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If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the gedanken-experiment dept.

GNU is Not Unix 237

An anonymous reader points out Glyn Moody's thought experiment: what if Oracle bought up the entire open source ecosystem? Who would win, who would lose? And how might an open ecosystem grow in the wake of such an event? "Recently, there was an interesting rumour circulating that Oracle had a war chest of some $70 billion, and was going on an acquisition spree. Despite the huge figure, it had a certain plausibility, because Oracle is a highly successful company with deep pockets and an aggressive management. The rumour was soon denied, but suppose Oracle decided to spend, if not $70 billion, say $10 billion in an efficient way: how might it do that? One rather dramatic use of that money would be to buy up the leading open source companies — all of them."

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Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 4 years ago | (#33049592)

Hello Oracle, come and buy my company.

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33049736)

We'll start the bidding at -$5.00

(Yes, you pay us to take you over)

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (4, Funny)

igny (716218) | about 4 years ago | (#33049896)

We'll start the bidding at -$5.00

(Yes, you pay us to take you over)

I bid -$10.00.

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (3, Funny)

chemisus (920383) | about 4 years ago | (#33049988)

do i hear a -$15.00?

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (3, Funny)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33050002)

So now we're in a price-is-right bidding war, trying to find the largest sum that Gordonjcp can afford to pay to have his company taken over, without going over (after all, if he can't pay up, it'd really be wrong of him not to reject your bid). -$50,000.00!

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (4, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33050074)

I bid negative infinity squared!

Wait... erm... nevermind.

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050338)

You want cubed - that will retain the sign.

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#33050200)

I assume you have done due diligence, and made sure the company debts don't swamp the negative sums you're bidding...

Re:Hi. I'm an open-source developer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050424)

May I offer you the cure for your open sores? []

Some areas would have no interest (4, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33049616)

Somehow I doubt they'd be buying up projects like Drupal, Wordpress, or Joomla. But I could see them buying up companies like Jaspersoft, Openbravo, etc. that produce enterprise grade OSS tools used for BI, ERP, etc. which does fit nicely into their business market. Although seeing Oracle in action in the past, it would likely be that they would buy then slowly let the products wither and die to they are no longer a threat to their core business.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (3, Insightful)

IMightB (533307) | about 4 years ago | (#33049726)

The problem with that is since they are Open Source, the project forks and continues on Business as Usual. Look at MySQL for an example. Even if the codebase officially known as MySQL withers on the vine, there's still at least 2 forks I can think of that are viable.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (1)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33049800)

Yeah, to really kill open source, you have to buy up the key developers and put them on non-compete contracts. It would probably even be a cheaper strategy. 10 billion could pay 60 thousand salaries for a year ... if they actually have 70 billion they could make a pretty significant dent in open source, particularly if they target only people developing stuff that competes with them in any way.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 years ago | (#33050062)

And even that's a problem: non-compete clauses are generally unenforceable in California, and other states, seeing how successful that has been, have been considering following their lead in that regard. Further, it is very questionable whether a non-compete clause agreed to in one state is enforceable in another state.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (1)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33050350)

Yeah, noncompete was an unfortunate choice of words ... I actually meant an exclusivity contract, which is entirely enforceable since it doesn't incur the wrath of any of the right-to-work laws.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 4 years ago | (#33050368)

Wrong kind of non-compete. You don't forbid them from doing stuff later, you just make their non-competition a requirement for getting paid this month.

Re:Some areas would have no interest (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#33050460)

The problem with that is since they are Open Source, the project forks and continues on Business as Usual. Look at MySQL for an example. Even if the codebase officially known as MySQL withers on the vine, there's still at least 2 forks I can think of that are viable.

So in the same sentence you manage to say it's fractured into several forks yet at the same time it's business as usual? One of the things businesses look for when they invest in a product is long term viability. Branches forming and withering, names changing, support greatly varying, all of that effectively stops much of the corporate adoption. It's not about killing something forever, if you can throw enough shoes in the machinery then you win long enough to turn a good profit. Just look at Microsoft and Java, all they did to stifle Java more than paid off even though Java still lives on. You can't make it go away but you certainly can slow it down.

