Denmark goes ODF. Only ODF. Sorry, OOXML

Breaking news. If your danish is good enough, read here, here, here, here.

The Konlusionspapiret has all the details.

So from April 2011 all intergovernmental documents will be in ODF. If this will also mean a change to OpenOffice remains to be seen however.

OOXML however is out. It is considered to not be good enough to be treated as an open standard. And trust me, Microsoft really tried to convince the danish politicians. But as it seems their arguments in support of OOXML (and also their numerous attempts to discredit ODF) have failed.

Will other countries learn? Tell them. Ask them. This is a good day for open standards.

Red Hat starts

Finally. A place to discuss, learn, promote everything open. With 5 channels:

We started thois community to allow people from all across the world, regardless of job and skills, to communicate and foster more Open. Let’s look (far) beyond software. Lets talk about the Open Everything that this world so desperately needs.

Talk to you at!

Oracle/SUN Merger OK by EU commission

From the decision:
wrt MySQL:

Given the open source nature of MySQL, the Commission also assessed Oracle’s ability and incentive to remove the constraint exerted by MySQL after the merger and the extent to which this constraint could, if necessary, be replaced by other actors on the database market.

The Commission’s investigation showed that another open source database, PostgreSQL, is considered by many database users to be a credible alternative to MySQL and could be expected to replace to some extent the competitive force currently exerted by MySQL on the database market. In addition, the Commission found that ‘forks’ (branches of the MySQL code base), which are legally possible given MySQL’s open source nature, might also develop in future to exercise a competitive constraint on Oracle in a sufficient and timely manner. Given the specificities of the open source software industry, the Commission also took into account Oracle’s public announcement of 14 December 2009 of a series of pledges to customers, users and developers of MySQL concerning issues such as the continued release of future versions of MySQL under the GPL (General
Public Licence) open source licence. Oracle has already taken action to implement some of its pledges by making binding offers to third parties who currently have a licensing contract for MySQL with Sun to amend contracts. This is likely to allow third parties to continue to develop storage engines to be integrated with MySQL and to extend the functionality of MySQL.

So Neelie Smit-Kroes and her people are smart. They know what they are talking about and they did what I expected: thorough research. I fully agree with the findings. The Open Source ecosystem can produce competing solutions. It doesn’t need a Dual License special approach.

wrt JAVA:

It found that Oracle’s ability to deny its competitors access to
important IP rights would be limited by the functioning of the Java
Community Process (JCP) which is a participative process for developing and revising Java technology specifications involving numerous other important players in the IT industry, including Oracle’s competitors.

The Commission also found that Oracle would not have the incentives to restrict its competitors’ access to the Java IP rights as this would
jeopardise the gains derived from broad adoption of the Java platform
and therefore the proposed transaction would raise no competition
concerns in respect of the licensing of IP rights connected with Java.

This is going to be more important IMHO. The freedom of Java is really important.

Why we need Neelie (and some don’t want her)

Neelie Smit-Kroes, most famous for her decisions wrt Microsoft in the various competitive cases, is under dubious pressure:

As noted here, some german conservatives express strange doubts:

Angelika Niebler, a German conservative, was one of several to express dissatisfaction, saying that MEPs had not got “many specific answers” from the commissioner-designate. “I don’t really feel I know in which [policy] direction you are going to go,” she said.

Andreas Schwab, a German from the centre-right, described Kroes’s answer to one of his questions as a “sort of yes and no”, while Doris Pack – like Schwab and Niebler, a German member of the European People’s Party – said she was “not very satisfied” with an answer she received.

This comes after her hearing last week. If you take a closer look at what Neelie told us in that hearing, I fail to see why it is wrong. However I fully understand that some other companies and organisations are alarmed. This is what she had to say wrt Open Standards (transcribed from the hearing which is ironically only accessible with non-open Microsoft stuff):

5- Digital society depends upon open standards and interoperability. And with this in mind, public organizations should practice what they promote. If they don’t use open standards, why should citizens? I will pursue this from local authorities up to european institutions. If public data such as maps, weather information and health advise is not interoperable, how can it be exploited in new ways? And for such reasons I want to explore new ways to develop ICT standards in Europe.

So Neelie wants to explore new ways, wants to enforce the use of open standards, wants to free public data. I am not going to tell you who might have a different opinion. But I am sure, my dear Lazyweb, that you know which company I am talking about.

So let’s hope for the best. Neelie was grilled again today by the parliament and she will hear tomorrow if she is accepted.

For the sake of Open Standards in Europe, I can only hope she’ll make it.

Why I will not sign the MySQL petition

DISCLAIMER: This post is my PERSONAL opinion.

I am quite sure that I will get a lot of angry flames for this post, but I am not going to sign the petition to “save MySQL”.

I strongly believe in community. In transparency. In openness. I hoped that the fight of Monty Widenius would be about exactly that – making sure MySQL becomes the Open Source database engine for the Free world. Making sure a vivid, creative, open community of users, developers gather around MySQL and make it better.

It seems however that this is not what the petition is about. Here some quotes that leave me with mixed feelings:

MySQL’s database server has traditionally been a product developed and maintained by a single company, not a community project depending on volunteers or on multiple vendors (like Linux).

Well – at least they don’t hide it. But the wording is misleading. It implies that an open source project is either run by a company or by volunteers. This is so wrong that I have a hard time not loosing my temper. Take a look at AMQP. It is a quite good ecosystem around a defined standard. With several implementations. Some of them Open Source, some not. Or take a look at the Linux kernel. Most of the contributions come from people who are actually paid to do this work. Some of the devleopers are employed by Red Hat, some by IBM, Novell, Intel etc.

A real Open Source project is about making something better for the good of all users. Not only for customers. And distributing the development across several companies reduces the risk for every participating entity. So the more the merrier.

However, for MySQL it seems the world is different:

Those who wanted to incorporate it into or enhance it with closed-source products without having to publish their entire derived work on GPL terms (which would practically preclude them from many commercial opportunities)

Let me tell you, this is not correct. Red Hat can pay its employees by generating revenue based on the GPL. I would say that Red Hat does quite well with that business model. Look at the stock price.

And if MySQL would be so succesfull with their dual licensing strategy, why did they sell themselves to SUN anyway?

There is a lesson hidden here: If you sell something, you don’t own it any longer. MySQL is now SUNs business. And if SUN decides to sell themselves to Oracle – it is their business. If the MySQL founders and fanboys don’t like this, they simply shouldn’t have sold MySQL to SUN in the first instance.

So we have two possible solutions here. My preferred solution: Oracle takes over SUN and puts MySQL under a single license, the GPL. It also declares all relevant “Intellectual Property” to be licensed Royalty Free up- and downstream.

Second best solution: The (former) MySQL people do what Open Source always offers: Fork. Let the best implementation win.

The current plan offfered in the petition however is based on exclusiveness, something that I refuse to accept. And that is why I personally will not sign the petition the way it is.

To all that quote me, let me repeat again: THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION.