For the past year, I have suffered from what I’ve churlishly dubbed as Oracle-ish Anxiety. It’s the feeling that at any moment, Oracle may greedily yank a technology that I depend upon, kicking and screaming, from the clutches of the public domain.
OpenSolaris was the first to go to the chopping block. No, chopping block is the wrong metaphor. Void is more like it. No more OSUG meetings, no more t-shirts with OpenSolaris logos, no more following online wars on topics such as governance bodies and community participation (online wars aren’t necessarily bad, they occur because people care). The hole OpenSolaris left is raw and only Oracle remains. A hard pill to swallow, to say the least.
Honestly, it makes me a little sad. Whether they meant to or not, Oracle killed a vibrant community that, while smaller than the Linux cowboys, was growing a following of rabid devotees. Strangely, OpenSolaris’ followers devotion was driven by rather boring technologies that stood in stark contrast to the whims of a fanboy (I refuse to use an i, I absolutely refuse) nation. DTrace just isn’t sexy compared to jiggly desktops.
Then the page at midnight comes. No one in your house is safe from an angry pager. Partners threaten to launch the pagers into walls, babies wake up and cry, and even the dogs regard you with disdain (until you give them a treat). After surviving withering stares from tired family members, you hobble half awake to a terminal, turn off the jiggly windows, and SSH into work. To your dismay, an important database server has crashed and important folks all over the company want to know what you’re going to do about it.
Suddenly, in a moment of blurry eyed recognition, DTrace, ZFS, and SMF become very sexy. The moment these technologies save your bacon is the moment you become a devotee. You realize that had you been dealing with Windows, Linux, or another *NIX, your goose would be proverbially cooked. That just puts icing on the cake.
As an Oracle customer responsible for large systems that rely heavily on technologies in Solaris 10 (especially ZFS), I have a nagging feeling that as much as Oracle knows how to make a dollar, they don’t know how to capitalize on the moment that turns people into devotees. And that, my friends, is what sets my Oracle-ish Anxiety a rock’n.
they don’t know how to capitalize on the moment that turns people into devotees.
I’m glad they realized this, or where lead to realization, soon enough to open-source OOo. But their actions so far still leave wide scars in former thriving communities. And you’re right: it feels like we always have to be wary about the next step.
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