Does it matter? (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33049618)

Then you'd get $10 Billion dollars worth of Forks starting off the last release, and everything would be the same as usual, except that Oracle would have acquired a lot of software.

It would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution. The same thing would happen elsewhere.

Re:Does it matter? (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 4 years ago | (#33049774)

It matters because when you buy the "leading open-source company", you also buy the programmers, many of whom will go on to work for Oracle. An open-source project without any developers is probably much better for its users than a closed-source project without developers, sure, but it's still a major setback.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33050012)

It's not so much a set back as it is a delay.

Oracle hasn't done anything with MySQL, despite hiring their leads and axing the rest, MySQL is just as much an OS solution today as it was last year. It's only a matter of time before new developers pick up where MySQL left off under some other fork. Maybe MariaDB?

It's no doubt that Oracle wanted to do this so that Oracle's slow progress will be ahead of what their lead competitor was at - their product becoming clearly superior so boosting sales.

The problem is that it only takes a few bright minds to pick up the project, hurl it back into view, and everything is back to how it was a few years ago.

Re:Does it matter? (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33049906)

We started using PostgreSQL back when Sun bought MySQL. And I can't say we've had any real complaints and actually have found PostgreSQL to be easier to maintain with less table corruption, etc..

Re:Does it matter? (4, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | about 4 years ago | (#33050602)

> We started using PostgreSQL back when Sun bought MySQL

Right on. And PostgreSQL is about to remove one of the last big barriers for using it - streaming replication is coming in 9.0. Huzzah! I was just listening to a "Rails on PostgreSQL" [] talk from Pivotal Labs and that was cited as one of the few places where MySQL was ahead... not for long...

Everything would not be the same (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33050146)

Take a look at contributions to open source projects that are popular in enterprise environments -- large percentages of the patches come from open source companies. If Oracle bought up all these companies, there is no guarantee that those patches would continue to be contributed, particularly if the projects directly compete with Oracle's offerings. Sure, volunteers can do a lot, but it is nice to have people who are paid to develop these projects, particularly since there is a good level of assurance that the projects will not be orphaned or abandoned. It also helps to have companies around that push for hardware compatibility, and to have companies that can help protect the rest of us from patent trolls.

Re:Does it matter? (4, Interesting)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 4 years ago | (#33050162)

It would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution.

I'd say that Oracle's acquisition of MySQL has done a lot more than cause a ripple. If I wasn't already dependent on it, I wouldn't even consider it for future development, and I am eagerly waiting for one of the forks to a) mature, and b) develop enough of a track record to risk depending on it for the long term, or c) to settle on one or more alternatives such as Postgres and/or some of the so-called NoSQL solutions. The situation with Java isn't as bad, as Java has a base of users (and the enormous anchor of IBM's investment in Java solutions) that is orders of magnitude greater than MySQL, so the leverage Oracle can exert is greatly reduced, but it's still a concern.

Forks -- if you're going to build the necessary developer infrastructure around them and properly support and maintain them -- take time and, more often than not, money. And as a user, transitioning from one ordinary version to another is often expensive, never mind transitioning to a forked version that, more often than not, involves significant changes from the original trunk, MySQL and its descendants being a particularly illustrative example. It's not the end of the world, but it is often a very big deal.

At the end of the day, if an open source project you depend on is maintained by a for-profit company, and the project is sufficiently valuable, someone will eventually come along and buy its maintainer. And if the project is cutting into the bottom line of the buyer, as was the case with MySQL and Oracle, you can be sure that the new owner will make the change as disruptive as possible. It's a basic vulnerability that is built into the commercialization of Open Source. Whether it's a significant risk with any particular project will vary, of course, but it's always there, and the ability to fork is not a panacea.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 4 years ago | (#33050550)

it would cause a ripple for a while, like it has with MySQL, but trust me, in time - we'll have found another FOSS solution. The same thing would happen elsewhere.

I wonder.

How many FOSS office suites have the - alleged - maturity of

I believe Sun spent around $200 million on Star Office before open-sourcing OpenOffice - which remains an essentially in-house project to this day - and still second-tier, however much the geek would like to pretend otherwise.

