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Oracle Drops Sun's Commitment To Accessibility

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-need-it-until-you-need-it dept.

GNOME 220

An anonymous reader writes "What I feared has come true: after buying Sun, Oracle had a look at its accessibility group and made big cuts in it by firing the most important contributors to the Linux accessibility tools. This is a very sad day for disabled people, as it means we do not really have full-time developers any more." The coverage in OSTATIC has a few more details, including the caution: "This just shows that all too few companies are sponsoring a11y work. If one company laying off a couple of developers spells trouble for the project, then there were problems before that happened" (thanks to reader dave c-b for pointing this out).

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First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068202)

This post is for GNAA

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068222)

The Greater Need for Accelerating Accessibility?

Bad taste joke (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068348)

I guess the blind didn't see that one coming!

They should have consulted the Oracle!

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here till next thursday, please tip your waitress!

Re:Bad taste joke (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068774)

Oh, come on! He's funny! Even to a guy losing his vision! Sorry to debase myself by talking about flambait mods...

There is still hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068204)

The beautiful thing about Gnome is that it is an open source project that anyone can contribute to. Also, you can learn to type with your nose and maybe your foot (to operate the shift key) so you can contribute code to the project that way

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068226)

After all, the Gnome logo is a foot. Just type with you feet and it's alright!

XD

Re:There is still hope (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068410)

No, I think Oracle is just wise enough to see GNOME for what it is today: a failure.

It really doesn't have much going for it. It's a fucking dependency hell, with even a basic GNOME installation requiring the compilation of over 60 separate packages. Sure, there are various scripts to help with this, but it's still a huge hassle dealing with this many dependencies, even when automated.

It's also built upon a lousy toolkit. GTK+ is a has-been, and is absolutely pathetic compared to a modern toolkit like Qt. GTK+ has a terrible API (modelled on Motif!), not to mention a slow implementation. Their GObject "object system" is absolutely terrible. They could have at least used Objective-C, if they didn't want to use C++.

The development of GNOME itself has stagnated over the past couple of years. Sure, GNOME 3 is supposed to be released in September, but what we've seen so far has been very immature. If people felt that KDE 4 was released too early, GNOME 3 will be released while it's basically at the embryonic phase of its development. Oracle has realized this, and it's not surprising that they're washing their hands of it.

If it weren't for GNOME being the default desktop of Ubuntu and Fedora (which is more a fluke of history), it would be long forgotten by now. KDE and XFCE are where the real innovation is happening these days, and the remnants of the GNOME community can't do a thing about it. GNOME is a project that is, for all intents and purposes, obsolete.

Re:There is still hope (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068586)

Nice troll. But in reality, any desktop based on the archaic X11 system will fester away in total obscurity on engineering workstations and in virgins' basements. Eventually the themes will look tastelessly out of date, and even the most arduous zealots won't be able to deny the obsolesce caused by the death of investment into the failed project of the Linux desktop.

In ten years its easy to imagine that something like Android might dominate whatever is left of the *nix desktop market.

KDE rejoices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068238)

No offense, but this is just more fuel to the fire of GNOME vs KDE flamewars.

Retards (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068240)

Retards use Linux? Who knew...

Re:Retards (0, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068248)

No, retards currently use Windows, it has great accessibility support.

This about making sure retards can use Linux in the future.

Re:Retards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068284)

Too many witty and or generally degrading comments i could make about both the intellectually disabled and windows users.

I have a free pass given my own share of intellectual show stoppers (of the social variety if you must know), i however choose not to exercise it.

Re:Retards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068460)

both the intellectually disabled and windows users.

both? and?

Re:Retards (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068646)

Do you now. Interesting.

Use Windows 7 (0, Troll)

benxx (1240318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068252)

Doesn't Windows 7 offer excellent accessibility options??

Re:Use Windows 7 (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068516)

The funny thing about the modding is that if this was a story about Windows dropping commitment to accessibility and someone said "use Linux" it would be modded +5 Insightful.

*Physically disabled* (-1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068258)

You're not mentally disabled (I hope). The code is available for you to modify and extend as you please. What's with all the bellyaching?

This is the biggest problem with the OSS community. There are a whole lot of people who want something for nothing, and the way the system works does nothing to encourage people to participate in the hard part.

Re:*Physically disabled* (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068306)

This has absolutely nothing to do with "wanting something for nothing." The more people working on accessibility, the quicker the work gets done. Naturally the reduction of contributers would be viewed as a bad thing by the OSS community.

Re:*Physically disabled* (2, Informative)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068372)

Yes, actually it does. Though to be more specific, you want the work done faster for nothing. Not going to happen.

Re:*Physically disabled* (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068738)

-1 troll by nature. Probably some birther teabagger too.

