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What happens to Sun’s open-source software now?

The deal is done. Oracle now owns Sun. Oracle’s main message to Sun’s customers seems to be “Don’t worry, be happy.” That’s not easy when Oracle is not explaining in any detail what it will be doing with open-source software offerings like MySQL, OpenOffice, and OpenSolaris.

In general, we know that Sun’s software product catalog will be cut back and that many Sun staffers will soon be laid-off. Historically, when Oracle acquires a company, deep cuts are the rule. For example, Oracle fired about 5,000 workers after acquiring PeopleSoft. This time around Oracle is saying that there will be only about a thousand layoffs. In particular, although no one is going on record, it’s feared that Sun’s open-source groups will take the brunt of these cuts.

No one is going on record either with what’s going to happen to Sun’s open-source software. We do know that at least one small open-source project, Project Wonderland, a Java-based platform for developing 3-D virtual worlds, has been cut off from Sun resources. In addition, Oracle is shutting down Project Kenai, Sun’s collaborative hosting site for free and open source programs.

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