back to article Oracle demands $12K from network biz that doesn't use its software

Merula Limited, a UK-based network service provider, recently received a bill from Oracle for $12,200 for using the company's proprietary VirtualBox Extension Pack, which provides extra capabilities for the free GPL-licensed VirtualBox hypervisor. For Richard Palmer, director of the company, this was a perplexing demand. As he …

  1. dnicholas

    Who actually uses VirtualBox in a business setting? I bet companies that do probably don't have $12k sitting about though.

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I don't, but...

      Since my home IP address is also shared with my business, I could fall afoul of this f*ck up.

    2. spodula

      Well.

      I've used it for development. Its convenient to spin up a quick windows or linux box which your willing to destroy. Using it in production is just silly though.

      1. wakero

        Re: Well.

        I don't think Oracle makes a difference betwwen dev, test and production. If you use it for business purposes, even while developing, they might have the right to send a bill depending on the jurisdiction you're in.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Well.

          Not for VirtualBox, which is still free. Oracle is billing for the VirtualBox Extension Pack, which is an optional. licensed add-on.

    3. thames

      There is a good chance that whomever is using VirtualBox in this application may be using it as part of an automated test setup. I use it to test software on multiple operating systems. I can control the VM through VBoxManage and then run all the tests via SSH. The whole thing is orchestrated automatically via a bash script.

      None of that requires the VirtualBox Extension Pack however, which adds some rather niche features, mainly related to USB device pass through. The problem in this case is with the VB EP, which you can download from the VB web site, but only for personal use and evaluation.

      There is the distinct possibility that whomever is using VM in this application may not actually need or be using the Extension Pack, but only installed because it was there for download.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Accidental product activation

        This has been a problem for oracle customers for decades. It was possible for a DBA to implement high availability features the customer hadn't licenced for years. Normally the manager responsible for the budget wouldn't be aware of it until either the annual lice bill suddenly leapt up or the got a call from Oracles Compliance team that would normally be followed up by a compulsory software audit if you wanted to avoid the bill.

        In some cases the unfortunate DBS had embedded useful but expensive features so deep in the infrastructure that they couldn't be unpicked, in that case Oracle would usually make a 'special arrangement' if you committed to licencing the additional tools they would graciously apply your normal account discounts (90% in my case) but there was usually a bit of leverage applied to try and replace some non Oracle product with Oracles at the same time. I never fell foul of this issue personally as I was forewarned before moving into a tech management role and I briefed my DBA's but since going independent I've come across plenty of DBA's who have fallen down that particular pit. When I first stared working with oracle there was no competing product for High volume transaction processing other than DB2. I've always liked the product but always disliked the company. it seems endemic in the software industry, Microsoft tried to charge me for 1000 copies if windows because I had got rid of the boxes of floppy disks, Computer Associates tried to double the cost of my disk compression software when they bought the company. I found in all cases that if you had a corporate relationship with the company and your organisation had some industry visibility you could stand your ground and get it sorted out but I would have hated to be in that position in a smaller company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC Re: Accidental product activation

          "When I first stared working with oracle there was no competing product for High volume transaction processing other than DB2. "

          Well there's Informix IDS which is still around.

          Of course Janet Perna wanted to kill off Informix and have everyone switch to DB2. As the story goes... only one customer switched to DB2, the rest either stayed on Informix, or went to Oracle.

          Posted Anon well... for the obvious reasons.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: @AC Accidental product activation

            I'm surprised any went to Oracle. But Informix deserved and deserves something better than either IBM or its previous management.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: @AC Accidental product activation

              One of IBM's gimmicks with Informix is to push it for embedded systems so there are ARM ports. A bit of scratching around shows there's also a PHP module. Hmmm. A Pi Nextcloud server running on Informix? If I ever have a spare week to play with that...

      2. Chris Parsons
        Headmaster

        Whoever...it's the subject of the sentence, not the object!!!

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          It's the subject of a dependent clause in the sentence, not of the sentence itself.

          (The nominative case - "whoever" - is still correct, of course.)

