Big guns behaving badly

Oracle delivers a contradictory verdict on open-source

Lucy Carey

According to the software giant, no open-source is good enough for the US Department of Defense- unless it comes from Oracle, of course.

Oracle’s distaste for genuine
open-source is evident in so many ways. From its slow disengagement
with the MySQL community, to the cloak and dagger approach it takes
to Java security, it’s clear Larry Ellison et al would much prefer
to keep their cards and code very close to their chests.

And then there’s the less subtle things. The
software Sauron’s approach to open source is made resoundingly
obvious in new Oracle,

white paper
titled “The Department of
Defence (DoD) and Open Source Software”.

In it, Oracle delivers a damning critique of
open source software – writing that the US DoD’s belief that it can
save money by developing their own applications with open source
software as a foundation is misguided. After a lengthy discussion,
it arrives at the crux of its argument; it would be far better to
just cough up and partner with Oracle, which, wouldn’t you know,

tons of open-source projects
at its
fingertips. That is, ones which “as needs grow” (so says the
report) can be switched for “the commercial offering from

Although the paper does raise a few valid
points, such as the fact that it would be more difficult to
guarantee the security of open source- rooted software projects
than those from one single source, the overall gist is that it
would be ridiculous for the DoD to even contemplate turning to more
diverse open-source for their development.

This paper comes at a time when the US
government is wrangling with the repercussions of its decision to
entrust its complex new health insurance registration service to
one hapless vendor – an issue that actually underlines the

advantages of open-sourcing

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