done for decades (for both open and closed source software, for that matter.) So far as shareholders are concerned, investing in the destruction of one's c

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Of course, we are also assuming that Oracle is all that interested in killing Open Source, which I honestly don't think it is. Sure they have MySQL, but that was a side-effect of the Sun purchase, they probably were just as interested (if not more) in getting their hands on Java and making it more useful for Oracle. Neither MySQL nor Java to a lesser extent can be completely owned by anyone, but Oracle has some interest in getting some greater degree of influence over both.

        What Oracle does not have is an


  • I think it would sink the company. The more acquistions Oracle buys, the farther away from their source market they get.

    Oracle can invest all the capital they want, all I want is a decent install package for the Oracle Instant Client.

    Concentrate on what made you those bucks Oracle.
    • That's funny, all I want is a decent UNINSTALL package for the Oracle Client and Servers.

      I'm looking at you, Oracle 8

      • Oracle client 10 is no better.

        We had to repackage to get the tweaks we wanted. The package installed amazingly faster compared to Oracle's JAVA-based installer. The catch: we had to include the ~200MB of Oracle's installer metadata to keep getting support.

        I hate it when companies create their own installer.

      • by afabbro (33948)

        That's funny, all I want is a decent UNINSTALL package for the Oracle Client and Servers.

        I'm looking at you, Oracle 8

        Why are you looking at a product that is three versions old and was dropped from support five years ago?

        Oracle since version 9 has provided an installer that does provide an uninstall. It's Java-based and requires X on Linux/Unix, but one thing it does do is install and uninstall Oracle clients and servers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ahmusch (777177)

          And Oracle in version 7 had a character based installer that didn't require X. And there's still no good reason for Oracle to require X for installation and installation alone.

        • Why are you looking at a product that is three versions old and was dropped from support five years ago?

          You don't work for a cheap company, do you.

          We are up on 10g now, looking to jump up again - but that doesn't make removing 8i off the old machines any easier. When you keep a computer running for longer than 4 years, these sort of things happen.

    • Oracle can invest all the capital they want, all I want is a decent install package for the Oracle Instant Client.

      I've long been convinced that Oracle's developer/administrator tools are written by self-loathing developers who want to vent their hatred by tormenting other developers. There's just no other logical explanation for how infuriating they can be.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by reallyjoel (1262642)
      Oracle is well known in the business (of making money) to have a very good, large and agressive sales force, and that is what have made them large and successful, not the quality of their products.
      • by BigJClark (1226554) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:46PM (#33050504)

        You must be a salesperson. I'm not a technology zealot, but Oracle is by far the most superior product in the market for mid ot large size datasets serving mid to large size queries (carefully chosen words ;) ). I realize you can polish and sell a turd, but Oracle's scaling, robustness, and attention to detail regarding the optimization of its core engine, is what sells it, and has for the past ~30 years.

        Now MS has the exact same yammering salespeople who drive me nuts when they tout the strength of their package, but I've explored it with the intimate detail that only a DBA can.

        Read my lips: Its crap.

        When you start to pull away from the sales pitch, super easy install, and drop and go fascade, you quickly unveil a half working SQL engine, a busted backup model, and an internal engine that turns itself into muck heaven forbid if anybody hit it with any sort of large query.

        Sorry, its the Oracle DBMS engine that has made them the big bucks. Don't even get me started on Oracle forms and reports.
  • Wouldn't they get more bang for their buck by doing $70 Billion of patent trolling?

    Not necessarily anti-open source trolling either. $70 Billion of patent trolling could make quite a dent in the MSSQL market, pushing the end users toward either mysql or oracle. After all, its not an "evil" monopoly if there's a free alternative, conveniently owned by the monopolist...

  • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:52PM (#33049760) Journal
    Then the programmers of the open source software projects will finally get a decent payday without some prick forking their code and diluting their potential customer/profit pool so he/she can't make a living. And then having the mother forker fucking up the code and giving them both a bad name. Then the OSS developer will be able to afford to fork the original and enhance the original to really make a quality product that can be sold and used until another prick forks his/her work and dilutes the potential customer/profit base. Or perhaps until Oracle decides to use and enhance the original.
    • So don't use a license that allows a code fork. You can't use the GPL or similar license and then whine like a baby that someone forked your code and you're not going to get $BIG_PAYDAY.
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:52PM (#33049772)

    Buying "all" open source companies would be a bit over-dramatic, but I could see perhaps a few strategic buys. For instance, buying RedHat. Oracle has their own respin of RHEL, but rather than being at the mercy of the release schedule a la CentOS, buying RH would give them more control over the pace of things, not to mention getting a lot of major contributors on the books. RedHat also owns JBoss, which might be worth their time and money to acquire, too. I doubt that it'd happen though, which is probably a good thing.

    • by mmkkbb (816035)

      Oracle already has a J2EE server now that they own WebLogic through the BEA acquisition.

      • by bsDaemon (87307) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:04PM (#33049946)

        All the more reason to acquire JBoss, loot it for the good stuff, integrate it into their other product, and maybe kill off JBoss, or just milk it for a while and double-dip. But an Oracle acquisition of RedHat and its assets at least makes some sort of sense (and they can afford it. RH has like, a $5bn market capitalization, so Oracle will have plenty of change left over) unlike, say, Gimp, or a bunch of random crap like other people seem to be floating as examples of why the concept of the article is stupid.

      • Oracle already has a J2EE server now that they own WebLogic through the BEA acquisition.

        They had one prior to the acquisition with OAS. Didn't stop them from buying out their biggest competitor not named IBM.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I can see Oracle easily buying RedHat. As of now, there is an exodus of people from Sun/Solaris to x86 hardware/RHEL. By buying RedHat and making the OS chargable, or just doing with RedHat altogether would be a major coup for Ellison. Where would people flee to? Essentially, either IBM and AIX for big iron, SuSE and Novell for another, or go Windows.

  • Suddenly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toxygen01 (901511) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#33049776) Journal
    ... everyone would start developing opensource.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#33049780)

    Oracle can only really effectively buy open-source companies of the MySQL variety: where the vast majority of development is done by one, medium-sized, for-profit company closely associated with the project. Stretching a little more, they can buy multi-project companies on the lower end of "large" that do a lot of open-source development, like Sun.

    But a lot of open-source is done by groups that deviate to either side of that. Either they're more distributed open-source projects with no central entity to buy in the first place, or they're run by very large companies that Oracle couldn't possibly buy, like Google and IBM.

    • by Terrasque (796014)

      Indeed they aren't all buyable. You'd bet some of them would have refused some way or another.

      Small OSS company : "70 billion war chest, you say? Going to buy out all OSS, eh? Okay, my company will sell for 80 billion."
      Oracle representative : "Are you out of your mind? It isn't worth ONE billion!"
      Small OSS company : "That's correct. It's worth 80 billion. Now, are you going to buy it or go away?"

  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn AT wumpus-cave DOT net> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#33049784)

    What if squirrels had wings and shot cruise missiles out of their tail? That's about as grounded in reality as Oracle buying up everything.

    • by Surt (22457)

      Grounded in the sense that squirrels in fact do have wings, and Oracle does have a lot of money?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_squirrel [wikipedia.org]

      Now the cruise missile part ... that would be interesting. I suppose the immediate consequence would be the death of just about everyone in North America ... I don't know how many continents have large numbers of squirrels, but it really could lead to quite the apocalypse. ;-)

      • by hardburn (141468)

        Flying squirrels don't really have wings, in the sense of being able to generate meaningful lift. It's more like a parachute than a wing.

        But yes, it would be the most hilarious apocalypse ever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by afabbro (33948)

      What if squirrels had wings and shot cruise missiles out of their tail?

      Well, that would be awesome, obviously.

    • I agree, when did someones hypothetical unrealistic situation become news?
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Apropos of that but not much else, I'm still peeved that they left blast-ended skrewts [hp-lexicon.org] out of the movies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ozbird (127571)

      "Again?! That trick nevers works."

  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:58PM (#33049854)
    I've always questioned the logic of buying an open source company. What do you really get? You don't get the IP since that's open sourced anyway. You don't get the employees since they can always leave. You maybe get some customers, but then those guys can always switch to a fork of the project. Potentially a fork that's being run by the same developers responsible for the original project.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bhlowe (1803290)
      Buying an open source project might: 1. Keep the developers from working for a competitor. 2. Keep the developers from suing the purchasing company over some form of GPL violation. 3. Allow the purchasing company to integrate the IP into more products/services 4. Slow the momentum of future open source development of the project (by co-opting the main developers, writing in do-not-compete clauses, etc.)
    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mmkkbb (816035) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:07PM (#33049992) Homepage Journal

      You DO get IP, even if it's free software. Even with the GPL, you could stop distributing old versions and re-license future versions if you control the copyright. Open source projects aren't alone in having employees that will leave in an acquisition, and it's clear that whether everyone leaves after an acquisition is almost entirely dependent on the specifics of the deal. You get revenue from support contracts, and your customers aren't going to switch to a new branch just because of a change in ownership if the new owners are sympathetic, and a new branch may not even come about.

      Yeah, there's risk that any of your problems could happen but everyday business is a risk too.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        You DO get IP, even if it's free software. Even with the GPL, you could stop distributing old versions and re-license future versions if you control the copyright.

        If and only if the project requires copyright assignment, yes. But that is only a small minority of projects and typically projects that almost in their entirety been written by one group or company and has not been superseeded by a community based fork. There's a few projects like that, for example OpenOffice (Sun) and Qt (Nokia) but they're not many. Or actually I think what I had to agree to in order to contribute to Qt I don't think was an assignment, just pretty much a license to let them do anything a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mlts (1038732) *

      There is always support. For example, if an OSS company makes and supports a product, it gets bought out and the company dissolved, then even though the product may be forked, there will be no way for customers to get support for the product. Of course, the ex-employees can form around the forked project, but it will take time and effort rebuilding the customer base and getting the support contracts back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      Unless your open source company is in California, in which case your non-compete is void as a matter of law.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-compete_clause#California [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yes, but... if we're playing the "what could Oracle do by throwing ridiculous amounts of money around" game, there are probably ways around that.

        For example, Oracle buys up most of the top contributors to PostgreSQL by offering them much better salaries/benefits to work on OraclePostgre than they could get in any other way, and additionally offers them $X giant bonus or stock options or what have you if OraclePostgre has Y% market share by some metric in two years -- such that they legally could choose to c

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      MySQL makes its money from selling non-OSS versions of the software. As Oracle owns the copyright, the fork projects don't have that revenue stream available to them.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      You might get the trademark, which may or may not be valuable. At the very least, it throws a wrench in the work of future forks, because they can't use the trademark that you now own to describe themselves, so they have to come up with a new name, and find a way to publicize the fact that they're now operating under a new name. The new name probably can't use the old name as a component, either--- your fork of MySQL would run afoul of trademark law if you named it NewMySQL or something.

    • by selven (1556643)

      You don't get the IP since that's open sourced anyway.

      You do if the business involves making software with a GPL version and selling a version with proprietary licensing (like MySQL).

  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:04PM (#33049952)

    Please explain how you buy open source. The source code is out there in the wild. New developers appear every day.

    If you want to play the monopolist that will invite new people to step in and enter the market.

    That is the beauty of open source. It is the ultimate opposition to monopolist behavior as it makes the barrier to entry effectively zero.

    Of course there are the usual costs or starting a business but with open source there are no real barriers to market entry.

  • If Microsoft were to attempt to buy every open source company, quite a few people would get quite agitated, including the antitrust division of the DOJ.

    Oracle is a little bit different, because of size, market span, and market share. But it's still not that far from the same thing - M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y - just in a slightly different marketplace.

  • What if Oracle tried to scoop up all the water with a sieve?
  • by bluhatter (583867) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:19PM (#33050150) Homepage Journal
    $10B for open source software? They do know they can download it for free... right?
  • Its got electrolytes! Its got what plants crave!!

  • Instead, the spent about $20 worth of someone's time to plant a FUD story on slashdot?! :)

  • sun buyout (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sageres (561626)
    I still can't comprehend how, what economic forces could have allowed Sun to be in position to be bought over by Oracle, and not the other way around. Consider: Sun had EVERYTHING that Oracle had and more: 1. Its own database systems 2. Its own java application servers 3. Its own web servers /w LDAP servers 4. And on top of that pile up Java, Sparc / Solaris, various Java-based tech, etc. 5. Don't forget the Sun VM. Now look, Oracle is killing many of the old Sun projects. Looking Glass has gone to dust (ma
    • by wizkid (13692)

      Sun got killed during the year 2000 dot-bomb. They had heavily leased systems to every dot-bomb that they could, and then they all went bankrupt, taking sun down with them.
      That's how they ended up in the boat that their in. Kinda sad, they were a good company. So far, Oracle has been doing a great job of destroying what was once a good company.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eln (21727)
      Sun had everything but a halfway competent management team that knew how to make money. Oracle, on the other hand, has a fantastic management team that specializes in making truckloads of money. You can have all the cool tech in the world, but if you can't make money with it you're doomed.
  • It's the code that's open source, not the company. They are free to spend their money as they wish. Those of us who disagree can fork at any time.

  • by Yaur (1069446)
    isn't IBM a big open source contributer and isn't $80B not nearly enough to buy them? They can buy up some projects, but so what? If they maintain them in the spirit of open source nothing changes if they don't then they will be forked or abandoned. In any case I don't think they can change the ecosystem as a whole much.
  • FoSS: Do you already know if I'm going to take it?
    Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an Oracle if I didn't.

