Super Troopers?

digital 14 Comments

Seen the movie? Very funny fiction about the Vermont State Police.

So a week or so ago I was pulled over on I-89 in northern Vermont for speeding. The officer exhibited behavior and judgment so poor and so unprofessional I will not sully the reputation of his peers by discussing it here. I have raised my concerns with his supervisor.

However, that does not negate the fact I was, indeed, traveling at a rate of speed higher than the posted speed limit. So I’ll pay the ticket. And when I went to do so, I noticed that “You can now pay your tickets online at the VT Judiciary Branch website.” Click the URL for some head-scratchin’ fun!

I’m aghast. WTF are they smoking in Vermont?

Vermont Judiciary webpage

The Delphic Oracle Embraces the Sun-God Apollo

digital 1 Comment

Big events today, and the MySQL User Conference is all abuzz with news, speculation, and even some concern. Oracle has acquired Sun, which again brings the light of Apollo to Mount Parnassus. :)

Of course, this raises all kinds of questions about the whys and hows. I’m happy to publicly speculate, as I am not in an insider’s position with either Sun or Oracle. Of course, I do work for Monty Program Ab, which makes me somewhat less than a wholly dispassionate bystander. And please, before you read my humble musings on the subject, please read my boss’ thoughts.

Without further ado, here some possible reasons I can see for this move by Oracle:

– Oracle now has a hardware business, something I think they have craved for a very long time.

– Oracle now has their very own trusted server operating system. Not to disparage what must have been some very hard work, but Oracle’s Linux platform has been and will be an also-ran. I predict that Solaris as a commercial product will soon disappear, and that Oracle will concentrate their efforts on OpenSolaris. I think Oracle wants an operating system, but I (perhaps naively) believe they see the folly in closed, commercial OSes in 2009.

– And of course, MySQL. I think it almost certain that we will begin to see MySQL used as a sort of “gateway drug” to Oracle’s flagship DB products.

Of course, this begs the question “Why would Oracle continue to pay attention to and improve a product that is solely used as a carrot to their flagship product?”

I’m not quite sure I know the answer to this. However, I do know that it is nigh impossible to “own” a Free or open source project in the same sense that Oracle “owns” their database. Patrick Galbraith spoke to this point quite eloquently in a recent blog post. I think Monty paraphrased it perfectly when he said “that ‘ownership’ of Free and open source projects has more to do with who provides the best stewardship of the code, rather than who owns a trademark.” Amen, brother.

That having been said, I hope Oracle realizes that they have taken their first big step into the Free and open source software world with their acquisition of Sun. Their track record in this field is non-existent, as they have traditionally been quite opposed to the ideals and values that make Free and open source software viable. They now stand at a crossroads. They can continue to play the closed, proprietary, commercial game they have been playing (quite successfully, mind you) for many years. However, if they do this, they almost guarantee the success of competitors (including Monty Program Ab). I cannot say I’m opposed to this, but it decreases users’ choice, and this is never good.

Alternatively, Oracle could choose to engage and interact with the open source community in ways that Sun never did (e.g. viewing each developer with meaningful patches as a full partner in their success). Should they choose this route, I have every confidence that they will succeed where Sun did not.

When Sun was the principle owner of MySQL, Monty liked to think of Monty Program and the Maria Project as the MySQL Fedora to Sun’s RHEL. Now that Oracle is in charge, I see three possibilities:

1). The Maria Project continues to be the MySQL Fedora to Oracle’s RHEL.

2). Oracle completely fails to understand the open model and Maria becomes the Linux to Oracle’s Windows.

3). Oracle really and truly understands the landscape in which they now live, and the Maria Project becomes the Ubuntu to Oracle’s Debian.

As I said, there is palpable concern amongst the conference attendees. I think there are some easy tasks Oracle could undertake to alleviate these concerns to some degree. I’ll post my ideas in the next few days, once I’ve a a bit more time to process today’s events.

Fasten your seatbelts and return your tray table and seat back to their upright and locked positions.