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Sun Microsystems

Upside Editorial Piece on Sun and Open Source 112

netkatze writes " Upside did a recent article in the op-ed section. " It's an interesting piece, taking on the notion of Sun being a partner with the open source movement, with the conclusion that Sun doesn't "get it." It's been an ongoing debate within the community - is Sun an enemy? Or is the enemy of my enemy my friend?
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Upside Editorial Piece on Sun and Open Source

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    While the Community License isn't the same as the GPL license, it is a huge deal. If you puchase commercial software it's a big bonus to get the source with out having to pay big bucks for a source code agreement. If you don't buy their software then you really aren't interested in their source code

    Face it, many things will have to change before all software has open source to everyone and companies make their money from support and other things. In fact, it's likely never to happen. You do have to feed your family and you can't give everything away. True OpenSource makes sense for some software and doesn't for other software. Even ESR (not that he's the final word) agrees that certain software just won't work well with the OpenSource philosophy.

    Sun has done the right thing. Just don't fool yourself that their Community License is OpenSource and don't let their marketing drones fool you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the Register he had a choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Remember, Sun aka SUNW is in business to make a profit for it's stock holders much the same way that Microsoft aka MSFT is in business to make a profit for their stock holders. Both of the companies have exhibited similar traits with regard to their business practices, both are guilt of some rather sleazy practices, and both want nothing more than to hold a monopoly and charge you as much money as possible for you to use their product.

    Do not for a second believe either company is a "friend" to opensource. This is business, and Sun is well aware that Linux is eating its lunch at the low end. The SCSL is a rather pathetic attempt to forestall some of this effect, but when you look at the SCSL closely, you see it inhibits you from doing anything remotely useful with the source. So I cannot extend missing functionality. I cannot tune the rather pathetic performing OS. There are a whole bunch of things I cannot do with this license. This is free?

    No. It isn't. The purpose of open-source is to generate code that doesn't suck. The purpose of SUNW is to make money at selling things. These purposes can be in line, but they are definitely not when it comes to SUNW's activities/stances.

    If SUNW were so interested in Open-Source, and making sure that open-standards are the norm, then why have they strong-armed control over Java? There was a point a year or so ago where Java was the API du-jour, and the API was quite fluid. Now it is "out" with no ISO/ANSI standard to make sure it is really open, with many serious deficiencies that need fixing (e.g. its numerical model is horribly horribly broken, and generally regarded as useless for HPC by numerical analysts everywhere, yet SUNW sees money in them thar hills and pushes the technology there even though it is inappropriate). Yet, Java has the SCSL. So you really cannot fix the bugs in it. You really cannot extend it in useful ways. You really cannot do anything but what SUNW lets you...

    So how is this different than MSFT? Scott McNealy seems to have fantasies of being Bill Gates. And he is doing everything in his power to make it so that commercial Unix comes on SUNW hardware. Despite the fact that that hardware/software isn't nearly as good as the stuff from their competitors across the garbage dump, or up the street in Palo Alto. If you use SGI, HP, and Sun gear, you understand what I mean. But in the end it doesn't matter, as HP is clueless on marketing, and SGI regularly aims shotguns at its head. What SUNW succeeds at is outmarketing its competition. Its hardware isn't better. Its software most definitely isn't better.

    Now HP and SGI have linux strategies (well SGI does, and it is quite good). SUNW needs to respond. After all, it cannot be out marketed, as marketing is the mechanism by which the fools who buy the SUNW hardware are convinced that they should be seperated from their money. Just like with MSFT, SUNW wants a monopoly, they want control (just look at Java, NFS, NIS+, etc.).

    SUNW is no friend to the open source movement. SUNW is no friend to Linux. They properly view Linux as a competitor. The Open-source issue seems to be the thing they cannot get their arms around. Understand this the next time you need to decide upon a platform to do something with... try to stick with those who are friends to the movement, not those who wish it would go away and pay lip service.

    After all, SUNW would have never done the SCSL if it wasn't concerned about Linux. It has reason to worry. Linux can do pretty much the same job as solaris at a fraction of the cost of hardware, software, and maintainence... which is where SUNW makes its money. Linux takes that revenue stream away from them. They are afraid.

    They should be. Support the companies that openly and without reservation support Linux and open source: VAlinux, RedHat, Mandrake, SUSE, Caldera, SGI, IBM. Vote with your dollars.

  • They haven't made anything open source, let alone "in pieces". The SCL seems to be fooling you.
  • by Phroggy ( 441 )
    My first First Post?