Oracle's core competence is enterprise-grade applications. Not an easy thing to master.

Impossible to do (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 4 years ago | (#33049628)

Oracle doesn't have enough $$, Warren Buffet doesn't, Steve Jobs doesn't, Bill Gates doesn't.

Because as soon as I read here on /. that it is happening, I'll grab every single source package I can and make a fork. And I'll encourage everyone I know to do the same. And even at $1 per project, there would be an unlimited number of projects....

Re:Impossible to do (2, Insightful)

PalmKiller (174161) | about 4 years ago | (#33049832)

Whoa there, if I were a major contributor, and one of those dropped a few million in my pocket...or heck even enough to just pay off everything I owe, I might decide to stop developing it. As you probably know, if the major contributors of a project abandon it quietly, sometimes just the time lapse with no progress will kill off the project. My point is everything has a just gotta know where to inject the funds.

Re:Impossible to do (0)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#33049922)

Careful, there are always patents. All it would take is for the OSS project purchased to have a patent awarded to it. Then the DMCA can be used to squash any forks of the project.

Re:Impossible to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050048)

Careful, there are always patents. All it would take is for the OSS project purchased to have a patent awarded to it. Then the DMCA can be used to squash any forks of the project.

I'm sorry, but this is one of the most confused posts I've ever seen. A "project" cannot be awarded a patent, only a person or company. The DMCA is about *copyright*, not patents. DMCA takedown notices are for copyright infringement.

Re:Impossible to do (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#33050310)

Patent violations are still IP infringement, even if it is for personal use. C&Ds can be easily issued for those just as easily as if someone is offering a pirated application for download.

Re:Impossible to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050446)

I did not challenge the idea, only terminology.

They could potentially buy up companies that have patents and develop open source software, then use those patents against people writing and/or using forks. That's not what you said though.

While Intesrting... (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 4 years ago | (#33049640)

How would this work? Can they technically purchase a whole project? What's to stop the community from forking? What would buying up a project that runs on donations and user support really consist of other than giving the owners large sums of $$ for publicly available code?

3 reasons (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33049718)

1. Not everyone is a prima donna crybaby like Monty Widenius.

2. Publicly available doesn't mean it doesn't have worth - and it would be a good way to have an "official" product in every category when you're selling - and supporting - a complete stack. And support is where they make their money. Those Oracle license would be worthless without support.

3. Setting direction. If you want to be able to set the direction of a product, you need to pony up some money.

Re:While Intesrting... (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33049790)

Mainly, what they can accomplish is to all-but-kill further open source development on a given project. It's very possible to fork, but that doesn't help much to move forward if they buy most of the people making useful improvements/additions to it.

In most cases, I don't think this is smart business -- if you kill a MySQL (and I don't mean to get into the various politics or advantages of these different databases, they're just an easy example that most people will recognize) you probably don't drive enough business to Oracle to make it worth it. As likely you drive as much or more business to other competitors in the same space.

If there's a situation in which killing an open source project nets Oracle an effective monopoly in some space, then maybe it makes business sense. Of course, I've long privately thought that Oracle plans its acquisitions more to take things that are in some way beautiful and ruin them than for any comprehensible business purpose. If corporations are people, they come across as Edward Norton looking to beat the shit out of Jared Leto because they can.

Re:While Intesrting... (1)

kazagistar (1291564) | about 4 years ago | (#33049810)

A large number of projects are run by companies; their main developers are paid wages and keep the projects moving forward. No one stops you from forking, but in the long run, the fork with people working 8 hours a day is going to have more features, progress, and thus more users and mindshare. Alternatively, if the main developers are given money to work on different projects, and abandon their current ones, many might refuse, but many might leave, and a project with low developer participation tends to die. The source code can never go away, but competitive progress can.

More FOSS would fork from the bought up projects (5, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 years ago | (#33049658)

Open source is not a finite resource. You can't buy *all* of it. You can only buy the ones that are successful today. If (to take an example) Oracle made offers of employment that they couldn't refuse to the main programmers on The Gimp, then anyone who didn;t like the "selling out" (possibly because they didn't get made an offer) could just fork the last non-commercial version and continue down their own particular road.

Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases. Certainly to the degree that made any sort of financial sense and maybe not to the satisfaction of the shareholders.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33049880)

Buy enough developers, slow your OS competitors to a crawl.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 years ago | (#33049904)

Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases.

Unless they used some of that 10 billion dollars to have the GPL declared invalid, or something to that effect. Yes, it's nonsensical, but $10 billion can help finance a lot of campaigns, plenty of astroturfers, and an army of lawyers, so I'm not so sure they couldn't do it.

He who has the gold makes the rules.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 4 years ago | (#33050066)

Tell that to Cisco re: busybox, they'd love to know.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 years ago | (#33050282)

Declaring the GPL invalid doesn't help Cisco use Busybox without the copyright owner's permission. The Busybox cases are not GPL cases, they are straightforward software piracy cases just the same as the guy who sells dodgy copies of Microsoft Office at car boot sales.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050254)

While open source is not a finite resource, the number of competent developers interested in a particular open source project IS finite. Especially if you qualify that by saying that they have to be interested in working on the project for free. If you buy out enough of the main programmers, you will certainly cripple the continuing OSS forks that will occur.

They probably don't care about every OSS project - they could be strategic about it and kill of projects that are good enough to be considered a competitor.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050264)

If (to take an example) Oracle made offers of employment that they couldn't refuse to the main programmers on The Gimp

As I understand it, Oracle would then own the copyright on the name "The Gimp" so the existing GPL code would have to be renamed to something else. If this is the only way we can get The Gimp to pick a another name for their fine program I say go for it!

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

ogdenk (712300) | about 4 years ago | (#33050428)

Yes but if you cause disruptive sudden forks in projects, you slow their progress writing new code and they can't use the same name necessarily so brand recognition is gone.

It could also be disruptive in the sense that it will damage the reputation of open source.... "Do business with us, we're stable and we'll be here tomorrow. It's risky using free products developed as a hobby because those guys are an unorganized mess and in no position to provide effective support. Heck they may just decide to stop coding on a whim and leave you high and dry with no support OR EVEN AN UPGRADE PATH! Jeez.... just look what happened to Project $name"

Would not surprise me in the least from Oracle or MS.

Re:More FOSS would fork from the bought up project (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33050578)

Because of that, it would be very difficult for Oracle to monetize their purchases.

That isn't what we're discussing, and I doubt very much if Ellison & Co, should they go down this road, would care one whit for monetizing any projects they acquire or with which they otherwise interfere. The idea is for Oracle to disrupt the development of any open source offerings that would compete with its own core products, much as Microsoft has done for decades (for both open and closed source software, for that matter.) So far as shareholders are concerned, investing in the destruction of one's competition is always justifiable.

Offtopic, but still about Oracle (-1, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33049684)

Does anyone have any experience with Oracle's BI Publisher in conjunction with Siebel?

Fork them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33049688)

Or at least the code of the companies they acquire.
Somebody else will step in and provide support for money.
Welcome to capitalism.

As an Oracle DBA (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | about 4 years ago | (#33049700)

I think it would sink the company. The more acquistions Oracle buys, the farther away from their source market they get.

Oracle can invest all the capital they want, all I want is a decent install package for the Oracle Instant Client.

Concentrate on what made you those bucks Oracle.

Re:As an Oracle DBA (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33049828)

That's funny, all I want is a decent UNINSTALL package for the Oracle Client and Servers.

I'm looking at you, Oracle 8

Re:As an Oracle DBA (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 4 years ago | (#33050222)

Oracle client 10 is no better.

We had to repackage to get the tweaks we wanted. The package installed amazingly faster compared to Oracle's JAVA-based installer. The catch: we had to include the ~200MB of Oracle's installer metadata to keep getting support.

I hate it when companies create their own installer.

Re:As an Oracle DBA (1)

afabbro (33948) | about 4 years ago | (#33050274)

That's funny, all I want is a decent UNINSTALL package for the Oracle Client and Servers.

