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A year later: has Oracle ruined or saved Sun?

Paul Krill | Feb. 10, 2011
The company irks open source advocates but is steadfast in upgrading Sun-derived technologies

Open source projects: Steps both forward and backward Besides Java, which became an open source venture in late 2007, Oracle has taken on other open source projects from Sun, including the NetBeans IDE, productivity suite, and Project Hudson -- causing consternation with the last two efforts.

Backers of Hudson have been sniping at Oracle over independence and trademark issues, prompting a move to change the project name to Jenkins. "The underlying problem was that since I left Oracle, there was virtually zero contribution from Oracle to the project in terms of the development resources, marketing, etc," says project leader Kohsuke Kawaguchi, one of many high-profile technologists to leave Oracle since the Sun acquisition. "So over the past year, people doing the work started to feel that it's a truly community-driven project like Linux kernel, not a vendor-driven [open source] project like JBoss."

Hudson supporters were thus rudely surprised when "last November, our project hosting infrastructure at was suddenly locked down. So the developers decided to move the code to better hosting infrastructure, and that's when Oracle [senior vice president] Ted Farrell showed up and told us that we can't do that because they own the name Hudson," Kawaguchi recalls.

With, Oracle raised eyebrows when it released the Oracle ODF Plug-In for Microsoft (MSFT), for sharing files between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office, charging $90 and requiring a minimum order of 100. Supporters of the project ended up forming an independent group, the Document Foundation, and released the LibreOffice fork of Openoffice, calling it "the next evolution of the world's leading office suite." But Oracle continues to update OpenOffice: OpenOffice 3.3 was released in January, with enhancements for usability, productivity, and internationalization.

NetBeans also has marched onward, even though Oracle already had commitments to its own JDeveloper Java IDE and the open Eclipse open source IDE. NetBeans has remained an Oracle-sponsored project, and NetBeans 6.9 was released in June featuring JavaFX Composer, a visual layout tool for JavaFX. NetBeans 7.0 is due this spring, offering Java SE 7 capabilities. But Ruby on Rails development has been dropped from the 7.0 release, with NetBeans builders citing a lack of use and a need to prioritize on Java.

MySQL database now firmly in Oracle's product arsenal Oracle's ownership of the open source MySQL database had been a bone of contention for many. For example, it caused the European Union to hold up the sale of Sun in 2009 pending review of the antitrust implications on MySQL specifically and open source in general. (The EU ultimately gave the go-ahead.) But Oracle delivered MySQL 5.5 in December, featuring scalability for Web application on multiple operating environments. MySQL Enterprise, featuring the database with production tools, was refreshed in May, with enhanced query monitoring and security capabilities. The MySQL Cluster 7.1 database was released in April, with automated management.


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