Scatterbrain thoughts on the Sun Oracle deal


(Update 2021: I wrote this trying hard to be optimistic and open-minded. Suffice to say, is a phrase with three words).

Showing my support by running OpenSolaris in VirtualBox on my Mac
Showing my support running OpenSolaris in VirtualBox on my Mac :-)

Well it's official, Sun Microsystems found a suitor not in IBM, Apple or Microsoft, but with Oracle. I must say on the whole I'm cautiously relieved, though there are some things that worry me. What an ambiguous sentence. Well you know what they say, certainty is hobgoblin of the fool… right? Wait, that's not how it goes.

OpenSolarisFirstly, Java and Solaris absolutely make sense for Oracle; I believe I read somewhere that (paraphrasing) Larry Ellison claimed Solaris was the most effective Unix system out there for use with Oracle infrastructure. I haven't played with OpenSolaris (or Linux for that matter) to the extent I've used FreeBSD but I was really impressed by it's completeness and quality. I'm also interested in licencing; as a BSD guy the CDDL that has prevented Linux users from adopting ZFS and Dtrace hasn't bothered me but Oracle's work with Linux may see it change to the GPL… maybe.

What I'm also interested in is Sun's free and open source acquisitions and assets, namely NetBeans, VirtualBox, and MySQL. If they keep them and continue to support them I don't see any problem, and one could argue that said projects would benefit from being part of a larger company in the same vein as Linux at IBM. Some brainstorming on each:

  • NetbeansNetBeans would compliment their Java acquisition, but Oracle is a signed member of the Eclipse foundation. Will Oracle attempt to merge it, ditch it or continue to develop it and instead ditch Eclipse?

  • VirtualBoxVirtualBox at Oracle is a fascinating combination. Could Oracle somehow leverage VirtualBox’s virtualisation technology to more efficently deploy servers with Oracle’s database? They could do it with Solaris too!

  • is a real wildcard. One could potentially see Oracle leverage OOo against Microsoft, or perhaps they could pull a Novell and instead fork it into an independent stream and an Oracle branded product that could use groupware Oracle develops. The possibilities are extremely intriguing.

  • MySQLMySQL for me is a major concern. Oracle’s databases and MySQL are light years apart in features and from what I’ve heard scalability, but the gap is much narrower than it was even a few years ago. Is it conceivable Oracle would intentionally cripple MySQL or keep it with only a subset of features so as to not cannibalise their bread and butter? If they do, might we see MySQL forks or even a general move to PostgreSQL?

I've done work for Oracle in the past but I still don't know the inner workings of the company or the details regarding merged product lines (ala PeopleSoft and Siebel). Whatever the outcome, I'll be watching closely.

As I've said here before I have huge respect for Sun and have always wanted a pimped out Sun Workstation to really get stuck into Solaris. In fact if I were offered a Mac Pro or a similarly high end Sun Workstation I'd take the latter just because I've used them at university but ave never had one of my own before!

Jonathan Schwartz's weblog at Sun Microsystems

The biggest question I still have though is: what will happen to one of my top technology idols Jonathan Schwartz? Will he get a position in Oracle? Will he continue to blog from there? Or perhaps a more pertinent question would be: will he be allowed to blog from there?

I wish Sun the best in this transition period.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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