Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oracle versus Google -- Farewell to Sun's legacy

Under most circumstances I avoid writing on topics which saturate the news media.  After all, the title of this blog is "Off the Beaten Path in Technology".  But the OracleGoogle lawsuit has so many ramifications for the future of technological innovation that I intend to cover it regularly and in depth.

I'll be writing a tutorial series on the lawsuit after the dust settles a bit and after I've had time to research the issue properly, but I do want to make a somewhat personal statement about this case.

I worked as a solaris sysadmin for quite a few years.  As annoying as Sun Microsystems could be to deal with,  I came to respect them as a font of innovation.  I'm not going to attempt to list all the contributions of Sun Microsystems to the computer science and technology world, but a few notable recent ones are Java, zfs, dtrace, and the Open Office suite.

When Oracle acquired Sun my first reaction was alarm, and nothing that  has transpired since the takeover has softened my reaction.   With Oracle in charge the likelihood of any remnant of Sun's culture surviving is miniscule.

Although I'm going to cover the lawsuit in as accurate and balanced a manner as I can under the circumstances, Oracle has unleashed the potential for significant damage to  the innovative impulse in the computer technology world.  Software patents are a bad idea,  and provide  fertile ground for those law firms best described as patent trolls.  No matter what the outcome of the suit it's likely to damage Java as both a language and a platform.

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