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IBM to Oracle - You Can't Buy Open Source 102

Posted by Zonk
from the hee dept.
mrops writes "CNET has up a short article about IBM's reaction to Oracle's recent acquisitions. From the article: 'Handy was responding to comments made by Oracle CEO Ellison to the Financial Times, where he said that he wanted Oracle to control a 'full stack' of software, including the Linux operating system. If Oracle did try to buy a Linux distributor, such as Red Hat or Novell, Handy said 'we'd stick to our strategy of having two or more independent distributors and have to wait and see what happens.'" It should be pointed out, as noted in yesterday's Slashback, that Ellison has no intentions of purchasing Red Hat.
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IBM to Oracle - You Can't Buy Open Source

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:58PM (#15167260)
    Oracle to IBM: No, but we can buy the people.
    • Slavery is legal in the U.S. again? Whoo hoo. No more ugly and unpredictable market forces in the hiring sector. I guess we don't need to maintain a 5% unemployment rate to keep the greed proles in line anymore.
      • My new catchphrase is "It's not a binary concept". Slavery was a form of contract labor with a non-terminating cotract. When people sold slaves they essentially sold the contract for their labor. When a company buys another company, it buys all the contracts that company has with it's workers.
        • > Slavery was a form of contract labor with a non-terminating cotract

          Uhh, no. Slaves were property, and it was a property contract between the buyer and the seller. The slave doesn't enter into it. Hardly a labor contract, and even states where slavery was legal never pretended it was (when they switched to indentured servitude that was hardly different, that was a different matter). There's oodles of (now worthless) case law from slavery days concerning the contract rights and responsibility of slav
          • Yeah, he sort of missed the whole property thing, didn't he. That's why it was called chattel slavery, they were chattels like cattle, horses, and wives. Mobile property.

            Just a bit of clarification, bond/indentured servitude mostly came before slavery. One of the impetus for chattel slavery was that they couldn't find anybody stupid enough to sign an indenturment to come work on the rice plantations and pitch works of the americas due to the death rates. Slavery was well established by the time cotton b
          • All contracts are contracts of property.
    • Problem solved. No I don't know the relative values of the companies.
      • Re:Oracle buys IBM (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@NOsPam.xoxy.net> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:07PM (#15167872) Homepage Journal
        Not sure if that was a joke, but just in case it wasn't:

        Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)
        • Market Cap $73.07 Billion USD,
        • revenue $13.41 B
        • gross profit $9.15 B
        • Employees 49,872


        International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
        • Market Cap $128.6 Billion USD,
        • revenue $91.13 B
        • gross profit $36.53 B
        • Employees 341,750

        So if either company were to buy the other, it would be IBM acquiring Oracle, but I think Oracle's probably too big for them to swallow in any event.

        Oracle is certainly the more profitable company though, in terms of profit/revenue, but then again they don't really manufacture anything, while IBM still makes and sells a lot of stuff.
        • Re:Oracle buys IBM (Score:3, Insightful)

          by the_womble (580291)
          Well its not unknown for companies to buy bigger ones, but that happens when the management of the bigger company are screwing up so badly that shareholders are willing to sell for shares in the new combined business.

          Buying something like Oracle would also not fit in with IBM's strategy of expanding services - their last big acquisition was a consultancy, and I bet their next one will be as well.
    • Anybody else remember the skit, I think it was from SNL, that had Bill Gates whistling 2400 baud into a telephone, and at the end he reveals that he just bought a sports team? The punchline is something like "I didn't just buy the team, I mean I bought the individual people!"
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:59PM (#15167267)
    Oracle doesn't want to buy Open Source, they want to buy installed bases.
  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:03PM (#15167300) Homepage Journal
    Why can't a company buy an open source project? Bring the developers on board, retain controlling rights, enforce licensing, etc... All OS means is that the code is published. Contrary to (supposed) popular believe, software, in and of itself, has no desire to be 'free.'

