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Ellison: Open source needs more friends like me

Mar 08, 20062 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinuxOpen Source

* Ellison says big vendors made Linux and open source what they are today

File under: biting the penguin fin that feeds you.

According to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the success of Linux and open source software is a direct result of the billions of dollars big IT vendors, such as IBM, HP and Oracle have put into the technology’s development, and not any altruistic, free-code-loving open source movement.

“The names of the companies that developed Linux [are] IBM, Intel, Oracle,” Ellison said at a recent news event in Tokyo, “not a community of people who think everything should be free. Open source is not a communist movement.”

Clearly, this message is aimed at corporate IT buyers who may have reservations about open source software. Ellison’s point is to dispel these thoughts, since his firm has invested heavily making Oracle databases run on Linux – Oracle claims it has more Linux programmers than Red Hat. But his thoughts certainly do not give the warm-and-fuzzies to thousands of hackers who work in their spare time to make Linux a better operating system, or countless other open source coders working on thousands of other projects.

Last time I checked, development and approval of new Linux kernel versions go through Linus Torvalds, who, as of the e-mailing of this newsletter, was not yet an employee of IBM, Oracle or HP. IBM chipping in a billion to develop Linux into an enterprise-class operating system is nothing to sneeze at; but how did Linux get to the point where IBM was willing to make that bet? How about millions of hacker eyeballs pouring over the code after work or late at night in the basement?

Here’s an idea for an interesting afternoon: an upcoming LinuxWorld, with Ellison as the keynote (he’s done it in the past, but not slated for any upcoming shows) with Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond and John “madddog” Hall in the front row.