It's true. Oracle is now, with its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the world's largest purveyor of open source software. Does that surprise you? It did me too, until I started digging and realized that Oracle has a history of supporting free and open source software. Their support didn't start with their purchase of InnoDB, MySQL or Sun. It goes back into ancient times--Internetly speaking, of course.

And, yes, I know that I've taken my share of shots at Oracle and the wonderful Larry Ellison but I also have to own up to the fact that they are good open source stewards and citizens (netizens?). It almost pains me to admit it but I do. Oracle has done much for the FOSS community and it appears that their commitment to it rivals that of IBM.

Here are 20 of Oracle's open source initiatives that prove their dedication to the concept, the goal and the future of open source software. These are in no particular order.

1. MySQL - OK, this one might take the first spot because it's my personal favorite open source project. MySQL is the world's most popular open source database. It powers hundreds of thousands of websites, web applications and data engines for the world's largest companies.

2. OpenOffice.org - Microsoft Office's closest competitor also enjoys the grand Oracle umbrella of protection now. This is the project that made us all believe that Microsoft's corner on the office suite market was finally challenged.

3. InnoDB - Another of my favorites as the transaction-safe engine for MySQL. We were all in a panic when Oracle purchased InnoDB a few years ago, wondering if Oracle would kill off MySQL's transactional capabilities with this acquisition. It hasn't. We're all thankful.

4. Berkeley DB - What is Oracle doing messing around with a non-relational database, when they are the ones who produced the first commercial relational database? Because Berkeley DB solves important problems for developers due to its extreme performance, low overhead and no administration.

5. VirtualBox - The darling of desktop virtualization extremists everywhere. Now with teleport capability that just might put it into competition with server virtualization technologies.

6. OpenSolaris - Second to Linux, I love OpenSolaris next. OpenSolaris has all the awesomeness of Solaris (ZFS, Zones, Administration) without the need for Sparc architecture hardware on which to run it.

7. Java - I think Java must be Aramaic for "I hate it" because I really do hate Java. Java is a true enterprise development and delivery platform but it is big, cumbersome, slow and difficult to optimize. Regardless of my feelings toward it, Java remains as one of the top three most deployed technologies in the world.

8. Glassfish - Self-described as a lightweight, flexible, and open source application server, is the first compatible implementation of the Java EE 6 platform specification.

9. NetBeans - A free, open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Using NetBeans, you can create professional desktop, enterprise, web, and mobile applications with Java, C/C++, PHP, JavaScript, Groovy, and Ruby. NetBeans Platform is the world's only modular Swing application framework.

10. Linux - Did you know that Oracle is a major contributor to the Linux community? It is. Apart from its own Unbreakable Linux product (OEL), it has made significant contributions to key areas of Linux.

11. Xen - Oracle contributes heavily to feature development of Xen mainline software, is a member of the Xen Advisory Board, and hosted Xen Summit 2009 at Oracle. Part of Oracle VM, next generation server virtualization software, includes the Xen hypervisor.

12. Eclipse - You've heard of Eclipse, haven't you? It seems that everyone uses Eclipse for development in just about every possible programming language. Oracle is a strategic developer and board member of the Eclipse Foundation, contributing developers and leadership to three Eclipse projects: Dali JPA Tools, JavaServer Faces (JSF), and BPEL; Oracle has also donated Oracle TopLink to the open source community.

13. PHP - My all-time favorite web-oriented language is also one of Oracle's favorites. They are committed to enabling open source scripting language PHP for the enterprise with Zend Server. You can grab a free copy of their Underground PHP and Oracle Manual which explains how to use the PHP scripting language with the Oracle Database, from installation through optimization and management.

14. Apache MyFaces Trinidad - Oracle donates code to the Apache Foundation: "ADF Faces is a rich set of user interface components based on the JavaServer Faces JSR (JSR-127). The Oracle ADF Faces Rich Client Components provide various user-interface components with built-in functionality—such as data tables, hierarchical tables, and color and date pickers—that can be customized and re-used in your application."

15. Oracle+Saxon-B XSLT Processor - A project designed to allow Java developers to parse and transform XML documents.

16. Oracle Express Edition 10g - A free (yes, free) Oracle server. Can you say, "drool?" Free to use, develop, deploy and use for any purpose. A great Oracle training tool.

