The Oracle - Open Source War Heats Up At MySQL and Open Office

Battles at MySQL and OpenOffice are just the latest skirmishes

The war of wills between Oracle and a doubting open source community continues on two fronts today. The MySQL and OpenOffice open source franchises are now both facing forks led by influential members of the community. Oracle's response may be telling in how it views these open source projects.

First on the MySQL side of the war, SkySQL has recently launched. Led by many former MySQL executives and perhaps more importantly, with the support and efforts of many MySQL community developers, the company is not advocating a fork or split from MySQL. At least not right now. Actually the company is committed to offering both open source and commercial products in support of MySQL. SkySQL service offerings will compete head-to-head with Oracle's offerings in support of MySQL.

In an article in Database Journal, SkySQL and former MySQL exec, Kaj Arno laid out the case of why so many MySQL veterans have left the company and don't trust Oracle. He said, "I learned that if your address is in Munich and not in Redwood Shores, that makes your voice less heard," Arno said. "I also think that it's very hard to combine Oracle’s focus on business with open source. In open source there is not a straight line with what you do now and what you earn in profits next quarter."

While not at this time advocating and official fork of MySQL, SkySQL also supports the MariaDB database engine. It is started by another ex-MySQL co-founder, Monty Widenius. It is backwards compatible with MySQL and appears to be a fork of a pre-Sun, pre-Oracle version of MySQL.

The SkySQL team says they will not be contributing code to MySQL though. Instead any bug fixes or other code will be contributed to MariaDB.  While not telling everyone to migrate to MariaDB, Arno says ""If you are a MySQL customer and your bug is fixed in MariaDB, I think it might make sense to move."

SkySQL is going to try and wrest control of the hearts and soul of the MySQL community away from Oracle while using the same code for now, but if that doesn't work I would not be surprised to see them get behind MariaDB as a fork of MySQL and take Oracle out of the open source database business.

In the meantime on an IRC chat the Oracle employed community manager for OpenOffice has delivered an ultimatum to several OpenOffice community council members who led the formation of the Document Foundation and OpenLibre to either resign or be thrown off of the community council by next Tuesday.

Louis Saurez-Potts, who chairs the council on behalf of Oracle wrote this at the community council meeting over IRC, "Your role in the Document Foundation and LibreOffice makes your role as a representative in the OOo CC untenable and impossible. [I]t causes confusion, it is a plain conflict of interest, as TDF split from OOo," he told TDF members during a council meeting that took place on an IRC channel. "If the TDF members do not disassociate themselves from the [Document Foundation] then they must resign by Tuesday."

Now that doesn't sound so neighborly to me. If I was a betting a man, at this point I would bet that Oracle probably won't take the Document Foundation up on their offer to join the Document Foundation. I think Oracle views the DF move as an attempt to rip out a potential big piece of revenue from Oracle's dominion.

In light of Oracle's past behavior, I would say the DF will have to take OpenOffice out of Larry Ellison's cold, stiff, dead hands before Oracle gives it up. So this is shaping up into quite a battle. In the end though I think the OpenOffice battle will be the preliminary to the main event.

The MySQL and open source community plainly does not trust Oracle. There are many people lining up to make sure there are open source alternatives to any Oracle database offering.  If the former MySQL folks are serious about taking the hearts and minds of the MySQL community away from Oracle, there will be blood in the streets of database city on this one. I am going to strap on my flak jacket and helmet to report on the action!

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