I'm looking at you, Oracle 8

Why are you looking at a product that is three versions old and was dropped from support five years ago?

Oracle since version 9 has provided an installer that does provide an uninstall. It's Java-based and requires X on Linux/Unix, but one thing it does do is install and uninstall Oracle clients and servers.

Re:As an Oracle DBA (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33049840)

Oracle can invest all the capital they want, all I want is a decent install package for the Oracle Instant Client.

I've long been convinced that Oracle's developer/administrator tools are written by self-loathing developers who want to vent their hatred by tormenting other developers. There's just no other logical explanation for how infuriating they can be.

Re:As an Oracle DBA (2, Insightful)

reallyjoel (1262642) | about 4 years ago | (#33049894)

Oracle is well known in the business (of making money) to have a very good, large and agressive sales force, and that is what have made them large and successful, not the quality of their products.

Re:As an Oracle DBA (4, Insightful)

BigJClark (1226554) | about 4 years ago | (#33050504)

You must be a salesperson. I'm not a technology zealot, but Oracle is by far the most superior product in the market for mid ot large size datasets serving mid to large size queries (carefully chosen words ;) ). I realize you can polish and sell a turd, but Oracle's scaling, robustness, and attention to detail regarding the optimization of its core engine, is what sells it, and has for the past ~30 years.

Now MS has the exact same yammering salespeople who drive me nuts when they tout the strength of their package, but I've explored it with the intimate detail that only a DBA can.

Read my lips: Its crap.

When you start to pull away from the sales pitch, super easy install, and drop and go fascade, you quickly unveil a half working SQL engine, a busted backup model, and an internal engine that turns itself into muck heaven forbid if anybody hit it with any sort of large query.

Sorry, its the Oracle DBMS engine that has made them the big bucks. Don't even get me started on Oracle forms and reports.

Patent Trolling (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33049746)

Wouldn't they get more bang for their buck by doing $70 Billion of patent trolling?

Not necessarily anti-open source trolling either. $70 Billion of patent trolling could make quite a dent in the MSSQL market, pushing the end users toward either mysql or oracle. After all, its not an "evil" monopoly if there's a free alternative, conveniently owned by the monopolist...

OSS Programmers Finally Get A Payday (2, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 4 years ago | (#33049760)

Then the programmers of the open source software projects will finally get a decent payday without some prick forking their code and diluting their potential customer/profit pool so he/she can't make a living. And then having the mother forker fucking up the code and giving them both a bad name. Then the OSS developer will be able to afford to fork the original and enhance the original to really make a quality product that can be sold and used until another prick forks his/her work and dilutes the potential customer/profit base. Or perhaps until Oracle decides to use and enhance the original.

Re:OSS Programmers Finally Get A Payday (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33050080)

So don't use a license that allows a code fork. You can't use the GPL or similar license and then whine like a baby that someone forked your code and you're not going to get $BIG_PAYDAY.

Do they need "all of them"? (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33049772)

Buying "all" open source companies would be a bit over-dramatic, but I could see perhaps a few strategic buys. For instance, buying RedHat. Oracle has their own respin of RHEL, but rather than being at the mercy of the release schedule a la CentOS, buying RH would give them more control over the pace of things, not to mention getting a lot of major contributors on the books. RedHat also owns JBoss, which might be worth their time and money to acquire, too. I doubt that it'd happen though, which is probably a good thing.

Re:Do they need "all of them"? (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | about 4 years ago | (#33049898)

Oracle already has a J2EE server now that they own WebLogic through the BEA acquisition.

Re:Do they need "all of them"? (3, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33049946)

All the more reason to acquire JBoss, loot it for the good stuff, integrate it into their other product, and maybe kill off JBoss, or just milk it for a while and double-dip. But an Oracle acquisition of RedHat and its assets at least makes some sort of sense (and they can afford it. RH has like, a $5bn market capitalization, so Oracle will have plenty of change left over) unlike, say, Gimp, or a bunch of random crap like other people seem to be floating as examples of why the concept of the article is stupid.

Re:Do they need "all of them"? (1)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | about 4 years ago | (#33050452)

Oracle already has a J2EE server now that they own WebLogic through the BEA acquisition.

