Oracle has joined the Open Invention Network. It has licensed OIN's patents royalty free, and promised in exchange not to pursue patent suits against "the Linux environment."
But does this represent fundamental change?
Oracle has not been threatening to sue other Linux vendors. Its own Unbreakable Linux has been a slow-starter in the marketplace. Operating systems aren't its business. Databases are.
Fundamental change would require that Oracle stop playing the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) games that are traditional hallmarks of the proprietary model.
It's unclear to me whether Oracle can do this. In its latest earnings statement the company tried to spin a contract from Yahoo as a total switch off RedHat Linux. It wasn't, as a later statement from Yahoo made clear. The company's re-seller claims are also subject to question.
Transparency is a key open source value, but it's tough to pull off in a public company, which must always seek steady earnings growth and a "story" The Street will repeat to its customers.
Can Oracle, which needs street cred the way a lawyer needs billable hours, really change itsself in that way? Do open source customers need it to?