Re:*Physically disabled* (5, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068596)

A lot of the fear in blind-linux land isn't because Oracle fired two people, but because they fired Willie Walker. So far as I can tell from all the accessibility code I've read, Willie roughly plays the same role for open-source accessibility that Linus Torvalds plays for Linux. It's as if someone bought the company Linus works for, and said, "This guy is overpaid. Let's save some money."

I'm slowly losing my own vision, but while I can still use inaccessible software, I'm hacking like crazy in my free time to improve the things in Linux land. So, I've read a lot of code, and Willie's name is all over the place. The most important centerpiece of Linux accessibility is the Orca screen reader for the Gnome desktop. Who do you think was in charge of both Orca and Gnome accessibility? Willie, and for damned good reasons.

For guys like me who write code on Linux boxes for a living, Willie's departure from Sun is scary as hell.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068690)

Sad indeed but they need to maintain products accessible as they are becoming regulated for government purchases and soon, if not already, will be required by large corporations for bidding on commercial tenders. Sun wants a nice, then fine but hopefully this is only a set-back and not a complete withdrawal.

Re:*Physically disabled* (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068722)

I hate asking this - but would it be possible for the people in need of this kind of software to create a facebook page and ask for donations. At @$250 per person, you need just 400 to hit the magic $100K number. I would happily donate for this cause, and I think a lot of others would too.

While working on such issues is very important. it is hard for companies to keep employees just cos they are working on something which is not directly productive to a company ( or convince google .. intel or someone else to fund your 'accessiblity' program.)

My sympathies to you, and I look forward to hearing that you have a facebook page for Willie Walker - and that you raise a lot of money. I look forward to dontating.

Re:*Physically disabled* (2, Interesting)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068798)

I don't understand one thing: what stops Willie from continuing his work? Did Oracle fire him and take his brains away? Did he leave his knowledge in Oracle's courtyard and start playing Minesweeper for the rest of his life?
Gnome Accessibility code is Open Source AFAIK. Correct me if I'm wrong please. Therefore, anyone can continue doing that, including the oh-so-famous Willie. If a company decides there's no gain involved in keeping someone, the company will let the guy go. Furthermore, if Willie is as famous as you state, other companies should fight over him like crazy.
Ergo: Either Willie ain't that good or he was doing what he was doing solely for money. And yes, if no passion was involved, I would be scared as well. Otherwise, just wait and see.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068332)

In general, you're right. You want a feature in OSS, and no one is doing it? Do it yourself. Accessibility falls into a different category. You *could* say, sorry you weren't born with sight, try again next life. But that wouldn't be a very nice thing to say. We have two main commercial operating systems, Mac OS X, and Windows. So, let's say both companies decide accessibility doesn't matter, just screw it. Are people with disabilities supposed to just lie down and take it? I would hope we've evolved past that.

Re:*Physically disabled* (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068434)

Maybe not lie down and take it. But I'd be happy if Microsoft ditched the features that I don't only don't need, but actively get in my way, and all y'all paid your own way to accessibility instead of riding on my pocketbook.

Re:*Physically disabled* (4, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068470)

Yeah, let's stop paying for a public police force. If you can't afford to pay protection, you deserve what you get.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068610)

A public police force benefits everybody except criminals. Accessibility options only benefit a tiny minority.

Perhaps a better comparison would be "Yeah, let's stop paying for public education. If you can't afford to pay for school, you deserve what you get." Which I agree with.

Re:*Physically disabled* (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068658)

Accessibility options only benefit a tiny minority.

Obviously you plan on getting yourself killed before you get old. You certainly are dumb enough to succeed.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068676)

>

Perhaps a better comparison would be "Yeah, let's stop paying for public education. If you can't afford to pay for school, you deserve what you get." Which I agree with.

Hence the 'posted by Anonymous Coward'. Don't feed the troll.

Re:*Physically disabled* (-1, Troll)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068688)

You're education was either 1) public or 2) paid by mommy and daddy. Enough with the plutocratic fuck the poor bullshit.

Re:*Physically disabled* (3, Insightful)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068482)

Accessibility falls into a different category. You *could* say, sorry you weren't born with sight, try again next life. But that wouldn't be a very nice thing to say.

Except it's the very people with disabilities who often work toward finding the solutions they need. Just ask Louis Braille.

Are people with disabilities supposed to just lie down and take it? I would hope we've evolved past that.

No, but they also don't need you to tell them what to take or not take. People with disabilities are just as capable as anyone else to solve their own problems without your concern, interference, or instructions.

Re:*Physically disabled* (4, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068710)

Let me tell you, you're right that the blind do take control and solve the problem themselves. If you lost your sight and hearing, and you were a big Linux hacker, what would you do? Buy a Braille display, slap some low-level code to drive it into the kernel to read the console, and you're off coding! That project is called "speakup", and it's great for blind-deaf programmers, and not bad at all for the blind who can hear. What if you're a really good emacs hacker who loses your vision? What do you do? Rewrite the entire desktop environment based on talking emacs? That project is called emacspeak, and many consider it the most productive environment for blind programmers with good hearing.