They had one prior to the acquisition with OAS. Didn't stop them from buying out their biggest competitor not named IBM.

Re:Do they need "all of them"? (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#33049980)

I can see Oracle easily buying RedHat. As of now, there is an exodus of people from Sun/Solaris to x86 hardware/RHEL. By buying RedHat and making the OS chargable, or just doing with RedHat altogether would be a major coup for Ellison. Where would people flee to? Essentially, either IBM and AIX for big iron, SuSE and Novell for another, or go Windows.

Suddenly (5, Insightful)

toxygen01 (901511) | about 4 years ago | (#33049776)

... everyone would start developing opensource.

a large portion aren't buy-able (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 years ago | (#33049780)

Oracle can only really effectively buy open-source companies of the MySQL variety: where the vast majority of development is done by one, medium-sized, for-profit company closely associated with the project. Stretching a little more, they can buy multi-project companies on the lower end of "large" that do a lot of open-source development, like Sun.

But a lot of open-source is done by groups that deviate to either side of that. Either they're more distributed open-source projects with no central entity to buy in the first place, or they're run by very large companies that Oracle couldn't possibly buy, like Google and IBM.

Re:a large portion aren't buy-able (1)

Terrasque (796014) | about 4 years ago | (#33050516)

Indeed they aren't all buyable. You'd bet some of them would have refused some way or another.

Small OSS company : "70 billion war chest, you say? Going to buy out all OSS, eh? Okay, my company will sell for 80 billion."
Oracle representative : "Are you out of your mind? It isn't worth ONE billion!"
Small OSS company : "That's correct. It's worth 80 billion. Now, are you going to buy it or go away?"

What If . . . (5, Funny)

hardburn (141468) | about 4 years ago | (#33049784)

What if squirrels had wings and shot cruise missiles out of their tail? That's about as grounded in reality as Oracle buying up everything.

Re:What If . . . (1)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33050120)

Grounded in the sense that squirrels in fact do have wings, and Oracle does have a lot of money? []

Now the cruise missile part ... that would be interesting. I suppose the immediate consequence would be the death of just about everyone in North America ... I don't know how many continents have large numbers of squirrels, but it really could lead to quite the apocalypse. ;-)

Re:What If . . . (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050226)

What if squirrels had wings and shot cruise missiles out of their tail?

I'm intrigued by your ideas, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Re:What If . . . (2, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | about 4 years ago | (#33050290)

What if squirrels had wings and shot cruise missiles out of their tail?

Well, that would be awesome, obviously.

Re:What If . . . (1)

spazekaat (991287) | about 4 years ago | (#33050392)

Quit feeding the squirrels Red Bull, and they won't have wings, you insensitive clod!!

Re:What If . . . (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 4 years ago | (#33050486)

I agree, when did someones hypothetical unrealistic situation become news?

Re:What If . . . (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 4 years ago | (#33050510)

Oh, wait. I forgot about the war in Iraq....

?Stupid lady why buy what you get for fREE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33049794)

You are a stupid lady lday

Hmm (5, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | about 4 years ago | (#33049854)

I've always questioned the logic of buying an open source company. What do you really get? You don't get the IP since that's open sourced anyway. You don't get the employees since they can always leave. You maybe get some customers, but then those guys can always switch to a fork of the project. Potentially a fork that's being run by the same developers responsible for the original project.

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 4 years ago | (#33049982)

Buying an open source project might: 1. Keep the developers from working for a competitor. 2. Keep the developers from suing the purchasing company over some form of GPL violation. 3. Allow the purchasing company to integrate the IP into more products/services 4. Slow the momentum of future open source development of the project (by co-opting the main developers, writing in do-not-compete clauses, etc.)

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

mmkkbb (816035) | about 4 years ago | (#33049992)

You DO get IP, even if it's free software. Even with the GPL, you could stop distributing old versions and re-license future versions if you control the copyright. Open source projects aren't alone in having employees that will leave in an acquisition, and it's clear that whether everyone leaves after an acquisition is almost entirely dependent on the specifics of the deal. You get revenue from support contracts, and your customers aren't going to switch to a new branch just because of a change in ownership if the new owners are sympathetic, and a new branch may not even come about.

