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Clubbing baby seals is GPL-compatible: Why Oracle can do better

Sep 26, 2010, 15:04 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Brockmeier)

"Earlier this week I wrote about Oracle's "new and improved" Linux kernel, and called the company on its strategy of cloning Red Hat Enterprise Linux while carrying almost none of the development burden. But is it fair to ask a company to do more than comply with the license?

"A couple of commenters and folks on Twitter took issue with the blog, saying (essentially) "hey, Oracle is abiding by the terms of the license, how can you criticize them for doing what the license allows?" A few other folks suggested that Oracle was making a contribution, by helping to spread Linux. If so, shouldn't we all thank Oracle for its role in making Linux more popular in the enterprise?

"In a word, no. I don't find either argument very compelling. The GNU General Public License (GPL) and other open source licenses dictate the things you're allowed to do with code. Simply because the GPL allows parasitic behavior, doesn't mean that Oracle can't be called out when it's not being a good community citizen. Some see the GPL's reciprocal requirements as restrictive — but even the requirements to give back changes and share code only go so far."

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