What if you want access to all those great Gnome applications like FireFox and OpenOffice? Now, you're at the mercy of the big Linux distros, because it involves 100 binary packages that the distro ships to all take part. That's where you need a guy like Willie Walker, who has the clout at all the major distros to set the direction for the entire linux accessibility community. That's the guy Oracle fired. That's the code which may fall apart, and the blind will not be able to fix it, not unless they find a new Willie Walker.

Re:*Physically disabled* (3, Insightful)

ziggygushi (1587705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068818)

As a Legally Blind It Pro I'm with you. And here's something a lot of people are missing on this discussion. Linux or what ever oracle is pushing selling is going no-where without accessibility. Because I'd imagine some of the first places to pick it up would be the government and the Feds can't touch it if it doesn't have accessibility features.

Re:*Physically disabled* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068836)

That's the code which may fall apart, and the blind will not be able to fix it, not unless they find a new Willie Walker.

He's not dead you know... He's just not drawing a paycheck from Oracle anymore.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068850)

Great reply. I remember back in the days of BBSes. Making add-ons for the blind was relatively easy then, since everything was text based. Hell, with a 300 baud modem, the software could probably speak the text faster than it would show up. :) Everything is much more complicated now, and you can't expect one person to just throw something together to solve the problem.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068544)

In general, you're right. You want a feature in OSS, and no one is doing it? Do it yourself.

And if you can't do it yourself and can't afford to pay someone to do it for you then bad luck, that's the free software way! Yay freedom!

Re:*Physically disabled* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068696)

And this is why free software is superior to commercial software!

Re:*Physically disabled* (0, Flamebait)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068632)

"Are people with disabilities supposed to just lie down and take it?"

Well in the Open Source world, that's exactly what EVERYONE who isn't capable or willing to fix their problems themselves is supposed to do.

Don't like it? Fix it, hire someone to fix it, or shut the hell up. This is almost always (still!) promoted as a positive feature, but in reality is a significant disadvantage.

Sorry, but the disabled community gets no special treatment on this issue.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068848)

90+ percent of the blind just use Windows, and are fairly happy with it. The best software, JAWs, ain't cheap at > $1000 per year, but that's the price of top-notch closed-source assessibility software.

But Linux isn't for Average Joe. It's for hackers like a lot of us here on slashdot. We do work together and individually like crazy to make Linux a great platform for the blind and visually impaired. There are multipl very successful applications written primarily by a single blind author. Linux is where a blind hacker can take control of his own life, and get a well paying job as a programmer.

Still, Linux didn't get to where it is because of a bunch of hackers with spare time. The big pieces are all funded. Think OpenOffice would continue improving with no paid developers? From the Gnome desktop to Firefox to Skype, someone got paid to write or port the major apps.

The core accessibility of Gnome using a screen reader is too big a job for any one person. It takes a community leader and a hell of a coder, someone paid to do it full time. That person was Willie, until Oracle laid him off. I'm a fair hacker myself, but I'm very very concerned... All those great Gnome apps could become useless to the blind within a few years, and there's just too much for a hacker to fix in spare time.

Re:*Physically disabled* (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068346)

"Oracle is committed to creating accessible technologies and products that enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of our employees, our customers, and our customers' customers."
--Safra Catz, President and CFO, Oracle

For many reasons--legal, business, and ethical--Oracle recognizes the need for our applications, and our customers' and partners' products built with our tools, to be usable by the disabled community.

So not really "bellyaching", more of a "holding a company to the claims they make."

A lot of people were worried what would happen to the support of these programs when the buyout was announced. Almost as if they were part of a community that used the products and hoped that the support they have given the company wasn't going to result in them being abandoned after the merger.

I'm Joanie. By day, I'm an assistive technology specialist working with individuals who are blind or visually impaired. By night, weekend, and holiday for almost four years now, I've been a GNOME community contributor working primarily on the Orca screen reader, a project led by Sun's Accessibility Program Office.

---The author of the article you didn't read.

Capitalism at work... (3, Interesting)

VendettaMF (629699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068260)

Surely this does not come as a surprise to anyone?

Oracle, who have deliberately lessened the abilities of their own products (from a reasonably solid database system 10 years ago to a steaming turd now) in order to sell more licenses to do the same amount of work will continue to cut anything that is not immediately profitable.

Anything that Sun pursued on moral or ethical grounds, and anything that shows "future promise" will be axed as soon as they spot it.

As well as anything that could potentially compete with their more expensive in-house crap.

People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry. However, as a corporation, Oracle can and will have all relevant American laws re-written/re-interpreted as necessary to see all commercial deployment of MySQL in the USA dead within two years.

