As eWeek reports, the EC handed down a formal objection to the Oracle-Sun deal. To quote the article:
The regulators see a major conflict of interest in the world’s largest commercial database company owning its largest open source competitor.
Oracle responded with a statement yesterday. To quote from it:
It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open source software that because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone.
Yes, thank God that true Open Source (as we knew it 10 years ago) can’t be controlled by anyone and everybody has the right to fork the software (as has already been done by forking into Drizzle or MariaDB).
But in these years, we have to understand how Commercial Open Source software works in these times: of course software like MySQL has a vibrant community that releases the software more often and sometimes provides more patches than the vendor does. But, there are many customers who want to rely on the „commercial“ MySQL software that it is fully tested, certified and provided with commercial support. They stick into MySQL and not into Drizzle or MariaDB and so they stick into the vendor that does care for the software.
This means that customers expect a commercial entity behind the software. A commercial entity that pays developers to develop the software and its services around it. Open Source is not only free software and „free as in freedom“, it’s also a distribution vehicle to lower costs in sales and marketing, as you could read for example in the article „How JBoss did it“ (via @mjasay).
Sheeri pointed out in a comment in this blog that Oracle has experience with free software like InnoDB and earns a ton of money off it (with InnoDB Hot Backup). But I think there’s a difference. InnoDB is only a table handler (though an important one as it provides transactions etc. to the MySQL server). But MySQL itself stands for the whole database server and an own database market. Do the math.
As Marco Tabini wrote in an earlier blog article „Who would buy MySQL?“, he agreed to my advice that it would be wise to sell MySQL to another company in order to get the Oracle-Sun merger done. But to whom?
UPDATE: El Reg has also an article about the official objective against the deal, and there’s a SEC filing which does not yet have any further details (via Kris Köhntopp’s blog).
The thing is, people use MySQL *because* it’s free. If they started charging even $10,000 per year for it, most people would just migrate to Postgres or keep the current, open source version as it is.
Also, Oracle can’t actually close the source, because the current source is GPLv2. So while theoretically Oracle could do awful things, I don’t see it happening. If Oracle fires all their MySQL developers, those developers will just form a company that develops on MySQL, but doesn’t have the trademark ownerships — much like MariaDB and Percona do right now, and much like the Postgres world does (there’s no one company behind Postgres).
So I just don’t see it happening, practically. I predict that if the deal goes through without MySQL, you’ll see the bidding led by either Monty or an organization that includes Monty and others who have spoken out about this. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me about why there’s this upheaval about something that’s in the realm of possibility, but not in the realm of likelihood.