    4. Gerhard Mack

      From my reading of the Oracle DB license: if you are virtualizing Oracle DB installs, Virtualbox is pretty much your only option if you want to have your Hyper-threads not count as full cores are far as licensing is concerned.

      Mind you I went bare metal to avoid the trouble entirely.

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    I was going to say...

    ...wouldn't touch Oracle software with a very long bargepole, but in this case it would appear that neither does the accused.

    New revenue stream has moved from the car park anecdote for licensing and moved it to potentially using the roads. Or paths.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I was going to say...

      I won't have MySQL, Virtual Box, Java or any of their rubbish. But loads of stuff requires it, I've had a look at some open source projects but had to bin them straight away because they use Virtual Box to run an emulator. So many online project use it for VMs. It's possible employees are downloading it to play with stuff.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: I was going to say...

        Many do because it's free compared to the £100-200 for either Parallels or VMware. Personally I very much prefer VMware, probably because I've used them since v1.0.

      2. jtaylor

        Re: I was going to say...

        "I won't have MySQL, Virtual Box, Java or any of their rubbish."

        VirtualBox is licensed under GPLv2. What is your concern? https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Licensing_FAQ

        OpenJDK is available under the GPL license. Same question. https://openjdk.java.net/

        I prefer MariaDB over MySQL just because Oracle, but MariaDB is also GPL.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Merula does not operate or manage any computer using VirtualBox or any Oracle software."

    Not using it does not mean Oracle won't ask you money, buddy. You *may* use it, therefore you need to pay for it, see the whole Oracle licensing terms, particularly on virtualization.

    /sarcasm

    "When companies use their legal department as a profit center it is highly indicative that the products they claim they are incorporated to provide are no longer competitive in the marketplace,"

    There's probably no way to phrase it any better. Everyone I know of is fucking off Oracle's abusing licensing terms, whatever the transformation/risks costs.

    It'll take time but Oracle DB is dead in the water.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Oracle licencing terms are licencing terms, not law. If you don't use their software, they don't apply to you. If you use their software without agreeing to them, they still don't apply to you, but they might be able to sue for copyright violation.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "There's probably no way to phrase it any better."

      Mr Berg has an excellent turn of phrase. His second paragraph is also spot on.

  4. MAF

    12K - so that's what two Oracle licences...?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Mushroom

      For about 5 minutes?

    2. Pascal

      On the DB side, that would not even buy you enough licensing to run a single-core server.

      1. Nate Amsden

        really depends on what your doing with it obviously.

        I ran an Oracle DB as the back end database for our vCenter 5.x installation for about 7 years (migrated to vCenter 6.5 early this year which came with the embedded DB and built in HA).

        Dug up the original quote

        "ORACLE DATABASE STANDARD EDITION - NAMED USER PLUS 3 YEAR" plus software updates/support. 20 named users (wouldn't recommend this config for an DB running an internet facing app), was $6,300 at the time. I was (and still sort of am) unsure how many named users I needed, I probably could of gotten away with maybe 2 or 3 given that really nothing other than vCenter (which had 2 DBs one for vCenter itself one for VMware Update manager - so 2 named users?) and nightly datapump job for backups. But I saw the cost of 20 and just said screw it license it for a bit more just in case.

        I'm sure our license was too small for Oracle to care, they contacted me at least once or twice a year trying to upsell something. I explained what we use Oracle for and there wasn't any opportunities for upsell in this environment. They always understood(sometimes it took some additional explaining) in the end and left me alone for another 6-12 months.

        One crazy bit is for a while they were pestering me about renewing support, support that didn't expire for another 2 years. I never understood that. I see emails from last year reminding me my support is expiring in 2020 and the cost to renew the support is .."USD $3.15" .. eventually those emails stopped.

        I haven't dug into Oracle's licensing recently but several years ago standard edition could run on unlimited cores and you generally paid per socket(max of 4 I think). vs the enterprise which has the funky per-core licensing. I think Oracle SE even included RAC licensing at one point anyway.

        I went through two Oracle audits with a company back in 2006(happened just as I joined the company) and again in 2008. Boss ignored my advice to change to standard edition in 2006 (they were originally licensed for "Standard edition one" if that version still exists, for a DB on an internet facing social media site). They had Enterprise edition installed.

        They paid hefty fines and were assured everything was OK after the audit in 2006 so my boss ignored my advice. Auditors came around again in 2008 and found lots of new violations, this time they accepted my advice and I went through the process of migrating everything to standard edition(found it ironic the Oracle staff were not aware of the per socket licensing advantages to Oracle SE vs per-core licensing on Oracle Enterprise), even changing the CPUs from dual core (optimal for per-core licensing on fast cores) to quad core (better for standard edition more power). HP found out the DL380s they sold us as quad core capable ended up not being quad core capable they had to replace the motherboards (some time later they updated their docs reflecting some early boards could not do quad core processors).

        The migration from Oracle EE to Oracle SE at that company was pretty painless, I mean no app changes, I did all the work. We had a Oracle consulting company that helped manage things and their custom monitoring app required partitions, so it was their standard practice to install Oracle EE with partitioning ($$$), so they had to change their shit around, but they realized they should do that anyway.

        At least with Oracle 10g which is what we had at the time I think, we were still able to leverage Oracle enteprise manager with the performance packs and stuff (against the license), it was easy to wipe the installation from the DB when it came time for the next audit, no issues(semi regularly wiped the config for that anyway due to problems, didn't care about data retention on that stuff). Newer Oracle I noticed it didn't seem possible to install things that way anymore. Really missed the performance packs, I'm not a DBA but it was just amazing to see how quickly anyone could track stuff down, vs MySQL even in 2019 is nowhere close to it(and the way things have progressed in mysql over the past decade MySQL will probably never get to where Oracle was 10-15 years ago).

        1. Nate Amsden

          Forgot to mention part of the migration to Oracle SE was some of our dev/test systems ran on single socket ESX installations (technically vmware did not support single socket at the time), Oracle didn't support their DB on ESX either I believe (had to repro any issues on bare metal). Our production OLTP systems ran on bare metal but everything else was in an "unsupported" configurations mainly for cost savings(servers were dual socket just pulled one cpu out). didn't have any clusters, each ESX system was stand alone, no vmotion, no HA, didn't even have vCenter, just ESX Standard edition I think it was called. Never had an issue.

          1. Nate Amsden

            oops one more update, I remembered why I ordered 20 users, to cover all of the admins that would be using vcenter of which at the time there was just 3, eventually expanded to about 6.

    3. el kabong

      Why aren't they taking Bitcoins?

      Most scammers take Bitcoins these days it makes things so much easier, why is oracle not going with the trend, do they love swimming against the stream? They are being so stupid!

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Why aren't they taking Bitcoins?

        Why have they not offered Peter Green a directorship?

        I'm sure there's a sizeable pension fund that needs draining along with numerous assets that can be flogged off to fund one last round of bumper bonuses before the company is sold off to a local used car dealer for a quid.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >12K - so that's what two Oracle licences...?

      No 12k is the license for NOT using any Oracle software, licence costs for >0 seats are a lot higher

  5. Giovani Tapini Silver badge
    Unhappy

    So Oracle have joind the spammers...

    We have video evidence of you using software you haven't got licences for. We really don't want to sue you so please pay us 5 BTC and we will forget all about it...

    Similar also to speculative copyright strike's on youtubers.

    This seems pretty desparate even by Oracle standards.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So Oracle have joind the spammers...

      "even by Oracle standards."

      Are you sure?

  6. Paul Herber Silver badge

    i placed a softwâre on the xxx video clips (Orâckle) web site ând guess whât, you vīsīted this website to hâve dâtâbâse fűn (you know whât i mean). While you were viewing trânsâctions, yoűr web brőwser initīatd őprating âs a RDP having a keylőgger which gav me âccessibility to your scrn and câm. Right after that, my software collectd all of yőűr contacts from yőur Orcâle, âs wll as -mail . and then ī mâde a doubl-screen vīdeo. 1st part shows the tâbl;es yoű wer watching (yoű hâve a nice tâste in bârgepőlis lől . . .), and nxt part shows the view of yőur webcâm, & it īs u.