    -Rick
    • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

      The licensing that the open source software exists under says that everyone else can simply take that code and do what they want as long as they provide the source. There is no way for Oracle to take it away is what they were saying. I don't think they are trying to do that anyway. I think, like many others, that they simply want to step into the game with an installed base to get an advantage.
    • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sahuaro (524043)
      Well, for one thing the GPL would make that difficult, but if the existing license is like the BSD license than I suppose it could happen. A little like what apple did, yes?

      sahuaro
      • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rthille (8526)
        If it is GPL, but the copyright is retained by a small number of people who are willing to sell their rights to it, then it can be taken closed-source. Of course, anyone can fork from the last GPL'd version. That's essentially what happened with SSH if I understand that correctly.
        • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Homology (639438)
          If it is GPL, but the copyright is retained by a small number of people who are willing to sell their rights to it, then it can be taken closed-source. Of course, anyone can fork from the last GPL'd version. That's essentially what happened with SSH if I understand that correctly.

          SSH was under a freer license than GPL, but did use a GPL library. Today OpenSSH (a derivative of SSH) contains no GPL code. Have a look at the OpenSSH history [openssh.org]

          • Sure, the GPL doesn't matter in this case. What matters is that the copyright holder can chose to 'take the code non-opensource' for any and all improvements they make. But you can still fork the original 'open' code, if the license was truely open.
    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tdvaughan (582870) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:24PM (#15167486) Homepage
      One of the most important factors to an Open Source project's success is the community around it. Piss off the community and the project will be forked. Bug reports, feature requests, forums and mailing lists will dry up or dissolve into flamewars while the forked project takes developer interest away and eventually becomes incompatible with the original.
    • Actually, I don't think OS [Open Source] necessarily only means 'published code'. It also often includes the licensing to, among other things, protect the project from being exploited.

      Ok, sure, you could buy off the developers with enough cash. Sounds logical given enough money. But the people involved in certain organized, open projects often do have the desire for it to exist outside of corporate control. I'd like to think that a large group of the developers would immediately fork, pick a different nam

    • Open-source may just mean published code, but Free software means more. RMS has pointed out this distinction on numerous occasions.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "All OS means is that the code is published"

      You are only 1/10th correct.

      Wrong- Even Microsoft admitted this was wrong.

      Now go read up and become an educated Slashbot.
      http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php [opensource.org]

      1) Free Distibution
      2) Source code
      3) Derived works
      4) Integrity of The Author's Source Code
      5) No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
      6) No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
      7) Distribution of License
      8) License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
      9) License Must Not Restrict Other Software
      10)Lice
    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cyclops (1852) <rms&1407,org> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:58PM (#15168374) Homepage
      Contrary to (supposed) popular believe, software, in and of itself, has no desire to be 'free.'
      Software has no desire. Software is a set of specific rules that results in a specific and predictable effect. The code of such software, as was written, is covered by copyright, and software has copyright licenses.

      Free Software, contrary to what you seem to believe, is about providing users with certain freedoms:
      0. the freedom to run the program for any purpose
      1. the freedom to study the program and modify it according to your needs
      2. the freedom to distribute copies
      3. the freedom to publish modified versions

      So who has desire for theses Freedoms? Software? Don't be laughable. It's PEOPLE who desire it!

      Any software license that removes theses freedoms from users is disrespecting them. It's a license written with control in mind. Control of the user and what he may or may not be able to do.

      I for one, only use Free Software (for quite a long time, now), but in the beggining I thought only the quality of "open source" mattered. Then I learned better...
      • "Free Software, contrary to what you seem to believe"

        I made no comment on Free Software. I only stated (as we appear to agree on) that the software itself has no desire to be free.

        I think Free Software is neat. I think it is going to play a continued roll in the market of software development. I don't think, nor do I want all software to become free software.

        The point I was trying to specificly make is that a company absolutely CAN buy Open Source. Not to be confused with Free Software.

        -Rick
        • I don't think, nor do I want all software to become free software.

          Why do you think people don't deserve freedom? Advocate that all software should be Free Software: that way not only you don't force anyone, but you may help achieving the nice end result that all software eventually becomes Free Software.

          Remember, saying you don't want all software to be Free Software is like saying you don't want all humans to have freedom (I'm excluding criminals doing time for obvious reasons).

          • "Why do you think people don't deserve freedom?"

            Absolutely, and significantly more than software deserves freedom.

            "Remember, saying you don't want all software to be Free Software is like saying you don't want all humans to have freedom (I'm excluding criminals doing time for obvious reasons)."

