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This week in open source

LinuxWorld is proving to be more than just a gathering of Linux fans, as people and companies there join forces on all things open source.

The LinuxWorld conference is proving to be more than just a meeting of Linux fans and sellers. It's now a venue for all sorts of open-source advocates.

In fact, allies gathered there this week to prevent software patents from putting a crimp in open source. Red Hat will finance outside programmers' efforts to obtain patents that may be used freely by open-source developers, the company announced at the San Franscisco show. At the same time, the Open Source Developer Lab launched a project that will provide a central list of patents that have been donated to the collaborative programming community.


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The threat of patent-infringement lawsuits has long dogged collaborative development, leading some open-source programming advocates to turn against the patent system altogether.

The new initiatives signal a willingness on the part of the open-source community to combat the threat of such lawsuits more directly--and within the existing patent system.

As the acceptance of Linux continues to grow, open-source databases are becoming an increasingly viable option for corporate data centers. Databases have been available with open-source licenses for many years, but the past few months have seen a growing number of partnerships and products aimed at maturing the industry of add-ons and support services--which is vital to winning over corporate customers.

At the LinuxWorld conference, MySQL signed partners Novell and Dell to resell the upstart company's database and support service, making the product easier to procure. MySQL is also readying a release of its namesake database with features including stored procedures and distributed transactions, which large corporations often use.

The growing number of technology companies betting their businesses on open-source database products reflects a gradual shift in corporate spending patterns, according to analysts and industry executives. With many companies familiar with Linux, the Apache Web server and open-source development tools, databases are an obvious next step.

Indeed, within the next five years, half of Oracle's customers may be running Linux, Charles Phillips, one of the company's co-presidents, has predicted.

Oracle's customers have increasingly adopted Linux as they've become more comfortable with it and recognized its lower costs and greater predictability, said Phillips, who spoke at LinuxWorld. Twenty percent of Oracle's customers use Linux, but Phillips expects that figure to climb.