Re:Lawyers at work... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068282)

Startup your Word Perfects, warm the laser printers, and start sending your demands under the Disabilities Act.

Re:Lawyers at work... (3, Insightful)

0x000000 (841725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068320)

Why? Oracle is not required under any laws to provide development time to help make Linux or any OS more friendly towards people with disabilities. Sun was doing this out of their own great good heart.

It is in their best interest to make Solaris/OpenSolaris more friendly towards people with disabilities in an attempt to capture more market share that otherwise would go to Apple Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows where such products already exist.

Re:Lawyers at work... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068428)

Sun was doing this because they hoped it would profit them later one and that is the only reason.

Re:Lawyers at work... (4, Insightful)

Sri Ramkrishna (1856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068700)

Why? Oracle is not required under any laws to provide development time to help make Linux or any OS more friendly towards people with disabilities. Sun was doing this out of their own great good heart.

It is in their best interest to make Solaris/OpenSolaris more friendly towards people with disabilities in an attempt to capture more market share that otherwise would go to Apple Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows where such products already exist.

Actually, they did this because if Sun wants to get Solaris with GNOME on government desktops they need to have accessibility. So this is to comply with government contracts. Nobody pays for this kind of thing out of the goodness of their hearts. This is a public-ly traded company.. sheesh. sri

Re:Capitalism at work... (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068328)

It might not have been a surprise but it is very unfortunate that Oracle did this.

Re:Capitalism at work... (1)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068568)

Pardon my naivete, but couldn't this be an opportunity for some other company to step in and fill the gap left behind by Oracle?

Re:Capitalism at work... (2, Insightful)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068350)

People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry. However, as a corporation, Oracle can and will have all relevant American laws re-written/re-interpreted as necessary to see all commercial deployment of MySQL in the USA dead within two years.

MySQL needs to be forked, before it gets forked in the rear by Oracle.

...I apologise for the horrible pun.

Insightful!? (2, Informative)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068664)

It's not like anybody would ever [planetmariadb.org] think of such a thing [drizzle.org] .

Re:Capitalism at work... (4, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068530)

Surely this does not come as a surprise to anyone?

Oracle, who have deliberately lessened the abilities of their own products (from a reasonably solid database system 10 years ago to a steaming turd now) in order to sell more licenses to do the same amount of work will continue to cut anything that is not immediately profitable.

Anything that Sun pursued on moral or ethical grounds, and anything that shows "future promise" will be axed as soon as they spot it.

Or, if we take off our doom-coloured spectacles, we might realise that Oracle (largely a server applications company) and Sun (largely a server hardware company) probably don't consider a niche open source desktop environment to be part of their core business. In other news, I hear the Dunlop tyre company hasn't spent much on improving the accessibility of car stereos either.

Re:Capitalism at work... (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068552)

Oracle, who have deliberately lessened the abilities of their own products (from a reasonably solid database system 10 years ago to a steaming turd now) in order to sell more licenses to do the same amount of work will continue to cut anything that is not immediately profitable.

Sounds like a necessity if you plan on turning around a company that has been severely hemmorhaging cash.

Re:Capitalism at work... (5, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068600)

People have been worrying about MySQL. They have been right to worry.

Its funny. With all the hubbub surrounding MySQL, hardly anyone has even bothered asking what's going to happen to OpenOffice.org.

Oracle DB (5, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068276)

Oracle has a solid core DB engine. It dates back to the seventies, but it has evolved and it's still really good. Everything built around it is pretty much crap. But people buy from Oracle for the DB engine, then get stuck buying a lot of other super-expensive, bad quality software. I love PostgreSQL, and it's getting better every day, but there's still some stuff the core Oracle engine did ten years ago you can't get anywhere else.

Re:Oracle DB (2, Insightful)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068358)

there's still some stuff the core Oracle engine did ten years ago you can't get anywhere else

I am genuinely interested in what these include, particularly the business case or problem you are solving with them. There are lots of features or specific implementations of features that are unique to Oracle.

Re:Oracle DB (4, Interesting)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068464)

It's not any one thing. It's lots of little things. Lots of flexibility and subtlety with SQL statements. Some obscure functions you wouldn't find anywhere else. More powerful and intricate subqueries and triggers. Extreme flexibility in modifying existing tables and other data structures live. An almost insane level of customizability (any good book on Oracle spends half the book talking about installation.) Now it's not perfect, they still don't have a proper time/date format (time_t anyone??), making date calculations across timezones and taking daylight savings into account a real pain.

Granted, most people don't need this stuff. PostgreSQL is good enough for most roles. The complexity versus reward ratio might not work out for a lot of things anymore, nevermind the cost. I'm out of the game now, so I don't know what the latest stuff does, but they were definitely ahead of the pack for a long time. But they're kind of just going on inertia now. They don't even define themselves as a database company anymore, though that's the only really good product they have. I probably wouldn't buy it today, but I have some fond memories, and it really helped me to build some great stuff.