Yeah, there's risk that any of your problems could happen but everyday business is a risk too.

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#33050020)

There is always support. For example, if an OSS company makes and supports a product, it gets bought out and the company dissolved, then even though the product may be forked, there will be no way for customers to get support for the product. Of course, the ex-employees can form around the forked project, but it will take time and effort rebuilding the customer base and getting the support contracts back.

Re:Hmm (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33050122)

Unless your open source company is in California, in which case your non-compete is void as a matter of law. []

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33050314)

Yes, but... if we're playing the "what could Oracle do by throwing ridiculous amounts of money around" game, there are probably ways around that.

For example, Oracle buys up most of the top contributors to PostgreSQL by offering them much better salaries/benefits to work on OraclePostgre than they could get in any other way, and additionally offers them $X giant bonus or stock options or what have you if OraclePostgre has Y% market share by some metric in two years -- such that they legally could choose to compete with themselves in an open source fork, but would be throwing away big piles of money to do it.

You can't buy everyone, but probably it's not even very expensive in the grand scheme of things to buy enough of the people that matter.

Re:Hmm (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 years ago | (#33050362)

MySQL makes its money from selling non-OSS versions of the software. As Oracle owns the copyright, the fork projects don't have that revenue stream available to them.

Re:Hmm (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 years ago | (#33050600)

You might get the trademark, which may or may not be valuable. At the very least, it throws a wrench in the work of future forks, because they can't use the trademark that you now own to describe themselves, so they have to come up with a new name, and find a way to publicize the fact that they're now operating under a new name. The new name probably can't use the old name as a component, either--- your fork of MySQL would run afoul of trademark law if you named it NewMySQL or something.

please buy all KDE projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33049934)

I wish Oracle would buy all KDE projects so that the forked projects can be renamed to exclude the 'k' at the beginning of the name.

Re:please buy all KDE projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050294)

Yeah, really; it's seriously affecting turnout at the KDE is Kool Klan meetings too.

Wow, we don't want to play this game, do we? (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | about 4 years ago | (#33049940)

Maybe TFA was poorly worded, but can't we give it some thought? How about, "what if Oracle bought your favorite FOSS? Right now, VirtualBox is the coolest piece of software I use. It is incredibly full-featured, and insanely useful. Oracle has recently put their paws on it, so what's it going to mean? Fewer updates? No more source releases? Super expensive licensing fees? I'm holding my breath, but it would have been cool to discuss such possibilities here...if only you'd play the game.

trickle-down economics effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33049950)

i wonder what the trickle-down economic effects of something like this would be...

How do you buy open source? (2, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | about 4 years ago | (#33049952)

Please explain how you buy open source. The source code is out there in the wild. New developers appear every day.

If you want to play the monopolist that will invite new people to step in and enter the market.

That is the beauty of open source. It is the ultimate opposition to monopolist behavior as it makes the barrier to entry effectively zero.

Of course there are the usual costs or starting a business but with open source there are no real barriers to market entry.

Re:How do you buy open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050300)

You could change the license to something other than the GPL.
Even if the source code is 'out in the wild' you still have a legal leg on anyone trying to use it without your license. If the EFF can do a their job policing GPL'd code on their budget, I'm sure Oracle can do even better with their $70B war chest.

Didn't they do this already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050026)

I mean didn't Larry make his fortune by buying something that was open source and then re-packaging and branding it as Oracle?

Or did I drink the kool-aid and believe someones rampant lies?

What if instead of Oracle, Microsoft? (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 4 years ago | (#33050096)

If Microsoft were to attempt to buy every open source company, quite a few people would get quite agitated, including the antitrust division of the DOJ.

Oracle is a little bit different, because of size, market span, and market share. But it's still not that far from the same thing - M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y - just in a slightly different marketplace.

Dear Larry Ellison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050100)

Please buy Microsoft and end its misery. Paul Graham
has noted [] that Microsoft is dead. Your purchase would end a monopoly that the U.S. Justice Department should have ended.

