Oracle attacks Open Source

Oracle has a love-hate relationship with open source technologies.  In a whitepaper (PDF) for the Department of Defense, Oracle claims that TCO (total cost of ownership) goes up with the use of open source. They’re essentially trying to build a case for the use of their own products within the government.

Oracle also attacks the community-based development model, calling it more insecure than company developed products. ‘Government-sponsored community development approaches to software creation lack the financial incentives of commercial companies to produce low-defect, well-documented code.’

The Oracle claims appear to be somewhat based on over-generalisation, as – for instance – The open-source PostgreSQL project has the best documentation of a software project around, open- or closed-source. Other open-source projects with really good documentation: The Linux man pages (documenting the Linux API), Tcl/Tk and Perl. And as far as end-user docs go, LibreOffice is fairly decent, though not in the same league as PostgreSQL.

Oracle may have a number of official and unofficial books available which serve as documentation, but this merely prompts the question: if a user needs a mile of bookshelves simply to be able to use your product, where did things go wrong?

Perhaps what Oracle really meant was, “Unlike proprietary, hidden commercial code, Government-sponsored back doors in software can’t be found in the traditional, open-source, many-eyes, well-documented code.”

But that kind of statement won’t facilitate raking in the profits.

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