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IBM Derides OpenSolaris as Not-So-Open 168

Posted by timothy
from the when-the-playground's-in-full-swing dept.
MaverickFire writes "OpenSolaris isn't a true open-source project, but rather a "facade," because Sun Microsystems doesn't share control of it with outsiders, executives from rival IBM say. "Sun holds it all behind the firewall. The community sees nothing," Dan Frye, the IBM vice president who runs the company's Linux Technology Center, said. Sun could do "simple things" to build a real OpenSolaris community if it were serious about doing so, Frye said. "They would push their design discussions out into the forums, so people can see what's going on," he suggested." I talked to one of the OpenSolaris developers at the project's LWCE booth in the "dot-org ghetto," and though it wasn't in response to this article, he pointed out that OpenSolaris takes contributions from all comers, has active public mailing lists, open IRC channels, and several online communities, so Frye's description seems at least overblown.
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IBM Derides OpenSolaris as Not-So-Open

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  • Not Open? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lewp (95638) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:13AM (#15926875) Journal
    It's more open than AIX, that's for sure.
  • First post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:14AM (#15926881)
    I think this has more to do with IBM feeling the heat over not doing *anything* to open-source AIX. Sure OpenSolaris isn't quite as open as some would like, but it's more than what IBM has done with AIX. C'mon IBM, open up AIX!
  • Welll...yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:18AM (#15926911)
    This is true. It is more open the AIX. IBM does not, however, claim that AIX is open. OpenSolaris is also more open than Windows, whatever software the NSA uses to crack codes, and a closed door, but of these things, only OpenSolaris claims to be open, and it is these claims Mr. Frye is addressing.
  • IBM is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pinky0x51 (951042) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:23AM (#15926960) Homepage
    Whether IBM is right or not that OpenSolaris has a development community, OpenSolaris is true Free Software.
    Free Software is not about a development method but about a way of licensing software. Free Software can build in a community process and in a in-house process as proprietary software can be developed in a community or in-house. It's not the development method which makes something Free Software it's the license.

    Sad to see that even such a big company with such a big "linux-centre" like IBM doesn't really understand Free Software.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:25AM (#15926974)
    I can't imagine how many licenses, agreements, contracts, and who knows what else would prevent IBM from sharing AIX or OS/2 code. Besides, what does "if IBM really cared about openness" mean? Of course IBM cares about open source. For the love of Pete, they have a vice president in charge of linux and open source. More importantly, can you think of any company ANYWHERE, for-profit or not, that's done more than IBM has for open source? How much of the modern linux kernel was written entirely or with significant help from IBM?
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:26AM (#15926978) Homepage Journal
    If IBM really cared about openness, they should open source AIX or OS/2 and shut up about Solaris.

    IBMs donated some AIX features to linux and MS has some say in what happens to OS/2.

    While I warmly thank Sun for their massive donations to free software, I wish they'd just STFU until they actually Open Source something. Most of the criticism they get is for flip-flopping on open source.
  • I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mihalis (28146) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:26AM (#15926980) Homepage

    IBM is just full of it. If OpenSolaris were not for real do you think they would have gone to the trouble of changing their source code control system from the in-house Teamware stuff to Mercurial (see this [selenic.com]).

    No, that is the kind of wrenching and disruptive change that you do if you're really serious about pulling in developers outside the corporate WAN. If it were a facade they could have built a more impressive facade much more quickly.

    Progress is slow on OpenSolaris because unlike Linux in 1991, Solaris is already a mission-critical operating system in many enterprises, and because they are trying to pull in non-employee contributions whilst maintaining quality. This is actually difficult.

    Disclaimer: I was on the invite-only OpenSolaris pilot program and got some free t-shirts (none of which fit).

  • Re:IBM is wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pinky0x51 (951042) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:32AM (#15927043) Homepage
    >The key question is; if Sun tries to kill OpenSolaris development, can they do it?

    No, because OpenSolaris is Free Software, so everyone can use it, study it, adapt it and (re-)distribute it.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by debilo (612116) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:40AM (#15927095)
    I can't imagine how many licenses, agreements, contracts, and who knows what else would prevent IBM from sharing AIX or OS/2 code.
    So their own business decisions prevent them from delivering what customers and the opern source community would like to see. IBM's fault.

