Some more food for brain about the Oracle vs Google war
While most people keep on screaming, you might find it reasonable to keep on watching out and understanding what's happening; and wait before deciding to support one of the two parties. These two articles are interesting in my opinion:
- Q&A: What's Oracle-Google Lawsuit All About? Maisie Ramsay interviews Al Hilwa from IDC.
- Is Android Evil? by Andreas Constantinou
The latter post is from the past April, so it was written long before the war inception, and the title might appear misleading (Andreas clearly says in the article that Android is not evil). It's not a partisan post, but a detailed insight about how Google controls Android. In the end, both articles should give you some ideas about the fact that there's no battle against or pro open source (as Google wants us to believe), but the two corporates are just making their own interests, trying to grab as much control as they can on the technologies that will make money for the next decade.
If you look at the current scenario, there are lots of patent and copyright wars going on, involving almost all the big corporates. I must say that I'm finding it really stressing, especially when powerful sound waves from the battlefield strike us (just to say the last one, Google backing out of JavaOne and the continuously running debates in the mailing lists and forums, often giving no good contributes).
Waiting for the things to clear up, there's a thing that can be said about Oracle. I find it stressing the complete lack of communications aimed at the community from a high level perspective. In the past months there have been long periods of uncertainty about the roadmaps of the many FLOSS products that Oracle inherited from Sun. For instance, after the reassuring announcements in January, NetBeans missed for several months a roadmap. In the end, it has been published. I reckon that delays could have been caused by the internal reorganization of the company and probably the communications for each specific product (with the notable exception of OpenSolaris, which we understood has died by inferencing the lack of communications from Oracle) are on the way of normalization now .
But the same can't be said for the general strategies. I mean, the Java ecosystem is a scenario with many players - Oracle, Google, other corporates and the community - where costs and profits can be partitioned in different ways. The key point is the way they are partitioned. It's clear what happened in the past: most costs were upon Sun and most profits flew to other corporates and to the community. This was not sustainable and it's clear that Oracle's plans for the game are different. More profits will go to Oracle and possibly less to the other partners (of course, the game is more complex than a simple zero-sum equation). As a community we must accept this, while we can't accept a situation in which Oracle is the only one to make profits. Until the equilibrium point is clearly spotted, at each move of a big actor we will overwhelmed by over-reactions. In this scenario, initiatives such as Gosling's t-shirts pledging for keeping Java free can't help much, as the message is not clear (and if the community just means to keep things as they were under Sun, well, this is just unfeasible).
Larry Ellison said that he wouldn't like the blogging attitude of Jonathan Schwartz. So, in the end, nobody is explaining us what the general strategy is - and some areas, such as the future of Java 7, inherited the uncertainty that already started under the last years of Sun management. Larry Ellison is supposed to speak at the forthcoming JavaOne, and I think that at this point it's convenient for us to wait since there are only three weeks ahead. But one/two high-level communications per year are not enough as they leave too room to speculations, fears, doubts and eventually disguise from other parties. In the end, Oracle would be the first to gain from a good communication; unless they just don't care of the community, of course.