Re:Oracle DB (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068772)

I am genuinely interested in what these include, particularly the business case or problem you are solving with them.

One from my limited experience: Recursive queries.

Example: Create a tree structure where every node has a reference to its parent. Now try to select all the leaf nodes under a given $node.

Several commercial DBMSes will let you do this directly (eg, CONNECT BY in Oracle). Postgres and MySQL cannot, and you have to create a loop where you select all nodes where parent = $node, then take that $list and select all nodes where there parent = $list; then repeat until you don't get anything back. There are performance penalties for this.

There are other [codeproject.com] ways [informationweek.com] to create trees in an RDBMS without a recursion feature, but you'll invariably end up having to either take a performance hit, or make updates significantly more complicated: your application has to update the tree metadata every time a node is added, deleted, or moved, which is just begging for referential integrity errors.

Re:Oracle DB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068508)

What does this have to do with accessibility? Way off point.

Re:Oracle DB (1)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068598)

I commented on accessibility on another thread. Sorry if the topic took me back. I didn't mean to reminisce inappropriately.

Linux often not sold (1)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068606)

As long as Oracle is not selling Linux, Oracle has no legal obligation under 508 to make Linux accessible.

A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free. This was possible as long as Sun was doing the heavy lifting of developing access tools that are required in government settings, under section 508 and ADA.

If accessibility development for Linux goes away, U.S. government offices and schools won't be able to use Linux. Oracle isn't mandated to do accessibility development in this situation, because they aren't selling anything. Somebody's going to have to pick this up if they want Linux to be viable in U.S. government and public schools.

Re:Oracle DB connectors (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068670)

Just don't try to get to it from SQL Server. What a nightmare to set up and maintain. Queries time out, leaving the SQL job thinking it's connected but Oracle is just sitting there, for days on end. No our SQL timeouts aren't disabled.

Initial setup was a pain as well. 600MB install to get a handful of .dlls to make an Oracle.OleDB connection. The "client lite" installs didn't work one bit - kinda like some random guy putting files in a zip and telling you to put random things in random folders and run an arcane command-line utility to "install" it. Nope, doesn't work. 600MB here we go.

Universal installer - holy crap, I can watch it paint itself, like we're back in the days of NT 4 Server on a p233-MMX. Paint some lines, wait for disk IO, paint some more. Over MSTSC, the installer repaints each window 3 times. No other app behaves like that.

It might be a good database server, but it doesn't like to be connected to anything but itself. Or maybe we can just say it hates Windows. Either way, it's the part of the job I hate. Sure blame me for not being qualified, I was hired as ASP+SQL and they don't let me DBA, nor set aside time for training, and the Oracle drivers are unsupported. So it's all me fighting the beast. At least they could declaw it, or feed it before selling it to people so it doesn't immediately eat their souls.

Re:Oracle DB connectors (1)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068778)

Hey, I still miss the day they got rid of the curses installer for the java crap. :) However, I was fortunate enough to work in IT for 15 years, and I never once ran Windows. My Oracle experience is mostly on Solaris, with some HP and Linux. Believe it or not, the last time I ran Windows on my personal desktop was when 3.1 was still current. I actually made it a condition of my employment, I'd tell my boss straight up on my first day, that I won't run Windows, let me know now if that is a problem.

Bad title (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068286)

It should say: Oracle breaks their commitment to accessibility, that they inherited when they acquired sun.

In other words, Oracle is going back on their word, and is perhaps about to show how dishonest, despicable, and evil they (apparently) are, or not, depending on whether they keep their word (or not).

Once you make a commitment, you can't "drop it". You either uphold your promise, or you break it.

It looks like Oracle's about to break their promise.

It doesn't matter at all that people who worked for Sun originally made the promise. Oracle acquired Sun, so they acquired all their promises, obligations, and dirty laundry too.

Revising or 'dropping' a promise you made is called reneging on obligations you made.

When a company says they're committed to something, they've made a promise. They can't become "uncommitted" or "no longer committed" without either succeeding, or having lied in the first place.

Re:Bad title (0, Redundant)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068296)

People cheat on their spouses all the time.

Re:Bad title (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068380)

It would be nice if the world was as you described, but in business, it just doesn't hold good. There are no real commitments. The only real commitments are those that you are forced to uphold - not morally obliged to uphold. This is how companies have been doing business for a long time now.

Re:Bad title (3, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068466)

It should say: Oracle breaks their commitment to accessibility, that they inherited when they acquired sun.

In other words, Oracle is going back on their word, and is perhaps about to show how dishonest, despicable, and evil they (apparently) are, or not, depending on whether they keep their word (or not).