You will be a GNU hero with your Microsoft purchase. I would be willing to manage this purchase for you for the lump sum payment of Euro 50,000,000. I look forward to our meeting.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours In Astrakhan,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

wishful thinking on the part of the os 'community' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050108)

all 10 of them who have stock markup FraUD attached to their 'companies' (attempts to cash in on other peoples' work). larry could probably buy them 'all' for very little real money, knowing who the 'principals' of these stolen idea banks/stock scams, are. tell 'em robbIE? phewww

meanwhile (where the little (oss) smelly guys learned their scams); the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also:

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

What if... (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | about 4 years ago | (#33050126)

What if Oracle tried to scoop up all the water with a sieve?

Wrong Tactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050128)

You don't 'buy' the open source software. You buy the companies that host the source trees. Shut them down and then watch the universe scramble.

'Acquire' free software? (3, Funny)

bluhatter (583867) | about 4 years ago | (#33050150)

$10B for open source software? They do know they can download it for free... right?

Drink Brawndo! (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 4 years ago | (#33050268)

Its got electrolytes! Its got what plants crave!!

What if ... (1)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | about 4 years ago | (#33050332)

Instead, the spent about $20 worth of someone's time to plant a FUD story on slashdot?! :)

sun buyout (2, Insightful)

sageres (561626) | about 4 years ago | (#33050352)

I still can't comprehend how, what economic forces could have allowed Sun to be in position to be bought over by Oracle, and not the other way around. Consider: Sun had EVERYTHING that Oracle had and more: 1. Its own database systems 2. Its own java application servers 3. Its own web servers /w LDAP servers 4. And on top of that pile up Java, Sparc / Solaris, various Java-based tech, etc. 5. Don't forget the Sun VM. Now look, Oracle is killing many of the old Sun projects. Looking Glass has gone to dust (maybe even before the purchase), mysql is suffering and most likely will die. I found out that they will no longer manufacture sparc desktops, leaving us the sweet memories of blade150 running Solaris9. Oh and OpenSolaris -- already in danger of loosing its community. What would happened? Oracle turns out to be more evil then Microsoft ever was.

Better phrased as: what if Oracle threw $70B away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33050378)

Mr Ellison would be tossed out of his yacht and into a leaky dinghy, that's what. Seriously, no one is going to buy hundreds of companies and try to integrate them all, especially when many of them simply won't sell in the first place, or would spin off a substantially similar business the instant they took the cash.

I see Oracle attempting a hostile takeover of redhat in the future (they won't sell willingly) in order to acquire RHEL and JBoss, but that's about it.

The code stays open source (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33050380)

It's the code that's open source, not the company. They are free to spend their money as they wish. Those of us who disagree can fork at any time.

Uh IBM? (1)

Yaur (1069446) | about 4 years ago | (#33050440)

isn't IBM a big open source contributer and isn't $80B not nearly enough to buy them? They can buy up some projects, but so what? If they maintain them in the spirit of open source nothing changes if they don't then they will be forked or abandoned. In any case I don't think they can change the ecosystem as a whole much.

Oracle: Candy? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 4 years ago | (#33050560)

FoSS: Do you already know if I'm going to take it?
Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an Oracle if I didn't.

'Open'Solaris dying (2, Insightful)

GoNINzo (32266) | about 4 years ago | (#33050590)

If they treat any of them like they've treated OpenSolaris, then I'd say they would die a slow death.

At this point, the last release was June 2009. Development has stopped being exposed to the outside world, we were expecting a May release, and we're going on August now. There still has not been official announcement by Oracle on this topic either.

While OpenSolaris is not a true open source product, it has been mistreated since the Oracle take over. It is unclear why there has been nothing said on it, but I'd rather take a project death at this point than this continued silence. Several key people have left to move onto other projects as well, though others are saying that development is still continuing. And worst of all, it would be a pain in the ass to fork because of their particular license design choice.

The forums [] have been rather full of people complaining about it as well. Especially after the OpenSolaris board has threatened to kill itself off [] if Oracle doesn't make some key decisions.

Just bad news all around. And it would be so easy to fix too, just by giving us an official statement on it's future.
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