            Just the opposite. If all software is free (as in beer) then software developers are NOT free. Free (as in speach) software can give some software developers MORE freedom while giving other developers LESS freedom. Th
            • Why do you keep confusing free beer with free speech? It does seem borderline intentional.

              I'm explicitly talking about freedom and not about price or being paid to develop Free Software.

              You do seem to want to remove freedoms from users... at least on some software... do you have a special undisclosed interest?
              • Freedom is subjective. Who's freedom are you placing at the top? The users? If the users get all their software "free" (as in beer AND speach), the the market for software development will shrink as their is less money moving into development. A shrinking market LIMITS users' selection of options which definately reduces their Freedom.

                Freedom for the original coders limits the freedom of derivative coders.

                Freedom for the derivative coders limits the freedom of the original coders.

                I'm not saying that Free (a
                • Freedom is subjective.

                  Not it's not. Not when it's as clearly defined as the Free Software definition [fsf.org].

                  Who's freedom are you placing at the top? The users?

                  I'm starting to think you're deliberatly trying to confuse this discussion. All software writers are users, so User means users. The GNU GPL in particular aims to defend the 4 freedoms for all users.

                  If the users get all their software "free" (as in beer AND speach), the the market for software development will shrink as their is less money moving

                  • "Who's talking about a _single_ solution?"

                    I am. I have been this whole time. To quote myself: "I think Free Software is neat. I think it is going to play a continued roll in the market of software development. I don't think, nor do I want all software to become free software."

                    "You have many desktop environments to choose from (GNOME and KDE being the most popular right now), many MTA servers (email), office suites, MUA (email clients) etc... etc..."

                    I'm not talking about a single system. I'm talking about a
            • "Remember, saying you don't want all software to be Free Software is like saying you don't want all humans to have freedom (I'm excluding criminals doing time for obvious reasons)."

              Isn't THAT kind of like somebody from PETA saying "Well - ANIMALS are people too, yanno"

          • While I personally can appreciate the freedoms given to me by free software, I don't think they are fundemental inalienable rights.

            first of all, the right to modify software is utterly useless to most people, because they don't have the skills. It's like telling a puppy that he has your permison to drive your car. It doesn't magically give him the ability. With most people, the reaction you will get will range from "well, it's a nice thought, but it doesn't really help me, sorry" to "Why can't you get it

            • first of all, the right to modify software is utterly useless to most people, because they don't have the skills.

              Freedom of press is also utterly useless to most people because they're not journalists. Do you wish to remove Freedom of press?

              as another poster already mentioned, if you mandate that software be free, you are sacrificing the freedom of one group of people "developers" for the freedom of another "users."

              Well, As you should be able to understand since you write english, I'm not mandating but

              • Freedom of press is also utterly useless to most people because they're not journalists. Do you wish to remove Freedom of press?

                No, freedom of the press is useful to most people because it provides them with information about the world that does not have to be government-approved, and so helps maintain and insure other freedoms. Freedom of software only helps most people to the extent that the open source development model helps them - it makes better software. therefor, if someone can make a product tha

                • No, freedom of the press is useful to most people because it provides them with information about the world that does not have to be government-approved, and so helps maintain and insure other freedoms

                  No, software freedom is useful to most people because it provides them with abilities about software that does not have to be software-company-approved, and so helps maintain and insure other software related freedoms.

                  See?

                  who in spite of the liscensing, still would like to use the proprietary software. Is

                  • No, freedom of the press is useful to most people because it provides them with information about the world that does not have to be government-approved, and so helps maintain and insure other freedoms

                    No, software freedom is useful to most people because it provides them with abilities about software that does not have to be software-company-approved, and so helps maintain and insure other software related freedoms.

                    See?

                    unfortunately, it doesn't quite translate. with software, you read the liscense

      • "Software is a set of specific rules that results in a specific and predictable effect." Not the way I write it, Buddy!
    • Actually, what you've described is known as "Shared Source". "Open Source" has much broader implications.

  • You can only rent it for a short period of time.

    I could have put something more sexual in the subject, but decided not to.

