Oracle’s recent kerfuffle with the Open Solaris community is a fine example of the limits of instant social network marketing — i.e., just add an open license to your code and, ta-da! You are Open SOURCE … Grass roots? Not so much.

Steve Arnold may be right that this may be an example where Larry Ellison’s narcissism rivals Mel Gibson’s. But I doubt Larry does these things by accident, and I don’t think there are a lot of happy campers in tech who have happily flipped Larry off and lived to tell about it.

But the real story here is about the realities of open source. Open Solaris was a (some say lame) move by Sun to counter Linux, and the poetic justice of its failure at the hands of Oracle gives pause. Open first, source second. Open means community does its wonders first, and corporate shows up to the party to fill in the blanks. I suspect for Oracle in control of  Solaris, the source is more important than the open.