    For the love of Pete, they have a vice president in charge of linux and open source.
    That doesn't really prove their commitment to open source in general beyond their commitment to making profit. Which is not a bad thing.

    More importantly, can you think of any company ANYWHERE, for-profit or not, that's done more than IBM has for open source?
    Yes, quite a few. Red Hat, SuSE, Novell, and even Sun, to name just a few.

    How much of the modern linux kernel was written entirely or with significant help from IBM?
    How does IBM's contributing to the Linux kernel compare to Sun open sourcing an entire OS?
  • Re:IBM is wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ahl_at_sun (853337) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#15927105) Homepage
    The key question is; if Sun tries to kill OpenSolaris development, can they do it?
    Ignoring the question of why Sun would try to do that (some sort of exotic open source poison pill?), I suppose they could turn off the juice on OpenSolaris.org, but even that wouldn't shut down development. The code is in the open and it's under a license that explicitly allows people to use it and modify it. No one -- not even Sun -- could keep people from building their own distros, doing their own development, and building their own communities (all of which is happening today with Sun's encouragement).
  • by Screwy1138 (976897) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:47AM (#15927138)
    The poster claims

    "...he pointed out that OpenSolaris takes contributions from all comers, has active public mailing lists, open IRC channels, and several online communities, so Frye's description seems at least overblown."

    With my apologies, if these things make something open source, .Net is certainly open source. But it's not. I congratulate Sun on what they're doing, but that's still not true open source. Making the definition of open source muddy is really not a good idea.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stinerman (812158) <nathan DOT stine AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#15927160) Homepage
    OS/2 will never be open sourced. AFAIK, Microsoft holds copyrights to some of that code.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:53AM (#15927172) Homepage

    More importantly, can you think of any company ANYWHERE, for-profit or not, that's done more than IBM has for open source?

    Sun.

    But, maybe not in the way you mean.

    Sun's own tools have driven more people to install GNU software on a Solaris machine than any other thing has caused people to migrate to Open Source.

    Back in the day, a Sun which didn't have GNU tools was not very useful. :-P

    Cheers
  • by jm91509 (161085) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#15927257) Homepage
    One open-source operating system is plenty, though, so there would be no point to making AIX open-source, IBM's Handy said. "There's room for a proprietary one and an open one. Once one is open, you don't need any more," he said.

    So bugger off *BSD. Very open-minded of him

  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <(ude.llenroc) (ta) (7dta)> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:13PM (#15927302) Homepage
    Most likely, AIX may also have some code in it that prevents them from open-sourcing it due to licensing.

    Keep in mind they're already in enough legal battles over intellectual property licensing. While SCO's claims regarding IBM and Linux may be trollish, the impression I get is that SCO WOULD actually have significant legitimate claims against an "open source" AIX.

    The end result is that rather than opensourcing AIX (which would be a rather pointless endeavor as the impression I get is that IBM is "sunsetting" it in favor of Linux), IBM is simply taking all of the Good Parts from AIX which they can and merging them into Linux.

    Remember, open-sourcing a product isn't always a simple matter of taking a snapshot of your source tree, making it public, and adding a new license. Frequently, a company may not own all the code in a program and can't open source it without ripping out some of their code and either spending time replacing/rewriting it or releasing what is essentially open-source crippleware. In a situation where there is no even remotely competitive open-source alternative (see Quake and Mozilla), it makes sense to release crippleware and let the community fill in the holes over time, as even if it takes the community years (Mozilla/Firefox) to fix the holes, it still puts them way ahead. In the case of AIX, there would be utterly no point whatsoever in releasing it if IBM were required by licensing agreements to remove critical parts. Unlike Mozilla, with AIX there's a healthy and robust open-source competitor which would be dominant in developer and user mindshare even if it were open-sourced in complete form.
  • by tweek (18111) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#15927336) Homepage Journal
    I don't see openAIX floating around.
    Sure they've ported some of the technologies and added the opensource toolbox to AIX (imagine an RPM that can be installed on AIX and interfaces with the existing AIX package system).