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:14PM (#15167388) Journal
    [IBM senior vice president Steve] Mills said Oracle has stuck to industry standards but does not have a long track record of involvement in open-source communities.

    That would mean becoming innovative, opening themselves up to new ideas, new ways of thinking. Can't have that! Then they might actually be able to compete with Microsoft.

    Hmmmmm... my sarcasm detector is going off...

    • They might be able to compete with Microsoft?

      I am not sure what you mean there. Are you implying that Microsoft inovates? Could you give me an example of this. I honestly can't think of one thing Microsoft has inovated. I can give countless examples of times Microsoft has tried to copy a competitors product, but it was far worse and then just bundled it in with the OS for "free" to just kill out their competion.

      Now I am by no way a huge fan of Oracle, or IBM, but at least both of them will work with oth
      • I am not sure what you mean there. Are you implying that Microsoft inovates? Could you give me an example of this. I honestly can't think of one thing Microsoft has inovated. I can give countless examples of times Microsoft has tried to copy a competitors product, but it was far worse and then just bundled it in with the OS for "free" to just kill out their competion.

        No, I don't mean Microsoft innovates. I mean Larry Ellison is trying to compete with Microsoft and is so far having no luck. I've said this

        • Oracle gains nothing now by buying into Linux but growing pains and the probable destruction of whatever Linux group they suck up

          Not at all. They push Oracle on Linux in a big way.

          They would do well to have a distro that they controlled so that they could tightly integrate the OS dev with their product development. Hell, it'd be nice to find a Linux distro that would run Oracle out of the box without having to do any tunings or tweakings. It would also be nice if there were a Linux distro that had Oracle
          • They would do well to have a distro that they controlled so that they could tightly integrate the OS dev with their product development.

            I don't know about them but I want to run whatever distribution I choose. If you want to install Oracle amd64 on Ubuntu you have to make the installer detect RedHat otherwise it refuses to run. I found this more annoying than all the other problems I had during the install.

            • Yeah... it's pretty trivial to "fake out" the installer, if you want. So sure, you can try to install it on any OS you want... they're not stopping you. (just be sure that the distro you set it to in order to fake out the installer matches the dependency/library set and/or install rules for the distro you're actually using). But installing it and getting it to run well/stable on an unsupported distro are two different things.

              Just as it's your choice of what OS you want to run it on, it's their choice as
          • Oracle can take any distro and tune it to their needs. And then launch "the new Orabuntu" (tataraaa) that is just the same distro tuned, period. At the same time they can build packages for any other distro. It would be something like "it runs with Linux. Better if it's with our distro".
            • But why waste time with distros that don't have official support services for business? After all, this represents their demographic. I've personally NEVER seen an Oracle install on Linux (that was paid for) that didn't have a full-on OS and hardware support contract in place. I've also never seen any real desire or need to run a different distro in those environments.

              Are you a potential, paying client of theirs? Have you told them of your desire to run a different distro? What are your reasons for wan
      • "Are you implying that Microsoft inovates?"

        I think MS has fooled a lot of people (including you) into thinking that innovation is the same as creation.

        Does MS innovate? Absolutely.

        Does MS create? That's the real question.
    • A sarcasm detector? Oh, that's a really useful inven*POOF*
  • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:22PM (#15167466)
    When Ellison says "We're not interested in RedHat / Novell right now," he means RIGHT NOW. Share prices rise on acquisition news and fall when those acquisitions fail to materialize. If he says "We're not buying RedHat," then the recent gains RedHat has seen because of the oracle takeover talk will probably go away (AFAIK there are no other suitors.)
  • by stanwirth (621074) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:31PM (#15167542)

    Both Oracle and IBM have got it wrong. If you've ever tried to install:

    • DB2
    • Oracle
    • WebSphere
    on a RedHat or SuSE , the first thing you notice is...both Oracle and IBM tried to make the installation easy by putting a shitty JAVA GUI on the thing. Two problems with this: it forces you to have to install JAVA and X windows eithier on your server (in the DMZ? I don't THINK so!) or to have to install just the X windows client bits on your sever along with Java...and then bring in a laptop that you attach to your server on a temporary network while the network is offline, yada yada yada....