Did I miss the press release -- does Sun now own Linux or Gnome in order to be solely responsible for its accessibility? Surely that'd be the bigger news story if it were true. I was under the impression, and I suspect so is everyone else on Slashdot, that Linux and Gnome are independent open source projects owned by the community; if Sun choses not to contribute code to a particular portion of the source tree any more, so be it, and we should thank them for their extensive work thus far, rather than pillory them for no longer being willing to be the only sucker actually doing anything about this community responsibility to improve Gnome's accessibility.

I mean... those villains at Sun/Oracle haven't repainted my house for me either, or swept my yard -- the scoundrels!

Re:Bad title (2, Insightful)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068512)

But "drop" is an SQL command, thus, it makes the headline punny.

Re:Bad title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068662)

A SQL command. That is if you pronounce SQL correctly.

Re:Bad title (1)

paimin (656338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068854)

SQL (Structured Query Language) (pronounced /s.kjul/ ES-kyoo-EL )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bad title (1)

Canberra Bob (763479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068624)

Revising or 'dropping' a promise you made is called reneging on obligations you made.

No, dropping a promise is not reneging on obligations. Sun promised to work on accessibility, however they were in absolutely no way obliged to work on accessibility. There is a big difference between the two.

Re:Bad title (5, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068720)

I agree, the headline's wrong. But not about what got broken. When did Sun ever make a "commitment to accessibility"?

Here's what they did have: their perpetual fantasy that they could come up with a desktop that would challenge Windows. Their latest form of this fantasy was Java Desktop System, which actually has nothing to do with Java. It's just a rebranded GNOME, ported to Solaris. When I was at Sun, Sun Rays running JDS were all over the place, and JDS was heavily pushed at our customers. Though even within Sun, use of Windows or Mac PCs (usually laptops) got more and more pervasive.

JDS has to comply with federal accessibility rules, or nobody will buy it. (Nobody bought it anyway, but that's another issue.) So Sun needs GNOME to have good accessibility support. Presumably that's why Sun started contributing accessibility development. That's how all corporate contributions to OS projects happen — it isn't generosity, it's the contributor needing the product to do something it doesn't already do.

I haven't seen any announcement, but it's to be expected that Oracle will finally put an end to this expensive and futile quest for a Windows-killer. Which is why you can't find JDS anywhere on oracle.com. (The old JDS page on sun.com redirects to Oracle's Solaris page.) If Oracle doesn't need JDS, then they don't need accessibility software.

One of many Sun windmill-tilting projects that are getting the axe.

Good Luck. (2, Interesting)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068340)

I have to agree with Joanie that I hope that the laying off (not fired as in the summary) was an accident. But since they've laid off a bunch of other people working for accessibilty, it doesn't look all that good. Hope the letter helps, but if they've already started I don't think they mind having the bad "we don't like the disabled/orphans/elderly/puppies " PR. Good luck for getting the letter to work.

Re:Good Luck. (1)

osssmkatz (734824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068830)

Disabled people do not need your pity. They do need your support. I was unaware of these projects. As a disabled technology guy, that's sad. I support these efforts.

Gnome rivalry (0, Troll)

gomek-ramek (1340625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068362)

Maybe the folks at Oracle use KDE.

Re:Gnome rivalry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068412)

Obviously posting as anonymous, but no. We are a gnome place.

Re:Gnome rivalry (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068564)

That explains the hairy feet and ridiculous hats.

Business (1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068370)

Perhaps Sun has "promised" too much over the years on things that don't produce a return on investment. Perhaps this is why Oracle scooped them up. Perhaps Oracle wants to remain profitable.

Re:Business (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068436)

So what? That division was a good thing for society; the loss of it is a *bad* thing for society, and the fact that nobody is stepping in to pick it up is a bad thing too.

Re:Business (2, Insightful)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068680)

So if sun had gone bankrupt rather than been bought, and the employees who got laid off got laid off along with *everyone else* doing anything open source @ sun.. would that have been a better outcome? Its time to get out of the 60s and realize that NOTHING is contributed by companies to Linux or any other open source project "because its the right thing to do", it is either done because they HAVE to do it due to licensing issues, or because they feel that long term it is a cost neutral decision, or will net them a profit in some way down the road (even if said profit is based on the idea that making Linux more usable will sell more copies of their hardware/software that lives on top of Linux)

If you want good for society, you should be looking to foundations, and government to fund it, not public companies who have to be accountable to shareholders.. who generally frown on expenses that are not either required by law, or aimed at generating a profit (sadly in an ever and ever shorter time frame these days but thats another article)

A company choosing to stay in business rather than paying people to do stuff that is of little to no benefit in the short or long term (accessibility implies desktop, which is not making ANYONE money in Linux landscape.. try justifying that expense to shareholders in this economy, go ahead we will wait)

Argue all you want that someone should pickup the torch, but implying that its somehow "good for society" that a company that is buying another company as they crash toward bankruptcy court, should somehow "keep doing" things that clearly contributed to its slide into bankruptcy.. is the ultimate 60s era naivety, that the open source community in general seems to be afflicted with..

