Oracle is an interesting company. Like Apple, they produce a good product but
sellrent it at outrageous prices – up to $800 per named user or $40000 per processor, and you need a lawyer to read the contract…
They are in trouble because the USA believes they made a deal to give the USA the best price they gave to anyone. The USA through a whistle-blower found out that was not so to the tune of $millions.
That could be just accounting or it could be a deliberate act. We shall see if it comes to trial. That could be just small change for Oracle. The Doo-Doo comes from what the investigation/charges do for the relations with other “customers” to whom Oracle may have made promises. The reasons Oracle can charge such prices are that the product is known to work and is believed to be the best by many, but the difference between being willing to pay top dollar for a good product and continuing to do so could be a matter of negotiation. Everyone is going to want a better deal now… Some will threaten to go to alternative suppliers, or worse, hire some programmers. The magic of Oracle is that, if it is the best, it does save an organization big money if one server can do more with Oracle for this stuff is going on top-of-the-line production equipment.
How many of Oracle’s customers really need the product? There must be a range where a tail could go another way, perhaps not MySQL but Postgresql or some other. There is nothing magical about a good database. For $millions, any large outfit could develop their own or adopt FLOSS and tune it up. Will the mess with USA be the last straw to drive some customers away?
Today was supposed to be a good day. Classes are over and I just have to prepare reports and a few other things to be free for the summer.
The morning started with a lady who could not print pictures of the end-of-the-year sports day. The camera was not recognized at all by XP. GNU/Linux seemed to see it but there was no pop-up on the desktop, just some messages in the system log. USBview could not see it. We thought about taking out the memory card and using a reader but we tried one more XP machine. This time it seemed to work. We were half-way through the transfers when the connection was lost. Now, we were pretty well convinced that the connection or USB interface was faulty. We managed to find a way to hold things together long enough to complete the transfer. We zapped stuff to the server by FTP and then back to the lady’s XP machine. I asked her, “Have you dropped the camera?”. Yes, it turned out. If she had told me that right away, I could have used other choices. All the while I was fussing with PCs she was telling me how she never had any trouble with the camera working with any PC… On top of the connectivity, the camera had two modes, storage and PTP. It was set to PTP which made it doubtful for any PC without a driver installed.
That spoiled half my morning. In the afternoon another lady, who had been away on sabbatical, knocked on the door wanting her old PC back with data for her to do reports. I had it handy and set it up for her. Everything looked OK but she was back soon. It would not print. I checked things out: ping router, printer, etc. all work. We rebooted the printer server because it had been difficult but still she could not print. In the process, I had started some XP updates while I looked for what I thought was a network problem. I checked the log of the firewall. It was part of the anti-malware package, a filter on everything including the checksums of every application that wanted to do something on the network. The browser, the spooler, everything except ping, it seems, was blocked. Now I had to switch to admin to tweak the firewall. No good. XP would not let me log out while updates were going on. It didn’t say so, but I could not log out. I clicked “cancel” for the updates. No good. I still could not log out. I waited five minutes… Finally I started the updates again. Three were done, nine to go. OK, how long could that take??? It was way long but eventually the grind ended. Several updates had not taken for unknown reasons. I became admin and sorted out everything but the blocked spooler. Then it dawned on me. The sums were based on the file so this thing was working against the spooler as it was loaded. I reloaded and it was good to go. Admin could print. I removed the things that could not be updated. We did not need them, I hoped.
Back as a normal user things were better.
Now, M$ did not cause most of this grief. The camera deal was end-users being high-maintenance. That’s OK. The anti-malware package is really anal-retentive though and indirectly I blame M$ that stuff like that is needed to keep XP going.
So, nearly a whole day is taken up fighting the system. Fortunately I have a long weekend to get my work done.
The EU Competition Commission ruling on M$ has some interesting facts on share.
On page 121 of 302 pages are these tidbits:
- 2000 units shipped with GNU/Linux 1.7%
- 2001 units shipped with GNU/Linux 2.3%
- 2002 units shipped with GNU/Linux 2.8%
Those numbers are from surveys done by IDC. They were the basis for IDC declaring GNU/Linux overtook MacOS by about 2003 and they are consistent with M$’s revelation of 7% share in 2009. They do not count installation by individuals and small businesses which could be large.
So, naysayers can blather on about 1% share if they wish. We know GNU/Linux is larger than that. If every user installed GNU/Linux on dozens of PCs each year, it would not take long to get them all…
There was a discussion here a while ago about OS share on servers. Clearly GNU/Linux is dominant on the web because we get that from all sources of web stats but the LAN is different. I found an excellent article that explains how M$ leveraged its monopoly on the desktop into a monopoly on the LAN. The article shows a graph with a steady rise from the mid 1990s when M$ developed a deliberate policy to exclude competition on the LAN by developing tools and protocols to make managing their mess of an OS more easy with their software on the server, a case of a litterer selling brooms. As of 2001 it looks like 60% of servers on the LAN used that other OS. About then IBM invested heavily in GNU/Linux and promoted it so likely there was some levelling off. There is little leverage on FPT, HTTP and other protocols used on the LAN but AD, which embraced, extended and attempted to extinguish LDAP, was very effective at seducing the market into adopting it.
In my school, we were running wihout any server on the LAN, not even a router. There was no LAN just the ISP piped to every PC. So, in a single sweep, we skipped the AD trap and went to simply file serving and databasery on the LAN. We imaged a Hosts file to give reliable access to servers at fixed IP addresses and installed a router to hold back some malware and to create a subnet. Now that we are going to GNU/Linux there still is little need for authentication on the LAN but that may come next year. I use identical accounts on all PCs which is less secure but very practical. A student can log in anywhere even if their files do not follow them. Roaming access to particular files is rarely needed as students study different subjects in different classrooms. Imagine how locked-in we would be if everyone had been using a network login for five years or so and owned files on the server. Now, by sheer luck, we have no barrier to migrate to GNU/Linux on the LAN. Our terminal servers and file servers work for us and we have no need at all for M$ on the LAN.
This may be the last year we use Samba to fake out that other OS on the LAN. Teachers use it to cooperate on reports. We could use NFS or SSHFS shares instead. File locking may be necessary at times but is well established. The high-school teachers have to work on every report and the number of reports per teacher makes collisions unlikely. In the worst case, teachers can operate serially or rotate classroom groups just as they would on paper. I expect next year we will have new report templates and a merge from a database will produce the reports so the database locking will do the job and teachers are never changing the same records anyway.
Those buying into Sharepoint, Exchange, etc. may never be able to free themselves from the need to support M$. When M$ yanks their change they will either have to reverse a bunch of decisions and changes or invest more money and adopt the next version. We are free of that, in most classrooms, now.