Database software developer Oracle has the all-clear from American regulators to go ahead with its purchase of beleaguered server maker Sun Microsystems.
But besides acquiring Sun's nearly vanished hardware business, Oracle would also gain control over the Java programming language and, maybe more importantly, free, open-source database software MySQL.
MySQL (pronounced "my sequel") was purchased by Sun last year in an attempt to bolster its business in developing server software in the hopes of making up for losses on the hardware side.
But MySQL is an "open source" project, which means that anyone who needs a database and can wrangle the publicly available source code can set it up on their servers.
And thousands, if not millions, of Web sites are powered by MySQL -- but it has also managed to become a more generic database application. And as such, has begun competing with Oracle for potential customers.
And while Oracle has pledged to continue funding development of MySQL, it has granted no assurances that it will keep the project open source, or use closed, proprietary code to develop additional functionality.
All of which has the original developer of MySQL, Michael "Monty" Widenius, worried. So he's asking hardcore geeks to write to the European Commission, which oversees anti-trust cases in the European Union, to block the deal.
Oracle has tangled with European regulators in the past, namely over the acquisition of PeopleSoft in 2005 which caused competing business database developer SAP to cry foul based on anti-trust concerns.
That deal went through, but besides Widenius and open source apostles like Richard Stallman, big guns like SAP and Microsoft are also opposed to Oracle acquiring Sun.
Photo by Marc Nozell.