    WHY NOT JUST WRITE A FRICKIN' RPM???? HUH? LIKE, ALONG WITH A PROPER DAEMON SCRIPT SO YOU CAN START AND STOP ORACLE, DB2, WebSphere, Etc Etc Etc in a single command-line, in the STANDARD LINUX WAY???? D'ya THINK????? DUH!

    A couple of people have tried to write an open-source RPM/daemon script suite around these packages, but of course -- then a new version of the proprietary DB/web service comes out.

    And both Oracle and IBM are rolling in dough, why would anyone do this for them for free?

    If a sysadmin got the freedom to run Open Source anything, they'll switch to PhP/MySQL and/or PostGreSQL (depending on whether they need triggers or not) soon enough ANYWAY

    Oracle could drastically increase its install base in the Linux community just by demonstrating some rudimentary competence in the area of standard Linux server systems software management.

  • I suspect what we have here is at least as much a misunderstanding as it is a real disagreement. The issue is what you mean by "control" over something. I think Oracle is thinking in terms of what I'd call positive control -- i.e. having direct input into its development, strategic direction, etc. I suspect IBM is talking more in terms of negative control -- i.e. being able to control what others do with the software.

    If that's the case, they're both basically right -- Oracle certainly can buy companies (f

  • They get a lot of good packages with the purchase. Are they going to integrate them into Oracle's product offerings? I'm personally not very convinced that they should be using SuSE for an Oracle Linux Server type product. It's a good desktop, but pretty bloated. It would seem to me that the best alternative would be to get a light-weight distribution for free and build on that. Oracle already has an installed base, and I'm sure they could get people to use Oracle Linux on a server that is going ot be purel
  • Oracle, like IBM, Sun and others are still all experimenting with the ways that they can make FOSS development work for them. Oracle is not likely to try to "own" any distribution of Linux, there's no profit or future in that. Instead they, like everyone else, want to set the open standards. Leading on open standards is leading the competiton. Rebecca Henderson, Professor of Management at MIT, has a a great talk on the new hyper-competitive world of open source. You can view it for free through MIT's O
  • Apache Geronimo (Score:2, Informative)

    by JimmyFo (924418)
    Didn't IBM just buy this opensource project: http://geronimo.apache.org/ [apache.org] and make it http://sourceforge.net/powerbar/websphere/ [sourceforge.net]? 1) Take open source software 2) Brand it 3) Profit?
  • by PenguinBoyDave (806137) <davidNO@SPAMdavidmeyer.org> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:17PM (#15167959)
    From: Larry Ellison
    To: IBM

    SUBJ: Your note to us about Open Source

    Dear IBM,

    Piss off. I have two Mig jets and a really big-ass boat. I can buy anything I want.

    Oraclistically Yours,

    Larry
  • saying

    Keep in mind it's not that good in most places yet.

    in reference to open source. Context: T: Is open source going to be disruptive to Oracle? LE: No. If an open source product gets good enough, we'll simply take it. Take [the web server software] Apache: once Apache got better than our own web server, we threw it away and took Apache. So the great thing about open source is nobody owns it - a company like Oracle is free to take it for nothing, include it in our products and charge for support, a

  • If Oracle bought SuSE, couldn't the SuSE team just start another distribution with the same underlaying content, but a different name?

    It's the ultimate scam!
    • If Oracle bought SuSE, couldn't the SuSE team just start another distribution with the same underlaying content, but a different name?

      Ofcourse they can, but to Oracle, the name is probably worth something too.

  • IBM is right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thbb (200684)
    The point of IBM, which seems inescapable, is that any software that has been released as OSS can't be reverted back to an non-OSS business model: as some version of the source and some user base exist on the market, any company with IBM's-like muscle can branch a free version and make it evolve anytime they want.

    This follows the predicate: Any useful software is bound to become free (as in beer) once the cost of its development has been amortized. The free (as in speech) software movement is not much more
  • Oracle doesn't want to own a linux distrib. What Oracle wants is a standard hardware interface for its database software. A bare metal install for the database. They tried to do this some years back but it never took off. They would like to have a "Database Appliance". Cuts down on the security issues for them becuase they control everything.. Install and patching is easy for you because it's one product, the Database.. But it doesn't have to stop at the database. You can have an AS appliance... an

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