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31 December 2010, 10:22

The H Year: 2010's Wins, Fails and Mehs

by Dj Walker-Morgan

Welcome to The H's look back at 2010. We've broken down the events of the year by what The H thinks was full of win, who was getting on the failboat and what made us just say "Meh". From the corporate giants and how they handled open source and the community to the battle to be the best browser, and from the best new open source to the worst mis-steps in the community.

The Oracle Debacle

Meh – Oracle took over Sun – With the completion of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, a new regime of Oracle's "special" brand of communications took over from Sun's bloggy, chatty style. The Oracle brand of communications mostly involves Oracle not saying anything or so little that the community is left to fill in the blanks.

Fail – OpenSolaris goes away – The first casualty of Oracle's new regime was OpenSolaris, as Oracle decided to focus on Solaris and deliver a new release of the operating system. This news was quietly slipped out at the bottom of an email but OpenSolaris developers outside Oracle had already seen the writing in between the cracks on the wall...

Meh – Illumos Foundation launches – The Illumos Foundation was created to make the open source branch of Solaris live on; a number of companies already relied on it and for them it was a logical move to create this new Unix distribution. Currently, Illumos and the distributions derived from it, such as OpenIndiana, are tracking Solaris development in what has been dubbed a "spork" but as every day passes it's becoming more of a fork.

Win – LibreOffice launched – Before Oracle could even decide on what it's plans for OpenOffice were, a group of developers took the initiative and, by also leveraging long standing issues over how OpenOffice was developed, forked the entire office suite to create LibreOffice. The proactive approach to creating a fork appears to put the LibreOffice team at an advantage, as the OpenOffice code is not closed to them.

Fail – Android vs Oracle – Oracle decided to open up a legal front by suing Google for a part of Android, specifically patent and copyright issues around the Dalvik VM and its relationship to Java. This lawsuit is still progressing and will run through 2011 and beyond, unless there is a settlement. The lawsuit also brought the licensing basis of the Java language and runtime into the spotlight again which led to...

Meh – Apache walks from the JCP – Apache left the Java Community Process after the long running argument between Sun, and now Oracle, came to a head with the vote on the specifications for Java 7 and Java 8. Apache has long objected to field of use restrictions on the compatibility test kits for Java, and Oracle appeared to them to be using the JCP as a rubber stamp of approval. The Apache Foundation decided to change policy from just voting no to new specifications and walked out. Again, Oracle's lack of community communication played its part and the Java community is very much in a state of tension.

Fail – Other Oracle casualties – We'd need another page to list the numerous people who have left Oracle and the projects that have walked or run away from Oracle stewardship. The common factor seems to be Oracle's culture; it seems that the open source community has yet to adapt to the new environment where the 800 pound gorilla isn't Microsoft and does have a significant interest in a lot of open source projects.

Next: Mobile Moves On

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