    AOL scares me. I think they're pretty much the only company right now that has the power to go to war with Microsoft and really hurt Microsoft a lot. The problem is, I don't know if they're going to attack Microsoft, or join forces with them. I hope for the former, it'd be a lot of fun to watch.

    And Sun, I think, is doing a lot of good things (open source is great!) but I think they don't get a lot. Networking is not all that! Networking is great, but we still need individual computers too.

    I don't know. It'll be interesting to see what they do over the next year. I'm just gonna sit back and watch.
  • Regardless of how you feel about Sun, you have to admit, they do one thing better than Microsoft: turn on a dime.

    The author states "Eight months ago Linux didn't even exist as far as it was concerned. Now it's a key stepping stone in its 'network is the computer' strategy. Not bad for a slow-moving high-tech behemoth." "...and he's right. Sun reacted reasonably quickly to the Linux phenomenon and has attempted (for whatever their goal) to position themselves in a positive light. Interesting to say the least.

  • Your idealistic argument feels good. however, it's un-realistic. If you define the success of Linux as I do: it's ability to be used in your workplace as a viable alternative to anything else out there, then the ignoarance and misunderstanding of major companies CAN move mountains. What's worse, it's MY mountain they can move. So for me, Sun it the enemy...maybe not THE enemy...but an enemy non the less.

  • by mholve ( 1101 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @11:09AM (#1610556) Homepage
    No one is Linux' enemy. No one is it's friend, either. It's not about that, never was - and hopefully never will be. We, the community - never set out to destroy Windows, or take over the desktop and server markets.

    We're here for the fun of it. We're here because we can. We're here because Linux is cool.

    Don't lose sight of this!

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    If a network of computers has the power of a modern mainframe or supercomputer, then a modern mainframe or supercomputer has the power of a network of computers.

    (ie: If A=B, then B=A, except where void or prohibited by law.)

    For Sun to argue that you can replace some (or all) of the desktop's components with a central repository is old Mainframe-style thinking, when everyone had teletypes or desktop VDUs. That style works, but the desktop PC's flexibility has proven superior. The previous bid by the Mainframe crowd were the X terminals. Clunky boxes, superior to the old text-only VDUs I used on the old Prime 750 or the teletypes on the Prime 350, but only just.

    (Personally, I'd swap one of those X terminals for a good, high-speed teletype, any day! They're cooler, by far!)

  • That belief system belongs to Microsoft, and the Cold Source era. You can't win a race by looking back, and you can't cure a cold by killing the patient.

    Does it =matter= if Sun doesn't "understand" Open Source? Really? In the end, no it doesn't. Linux will stand or fall on it's own, no matter WHAT Sun or Microsoft do. The only people it makes any difference to at all are those emploed BY Sun. It will be THEY who are affected by Sun's stance, not GNU, not Linux, not the OSI, not even the moons of Saturn.

    If Sun =DO= understand Open Source, does =that= really matter? Nope! Linux, the FSF, the Apache lot, etc, will continue just the same. Sun's understanding, as with it's ignorance, affects only Sun.

    If Sun go the OSS route, they have long-term survival. If they don't, they won't. That's the way the cookie crumbles. Their call, their consequence, and nobody else need be affected one little bit.

    Quite an ego-deflator, to know that the major decisions of top-ranking companies don't move mountains, and barely dent mole-hills. But one I think they're in need of.

  • How can they honestly say _anything_ about Sun and Open Source? The only possable frame work they have to deal with is the issues about JAVA.

    As far as Star Office goes, it's way to early to tell. Sun is in about the same position right now as Netscape was at the beginning of the "browser wars." They have a product (office suite) that is in high demand, and they are "giving it away." Sounds a lot like Netscape.

    But, consider this: Netscape said they were going to go "open source" and yet Mozilla is totally original based, and not based on fixing/bugtracking the v.1.0-v.4.7 code tree. Yet, Netscape seems to have been highly praised by the open source community. Add to that, there is almost NO ONE who doesn't know what "Netscape" is, and v.5.0 to rise up from the Mozilla code is one of the most highly anticipated projects in existance.

    So, Sun comes along, and opens up the code to Star Office from the get go. The minute they get it, they let the code out. Sure, the licence is not all that it could be. But, Netscape didn't even do this much when they went the "open source" route.

    My point is, it's too early to judge where Sun is going to go with Star Office. Star Office is a high profile product for Sun, in that it is fully functional, runs on NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Linux, FreeBSD (with a little work), Solaris, and Solaris x86. Even with a "poor" licence from the "open source" standpoint, they have a broad platform base for a solid product. If they port the Office Suite to Macintosh, IRIX, and Tru64-UNIX, there won't be much that Star Office won't run on.

