International Business Machines, the century old computing company, with a focus on enterprise computing, is a company with many open source projects: Eclipse, the framework, the development of the Linux kernel, which IBM helps with hired programmers to contribute to the Linux kernel, SELinux, Xen, among many other projects, which could not fit here.
IBM first got involved with Linux in 1998, and with Linux, it saw an opportunity to add value to the services it already offered. Since Linux is excellent in scalability, from medium to large scale, IBM began using Linux in its activities.
In 1999, it created the Linux Technology Center, to integrate Linux to the services it was offering, but also to improve the Linux kernel for its products. One result was the release of the Linux kernel for various platforms: x86, mainframe, PowerPC, and more recently the Cell processors (Playstation 3).
IBM found in Linux a tool to remain relevant in the scenario of client-server computing. It does not have a distro, but supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise on their servers.
How come a company that supports Linux so much is classified here as neutral? There are several reasons for this.
The company supports Linux only where it is needed for IBM to succeed in the marketplace, doing nothing more for it. Bob Sutor, VP of Linux and open source, said in 2009 that desktop Linux was a losing battle. Hey, a losing battle that’s worth several billion dollars for the big blue, and also makes it relevant in the present scenario? Wow, a little effort for Linux as a whole would be good, no?
Another aspect that IBM misses the mark, and sits over the fence, is the issue of software patents, in which IBM says it’s a company that supports Linux and open source, and at the same time, is in favor of software patents. IBM recently showed that it could use its portfolio against a company that developed a product based on the Hercules emulator.
Yahoo: Yahoo, a technology company, was founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo in January 1994 and was incorporated on March, 1st, 1995.
The company is best known for online search and various online services, but has had several open source projects under its umbrella (perhaps the best known is the Zimbra email/groupware server, open source alternative to MS Exchange, and sold to VMware in January this year.)
There are many other open source projects still being developed by Yahoo, such as:
Being Hadoop, OAuth and OpenID the most famous. In 2008, the company suffered an unsuccessful attempt of take over from Microsoft, and after the replacement of CEO Jerry Yang by Mme. Carol Bartz, Microsoft finally managed to take over Yahoo. Several Open Source projects within Yahoo have been extinguished, casting doubts whether the company will carry out their projects after the disguised take over by Microsoft.
In this class, we have only one company. But this one is enough. I would say that, with friends like Oracle, Open Source does not need enemies.
Oracle: Founded in 1977 by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates, Oracle has always been a proprietary software company, and its relationship with the Open Source was never the best.
3 years ago, having failed to buy Red Hat, Oracle created a Linux distribution based on source code of RHEL, Oracle Unbreakable Linux. That is, Oracle could not fullfill its intent, but found a way to take advantage of the work and expertise of Red Hat. Even worse, began offering to Red Hat’s customers its version of Linux, for a much lower price. Tell me about unfair competition…
Oracle recently acquired Sun and has shutdown the Open Solaris operating system, putting in doubt the future of several Open Source projects that were developed by Sun (MySql, Open Office, Virtual Box and others).
To crown the clumsy actions of Oracle, on 12 August 2010, the company sued Google Inc. for patent ingringment on the Java platform in its mobile operating system Android.
And Larry Ellison himself said in 2006: “If an open source product gets good enough, we’ll simply take it,” showing that Oracle would have no qualms in exploiting the work of the Open Source community.