It was a rather odd turn of events when Oracle jumped to purchase SUN. While they have been looking to have their own OpenSource Linux distro, most thought they were simply going to crush RedHat and take that distro over. Nobody really though them stupid enough to attempt going toe-to-toe with both IBM and what’s left of Microsoft while still trying to crush RedHat. Guess we all should have been warned about thinking.
This may very well be Oracle’s swan song. Yes, SUN is the originator of Java and Java is quite the rage. Yes, SUN is the originator of the codebase which hath become OpenOffice. Yes, Oracle got themselves an OpenSource Unix distro…well free anyway…that comes with an installed base, but to those of us who’ve been around a while, it sounds like the Quaker Oats buys Snapple deal all over again. Paid too much for a product that’s only going down.
Yes, most corporations are now standardizing on the Open Document Format. Decades of excessive fees and proprietary restrictions from Microsoft have finally taken their toll. MS Word is no longer the corporate document standard. There are, however, quite a few word processors implementing the Open Document Specification. IBM recently released the best implementation out there as far as completeness, Lotus Symphony. It has some missing features and some bugs, but hands down is without equal as far as implementing the complete specification goes. OpenOffice has way more in the way of recognition, features, and plug-ins, but it has some severe gaps when it comes to the implementation of the specification. Will OpenOffice ever manage to implement the complete specification? I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t look like they are heading in that direction right now.
OpenOffice has another severe flaw, it was written by Java developers not software developers and data architects. If you’ve been in the software industry for any length of time, you can spot applications with this fault just like you can spot applications that were written by Visual Basic programmers instead of software developers and data architects.
The easiest way to spot this problem is to create a large document with many screen shots, open the document in OpenOffice, then in a terminal window use the “free” command to check free memory. Kill off OpenOffice and open the same document in Lotus Symphony and try the “free” command again. I got forced into this little experiment when I was trying to port “The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer” from a WordPerfect format to OpenDocument. At the time my machine hand only 2 Gig of RAM and I needed to keep both a 900+ page converter generated file open along with the new file I was pasting into. I started crashing badly when I got to around 300-350 pages in the destination document. That’s when I noticed that I was out of RAM and using swap.
Boosting RAM didn’t help. Started having the same crashing problem when I got to 400 pages. That’s when I pulled down Lotus Symphony and tried the experiment above. Symphony functioned well within the 2Gig limitation even with both documents open. Why? Symphony was written by software developers and data architects who happened to use Java rather than Java developers. They knew that throughout history we have had to restrict word processor type applications to only loading a few pages at a time. Java developers don’t understand such things. They want everything loaded live in the VM and that is how they design applications. Memory issues are someone else’s problem.
It is true that IBM has a large investment in Java, but it is also true Oracle won’t get away with trying to force commercial licenses down the throats of those currently using the language. No, it seems Oracle has stripped to the waist and decided it’s time for Microsoft to die.