    Why is there no JFS2 for Linux? Why can't I mount a JFS2 filesystem on the SAN on my Linux machine? Why has the AIX lvm not been ported to Linux or why has IBM not contributed to the Linux LVM2 the ability to import AIX volume groups along with the requiste filesystem support on Linux? Why the hell don't I have lsdev, lscfg, lsattr for Linux? That alone would save me alot of effort.

    Look the ODM is not the greatest thing since sliced bread but AIX has other good ideas that IBM should contribute instead of bitching about OpenSolaris. Shit they just want to sell more pSeries boxes anyway ;)
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#15927339) Journal
    I suggest looking through the Linux kernel change histories sometime. There are a _lot_ of IBM email addresses in there.

    And not just there. Have a look at most Apache projects too, for that matter.

    There's a reason why SCO went after IBM. Well, ok, a second reason, beside the obvious "because SCO is on a pump and dump scheme." Like most lies, SCO's "IBM took our IP they had used in AIX and put it into making Linux enterprise-ready" is based on a small grain of truth, although in this case one irrelevant to the lawsuit. The truth is that IBM did donate that much code to Linux, and some which, indeed, is a part of why Linux is enterprise-ready OS instead of an academic toy. At any rate, a lot of that is either AIX code or it uses techniques developped for AIX.

    If you read the RTFA, even there they spell it out repeatedly: "It prefers Linux and its own proprietary version of Unix, called AIX." ("It" being IBM.) Or even better: "IBM helped put Linux on the map, funding programmers to improve the operating system and offering early pledges of support that indicated it was safe for customers to use. The company has more than 600 programmers at its Linux Technology Center, but it's actively involved in many open-source projects besides Linux."

    So basically IBM _does_ put a lot of money and work into a F/OSS OS. It's not AIX, but in hindsight, a lot of us actually prefer it that way. The great Unix fragmentation happened precisely because everyone wanted to make their own flavour deliberately incompatible to everyone else's, trying to lock their customers in. And that's how Unix lost back then, and why nowadays we have Windows instead on most computers. Does anyone (other than MS) want _that_ to repeat verbatim again? Not me, anyway. So thank goodness that IBM contributes to Linux this time, instead of trying to divide-and-conquer the F/OSS OS market with an OpenAIX.

    I don't know exactly how "open" OpenSolaris is. Maybe it's really open, maybe it's one of Sun's usual smoke screens. No idea. I couldn't be bothered to care about it at that point.

    But even OpenSolaris is a very new development. What I'm getting at is: IBM was putting its money where its mouth was, _long_ before Sun.

    So excuse me if I find it outright funny to see someone claim that IBM isn't doing anything there.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#15927348) Homepage
    ...I like some of the things IBM is doing now, but never forget they are a very, very big company whose agenda always directed at making money for their shareholders. They have a business motive behind everything they do.

    IBM is a big champion of Linux now, but it wasn't all that long ago that they were issuing stern warnings to those who foresake the safety of proprietary software about the dangers of getting "locked into open source."

    IBM would probably happily lock people into Linux... whatever, exactly, that would mean... if they can figure out how to do it and can see an advantage to IBM in doing it.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aim Here (765712) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:30PM (#15927435)
    You do realise that IBM are in court right now, for the heinous crime of taking large gobs of its own AIX code and putting it in Linux, aren't you?
  • Re:First post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doctor Memory (6336) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:39PM (#15927508)
    I was going to say... Although they had the first good LVM I ever saw, working with AIX has always made me feel I was in a foreign country or something. Things were always just a little bit different, and when I say "things" I mean everything.

    It's just too bad IBM makes such kick-ass hardware, otherwise AIX would have died a natural death long ago.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:52PM (#15927641) Homepage Journal
    The problem is some of the OS/2 code is still owned by Microsoft.
    Generally, I agree with this being a huge issue. However, Sun had similar problems with much of the Solaris code. Differently from IBM, however, they invested massive resources in cleaning out the codebase to make it suitable for an OSS release. IBM won't lift a finger to do the same unless they see massive consulting dollars behind it.
  • by htd2 (854946) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:56PM (#15927670)
    Your posting gives the impression that IBM is a huge donator to OpenSource projects and Sun with the exception of OpenSolaris which you are unsure about isn't.

