When Open-Source, Non-Open-Source Worlds Collide

Okay. So Oracle is now the proud owner of Sleepycat. Yes, another open-sourcey company acquired by a blatant capitalist.

You gotta wonder at this point, if you haven't already, how the open source faithful feel about contributing their hard-earned work and sweat equity into code that will now flow out of such non-philanthropic entities as Oracle and IBM.

A pal who works for the most capitalistic of business rags says he envisions these developers getting the standard employment letter from Oracle CEO Larry Ellisonyes he of the gigandous yachts and fastest jets and priciest housesstating their T&Cs.

It would read something like this: "Dear John/Jane Q. Programmer. Enclosed please find the provisions of your employment contract. As before, you will be receiving zero dollars per week in your position of code contributor."

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Of course some who cloak themselves in the open source flag, are as desirous of perksnamely dough-- as anyone.

Companies like MySQLwhich must SURELY be feeling the pain with Oracle's buyout first of InnoDB and now Sleepycathave hedged their betsoffering commercial and open source versions of their wares. Ditto JBoss which sells support and maintenance for its offering. The app server company that must have plotzed when IBM bought competitor Gluecode last year.

The industry's worst kept secret has been that JBoss is on the block and speculation continues that Oracle will buy it for what some say is about $400 million.

Two guesses as to whether JBoss CEO Marc Fleury will turn over any of his huge portion of that figure to some of the open sourcers who built his software.

Some in the commercial software world have long marveled at what has been up till now IBM's wondrous PR and R&D coup. Not only has it won the love and admiration of the Linux masses with its support of the operating system. They saw IBM as the potent counterbalance to the Evil Doers in Redmond. And, IBMand now Oracle-- reaped the monetary benefits of all their hard "unpaid forwork.

Maybe this is why Microsoft has upped its own shared source initiatives. With IBM and Oracle getting all this stuff for free, why shouldn't they?

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