Wednesday, 12 October 2011 11:59

More proof of Oracle's disinterest in open source

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More evidence - if any was needed - of Oracle's disinterest in the open source assets it acquired from Sun Microsystems has come to light with the news that the driver for VirtualBox has been declared as "tainted crap" by Linux kernel developers.

 

VirtualBox is a virtualisation platform used to run multiple operating systems on Windows, the Mac and GNU/Linux systems. The VirtualBox driver needs to communicate with the Linux kernel for providing certain functionality.

But as kernel developer Dave Jones notes, "The number of bug reports we get from people with VirtualBox loaded are truly astonishing. It's GPL, but sadly that doesn't mean it's good. Nearly all of these bugs look like random corruption. (corrupt linked lists, corrupt page tables, and just plain 'weird' crashes)."

Hence Jones has added a patch to list the driver as tainted. Doing so, means that "automatic bug filing tools can opt out of automatically filing kernel bugs, and inform the user to file bugs somewhere more appropriate."

There are many third-party drivers which are present on GNU/Linux systems. They are maintained by outsiders and if the code meets the high standards of the kernel then they often get merged with the mainline kernel. Oracle is the owner of VirtualBox and given that it is a widely used platform should, by rights, be maintaining the driver.

Another developer, Novell employee Greg Kroah-Hartman, wrote, "Odds are we should have a list of these types of modules, as I think there are a few others out there we should mark this way.

"But anyway, I like this, and I think I'll go add it to the openSUSE kernels so we can avoid the numerous bug reports we get there as well for this crappy driver."

Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems in 2009 and finalised the acquisition in January 2010. Since then, the open source projects it inherited as part of the sale have not done too well - OpenSolaris has been effectively closed, leading to a fork, OpenOffice.org has forked as LibreOffice and Java founder James Gosling has left Oracle.

 

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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