    Let me soothe your concerns, in fact Sun without OpenSolaris dwarfs IBM in terms of OpenSource contributions, as has been pointed out on a number of occasions more code in RedHat was donated by Sun than any other commercial company IBM and RedHat included. This excludes Sun's donations such as OpenOffice and it also excludes a huge amount of IP donated by Sun in the form of properly documented standards Patents and interfaces that most of the other commercial donators to OpenSource had to be dragged kicking and screaming to.

  • by Score Whore (32328) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:13PM (#15927795)
    So, out of curiousity, what exactly is "open source" in your world?

    You can take Solaris get the complete source. Make whatever changes you want, build your own distro and release it. Sun could decide it was all a complete screwup and shutdown opensolaris tomorrow and you'd still be able to continue to develop and release your derivative code. Sounds like open source to me.

    Contrast this to Linux. You can contribute patcehs to Linus. You can discuss it on IRC. You can subscribe to email lists. You can take the source and build your own. And Linus undeniably has private discussions with developers whom he has established working relationships with about the development of Linus' kernel. Additionally you cannot directly check your code into the mainline Linux kernel. Sounds about the same as the OpenSolaris development process to me.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:46PM (#15928082) Homepage Journal
    So this rant of one IBM executive is completely baseless and probably intended to promote IBM at Sun's expense.

    Agreed - and of course it's intended to promote IBM at Sun's expense.

    Isn't it crazy that IBM, who's contributions to F/OSS (whilst large & also warmly thanked for) are dwarfed by Sun's contributions are able to get away with this?

    The reason I suspect is Sun's flip-floppiness & skittishness when it comes to F/OSS - they contribute much, but also help spread a litlle anti-F/OSS FUD, etc. IBM's stance hasn't changed for what? eight years now.

    CDDL is part of that problem I think - as the article notes, linus had 10 times as many people contributing to linux in his first year than Sun - with all their resources - had contributing to opensolaris in its first year.... A pity.
  • by gdamore (933478) <garrett@nOSpaM.damore.org> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:40PM (#15928621) Homepage
    But even OpenSolaris is a very new development. What I'm getting at is: IBM was putting its money where its mouth was, _long_ before Sun.

    Ever hear of, oh, NFS. No? How about RPC? These Sun contributions to open source predate IBM's involvement with FOSS by a long time. Heck, they even predate the whole FOSS movement. Except for the University of California, Berkeley, I doubt any institution has ever given as much or as freely to open source as Sun has, as early as it did, or technologly that has done more to contribute to the developments that ultimately led to the Internet. And they have continued to support open source (and open standards) throughout their history.

    Get your facts straight next time.

    You also said:

    I don't know exactly how "open" OpenSolaris is. Maybe it's really open, maybe it's one of Sun's usual smoke screens. No idea. I couldn't be bothered to care about it at that point.
    Then WTF are you doing posting here? You obviously haven't looked into it. Yes, OpenSolaris is mostly OpenSource (there are a few closed bits, but they are not necessarily critical bits anyway). And guess what? Just because Sun has control of OpenSolaris, doesn't mean you can't download the whole source tree and fork it and start your own project. (Some folks have already done this, check out the PPC port of Solaris, or the port of Debian userland to the Solaris kernel, for example.) That is what Open Source means.

    Somebody mod the parent down, please!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:01PM (#15930001)
    I, along with others, complained about the "Joint Contributor's License" required to merge code into the primary OpenOffice.org tree. While other projects requires every copyright contributor to agree to a license change in the future, such as making the product close-source for future releases, the contributor's license already gives Sun the right to change the license at any time. In response to these complaints, Sun Microsystems claimed that there would be a non-profit formed and copyright controlled handed over to it. Unlike Sun that must answer it's board and investors to turn a profit which can sometimes run counter to being dedicated to keeping a project Open Source, the non-profit's purpose would be to ensure that OpenOffice will always be Open. It is now several years later and I'm still waiting for Sun to create the non-profit organization that will be handling the contributions.

    Bottom line: Sun will claim anything to head off complaints but has no follow through. Only trust the Sun if you want to get burned.

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