Re:Business (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068768)

That division was a good thing for society; the loss of it is a *bad* thing for society, and the fact that nobody is stepping in to pick it up is a bad thing too

Lots of things are good for society. If this is so important, why don't *you* volunteer to help with open source accessibility?

And if the "good" things drive a company towards failure [google.com] ? Then there is less competition, less employees paying taxes to pay for social programs that benefit those who need accessibility features, etc.

Holy crip he's a crapple ! (0, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068374)

Survival of the fittest, my friends.

Section 508 still holds (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068376)

The main guideline for accessibility is Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. From the Wikipedia entry: "The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology."

So if you want to sell to the federal government, you have to be 508 compliant. The EU has a comparable set of regulations. Oracle knows this and won't jeopardize their government sales by ignoring it, the opinions of the quoted blogger notwithstanding.

Re:Section 508 still holds (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068486)

I suppose we could complain about Oracle selling inaccessible RedHat clone licenses, which are not accessible because the RedHat code they copied doesn't properly support Sun's accessiblity code (Orca, in particular).

Anyone know a good lawyer who might want to do a bit of pro-bono work for the blind?

Linux is often not sold (1)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068622)

As long as Oracle is not selling Linux, Oracle has no legal obligation under 508 to make Linux accessible.

A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free. This was possible as long as Sun was doing the heavy lifting of developing access tools that are required in government settings, under section 508 and ADA.

If accessibility development for Linux goes away, U.S. government offices and schools won't be able to use Linux. Oracle isn't mandated to do accessibility development in this situation, because they aren't selling anything. Somebody's going to have to pick this up if they want Linux to be viable in U.S. government and public schools.

Re:Linux is often not sold (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068742)

I think I've read this before... [slashdot.org]

As long as Oracle is not selling Linux

Oracle is selling Linux [wikipedia.org] . Or at least "support" for it, which includes patches. Now they're also selling Solaris, or at least "support" for it.

A lot of Linux gets deployed in government settings, not because somebody sells it, but because a local agency, school or office picks it up and realizing it is useful and free.

Really?
You mean there aren't a whole lot of RHEL or SLES subscriptions from the US government?

If accessibility development for Linux goes away, U.S. government offices and schools won't be able to use Linux.

So someone else should subsidize accessibility development for the US government?

Re:Section 508 still holds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068672)

Mod Parent up. Oracle's decision here is interesting, because Orca doesn't really fall into any of their mainline government lines of business. There's very little Linux/Sun desktop intrusion. It is, and for the foreseeable future continues to be, a Microsoft dominated user desktop.

And what does that mean for 508? The rules should still apply, but you'd be amazed what I've seen sneak under the fence under the pretense that the only people who will interface with the product have physical ability requirements *anyway* that would preclude a visually disabled person from holding the position.

508 holds bigger more serious challenges in the web app space. There are very (painfully) few frameworks that properly describe AJAX to a reader. Where's the accessibility section in HTML5? Where's the framework? How do you expect a new generation of technical adoption to occur when one of the largest single-entity organizations *cannot* acquire said technology because it does directly interface with the user and doesn't work properly?

There are big, big questions looming for the accessibility space. Orca is a small part of it, and I would hope that Oracle isn't going to be so stupid as to let two people go when so many of their products these days rely on web front ends that will, eventually, need to speak a language that readers like Orca understand.

oracle = evil? who knew (1)

bender183 (447302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068424)

Come on, srsly. You had to know oracle was going to pull something like this. They don't care about people, they care about $$$. That's the bottom line. Period.

Some perspective (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068426)

While anyone losing their job is a bummer, the tone of the submission is a little histrionic. What actually happened here is that Oracle laid off two people who were working on accessibility. Again, that's a shame... but as the OSTATIC article points out, if Gnome accessibility work was really just two layoffs away from ending for all time, there were problems with the project before Oracle ever got here.

Also, Oracle already sponsored an OpenSolaris accessibility group, and now they're in charge of the OpenOffice accessibility work as well, to say nothing of making sure their business applications are up to government standards... is it really fair to expect it to shoulder the burden of accessibility for Gnome, too?

Maybe Novell wants to hire these guys? Or Red Hat?

Re:Some perspective (5, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068520)

It turns out that one of the people Oracle fired is effectively the Linus Torvald of Linux accessibility. He architected it, and wrote a ton of it. It's like firing Linux, and complaining that after all, it's only one guy.

As for OpenOffice accessibility, kiss it goodbye on Linux. Without Willie or a team of several guys to replace him, it will slowly degrade in to unusablity.