    1. ds6
      Alert

      Send 10 BTC to this address...

      You forgot the part where you mention you have their password, which is Curry13. AND your Bitcoin address! Amateurs...

  7. sbt Silver badge
    Mushroom

    VB, phone home

    Then people wonder why I bother to blackhole applications that phone home. If you're not a web browser or a mail client, as the Snoop Nazi says: NO NET FOR YOU!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VB, phone home

      And if that app you MUST use for your job or whatever, they'll just reply, "No Net, No App. No App, you might as well be walking on the Sun."

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        That app you MUST use for your job

        Well, if it's work related, they'd be licencing it properly, of course. If an employer or client needs an app to have unfettered net access, it's going to be on a separate physical/virtual client with suitably generous FW rules. And there's always VPNs, etc if you're worried.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: VB, phone home

      The problem is that a Hypervisor would need to be allowed to let the guest operating system access the net for various reasons.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: VB, phone home

        I use different IPs for VMs; no problem for firewalling. Much of my application blackholing is destination based, not source based, since most phone homing seems to be port 443 anyway.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: VB, phone home

      I think I'm going to create a second login here at El Reg so I can upvote this 2 times!

      +1

      Well done!

      Love the Seinfeld ref!

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Happy

        Well, gosh.

        Thanks! Really, the kind words mean more than another thumb; no extra login needed.

    4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: VB, phone home

      Some companies have a requirement in their licenses agreement that you have to allow their product to phone home and report usage. Failing to allow the phone home can result in a letter from the vendor demanding more money.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: VB, phone home

        I've seen conditions as part of privacy policies saying that they'll try. I've never seen one that says you'll be charged more for running it air-gapped (virtually or otherwise). Is there an example you have in mind?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VB, phone home

          We've had a large bill from a large software company for not running their call-home module.

          It exists and it happens.

    5. Just Another SteveO

      Re: VB, phone home

      The Snoop Nazi? Took me back to Maryland mid 90s... fab ref and fab re-use!

  8. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Coat

    Er ...

    Hasn't Oracle always worked on the basis that "All your database are belong to us" ?

    Whether or not the company is using their software is therefore irrelevant.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Er ...

      Whether or not the company is using their software is therefore irrelevant.

      Unless the company is using DB2, in which case Oracle can just go fly a kite.

  9. nichomach

    I'm wondering whether...

    ...Oracle are on the cusp of crashing; they are so abusinve to their customers (honestly the Redmond Beast is a fluffy teddy bear by comparison), and there are so many other options out there that they might be hitting the tipping point where people simply won't use them anymore. Oh happy day!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I'm wondering whether...

      Most things that companies use a database for Oracle is not necessary. In fact in many cases Postgre is enough.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I'm wondering whether...

        One of our apps has an Oracle DB included in the install... an update is scheduled soon, fun times...

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

    "Charming, these Vogons. I wish I had a daughter so I could forbid her to marry one"

    Doffs hat to the late, great Douglas Adams

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

      Oh don't...next up "Poetry by Larry"

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

        That would be Azgoths of Kria territory, methinks

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

          Gruntulent the flatulent, I believe.

          It may be time to re-read the entire series.

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

            Close. Grunthos the Flatulent.

            Hmm. I can recall stuff like that, but never remember my nieces’ birthdays. I’m broken.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

              "Oh, freddled gruntbuggly,

              Thy micturations are to me,

              As plurdled gabbleblotchits,

              On a lurgid bee..."

              Yeah, I can't remember birthdays either!

              1. Martin J Hooper

                Re: Oracle so often reminds me of an Arthur Dent quote

                Isn't that Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz?

  11. JimPoak

    Wheels?

    I did at one time use VirtualBox for non commercial reasons for trying out procedures before blowing up my live system. I found the extension pack some what disturbing because because it tied you into a contract with Oracle with software that was allegedly free to use. I essence with out the extension pack having a performance car with bicycle wheels. I'm sure Oracle will go after the commercial users first shortly followed by domestic users later. I'm much happier now with Qemu with every thing you need without a contact. They sowed the seed with VirtualBox and now it time to harvest the cash. Small changes to the contract will put some people in danger being litigated against.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Nice little company ya got here, be a shame to see it all smashed up, protection will only cost ya 12k"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glad Oracle did this..