  • by GoNINzo (32266) <GoNINzo@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:52PM (#33050590) Homepage Journal
    If they treat any of them like they've treated OpenSolaris, then I'd say they would die a slow death.

    At this point, the last release was June 2009. Development has stopped being exposed to the outside world, we were expecting a May release, and we're going on August now. There still has not been official announcement by Oracle on this topic either.

    While OpenSolaris is not a true open source product, it has been mistreated since the Oracle take over. It is unclear why there has been nothing said on it, but I'd rather take a project death at this point than this continued silence. Several key people have left to move onto other projects as well, though others are saying that development is still continuing. And worst of all, it would be a pain in the ass to fork because of their particular license design choice.

    The forums [opensolaris.org] have been rather full of people complaining about it as well. Especially after the OpenSolaris board has threatened to kill itself off [cnet.com] if Oracle doesn't make some key decisions.

    Just bad news all around. And it would be so easy to fix too, just by giving us an official statement on it's future.
  • Oracle doesn't want some of the open source projects they paid for.

  • I have an open source license to the software; he can buy the people who wrote it, but he can't kill my license.

    I can make forks of it.

    He'd have to buy each one from me individually to pwn the OSS universe.

    I can keep pulling forks out of my pocket, perpetually.

    Can he do the same with dollars?

    The inductive endgame is that he'd have to buy my rights from me. He'd have to do this for every copy in existence, though, or I'd find one and start forking that one.

    He'd have to pay me as part of a contract never to

  • by farble1670 (803356) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @05:09PM (#33050776)

    i'm very tired of hearing "i'll just fork", or "you can't buy an open source project" whenever this comes up.

    most OSS projects are heavily funded by commercial outlets, and most often its a single outlet. you can buy an OSS project by buying the developers, or in other words buying the mindshare. whether they quit after the acquisition with bonuses tied to no-compete clauses, or whether they stay on and get put onto other projects, they are gone for the most part.

    sure, it's theoretically possible that a troupe of new developers will swoop in and carry on, but that just doesn't happen, in most cases. developers are not 100% portable. that means that it takes a gifted developer to come in and take over a code base designed by someone else. in most cases, you get spot fixes that don't see the overall vision, resulting in increasing bugs and a code base that eventually must be re-written.

    and, you rarely get gifted developers with such an interest. working with someone else's vision is not fun. building your own vision is. why would a gifted developer use their nights and weekends to carry on someone else's vision?

  • Everything would fork. Whoopdie freakin do.
  • It would be like when Sony bought out a major Hollywood studio some years ago, in the end they found out they had paid X billions of dollars for some industrial land in Burbank when all the talent walked off.

  • Obligatory Obi-Wan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lotho brandybuck (720697) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @06:01PM (#33051284) Homepage Journal
    As if millions of voices cried out in terror....

    Seriously, what I'd like Ellison to do, is really support openoffice. Improvements, cleanups, Java exorcism, and fonts...

    Larry, everybody thinks Bill has more money than you! Bill is a household name, and nobody (outside of the techies) knows who you are. You can compensate with big yachts and planes and adventures, but you'll never be as big as Billy until you destroy the MS lockin... Office!

  • This won't happen. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CherniyVolk (513591) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @06:35PM (#33051524)

    I think the author of the post forgot about the FTC investigation into Oracle purchasing Sun Microsystems, because of the Open Source interests that would be acquired specifically MySQL.

    This says one thing, the FTC recognizes FSF/FOSS as a market force.

    Should Oracle, or any other company for that matter attempt to buy up any commercial support for FOSS, I believe the FTC and Governments around the globe would have them in court before the transaction could take place. Their 70 billion will be drained from their coffers into the bonus checks of all those law firms.

    Oracle is an IT company, who has had the luxury if evading almost every 'war' this industry has seen. It's what makes them so scary in a way, but it also allows them to maneuver under the guise that there's no historical reasons to over react. They realize, I'm sure, that all their monies come from *us*. Who else is going to recommend Oracle? Expensive, Oracle? They aren't in the position of Microsoft, who can disregard the industries brightest minds because stupid people keep buying computers with Windows installed. Oracle made their zillions, in part, from actually appealing to the people who know a good database when they see it.

    Oracle and the world witnessed this community eat our own, SCO. So I hope they recognize we really do believe in what we preach and will refrain from anything stupid. I think we are a tad apathetic towards Oracle's new toys, but we are watching and a little cautious and so are other people. Had Microsoft tried to buy Sun, we would have drawn guns cocked and loaded, Oracle... we checked to see if we had ammo and sat down to see what happens.

  • Quick question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @08:30PM (#33052416)

    While they're at it why don't they buy SCO as well and end that crap too?

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