OpenSource: A license to kill.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about all the “Google Vs. Oracle” and “Ubuntu with ZFS” news that has been going around, and it has me thinking. As an open source community what do we really represent?
On the one hand, the idea that Ubuntu should not be shipping their ZFS kernel module really frustrates me. They are both licenced open source software. They should be able to play nice…However I actually tend to fall on the end of agreeing with RMS (and believe me, I hate agreeing with RMS. He’s too extreme for me and most of what he say’s I feel is a bit too much) in that I don’t think the licences can mesh in the way Canonical claims they can. It is extremely frustrating that we have open source licences that cannot work together, but thems the breaks. Sun (now oracle) was completely within their rights to choose licencing terms, just as GNU & Linux were within their rights to choose their licencing terms. Each player has made their bed, and unfortunately we have to live with it. If we want this situation to happen (and clearly we do, ZFS is apparently Gods gift to computers according to the internet) we need to find an agreement between Oracle and the Linux kernel. This does seem unlikely however..which does suck.
It is from this and other similar events that has caused a lot of people to champion this “Oracle is a bad guy” stance and to be fair, that may in fact be true. Oracle is a big evil corporation, but what isn’t a big evil corporation at this point? Now I stand from the point of this: If there was a simple way for this ZFS issue to be done, and be licenced in a way that made oracle happy…Wouldn’t they have already done it to get ZFS support into Oracle Enterprise Linux… Let’s face it, at this point most of us feel that OEL is just Redhat with a messed up kernel, and unless you are specifically buying oracle hardware, and/or running an Oracle Database solution: You probably won’t choose OEL over RHEL. Why would you? But, if Oracle could get ZFS support into OEL? That might be a reason to choose it over RHEL….OH yes, that would move some market share for sure…That hasn’t happened though, and I think it is VERY important that we notice that as a community. How can we say that ZFS support in ubuntu is legal, when oracle doesn’t even have ZFS support in THEIR distribution?
As much as I hate to say it…Ubuntu is the bad guy here.
Now pivot to the other direction. Google vs Oracle. (wow, Oracle sure is Mr. Popular these day’s). A lot of people are cheering for google right now for the same reasons as people want to believe in Ubuntu…Oracle is the bad guy right? And google, the great “Do no evil” Company is OF COURSE the shining hero of the people!
But are they? They clearly copied Licenced code that was NOT available for use under the terms that it was being used. Again, Oracle isn’t the bad guy here… It’s google.. But oracle makes a good target, so that’s what we do..
You may be asking yourself at this point “what’s your point?” My point is this: If we are unable to stand up for what is legally right, and uphold these licencing restrictions when it is inconvenient for us to do so, when it denies us the things we want, such as ZFS on linux, or…All of android I guess… Then if a company like microsoft, or apple steps in and uses these things to make their own OS better and more competitive…How can we be outraged?
Microsoft has been getting very chummy with the open source community over the last couple years…. What if in a few months they released Windows X, a linux distribution that had all the polish of windows 7, continued to run native windows apps perfectly, but had all the performance/stability/convenience of a modern linux distribution…But because we let the GPL become meaningless, and licences be suggestions rather then law, They leave the code closed source and sell it. We’d be PISSED. But…we’d have made our own bed…Just a thought.