Oracle Sun takeover ‘like putting fox in charge of the hen house’

Oracle is the latest large US outfit to come under the baleful stare of EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, who has just gained the support of professional open source apologist Richard Stallman.

Oracle’s intended $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems would give the company control over Sun’s open source database MySQL, originally the product of a Swedish startup. The European Commission is now investigating the implications of the deal.

MySQL creator Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius demanded yesterday on his blog that Oracle should vow to divest itself of MySQL in order to resolve antitrust concerns.

Now, Florian Mueller, an EU strategist – and former MySQL shareholder – is siding with Widenius and warning that “letting Oracle have MySQL is worse than putting the fox in charge of the henhouse because the hens are no threat to the fox while MySQL makes Oracle lose customers and forces it to grant discounts to customers threatening to defect.”

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes today also got a letter from the self-styled ‘world’s foremost software freedom activist’ Richard Stallman as well as two non-profits, Knowledge Ecology International and Open Rights Group that begins:

“Oracle should not be permitted to acquire its competitor, MySQL, MySQL having developed greater functionality, dependability and improved performance.”

The letter also stresses that ‘forking’, the legal possibility of a new free and open source software project to integrate existing program code, is not a viable option to ensure competition in the marketplace, contrary to what defenders of the Oracle takeover claim.