    Then, with an unbelievably broad platform base for a high demand product (an office suite) there isn't much excuse for anyone to not use Star Office which is free rather than pay $300 for Microsoft Office.

    First impression, Why support hardware/os's that are not Sun/Solaris? Because once you have a accepted Office Suite that everyone is using, there will be almost no resistance to companies going the way of Heavy Duty Server/Thin Client products. Put Star Office on the server, everyone runs it from an Xterminal. What resistance is there left to not use UNIX, with Sun being UNIX's steller star that made it all possable.

    No excuse that "people are use to Windows or Macintosh, and MicroSoft Office. Retraining will cost too much to convert to Unix and client/server technology." They will already have the widespread use of the same office suite that will run on the new technology.

    THAT is what it's all about people! It's not about Sun getting into the software market with this new Office Suite. It's about Sun using this new office suite as a spring board to launch the Server/Client technology they are dying to sell. AND, that's why it's Way to early to tell what to think about Sun's stance on Open Source. If Sun sees that completely GPL'ing Star Office would give it the broad based usage they want, they will probably do it. But it's still too early for THEM to make that decision, because they are trying to figure out the best way to get Star Office to replace MicroSoft Office in the general user base.

  • If Sun simply wanted to sell big servers to run Star Portal on while reducing any proprietary advantage MSOffice has then it would have put at least the filters of Star Office under a BSD license.

    Yes I love the GPL as much as the rest of you but if the point is to have everyone able to read/write MSOffice files without paying Bill then the best filters around should be included in every other app. They also need an army of developers to keep them working ( Ask Mr. Allison how many times SMB has changed and how much of his work is just making SaMBa run with the
    many versions. )

    The only reason Sun is holding SO under the SCSL is so that they can make money licensing it to people and also take it off the market if that suites it's purposes.

    It won't work. I know this. Sun doesn't. Life sucks.

    The only ways to knock a dominant "standard" product off it's pedestal are to match it byte for byte or to produce a new standard that everybody but the existing leader is using.

    That's why the IBM compatible PC whipped the far superior Mac.

    That's why USB is far more popular than Firewire.

    That's why Windows is the #1 OS in market share.

    It's also why Linux will beet both Sun and MS.

    The quality of Sun products will only serve to delay it's decline. The SCSL is a boon to all network admins who already depend on Solaris to run the business. Source code that you can patch for performance/bug fixing on a per server basis is better than no source at all. This doesn't compare to what you get with Linux or *BSD but it's a hell of a lot better than Aix or Irix.

  • Sun is merely jumping on a popular bandwagon. True, they could have used a different "term" for their "open-sourcing" of their code. (IMHO) they are looking for a few things:
    1.) More money/marketshare. (Open Source is the buzz right now. Their jumping on the bandwagon should not surprise.)
    2.) Publicity. (The old addage, "any publicity is good publicity" certainly applies here.)
    3.) More eyeballs debugging and creating better code. (Of course the big downside is, Sun mostly benefits from this. However, their consumers will benefit from better code with fewer bugs in the long run.)

    It should not be surprising that Sun has done this. They are, in fact, a business. They have bills to pay and families to feed. We may not be happy with Sun's tactics, but it only lends creedance to the fact that Open Source is a better development model. Also, we cannot expect everyone to have the same attitude when it comes to the "gift culture." Some people and/or companies are bound to take advantage of a good thing when they see it.


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • I'd like to suggest that the open source community adopt the phrase "visible source" for licenses such as Sun's Community Source License which provide source code, but place restrictive terms on redistribution.

    Visible source implies, correctly, that "you can look for free, but touching will cost you."

    We could use this distinction to educate the media about the difference between visible and open source. As in, "We applaud Sun for making the source for Solaris visible, and encourage them to go all the way and make it open as well."
  • Linux has an enemy and she wears three faces.

    The first is that of a frightened old woman. She wrings her hands about the lack of Linux apps and consumer end support. She hears the words of respected men like Metcalf pronoucing the futility of the Penguin. At night, she pulls her sheets over her head.

    The second is that of a middle woman who has reached a crossroad. Although she has come so far on the more traveled road lined with Windows, she is tempted by a new path which, while going in to the same general place, is darker and unfamiliar. Would it be wise of her to abandon her life-long companion? What is she missing by not going down that Other Path? These things weigh heavily on her mind.

    The last is that of a small girl, careless and confident that her chores will get done somehow. Although she knows that the butter won't churn itself, she believes others will finish the task for her. So she sits by, idly eating the fruit of other's labor and admires her own good taste in the productive company she keeps.