    .. as I'm in the process of deciding on which virtualiser to use for a Linux platform (we have to run a couple of services, and VMs makes resilience and replication easier).

    Guess which one dropped off the list? Not that it would have been on it once I spotted who made it, but I was literally about to start looking around and then talk to people who actually have a clue (yes, I know, that makes me a bad operator, but I like things to work. Bite me).

    Well done, Oracle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glad Oracle did this..

      You don't need to look any further than the Xen Hypervisor:

      https://xenbits.xen.org/

      1. fredesmite

        Re: Glad Oracle did this..

        xen is dead. Even AWS is ditching it for KVM.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Glad Oracle did this..

      It is a desktop-grade system anyway, and not really suitable for what you describe.

      If you have some Windows application that you need to run, and it doesn't work reliably on Wine, then Virtualbox is an option

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Glad Oracle did this..

        Virtualbox is was an option

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Glad Oracle did this..

          Just use kvm/libvirtd if you're on Linux. It's already there in most distros, extremely well documented and now performs as well or better than anything else. Only drawback is it is not available on Windows. After one too many blue screens with Hyper V on my Win 10 work machine, I settled for vb (sans extension pack) because my only other option, VMware, also had issues on my company's Win 10 builds. Sadly, many projects like vagrant went with vb as their default because it is still the only open source solution that works across platforms. Of course every time I run into a problem with vb on Windows, I find myself wishing I was allowed to use Linux at work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Glad Oracle did this..

            Only drawback is it is not available on Windows

            Actually, that's a major benefit in my book. That stops any Microsoft zealot from trying to move virtualisation to a platform that is by default unstable, requires far more resources to establish a degree of resiliency and is subject to dangerous licensing games.

            I prefer to avoid that stack of risks..

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Glad Oracle did this..

      Oracle didn't make it. Innotek in Germany are the original authors. Then it found its way to Sun before Oracle acquired Sun and tainted it with their poison.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

        ...must be the worst in terms of outcomes for customers of all time.

        Change my mind.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

          Some of Google's acquisitions where they immediately pull the plug on the project?

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

            I thought they were too busy cancelling their own projects. What have they bought and bulleted? Was Wave a buy-in?

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

              There was a smart home thing who's name I forget now.

              1. sbt Silver badge
                Terminator

                Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

                Nest? Was it filed circularly straight away?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

              Wave was developed in house by the same team as Maps, which was a buy-in. The majority of that team subsequently left Google.

              1. Soruk

                Re: Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems...

                Gizmo Project was another, with their Gizmo VoIP service which gave everyone an iNum number. Service canned within months of acquisition.

    4. The Original Steve
      Coat

      Re: Glad Oracle did this..

      Can't believe I'm saying this, but if you're after bare metal then hyper-v is both free and actually rather good including running Linux VM's.

      If your desktop is Windows (which I doubt) then it's also a free option to enable.

      Got a couple of devs I know who have just moved to hyper-v and WSL and they seem to like it

      1. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: Glad Oracle did this..

        >If your desktop is Windows (which I doubt) then it's also a free option to enable.

        You need a windows 10 pro or windows server license to use hyper-v. The only way to get it for free is to run win10 fast ring, It updates so fast the license is never activated. But you are then at the mercy of beta testing new versions, I had an issue where v8 vms was automatically upgraded to v9, and it could no longer be used anywhere else. There is also on cut and paste bug with gfx console that drives me nuts. (cut and paste not supported, need to use ssh).

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Glad Oracle did this..

          There is a version of Windows Server that only lets you run Hyper-V. That is free but you do need to pay for any Windows guests you install on it. There is no charge if you install Linux or BSD guests.

      2. schifreen

        Re: Glad Oracle did this..

