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IBM Derides OpenSolaris as Not-So-Open 168

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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  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:23AM (#15926958) Homepage
    So this is just like then? I've read a lot of complains that OO.o is tightly controlled by Sun.
    Sun should just do as AOL did and spin off their open source projects as a seperate company.
  • by andrewzx1 ( 832134 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:25AM (#15926968) Homepage Journal
    There are a variety of very good Open Solaris distros now:

    Belenix: []

    Polaris, Solaris for PowerPC: []

    Nexenta, the Solaris/Ubuntu mix: []

    And of course you can go straight to the official Open Solaris Communities page here:;jsessio nid=6E46815A1C5CC33AC6470A9439DABAA6#all/ []

    Fight IBM FUD with Open Solaris Fact.
  • by gdamore ( 933478 ) <`garrett' `at' `'> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:28AM (#15927002) Homepage
    I am an outside contributor to OpenSolaris. I have several projects which are currently in the process of getting integrated into Solaris.

    It is true that the development model at Sun is a bit more "Cathedral" than "Bazaar", and there are still some technical and administrative challenges to solve (for example they haven't figured out how to get folks to directly commit to OpenSolaris yet -- you have to hand off code to folks at Sun who integrate your code and walk it thru the process.)

    Development of Solaris has always been a tricky thing, and historically has had huge amounts of "process" to get changes. This is because there are numerous quality safeguards, and committees that have been involved. There are famous questions that every project integrating has historically had to answer: (is it i18n safe, what interfaces does it expose? does it conform to various standards already established? is it portable to both intel and sparc? etc. etc.)

    Part of the review process also has to uphold things like Sun's binary compatibility guarantee. In any respects, the _quality_ of Sun's Solaris product is much higher, I think, than what you find in say Linux, where churn is a lot higher and quality and oversight controls a bit less.

    Anyway, it is possible to contribute to OpenSolaris now, though its a bit of a rough road right now. But they are making it better, and I expect it will be a lot easier in the next year or so.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Informative)

    by cpuh0g ( 839926 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:30AM (#15927027)
    More importantly, can you think of any company ANYWHERE, for-profit or not, that's done more than IBM has for open source?


  • FUD-tastic (Score:5, Informative)

    by ahl_at_sun ( 853337 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:34AM (#15927054) Homepage
    How this blatant FUD could be confused with actual newsworthy content is a credit to IBM. The assertions put forth in the article seem to have only a casual relationship with reality. For example:
    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.
    Take a look at the discussions page [] at and that's exactly what you'll see. Not only are there discussion forums for established components (ZFS, DTrace, Zones, etc.), but for projects which are still in their early stages (e.g. BrandZ, Xen, clearview) that are encouraging community involvement for testing and development.

    Components of OpenSolaris are also showing up in other operating systems: DTrace [] will be in the next release of Mac OS X [] and FreeBSD []. Speaking personally as one of the DTrace engineers at Sun, it's been quite a pleasure working with both the Apple and FreeBSD kernel engineers -- pretty decent community for a "facade".
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:39AM (#15927086) Homepage Journal
    While I warmly thank Sun for their massive donations to free software,
    Like OpenOffice (LGPL), OpenSolaris (CDDL - OSI Approved), and Project Looking Glass (GPL) just to name a few? You're quite right, they contribute heavily to Free, OSS software.

    I wish they'd just STFU until they actually Open Source something.
    This statement does not jive with your previous statement. Either Sun releases Free, OSS software (in which case they have a right to be heralded) or they don't (in which case they should STFU). Since I just rattled off three Sun OSS projects at the drop of a hat, I'm thinking that the former is the true case.
  • Re:I call BS (Score:2, Informative)

    by lowoddnumber ( 814033 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:29PM (#15927428)

    And here's the tools forum/mailing-list where the revision control decision was discussed. Besides Mercurial, several other tools were considered. This was all done out in the open. =9 []

    And here's an example of the ZFS team discussing the design of a new feature on the public forum. eID=47936 []

    I think IBM's comments are really meant to impose FUD. If you look into the project I think you undoubtedly will see that it is open now. As more time passes and, for example, the external contribution mechanism is streamlined with the move to Mercurial, I think it will *appear* open without question to outsiders and silly handline grabbing IBM fud-filled comments will not even make slashdot.

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:44PM (#15927555)
    Last year I spoke with a group from Sun's Santa Clara offices at the OSBC East conference in Boston, and asked them about Sun's open source efforts. After drawing blank stares, and a bit of hemming and hawing after requesting that they actually call someone ("Umm...give us a card and we'll get back to you"), they finally relented and made a few phone calls. Got the name of someone in Austin. Came back to Texas, and to this day I've never heard back from said individual, despite several attempts to contact him. (I'm truly confounded as to why Sun would show up at an open source conference, only to disavow their open sourcedness.)

    Sun appears to treat its OSS efforts as some sort of "dirty little secret," so much lip service paid to the OSS community so we'll just go away and stop hounding them. At this point, I don't believe Sun is sincere about OSS, at least from a corporate standpoint. IBM's position appears to be completely justified.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:15PM (#15927817)
    > 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.

    Sun open sourced NFS, RPC, and libc while IBM was still pushing Microchannel.

    So excuse me if I find your claims fatuous.
  • Re:The key paragraph (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @03:45PM (#15929234) Homepage Journal
    I don't think that the GP ever claimed that all of Sun's hardware was overpriced, or for that matter that IBM's hardware wasn't equally overpriced. Frankly I think they're both damned expensive, although I think as you scale into the high end, that it becomes very hard to compare one two the other.

    At any rate, your price comparison doesn't really address the GP's point, namely that Sun is a hardware company, and IBM is a services and consulting company. Sun's products are always going to be, like Apple, designed around the concept of selling more hardware. IBM's hardware, on the other hand, is really an entre so that they can sell you a whole lot of maintainance/consulting/"transformation" services.

    It's a question of business models, and which company really is more compatible with open source in general. I think they both could be, but IBM is a bit closer to the model which seems to have worked for other OSS companies so far.
  • Re:Hypocrites... (Score:2, Informative)

    by k8to ( 9046 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:11PM (#15930643) Homepage
    Certainly calling Sun names for being closed while they are making serious noise about opening Java seems ill timed from a tact perspective. However, NFS was never usefully open sourced. It was a well-specified protocol that was reimplemented by everyone. The historical Sun was generally not a creator of open code, but did believe in open interfaces as a tactical market weapon.

    They may be changing their stripes, but the deliberate GPL incompatibility of the CDDL makes me wary. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • Re:like what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:48PM (#15930902)
    Sure. Lets take that Linux box of yours and start removing Sun or Sun related code :
    OpenOffice - gone
    Java - Gone
    RPC - Gone /etc/shadow - Gone
    PAM - Gone
    Much of Gnome - Gone
    Not a very usable box anymore and this is only a very small set of examples.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas