The Oracle v. Google trial is kind of hard to miss this week, and it's dragging out all kinds of nuggets of information. One of the best this week? Oracle's CEO unintentionally taking a jab at his own company's enterprise Linux strategy.
Talking about copyrights, Ellison defended the attack on Google and says that copyrights are necessary for protecting Oracle's R&D efforts. According to Mercury News, Ellison said "If people could copy our software and create cheap knockoffs of our products, we wouldn't get paid for our engineering and wouldn't be able to invest what we invest."
The funny thing is, copyrights haven't kept Oracle from copying Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), adding a few tweaks, and rebranding it as "Unbreakable Linux." It doesn't seem to keep Ellison up at night that Oracle's strategy could hamper Red Hat's efforts and prevent it from investing in the R&D that produces RHEL.
Clearly, Oracle is unwilling to participate fully in the system that they're benefiting from, though. Red Hat, faced with Oracle and others copying RHEL, has "obfuscated" its kernel code and generally doesn't go out of its way to make the copying easy. What they haven't done, though, is to try to use the courts to prevent competition.
If Ellison has a problem with "cheap knockoffs," maybe he ought to re-think Unbreakable Linux.
Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years covering IT. Formerly the openSUSE Community Manager for Novell, Brockmeier is a longtime free and open source software advocate. He has written for many publications, including Linux Magazine, Sys Admin, Linux Pro Magazine, IBM developerWorks, Linux.com, CIO.com, Linux Weekly News, ZDNet, and many others.