    Beware of this woman. One night, you may wake up in a cold sweat, gasping for air and your heart pounding. Athwart your chest, you'll find her sitting, staring. She'll ask:

    "Where do you want to go today?"

    And your only answer will be a scream.

  • Generally, the concept of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a shortsided, usually unethical way to look at things. IMHO it reeks of seeing the whole situation as a race to screw the other guy or be screwed, rather than to either go about your business separately, or cooporate towards a solution.

    You have to be patient with the suits, or with the ironed T-shirts (is that what roblimo called them?) because they learn slowly, but are not impervious to good ideas.
  • Sun almost Gets It, but not quite. They were founded on the premise of utilizing an open software platform, but (originally) on highly closed systems. Then they opened up the processor architecture, but held onto the software (which, by then, was a pretty funky Unix). Now, they agonize over whether or not to open up the crown jewels, but more as a reflex to the two latest driving factors in their business:

    1: Hatred of Microsoft
    2: Fear of Linux

    You know, there's a lot of parallels between Apple and Sun when it comes to being control freaks at the corporate level if you think about it... Neither one is quite willing to give up those family jewels to the world, but they want desperately to reap the benefits of openness anyways.

    And both companies come heart-breakingly close to Getting It, only to shy away. "Open" Solaris? Whoopee. Put it under a GPL-like or even a BSD license, now we're talking. Other than that, thanks for playing - you lose.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • I don't think this is about how Linux will compete, but how Sun will compete. So, yes, it does matter if Sun gets it or not. Because the difference is the difference between succeeding and failure. Linux will survive, even prosper, regardless.
  • that's the problem with you guys. You think you have a good thing with open source -and it is. It helps increase the quality of certain things. But you have an agenda with the GPL and if a company like Sun doesn't subscribe to every detail of your "revolution" then they are evil. Well guess what? Sometimes it's better to listen to your customers and deliver on quality products instead of some kind of ideological revolution. There are many open source products that are just crap. That's the real enemy to open source. If I wanted crap I'd just use Microsoft instead of going out of my way to use a different platform that gives me the same junk. Open source is just a means to the goal of better software. If Sun can achieve this in another way then that's fine by me.

  • "The goal is "Software that doesn't suck". Personally, I don't care who writes it, or what it is. It could be Windows. It could be Solaris. It could be Linux. Who cares? I just want it to work well, without being a hassle."

    Sorry if this sounds a bit like a rant, but I just wanted to point out that I totally disagree with that sentence.

    For me, the freedom aspects of free software are far more important than having the technically best sollution. Actually, I'm using Linux even thought it's a far worse technical sollution for me and my needs than NT4. With Linux I have to deal with a lot more problems and frustration, for example:

    1. I'm really missing a good C Development environment. MS Dev is by _far_ the most comprehensive, feature filled and well thought out development environment I've ever used. When using my current development tools on Linux it feels like I'm puffing along in a tractor when I could have been crusing along in a Ferrari and it actually affects the development time of my projects. KDevelop is on the right track, but still have a lot of things to sort out.

    2. The lack of good desktop applications is still quite bad, although it's improving all the time. I sometimes feel like I'm in chains because I know of a tool that will do exactly what I want with only a few mouse clicks, it's there, right outside my reach because it runs on Windows, not Linux.

    3. Everytime I buy some new hardware I have to first check if there are drivers for it. Is that scanner/printer/soundcard/camera/PDA supported?

    4. GAMES. I'm missing all the games I used to play on my Windows machines! :(

    So why do I put up with all this? Windows NT would definitely be a better technical sollution for _my_ personal needs and I would just have to borrow a copy from work and install it and everything would be just fine.

    Simply because I value the freedom aspects of free software. I want to use a system and programs that I can tinker with as much as I want. I want to use programs that I can give to my friends. I don't want to be depending on a big software company who technically owns the software I'm just licensed to use. I don't want to pay $$$ every year to keep my word processor up to date so I can read the documents people send me. I don't want to be depending on the "goodwill" of a company for fixing that bug that really doesn't affect their sales but I desperately need to get fixed. I don't want to live in a world where the producers constantly makes two versions of the same program (one that's rediculously expensive and the other one is seriously downgraded) simply because they make slightly more money that way. I don't want to live in a world where developing countries on the edge of having a technological and economical breakthrough are hold back because greedy software companies require them to pay rediculously high software licenses. And I don't want a small number of software companies to be in charge of the infrastructure of tomorrow by holding the right to key software components or software patents since that would seriously degrade whatever is left of our democracy.