        I've just moved to Hyper-V, since the latest Win10 update broke VMware Player that I was using until now for a couple of quick test VMs. It does seem to work OK, but its usability is awful compared to things like Virtualbox and VMware Player. Like most Microsoft things, its UI/UX can best be described as poorly thought out.

  14. revenant

    "Palmer believes Oracle is billing the wrong entity"

    That seems to be quite clear - Oracle really need to improve their methods if they want to finger the right people.

    I had a look at the linked Reddit threads and, apart from people ranting about how awful Oracle Db is (not that I disagree), the main anger seemed to be at Oracle daring to decide to charge people for Business use of the VirtualBox Extension Pack.

    Why the anger?

    1. Sam Liddicott

      Re: "Palmer believes Oracle is billing the wrong entity"

      The anger is because the minimum licence quantity is 500

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Palmer however on Thursday said he hasn't heard

    so much for the "confusingly worded billing demand" ;)

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, Oracle is getting desperate ?

    Finally.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So, Oracle is getting desperate ?

      They started reading the Prenda Law saga but didn't get to the end.

  17. adam payne Silver badge

    Charging random companies protection money?!?! whatever next for Oracle.

  18. TVU

    Oracle demands $12K from network biz that doesn't use its software

    ""When companies use their legal department as a profit center it is highly indicative that the products they claim they are incorporated to provide are no longer competitive in the marketplace," he said"

    ^ That is such an accurate summary of Oracle today - modern purveyors of outdated Snake Oil recipes.

  19. DustyP

    BOFH

    Merula is the preferred ISP for a secretive online conference of BOFHs of which I'm proud to be a member.

    We are proud to be the type of people who try software that performs different tasks. No doubt this includes VirtualBox on Merula IPs. This is only as tests.

    Oracle needs to recognise this and take the pressure off Richard.

  20. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Alert

    This reminds me of that scam..

    ..where some fly by night company ships boxes of toner to random companies without being asked to, and without it being ordered by anyone. If it's a reasonably-sized company, no one knows who ordered it or has time for the wild goose chase to find out. So the box sits in a storeroom or someone's office. Then a couple of months later a "past due" bill for the shipment arrives, often to just be paid by someone else who also can't be bothered to do any legwork.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: This reminds me of that scam..

      Which is why we have a strict "no purchase order number, no payment" rule.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: This reminds me of that scam..

        And charge for storage?

    2. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: This reminds me of that scam..

      Boxes of carbon paper was the scam in the 1970s. A box of 100 sheets of carbon paper was a reasonably high cost but a small object (only half an inch thick). The price invoiced was significantly higher than the high street cost.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: This reminds me of that scam..

        ... and there was a good chance the member of staff that ended up with the delivery needed some carbon paper on a regular basis, would crack open the package and start using it, preventing returns.

        It was clever. Now stop making me feel so old!

  21. aks Bronze badge

    If Merula was using some Oracle software

    I wonder how many other similar companies who actually use Oracle products would notice that they're being billed more than they'd planned or were actually using. In this case they don't use Oracle so the bill stands out.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: If Merula was using some Oracle software

      You wouldn't say that Larry's Minions would not commit fraud would you? I know a rhetorical question.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If Merula was using some Oracle software

        Thumbs up for the double negative.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's times like this that I feel dumping VirtualBox like a ton of rotten kelp, and sticking with VMware products, was the right decision.

    I'd have kept with QEMU, but at the time it lagged behind both in speed and virtualization options.

  23. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    OSS extension

    The thing is, the core VirtualBox application is open-source, it's only the "Extension Pack" that's a proprietary item. And if I'm not mistaken, VBox could support alternative extension packs (and maybe even multiple packs at one time). It would simply require adapting some of the KVM/QEMU/Xen/whomever-else's equivalent driver/utility code to work with VBox (yeah, I very much realize it may not even be "simple" at all). And while you're at it, add in support for lesser-known operating systems (such as OS/2, AmigaOS, *BSD, etc) which don't currently have client packages.

    Stick it to Oracle by removing the need for them.

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Happy

      While you're at it, add in support for ... *BSD

      Well, FreeBSD supports guest additions via the emulators/virtualbox-ose-additions package or port. It's just not bundled with VB.

      It appears there's support for NetBSD as well.

  24. Ian Michael Gumby
    Boffin

    Does Oracle have a case?

    IANAL just have done enough w contracts over the past 20+ years...

    Oracle could sue. (Anyone can sue in the US if you find a dirty enough lawyer and pay enough...)

    But they would have a hard time winning their case.

    Sure the IP address lines back to his company.

    Oracle will probably want him to point to the company / guy using the IP address at the time. (While DHCP, the leases are long and will auto renew to the same IP address unless its already in use....)

    The ISP could comply, or tell Oracle to pound sand.

    Oracle could then sue and get a judge to subpoena the ISP's customer record for the offending customers.

    The ISP could fight it and could win.

    The ISP could also fight the whole case because they never signed a contract with Oracle.

    And even with a shrink wrap license... most activation strategies require a user to send an email verification to get a product key.

    But bottom line... Oracle doesn't have a lot of room on this... of course since this is in the UK, YMMV.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Does Oracle have a case?

      Oracle will probably want him to point to the company / guy using the IP address at the time. ...Oracle could then sue and get a judge to subpoena the ISP's customer record for the offending customers.

      "Sorry, we don't keep records of that."

      The Beeb's latest article on the King's Cross CCTV ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49921175 ) includes amongst the reasons for not being able to audit that setup the fact it wasn't designed to be audited and the lovely phrase "the limitations of corporate memory". I think they meant "shredder".

  25. CFtheNonPartisan

    Oracle is well known to send out the license police every time their profit softens. It is what they are as a company and reflective of the modern lack of civility and integrity in dealings with others.

  26. xyz123

    Who uses ANY Oracle software these days? Amazon's virtual systems are faster with better backups. Java is dying faster than someone taking vaccine advice from a porn star, their database system is such a bloated dinosaur, Amazon should rename their database offerings to Meteor and kill them off once and for all.

    Oracle is surviving purely on name and long-term business contracts alone. As those expire, government departments in every country on the planet aren't renewing, neither are corporations.

  27. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Happy

    "Java is dying faster than someone taking vaccine advice from a porn star"

    That's a nice line, though I think porn stars are probably smarter than that :)

    But you're right, not only is Java being squeezed out due to the constant security issues and more modern ways of coding web content, but Oracle's own decision to begin charging for their Java engine is shooting themselves in the foot. When someone uses something for free for well over a decade, then finds out it suddenly isn't free anymore, it's the most powerful motivation I know of to find alternatives. (Like Amazon Corretto, for example)

  28. MarkSitkowski

    Fun With Oracle Cloud?

    A botnet appears to have taken over Oracle's 140.238.xxx.yyy and 130.61.xxx.yyy domains, and is spraying garbage to the four winds, along the lines of "GET //admin/categories.php/login.php?..."

    Or, maybe, this is Oracle's attempt to see who's using their product? Or, maybe, some disgruntled users decided to try their cloud offering for free?

  29. razorfishsl Silver badge

    It's not virtual box , it is a plugin.......

    And MANY users download shit from the internet that runs in virtualbox.......

  30. Sam Liddicott

    Single user license?

    Try getting a single user licence and you will find that you can't.

    The minimum quantities for 500 users when I last checked.

    I think the business plan when is to go for small businesses who won't need a 500 user licence but will have some employees that will run the add-on anyway.

    Combine that with the fact that the licence conditions may vary over time, I believe a legitimate use can become an illegitimate use and subject to the licence.

  31. fraunthall

    Oracle may be engaged in illegal fraudulent attempts to extort money

    Section 380 of the Criminal code of Canada makes it a felony (serious offence) to obtain money or anything of value from others by deceit, and even the attempt to do so is a crime. U.K. law is probably similar. The crime of false pretenses may also be relevant here. Oracle's managers obviously think it is not bound by ordinary laws by trying the gambit described here. Their behaviour is shameful. The U.K. police and prosecutors should investigate and take appropriate action against the company and/or its involved managers.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020