There are plenty of bad things in the world. But I guess there is nothing that has such a drastic and dangerous impact on my life that software patents. If patents are good thing in other industries can be discussed, but in the software industry its a clear cut thing: they hurt innovation, they hurt small businesses and they scare the shit out of me. And if you are a software developer, they should scare the shit out of you too! Now Oracle decided as the first big company that is not just a patent troll to actually sue a company over software patents. heck maybe others have sued before, but lets stop this behavior right here right now. We must send a clear message. We must send a clear message to Oracle that they better stop. And we must send a clear message to any other company holding software patents that they better not think of suing. I have not thought this out all the way yet, but right now I am thinking the best form of protest would be if all of us open source developers strip out support for any Oracle product in our next release: Throw out support for BerkleyDB, MySQL, Oracle whatever. The business math must be clear: Suing over software patents will cost more then it can ever get in returns. Who is with me in organizing such a protest? Or does someone have a better idea of how to approach this?
Maybe I should clarify: The point is not to hurt any of the open source projects that would be affected by such a move. Stripping out the support for one release would of course be a nuisance for users, but it would not be a big issue in the long run. Of course if Oracle doesn't react we might need to continue or to turn up the heat. It might actually lead to a fork or two if Oracle decides to keep this up. In this case I am also hoping that this will cause a few OSS guys at Oracle to hand in their notices .. even more people willing and capable to lead forks. Anyway the stronger our immediate message the lower the chances we need to be doing anything for any extended period of time.
I am in.
I am not ready to throw away MySQL & Berkeley DB, too much depends on it at the moment. I will have a look at the MySQL forks now, some of them might be usable by now.
But I think it is time to do something and not only against Oracle, but software patents in general. ( Though Oracle certainly seems to go downhill: http://lwn.net/Articles/400083/ ) . I am just not quite sure what :-)
btw: patents hurt in other areas too, there are more and more patents for mountain bike suspensions for example, which stops small companies to enter the market.
Stripping Oracle support out of a few OSS projects won't hurt Oracle for months, or perhaps years, while it will hurt Oracle customers who use those projects right away. You won't be annoying the correct people.
If you want a form of protest, you need to find something that DIRECTLY and QUICKLY impacts their bottom line. For instance, if you can convince their customers to stop renewing contracts, you might get the attention of someone who holds sway over the lawyers.
I think the best approach would be to find someone who has the ear of some board members, and point out that one of their lawyers (Bois, Schiller, etc) are the same guys who've been prosecuting the SCO mess. While they may have more to work with in this case, I would hope that Oracle's board is disinclined to end up like SCO.
Well I am not suggesting that someone should through out MySQL or whatever right now .. just that in case you maintain some OSS code that supports any of Oracle's products, that for the next release only you leave out support. Most users can probably easily put support back in easily if they need it. Anyway .. that is just one idea that I came up with just now. Maybe there are better ways that are even more effective with less collateral damage?
Well getting businesses to do long term decisions is a lot harder and a lot more severe actually than stripping out support in one version. Also such contracts run for a long time, so this would limit us to just those companies that are actually up for a renewal.
Maybe a more "positive" approach would be to focus the next release on improving support for competitor products? For example most PHP frameworks/apps etc give MySQL preferred treatment and testing.
Start using PostgreSQL, it's always a risk to use an open source product backed by a corporation.
What would you think if Oracle or another company tomorrow bought Zend? This is why php should structure itself as a non-profit organization and own some IP.
Non-profit foundations like Apache.org, PostgreSQL.org are ideal.
As for patents and Oracle, if I bought Sun for billions, I would no doubt have a strategy to make my money back. It was planned before they made the acquisition.
Such kind of protest will only work if there is going to be a critical mass, large enough to be heard. Otherwise, it wouldn't hurt the users only, but the OSS projects taking part in this protest too.
Generally I think this is a good idea. I'm not sure if it will have any impact, but I agree that we have to do something about these patent actions. And we should working on this idea until someone comes up with an even better one.
I've wanted to switch to Postgre for a while, this will hopefully give me the final push.
Although it wasn't because of this (it's been in the works for years), the upcoming Drupal 7 has moved from supporting MySQL and kinda pretending to support Postgres to supporting, out of the box, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite and is aiming for full support for all 3.
We recently added a note to our documentation as well that MariaDB, the leading MySQL fork right now, works just fine. In fact our test servers all run MariaDB.
Removing MySQL support is not an option for us, but methinks a bigger deal should be made out of such cross-DB support, not just for Drupal but in any CMS/framework.
If we would get PHP and Python to leave out support for Oracle and MySQL in their next release, with a corresponding statement in the release notes, that would gather a quite huge effect, I think. However, I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. :/