    Of course I also want software that doesn't suck, but for me the quality of the software is really secondary to the freedom aspects (as long as it's not totally useless) which is proven by the fact that I'm using Linux as my desktop computer even though it isn't the best technical sollution for me _yet_. If Open Source development in the end leads to better software than the proprietary software model (which I also believe it does) that would be great, but it's not my main reason for supporting and taking part in the movement.

    Ok, sorry for the rant and sorry if I offended somebody, but I really needed to get that of my chest. Otherwise I totally agree that we should worry less about enemies and concentrate more on getting our programs better.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @11:01AM (#1610569)
    Sun is neither an enemy of the movement, nor a friend. They're a business - specifically they're in the business of making money. They will say and do whatever gets them the most cash, and don't kid yourselves - the only reason vendors are "embracing" open source is because it's a new market and it's a big one.

    Incase you haven't noticed, Sun seems to have scheduled releases - ie, they aren't making everything "open source" at once - they're doing it in pieces to get the maximum amount of press. And if you read their licensing, it seems that they are still hesitant to 'let go' of it once and for all and go free software. They need that control so that if open source falters or something, they can pull everything back without much loss.

    It's not that Sun's evil... they're certainly making contributions. It's just that the SCL makes sure those contributions aren't that useful to the rest of us. Keep it in perspective though - better the SCL than a Microsoft Artistic License (shudder).


  • Sun is technically an enemy of Linux yes. Solaris and Linux compete with each other, but not anywhere near the competition between them and MSWindows. It seems pretty clear to me, unless I'm missing something.
  • In some perverted manner that actually makes sense.

  • Hate to break it to you, but technically that would be Micros~1 because that is only 8 chars.

    AOL would not be smart to release an open source version of their software. That would go completely against what they have been trying to do for so long: create an AOL Intranet. Releasing an open source version of their software would allow anyone to have their own AOL based mini-net, which would make AOL lose money, not gain it.

    Service software like AOL should not go open source, that defeats the purpose of service software.

    Applications, servers, and OSes make sense open source, AOL just doesn't.
  • Okay, Linux advocates insulted Mindcraft's proffesionalism.

    You can't expect to publish statements like "NT is 3.5 times as fast as a webserver as linux" without coming under fire. This statement itself is both biased and misleading. The way they summarised their results would be appropriate for a microsoft press release or marketting document but not appropriate for an independent benchmark.

    Mindcraft's results where questioned and rightly so. I don't see why their professionalism shouldn't have been questioned given the circumstances ( a Microsoft funded test at MS HQ ... under the guise of an "independent test" ).

    The tests proved the end result, NT wins in that scenario, Linux looses.

    Their "end result" was not about "NT winning", their end result was quantitative data asserting that NT was several times faster than linux. Their quantitative data was vastly inaccurate.

    BTW, Linux doesn't "loose" or even "lose" ... unless you need to saturate multiple T3s with static content. Wake me up when yopu need to do that.

  • I see, so the answer is Linux is "good enough"

    For serving static webpages ? yes. If they really want to measure how well linux meets tomorrow's demands, testing static page serving isn't good enough.

    Yes the test was funded by Micorosft.

    Hence it wasn't independent. Hence it is misleading to portray it as independent.

    If Linux advocates wanted to prove them wrong in a different scenario why not have Redhat or whomever hire them for a different test?

    Because independent tests should be just that. Independent. Why should Redhat stoop to MS's level and perform an expensive marketting stunt ? Other independent pundits ( such as PC Week, C'T and others ) will conduct independent tests anyway.

  • Don't you remember any of your industry history? Sun began in the garages of a couple of students who decided to make an open platform workstation, from off-the-shelf parts to a design that anyone could copy. They got as big as they did because the made good gear. And more, they still do[1].

    Who remembers the Sunsites? Back before the start of the web, a lot of the big mirrors were running on sun-sponsored equipment and bandwidth.[3]

    Look at java. It's as open as it can possibly be without being GPL'ed. I have no doubt that it will be one day, once Microsoft has ceased attempting to 'embrace and extend' it[4].

    If you want to compare ideologies, then Sun and the Open Source Community are fairly well aligned. Don't let a couple of minor differences scare you. Sun is just what the Open Source community would be if we all went corporate.

    Give them a little more time. Sun is actually about three times bigger than Microsoft, so they might take a while to 'notice' things on a corporate level. And don't be surprised if now that they've noticed us, they want to be friends.

    ~ Orinoco
    Come join us:

    [1] Wall Street ran their system on Sun gear for a decade, making the company quite profitable, because no-one has more money to spend on good quality gear[2] than the stock exchange.

