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Researchers and open source software (OSS) experts say there are tens of thousands of open source software (OSS) projects in existence. But in OSS, it's not just the 80/20 rule that applies; it's more like a 99.999/.001 rule. Despite the many active OSS efforts, OSS development activity tends to clump around four: Linux, the Apache web server, the MySQL database, and three development tools, Perl, Python and PHP. That's what's called the LAMP stack. Most OSS developers provide operating system utilities that revolve around the Linux kernel (and the kernel itself of course), various pieces of middleware tied to the loose confederation of Apache projects that tie to its web server, MySQL database improvements, and the three development tools.

It's Darwinian to boil down billions of person hours of often volunteer effort to one phrase. But such has been the information technology (IT) industry since the beginning: survival of the fittest no matter how much effort was put in by COMMON, Share or DECUS members years ago or OSS hackers today. There are other kernels, other non-Linux ecosystems of utilities, other well publicized middleware efforts (most notably JBoss.org) and development tools and applications too numerous to catalog (but we will try in upcoming articles on the ebizQ Open Source micro site).

Still first among equals is the LAMP stack.

Or is it? It probably makes more sense to say there are LAMP, WAMP and LAOP/WAOP stacks. Less publicized but just as important as LAMP to OSS developers and software as a service (SaaS) providers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and OEMs that want to take advantage of the OSS business model are a couple of very un-open-source substitutes, Windows and the Oracle database. Substituting Windows for Linux and/or Oracle for MySQL is not a politically correct move in the OSS movement but it makes business sense. And most OSS adherents are business people first and partisan only in after-hours debates involving a favorite beverage. Open choice is the mantra I hear from both the IT community and the SaaS providers, ISVs and OEMs in the channel. The ability to run Oracle databases on top of Linux and Apache, or Apache and MySQL on top of Windows, gives them that choice.

Let's look from the supplier's perspective for the proof points. Red Hat, which covers the OSS community with all four types of LAMP-like software (operating system, middleware, database and development tools), has many examples of Oracle databases running on top of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and many examples of Windows operating software running under its JBoss middleware. Despite the competition and controversy surrounding Oracle's rolling out of its own Red Hat Linux distribution in November 2006, Red Hat features Oracle on its Solutions web site as a partner and includes over two dozen RHEL-Oracle DB success stories.


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