I'm 100% with you on the other guys hiring Willie. My preference would be Canonical (Ubuntu), but RedHat would be a decent fit, and I could even live with Novell. Maybe they could start working off the evil taint.

Re:Some perspective (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068794)

My preference would be Canonical (Ubuntu), but RedHat would be a decent fit, and I could even live with Novell.

SInce when has Canonical ever contributed anything major to the non-Ubuntu community?

With their more or less nonexistent track record in doing so, and uncertain financial future, preferring Canonical only seems rational if you want to see failure...

Re:Some perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068760)

This seems like a reasonable solution. Sun spent a lot on accessibility and didn't get enough credit for it, certainly not from the OSS crowd.

If there's a need (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068526)

Since when did decisions by profit maximizing big business have any impact on Open Source Software? Yes, it may have been nice that Sun was spending money on supporting this sort of thing, but why have you come to expect - nay, DEPEND on a hand-out, as if the very life of the program was tied to it?

When there is a need, the code will get written. By the grandson of the blind grandmother. Or the father of the deaf child. That has been the story of the whole open source movement to date. If you don't like what Oracle is doing, then fork and to hell with them. If you're whining because your subsidized job has been canceled - well too bad. Life sucks sometimes.

There's a reason Sun was losing money and got bought out. If you can't work on your project without pay, well, your motives have suddenly become clear. You don't care about the project but rather the paycheck. Stop pointing out how wonderful your project was going to be - because obviously it isn't important enough for you to keep working on it without being paid. And for God's sake don't blame Oracle for taking a business decision. I know it's hard to think this way today in the United Socialist States of America, but maybe Oracle doesn't want to go under like Sun did and therefore is canceling frivolous "feel good" projects that add ZERO to their bottom line.

Re:If there's a need (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068842)

Since when did decisions by profit maximizing big business have any impact on Open Source Software?

since [google.com] the 90s [wikipedia.org] at the very latest.

When there is a need, the code will get written.

I think you underestimate the importance of corporate contributions [fedoraproject.org] . A more accurate statement would be: "When there is a need, a suitable commercial product will be licensed, or if none is available and the need is sufficient, the code will get written."

Doesn't seem to match with their own words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068614)

"Oracle is committed to creating accessible technologies and products that enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of our employees, our customers, and our customers' customers."
—Safra Catz, President and CFO, Oracle (http://www.oracle.com/accessibility/index.html)

Some people do what they promise, while others seem to work at Oracle... :-(

A11Y as a form of freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068650)

It really strikes me that as this is such an important and empowering technology, and a part of the GNOME desktop no less, that it should fall to the people of the Free Software Foundation (or I guess more correctly of the GNU Project) to make this a high priority project, and see that it gets the attention it deserves.

I'm confused. (1)

CherniyVolk (513591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068724)

I read the article, heart warming indeed. I am grateful of corporate assistance in Open Source, I render respect and appreciation for what has come as a result of combining capitalistic economics with social/community based efforts. A lot can happen put the two together.

But, the article seems to portray doom and utter failure if it weren't for paid sponsorship of a particular sliver of Open Source projects. This is where the confusion sets in, because while there is a lot to thank business and their contributions, a lot has been done the by the community at large. I think Accessibility Features will continue, but perhaps not with the same zeal (this I understand, not sure how many disabled hackers there are out there). Progress will continue.

It sure seems to me, that Open Source projects really started getting much better in the early 2000s. About the same time the dot-com bubble burst and put a lot of skilled programmers on the street looking for new career paths. I never saw any reports, no stats to back this up, but it did seem this way. Anyways, after 9/11 I was one of those out looking for a new job, and I just sat at home and did whatever; which included coding.

Now that's Capitalism in all it's irony if you ask me; try to save a little money by laying off high skilled people and using those 6 figure salaries to pay executive bonuses, only to later lose billions in market share because those ex-employees continued working on their own anyways in different areas and fields.

Duplication of effort? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068730)

Is it possible, like with the accounting departments, that two of these departments won't be needed, and one was disbanded? Why does everything with you guys have to be rich=evil? Sometimes rich=smart.

Is it wrong... (2, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068792)

This is a very sad day for disabled people, as it means we do not really have full-time developers any more.

When I read this my first thought was "They should march...Um. I guess they can't."

LK

a11y work? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068804)

Will someone please inform a person too lazy to do more than a couple quick google searches, what, precisely "a11y work" is?

I can infer by context, but a concrete definition is always best for the geek brain.

Re:a11y work? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068812)

Couldn't help one more query (a little more sensible) where I eventually found the definition...

Accessibility is often abbreviated to the numeronym a11y, where the number 11 refers to the number of letters omitted. This parallels the abbreviations of internationalization and localization as i18n and l10n respectively.

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_accessibility

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