    [2] This is a fundamental point. Sun couldn't care less about software or licences or intellectual property. They're here to make fast hardware. After all, you've always got to have hardware. And as long as people need to buy big computers, there will be Sun.[5]

    [3] Sun equipment *built* the internet. (DEC supplied all the terminals :-) In fact, it probably still makes the majority of it.

    [4] Consider the recent court action. Sun was happy to have Microsoft licence, distribute, and even extend the capabilities of java on windows. But then Microsoft began shipping versions of 'Java' that failed the Java Compatibility Tests. What Microsoft were fighting for, in court, was to ship a broken version of java out to all its customers, and still call it Sun's Java. The court fees give you an example of exactly what it takes to make Microsoft eat one of their own press releases.

    [5] I have a friend who works at sun. No, really. He's a quantum mechanic working in their research division. Sun figures that quantum computing has gone from a case of 'if' to 'when', and therefore should be ready for it. This is absolutely true.

  • Not always. There is hope. Some people understand.
  • There can be no doubt that Sun understands how free software works. The company was founded by Bill Joy, the architect of the original BSD unix, which was released free under the original BSD license.

    In its early days Sun kept the tradition alive. They developed a proprietary OS, based on BSD, and included in it a "contrib" collection of free software programs. The combination of a quality OS with commercial support, and a good collection of tools (many free) generated an impressive, healthy culture of SunOS devotees.

    Sun also made their original money by undercutting other vendors on price: they were the first Unix vendor to sell "out of the box" systems, everyone else wanted to build you a custom system for every occasion.

    The company changed radically in the late 80's, when it fell under the control of a very powerful and very ill informed middle management. They adopted AT&T's SysV OS and dumped BSD, in the belief that this would help get them onto the "business desktop". In order to seem more professional they dumped all the free tools, and buried all evidence of their free software BSD origins.

    They never made it onto the business desktop, but they did manage to adopt AT&T's proprietary, paranoid attitude.

    Today you have to view Sun as a company with a split culture. There are those who believe in the proprietary AT&T SysV "business desktop", and then there are those who fall into the BSD camp, and have hung on for various reasons.

    Or to put it another way: Sun, when Bill Joy is in control, is probably an OSS/free software friend; but Sun when Scott McNealy is in control is a calculating, proprietary, business environment.
  • I agree that the only person hurt directly by Sun failing to "get it" is Sun. However, if Sun are hurt, then so are the people who use Sun's products. Most importantly - to me at least - are all the developers working with Java in the (mistaken...?) belief that one day it will really be an "open standard".

    To me, the SCSL is an indication that right now, Sun's biggest hope is that it will never be open, but always controlled by Sun and Sun only. Kaffe, Japhar, Jikes and Classpath all provide hope of someday providing some legitimate competition, thereby taking "de-facto" control away from Sun. However, in the meantime, those of us who want to use a powerful, well-designed language like Java have no choice other than using non-free software - and worse yet, a closed "standard". Therefore, we are hurt.

    I see this as a far more important issue than whether StarOffice is opened or not, because StarOffice will ultimately be out-competed by KOffice and GNOME workshop. Java cannot be out-competed anywhere near as easily, because the *standards* are controlled by Sun. Remind you of any other companies?

  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @01:56PM (#1610579)
    There are two serious dangers of using "semi-open" source code that are not often discussed here.

    1) There is the very real possibility that the owner of the source code may yank the source code out from under you. This has happened. Specifically, in the IBM VM community.

    VM started back in the mid 1960s as a small internal IBM project, with a few extremely talented programmers, who were trying to scratch an itch. Sound familiar? The specific itch was: "How can we run multiple operating systems on the same computer", so that we can do our testing during the day instead of having to schedule downtime for the entire system to make our tests?"

    The result was a program called CP, that runs on IBM 370 iron, where each and every task is a "virtual 370". Just like VMWARE, but for mainframes. You've seen how VMWARE lets you bring up Windows 95 in a Unix window. Well, VM allowed you to bring up MVS, or any other 370 operating system, including VM itself on a terminal. Just for fun, I once set up a second level VM, then went into that second level VM, and built a third and fourth level VM, and it worked.

    CP found its sweet spot when it was combined with a different single-user operating system called CMS. VM is really the marriage of CP and CMS. CMS was originally designed as a single-user, high performance operating system to run on bare iron. CMS is single-tasking, and provides the filesystem, compilers, I/O, interrupt structure, etc.

    The system provided performance that was simply unheard of on unix systems of similar power. At our peak, we easily ran over a thousand CMS sessions on our 3090 -- each of which was emulating an entire 370 for a single user.

