Oracle kills Open Source Java with a really big rock?

Being known as the guy that called Oracle evil in a blog post, I feel I gotta comment on today’s announcement that Oracle is buying Sun Microsystems for 7.4 billion US dollars. As you can imagine, I’m not very optimistic.

What does the deal really mean to the Open Source Java community? Isn’t this just business as usual? And wouldn’t we be worse off if Big Blue would have bought Sun a couple of weeks back?

As you might have guessed, I would have preferred IBM to buy Sun for many reasons. Perhaps the main thing is that I feel IBM has been embracing open source, whereas Oracle hasn’t. It makes all the difference. Let’s hope Oracle sees the light and doesn’t screw up everything Java!

The Sun assets at stake:
Development Tools: NetBeans
Middleware: OpenSSO, Glassfish, MySQL, Java Hotspot JVM, Java Real Time System
Consumer Technology: OpenOffice, JavaFX / JavaFX Mobile

I’ll try to describe what I think is a likely outcome of the assets above by comparing them to Oracle’s current product line and let’s see how bad this actually can get…

Sun NetBeans vs Oracle JDeveloper

This is easy – no one uses JDeveloper, and it would surprise me if Oracle didn’t bite the bullet and ditch JDeveloper for NetBeans which has become a really good (the best?) IDE recently.

Sun OpenSSO vs Oracle Access Manager

There will be no point for Oracle to invest any money in OpenSSO when they already have a good offering in their Fusion middleware suite. OpenSSO is toast.

Sun Glassfish vs Oracle Weblogic

Oracle has a stronger app server in Weblogic than Glassfish is. I think that Glassfish will be put to the axe. Quickly. Oracle is not known for giving away software and they will only open source software that is needing life support. Some recent examples include TopLink and ADF Faces.

Sun MySQL vs Oracle RDBMS

I think this is _the_ most obvious: MySQL is TheirSQL now and also R.I.P.

Sun Java Hotspot vs Oracle JRockit

Being the cynical person I am, I think Oracle can kill two birds with one stone here. One might think that Oracle would merge the two VM efforts into one, but the result might not be what you think. Let’s just assume that Oracle takes the good stuff from JRockit and puts it into the Hotspot JVM reference implementation. Is this a likely scenario? Hell no. Oracle is in the software business to make money, and if you want to run a production-grade Java Server VM, then you will have to get it from Oracle for a fee. By doing this they also effectively kill Terracotta, the only viable contender to Oracle Coherence. See, Terracotta will not run on JRockit… The consumer JVM will be named Sun JVM. Oracle will of course keep the Java Real Time VM as it’s profitable business.

OpenOffice, JavaFX / JavaFX Mobile

Oracle’s track-record in building consumers applications is, well, not great. Anyone that’s ever tried to install an Oracle product knows what I’m talking about. So I don’t think OpenOffice will survive either. On the other hand Larry may want to keep pushing it just to be a thorn in Microsoft’s side… As for JavaFX, it doesn’t really stand a chance versus Adobe – its too little, and too late. Oracle knows this and will kill it. Quietly.

So, is this good for anyone at all? Yes. Oracle and Microsoft. Everyone else loses. IBM is in a really awkward situation and JavaOne this year may be the ultimate funeral service for (free) open source Java.

Keep in mind that when Oracle says open they generally mean open standards whereas when IBM and Sun says open they generally mean free open source software.

I’ll close with a few Larry Ellison quotes from the conference call:

“Java is the foundation of the Oracle Fusion middleware and its the second most important software asset we’ve ever acquired.”

“We acquired BEA because they had the leading Java virtual machine”

5 thoughts on “Oracle kills Open Source Java with a really big rock?

  1. I am suprised everyone forget a very important part of the java landscape, namely J2ME which includes CLDC, CDC, Blu-Ray, JavaCard, JavaTV, etc. This stuff is actually making money for Sun but I cannot see Oracle as wanting any of it. This could mean the death of some significant technology.

  2. Good point Teknokrat. I must admit I personally don’t care so much about JavaME. But I agree there is indeed is a significant risk with all things Java now. It’s quite sad for all the great new languages being built on top of the JVM too, such as Scala, Clojure, Groovy, JRuby to name a few.

  3. Pingback: Sunset « Stefan Norberg’s weblog

  4. No one can kill popular opensource stuff. If they decide to stop developing it, we decide to fork it. OpenJDK, MySQL, OpenSolaris, GlassFish, NetBeans, HotspotVM, all of this is opensource.

    • Yes, but someone need to manage them, otherwise they die. You need to consider that 90% or more of the contributions to the Open Source projects we discuss here are made by people that have a full time job at Sun working with these projects.

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