Spining the spin


Been reading an article that appeared in February’s issue of Linux For You about how “Oracle’s contributions to the Linux world, and [the interviewee] expresses his surprise at how little credit the company gets for it”, among other amazing “insights”. It is unfortunate that the article is not online, but I would encourage you to go get a copy of the issue or check with your local library.

The story kicks off with a question about the role open source plays in Oracle. The answer starts off with a statement that “we are a private source company – the word “proprietary” is too harsh for us”. Of course! What was the FOSS community thinking? FOSS should actually be called Public Source. FOSS is too harsh, I think. Spin #1.

The interview then moves to a question: “But compared to the experience Red Hat has had with Linux and open source, how do you slot yourself on the same level of expertise?”. The answer meanders around how oracle developed a network computer based on Linux in the late 90s and that the Linux engineering team is still at Oracle. True or spin I cannot tell. The answer then moves to how Oracle is high on LF’s list on contributors and ‘sob sob’, “and if people say that we don’t contribute that much, it’s not fair”. Spin #2.

That question is also answered with how Oracle has released Berkeley DB on a dual license and for that reason alone, “I can’t figure out why people don’t want to give us credit for it.”

Let’s examine Berkeley DB. It was always available under a BSD-like license, free of charge and then moved to a GPL-ish license they called Sleepycat Public License. This was all before Ellison bought them out. So, Berkeley DB has always been open source. For Oracle to say that boo-hoo, “people don’t want to give us credit” is pure hogwash. Spin #3.

The next question is a juicy one. It asks: “Oracle Enteprise Linux is based on RHEL, so is CentOS. And when people talk about RHEL alternatives, or clones, CentOS comes to mind immediately. Oracle Enterprise Linux is pretty much unheard of.” I will take liberty to quote the reply which shows the level of spin the interviewee is capable of. “What does CentOS do? They pick up RH, remove logos and trademarks, and redistribute it. In our view, there should no longer be a CentOS. It take more time to consolidate servers on the Linux side, and as much as we can, we are doing exactly the same thing. But we are investing a lot of technical resources also.”

Let’s examine that. OEL is a fork of CentOS. So, if “there should no longer be a CentOS”, then there will not be a OEL as well unless they do the work that CentOS is doing. Killing ones own parents does not bode well for the child.

There was a question about Oracle being present with Linux Users’ Groups worldwide. The reply is sad for it smacks of cockiness and typical Oracle arrogance (they have learned well from Microsoft): “What kind of people go to the LUGs? Are the enterprise customers we are talking about , those who are on top of the pyramid, there? In LUGs you go about spreading the word about what you are doing. That is not a core focus of our market. Is it important? Yes, of course it is, if there is an Ubuntu vs Debian vs CentOS sort of debate. But this is not the kind of market we are in. …” Well, Mr Big Shot, I guess to you LUGs are freetards. They refuse to swallow the Oracle spin, so it is good that you ignore them. Do just remember those whom you passed by on your way up and thumbed your nose at, for you would have to reach out to them for help on your way down!

The rest of the interview is utter rubbish and is rounded out with the last question: “What if someone is not interested in Oracle? Say they are using other databases like MySQL or PostgresSQL but they want to with OEL? Do you have expertise in handling the issues of such a customer?” Answer: yada, yada, yada “we are a database company so obviously support a database query”. In other words, NO. If you run OEL and you have a question about MySQL or PostgresSQL, or Apache, or Samba or whatever that you would find on a RHEL product, you will not get help. What they would want to do is to get you to switch to an oracle product. Spin #4.

In my many years in this IT industry, I have never come across any one happy to plunk out more money to Oracle. Back when I was running IQmind.com, dealing with Oracle for our database was such an annoying experience that I do not even want to go through it again let alone wish it on my friends!

Enough said.

5 thoughts on “Spining the spin

  1. The interview then moves to a question: “But compared to the experience Red Hat has had with Linux and open source, how do you slot yourself on the same level of expertise?”. The answer meanders around how oracle developed a network computer based on Linux in the late 90s and that the Linux engineering team is still at Oracle. True or spin I cannot tell.
    I was out at CERN in early 2004 where they were building the systems for the LHC Computing Grid. Oracle were (and still are) a partner in that process.
    People at CERN were testing distributed computing on PC farms there since the mid-nineties.
    CERN is a bit like a big R&D playground where companies like Oracle get to test their ideas on a massive scale, and it’s in both CERN’s and the companies interests to do so – CERN get the technology and the companies get to test their products so they can sell to big business later.
    In 2004, the OS on the grid was Scientific Linux, derived from RHEL.
    In 2005, I see an advertisement for Oracle in the departure lounge at Zurich airport. It says something along the lines of “Take 64 computers running together as a server. It’s more powerful than a mainframe and it never breaks…”
    Shortly afterwards, Oracle Unbreakable Linux is released, derived from RHEL.
    Wonder what gave them that idea.

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