[OSGeo-Discuss] "Free"

Zachary L. Stauber zachary at stauber.org
Mon Mar 5 00:41:42 PST 2007

If I'm not mistaken at the last FOSS4G conference OracleXE already did have a
demonstration and it wasn't nearly as integrated with open source software as
the requirements we're now talking about to be part of FOSS4G.  I didn't attend
it, but I did talk to some of the presenters afterwards for some technical help.

The alternative to OracleXE is Oracle 10g Enterprise which is something like
US$40,000 per processor.  So just because of that huge step up I don't think
Oracle can use OracleXE as a foothold in order to sell a commercial version.  I
think it's safe to say if they're offering OracleXE to the open source
community, their reasons are benign, and if they're not, too bad for them
because they won't be getting any sales off it.

Believe me, I'm a PostGIS user to the core, myself, but I think that the slope
from commercial to open source is a slippery one from which there is rarely a
return.  If Oracle is encouraged to get into open source, I think it will only
be good for OSS.

Obviously FOSS4G doesn't have the capacity to have a booth or a seminar on every
piece of free/lite/demo GIS software, but OracleXE is unique in that it's the
only example of commercial relational database that has a spatial component with
a free version.  I don't think IBM's Spatial Blade has a free version nor SQL
Server have a spatial component, so I think Oracle could be in.  It is fully
functional, I've tried it, and people have gotten it to work with MS4W, but I
haven't, and I'd like to see someone do it in a demo.  It works on both Windows
and Linux, so the regular MapServer users, rather than just us Windows-only
types, may get some use out of it, too.

On a general philosophical level, I agree with the wiki mentality.  The more
inclusive, the better.  The fact that millions of people are using GoogleEarth
to do their own maps and it wasn't formally included in the last FOSS4G should
really have been a wakeup call.  It's not technically open source nor free for
commercial use, but we can't ignore it if it has that many users, and it uses
GDAL itself which is an OSGeo product.  Besides, they have tens of millions in
data acquisition budget every year.  If they use GDAL, why not use them?
Convince them to kick in some money to GDAL's home agency by including them.


Pericles S. Nacionales wrote:
> I just to clarify:
> A workshop about OracleXE alone doesn't belong to a Free and Open Source
> Software for Geoinformatics conference.   A workshop about how OracleXE
> uses or integrates open source geospatial software would be acceptable
> to me.
> -Perry
> Zachary L. Stauber wrote:
> I agree with Perry.  There are a lot of free/lite/express versions of GIS
> software that are perfectly usable for small businesses or the non-profit
> "neo-cartographer" such as Tatuk Viewer, ArcExplorer, OracleXE, and
> GoogleEarth.
>  Because they are useful, they're going to be part of the tools of a
> lot of
> people whether FOSS4G takes them into the fold or not, so we might as
> well.
> Personally I'd like to see, exactly, how to connect up OracleXE with
> MS4W in a
> demo at FOSS4G, so I say if they integrate with everything else well,
> let 'em
> show it.  It may get some support out of folks like ESRI, too.  After
> all,
> they've released many of the formats that became open standards, like
> SHP files,
> BIL images, and I think they were instrumental in coming up with the
> WKT for
> coordinate systems.
>     -Zack

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