A formal objection to formal objection!

Dear EC, I have an opinion on Sun/Oracle merger.

I don’t like objections, therefore I object to them. Of course, I understand, that some people want to play major parts in dramas and soap operas, others are spectating and enjoying it, but most people I know and respect simply want to be efficient and get their work done.

These people, many of whom were my colleagues back at Sun/MySQL, sometimes can be labeled as ones who don’t care about greater picture, or the common good. Unfortunately, the topic of common interest depends from religion to religion, from society to society, from person to person.

My approach to common good is doing what I want to do for the community, and not what community wants me to do. If that relation is not compatible for any of the sides, there is no relation at all. Now, what happens now, is that there is some user community (and I include all the people who are protecting their free-software-usage interests) which has demands for vendors.

When PG zealots keep telling that “PG is open, MySQL is closed-development by a company”, you will often see MySQL camp not listening to that at all. But there is some true in that, every MySQL user was using a product that was developed inside a citadel (even some builds were called ‘Citadel’), and company had a say over lots of issues.

Start with Windows licensing at the beginning, GPLv2 versus GPLv3 or any other issue, that was affecting our user community at large, it has always been top-down decision, nobody has ever asked me as a user what kind of license I would want – and all those decisions were made by MySQL, the semi-independent company.

I never actually craved for too much control of the project – I’m always free to fork (and I have forked at least 3 releases of MySQL, and now have to deal with yet another fork at work ;-). I have went through various stages of relations with MySQL – and at every of them I had to understand that open-source software carries its own set of risks, but also has its own set of mitigations. I’m free to support my organization needs at various outcomes, I don’t have any data lock-in, I don’t have any vendor lock-in, the only impact is a risk that I should have calculated years ago, not today.

So even if the argument starts with “MySQL is being acquired by competitor, and it is risky situation”, there are few real messages out there: “we need to protect people who don’t care about risks” – sounds very much like bailout money for all the people with crazy spending, as well as “if your entry campaign is about doing lots of common good, you may not be allowed to profit in the future”.

This doesn’t make open-source a good investment (would Sun pay 1B$ if it forecasted today’s EC position?), and it not being a good investment means there won’t be opportunities for people to balance common good and business opportunities in future.

If a community was supposed to have a voice in this situation, it should’ve had a fair share of board members in project management. If a community didn’t get its fair share of management at the organization, it should’ve found another organization, or accepted the risks.

In my opinion, if you are right now in the camp of supporting objections, it is not because you’re seeing a lot now, it is mostly because you didn’t see anything before.