UP FRONT: From the Editor
Committed to the Right Word
By Tom Haunert
Confirming a commitment to open source technologies
As a magazine editor, I look at word choices—and more specifically, I look to see whether this magazine’s editorial content makes use of the “right words.” A quotation attributed to Mark Twain describes the importance of the right word: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
For some time, I had questioned whether commitment was exactly the right word to describe a company’s or community’s relationship with open source, community-developed, and free software technology. I was accustomed to seeing a commitment to software or technology clearly demonstrated by the financial investment of one technology-creating company and that technology’s licensees. So how do you quantify or confirm commitment to open source, community-developed, and free technology?
The use of an open source technology can be a commitment, but how the technology is used and why it’s used are key. In my mind, using an open source technology for business processes that are not mission-critical is not a significant commitment to that technology. And pledging at the business level to use open source technology is a commitment to a business model for software, but not a commitment to the individual technologies used.
To me, the transition from being a casual or even committed user of an open source technology to being truly committed to that technology begins with participation and contribution. The Java Community Process ( jcp.org ), for example, is a mechanism for participation in and contribution to Java. And the Linux Kernel Organization ( kernel.org ) is a mechanism for contribution to the Linux kernel. Driving the future of a technology—or helping to develop a bug fix in the present—through organized community processes is certainly committed participation.
Going beyond the level of participation and contribution, the organizations that build on, drive, and own open source technology projects are committed to open source technology at the highest level. And this level of resource investment is easily measured.
Oracle has built on, contributed to, and participated in open source projects for many years. Early on, Oracle added Java support to Oracle Database, used Java to Web-enable applications, and later used Java to build Oracle Fusion Middleware. Oracle has participated in the Java Community Process and driven and supported many Java Specification Requests. Oracle has also contributed multiple technologies to the Linux kernel. Oracle has actively developed and delivered multiple releases of its open source Berkeley DB and InnoDB product lines. And since the recent arrival of Java and MySQL, Oracle has already released new products in those product families.
In 2010, I’m now quite sure that when we write about Oracle’s commitment to open source, commitment is exactly (not almost) the right word.
Continuing an annual commitment, Oracle OpenWorld, JavaOne, and Oracle Develop come to San Francisco, California, September 19-23. Come, contribute, participate, and build on the experience.
Tom Haunert, Editor in Chief