17. XQilla XQuery Engine - This is an embedded XQuery engine for use with XML-based applications. If you know what it does, then you're probably excited by it.

18. JDeveloper - Described as "a free integrated development environment (IDE) for building Web service-oriented applications using industry standards for Java, XML, SQL, and Web Services. It supports the complete development life cycle with integrated features for modeling, coding, debugging, testing, profiling, tuning, and deploying applications."

19. Oracle Validated Configurations - These are "pre-tested, validated Linux-based architectures with software, hardware, storage, and networking components with included documented best practices for deployment." Who knew?

20. Oracle VM - A free server virtualization platform that supports both Oracle and non-Oracle products. Many of Oracle's products are supported and certified for the Oracle VM platform.

There you have them: The 20 reasons why Oracle is the world's largest open source company.

What do you think of Oracle's open source software development and involvement in these communities? Is it good, bad or does it matter?

Edited by khess: n/a

7 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by songjie

I've had a lot of history with Oracle over the years -- all of it bad, and most of it quite painful. But their open source track record is extensive, and long term. I believe that they've demonstrated their willingness to stand by the open source paradigm. I would also expect that they see it as a compelling adjunct to their closed source, proprietary products - and they'd be right!


Not convinced. A better description would be largest collector of open source products since pretty much all these technologies were just acquired. Most of them being from Sun.

Everything Oracle do is just to sell an expensive closed-source database and make their technology sticky. Is 11G, PeopleSoft, Hyperion open source? Giving away training versions is just a smart way to get developers hooked so they can influence a purchase.

Red Hat is a true open source company, Oracle isn't. All their products are open source. Their culture is open source. And guess what, Ellison wants to buy them too and they won't sell.

When Oracle open source their database, their applications and better embrace open standards, they can take that mantle. Until then, they aren't open source, just bigger.


Larry Ellison wants to unseat Microsoft from their position in the market and to unseat the personal computer as a front-line technology solution. He wants centralized software feeding dumb terminals with Oracle databases underpinning the entire stack. Open Source is a weapon for him to use toward those ends. For the time being, that he is the enemy of Microsoft makes him the enemy of Open Source's enemy, and therefore, Open Source's friend. But don't be too surprised by his proprietary, monopolistic attitudes if he succeeds in unseating Microsoft and personal computers.



Interesting observations. I've always wondered why those two didn't team up.


Oracle's Open Source portfolio is comparable to the situation of a farmer who got a meteorite full of Uranium landed in his field.

This doesn't make the farmer a nuclear physicist overnight. He has no clue what Uranium is and may end up doing a lot of damages because of his ignorance.


Are you kidding? Oracle and MS has been fighting each other for 15 years at least. Oracle has been promoting Linux since 1998. Oracle sells closed source software but (unlike MS) is very committed to open standards which is much more important (standards are important to all of their users; access to the source code would be interesting to maybe 0.01% and most of that would be competitors' empoyees). And yes, most of the technologies listed come from SUN (and JDev and XE are free but not open source by the way) but Oracle has been using, promoting and contributing to open source for many years.
Oracle simply doesn't know how to promote itself as an open source-friendly company (like IBM does).

Edited by michaela: n/a


Am I the only one noticing Oracle 10g being listed as open-source?

It's one of the most dishonest and deceptive articles I have ever read.

Edited by nunojob: n/a


Regarding Oracle 10g Express Edition, JDeveloper and a few other examples listed in the article: That stuff is "Freeware" as in free binary download with a more or less restrictive, non Open Source license.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) and Open Source according to OSI is something that's completely different from "Freeware": It is about the availability of the source code under a Free / Open Source license.

The author of this article obviously does not have much of a clue about what "Open Source" means.


@nunojob and odoepner

It doesn't say Oracle 10g. It says Oracle 10g Express Edition. And yes, they (all listed projects) are open source. They are listed in their site as open source. I do know what it means and so do they.

Edited by khess: n/a


Umm, apparently Oracle doesn't know because that's where I got the info. Check the link: http://oss.oracle.com/ and take it up with them. When they list software as FOSS, I assume they know how they're licensing their software.

Edited by khess: n/a


@khess could you please provide a link to the page that describes the fact that Oracle XE is open source, a link where the source code can be downloaded, and a link to the opensource license it uses? Is it GPL, Apache or something else?


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