    VM was a tight, lean operating system with great performance. Of course, it didn't hurt that the people who wrote it were some of IBM's best hackers, and they had an additional incentive to produce excellent code: all of their work was visible to the customers.

    IBM also tried more then once to kill off this "upstart" operating system ... that happened to run much more efficiently then the bloated, "traditionally-designed" MVS/TSO combination.

    Since the first days of the VM mainframe operating system, the entire operating system was distributed with full, buildable source code to the entire operating system. The result was that sites could and did experiment with the CP and CMS kernels, adding functionality, finding bugs, and creating what was, to many, the finest mainframe operating system ever designed.

    VM system programmers freely traded their mods around, in source code form, and some of the best of these mods became part of the VM core distribution. In other words, the Open Source process was ALIVE AND WORKING in practice, only it was restricted to paying customers of IBM. The IBM users group is called SHARE, and VM systems programming community had its' share of brilliant programmers who share their work in exactly the same spirit of the current open source community.

    Of course, this never harmed IBM, because almost all of this work was being written in IBM 370 assembler language (for maximum efficiency, of course), and with the exception of a few Amdahl sites, must sites were running IBM mainframe hardware anyway.

    This was all fine until the mid 80s, when IBM made a management decision to withdraw source code to all of their products. Dispite the outcry from sites around the world, IBM started selectively removing parts of the source code from their distributions, and introducing new functionality without source. Along with the new functionality came huge, bloated object code modules, and conceptually defective interfaces. IBM also threw hundreds of programmers at VM, and the efficiency and elegance of the operating system started to deteriorate.

    The result was a disaster that virtually killed the VM community. Whereas in an open source environment, system administrators such as myself could trace crash dumps, find bugs, and report them to IBM, we were all left in the situation where we would crash a crash dump, only to have the trace lead into an "object-code-only" module. This made it much more difficult to maintain a reliable system.

    The other disaster was to sites (such as ours) that had made large numbers of local modifications to the IBM-supplied source code. More then once, I had the experience of sitting down to port our local mods to the next release of VM, only to find that one of the modules that I needed to modify had had the source code removed. The result was that people such as myself were forced to disassemble the IBM object decks, work out binary patches, and apply them blindly. I still have a couple of these binary-only patches, based on five year old source code, on our VM system.

    We are currently in the process of phasing out our VM systems, and not surprisingly, so are many other VM sites. ... which is a shame, because there are lots of things in VM, Rexx and CMS pipelines, for instance, that provide functionality that simply does not exist in the Unix environment.

    So here's the question. Say you are a company that builds a mission-critical system by joining the Sun Community Source License program. You download the source code, and make a large number of changes to the source code to build your mission-critical production server. Now, a year or two down the line, Sun announces the end of the Community Source License program. The next month, Sun releases a new object-code-only version of Solaris that incorporates new features or bug fixes that you need.

    Now you are absolutely screwed. Don't think that this couldn't happen. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO IBM'S VM CUSTOMERS.

    For the curious, an excellent history of the VM operating system may be found on Melinda Varian's home page:

    2) The second danger that is not often discussed here is the danger of accidently incorporating propriatary code, or code that is "close enough to sue", in an open source project.

    The WINE project has been able to proceed on safe legal ground, because reverse engineering is a legal activity. Microsoft can hardly claim that parts of Wine were derived illegally from Microsoft propriatary source code, because Microsoft closely guards access to the source code. If Microsoft were to release the windows source code, and someone were to read the windows source code and use that information to fix a bug or add a feature to WINE, or someone just happened to write their own code that happened to resemble part of Windows' source code, Microsoft could file a lawsuit against the WINE developers, and probably obtain a injunction banning distribution of Wine. The fact that Windows is Object Code Only is the ONLY defense against legal harassment, and I predict that this will become a serious problem as more propriatary source code is made available under non-free licensing terms.

    Could the same thing happen with Sun and Linux? How farfetched would it be to imagine that sometime down the road, Sun were to file a lawsuit against the major Linux distributors, claiming that some newly-written feature of Linux was so much like a Solaris feature that it must have been illegally copied from Solaris, even if the feature was independantly written, and just happened to look like Sun's solution because both authors solved the problem essentially the same way.

    I see Sun's "Community Licensing" as a serious, dangerous threat to the open source community, and I think that we would be much better off if they were to simply not release their source code, rather then release it under their unacceptable terms.

    Obviously, free software developers cannot afford to fight lawsuits, and Sun is giving us NOTHING that we can use, while putting themselves in a position to use lawsuits to try and put free software competitors out of business. Whether or not this an "Accidental" feature of their policy, it is still a danger that has not been addressed.

    - John Schulien
  • While Sun will certainly get a marketting win out of each product they "open" the source to, they will not get any technology win at all. The reason? The management types who buy their products don't understand the license, but the developers who could potentially contribute code certainly do.

    Would you spend weeks picking berries if you knew that you'd have to pay for each one you ate? I wouldn't, and I doubt many other people will either.

    Management, on the other hand, knows only the simple equation: Open Source(tm) = Good Thing(tm) and doesn't really care whether it's truely open or not.

    Using Microsoft software is like having unprotected sex.

  • Once Sun's source code is out there (but not free to use), Sun will be able to claim that an independent implementation of a Sun feature is a ripoff of Sun's source. That is, Sun's release of source code could contaminate everyone and make an independent, parallel "clean room" implementation impossible.

    Worst case, Sun could gain standing to sue Linux distributors and the Free Software Foundation merely by finding something in a GPL'd product that is similar to Sun's version. Even an unwinnable suit could do great damage.

    PLEASE READ John Schulien's second point in his long post above (jms). Thank you, sir, for the enlightening essay.

    I thought of this contamination problem, but before posting I read through the earlier comments to see if I had been anticipated. Sure enough, one of our fellow Slashdotters has nailed it perfectly.

  • Trouble is, AOL implements almost no security in the server, leaving many locks and checks to be done in the client.

    Opening the client would kill them.
  • Lets step back and think !!!

    What is Linux ??
    It is 30 years old idea done difrently. That's all it is. It is trying to imitate branded Unix and , for God's sake, it isn't even as good as things like Solaris or HP Unix. It is not.
    There is nothing revolutionary about Linux OS. What is new is the way it is being developed. That's all that matters here.
    If Open Source fails, Linux won't matter anymore because there is nothing inovative about Linux OS.
    Most of the time it simply tries to catch up with commercial offerings. I have yet to see single innovative technical idea come from Linux.
    Don't look at this as a flamebait, stop for a second and think about what I just wrote...

  • Uhm, ok...
    My guess is you misread QPL as GPL, or
    maybe you weren't replying to my post.
  • I agree with your wording: there is an
    opportunity. But if Sun opens the
    compatibility suite everyone will come to
    conform, because at present it's the most
    comprehensive compatibility test suite.
    Cygnus and HP have this open test suite
    called Chai, but it significantly less
    exhaustive than Sun's (at least last time
    I checked it was).
    So yes, there are efforts to get Sun out
    of the equation and if successful, this would
    either lead to a modified Java or even a
    split Java. As I said, I believe Sun will
    eventually lose its Java revenue, so the
    only good thing they can do is open-sourcing
    Java while they are still ahead in terms
    of implementation, so that others will unify
    around one leader. By carefully choosing an
    open source license, they can advance this
    cause faster.
  • I spent some time thinking about what I'd want Sun to do about Java licensing. They do have to keep it compatible because it's all the value there is to Java, else you could just use C++ (where all compilers have their quirks) or even some sh_tty non-OO language. I tend to think that QPL is the ideal license for them. Coupled with 100% pure Java campaign it could prevent forking. Forking through patches is enough of a pain that people wouldn't do it. Of course, they will lose Java revenue, but I have a feeling it's inevitable anyway. It is important to realise that Java licensing MUST include open-sourcing their compatibility test suite, else open-sourcing Java would either be a joke or would force forking. I am saying this because I gave up hope to see Java an open well-defined standard, so at least we need an open reference implementation.
  • Free Speech gives me the right NOT to speak. Free Software as defined by RMS tells me that I MUST release my source code.

    So you can't limit the freedom of other people. Freedom for only one person, is no freedom but a dictatorship.

    But Sun does nothing to infringe any of my natural and unalienable rights, or any of my political freedoms granted or ungranted by my government.

    Well, I don't know what you mean by "natural and unalienable rights", but by looking at Solaris code you can lose the right to work on other OSs code.

  • I like to think of my self as a pragmatic person.

    Well, good for you.

    I have yet to see any new stuff originating from the OSS community.

    Uh, just about all the software written in universities, etc. for a long time was OSS - if you sent them a letter requesting a copy of some program, they'd mail you back a tape. (Case in point: the MIT, from whence came Lisp, emacs, X, etc.)

    I think that the reason why so much OSS nowadays is imitation is simply that it's very hard to come up with something that is both innovative and doable, especially in an OSS development scheme; by contrast, people working in corporative environments will write the software or get fired.

    Besides, most OSS projects originate in the Linux community, and Linux is itself a Unix clone, so most stuff that comes out of it will probably have an Unix-y feel to it.
  • I know that there are many people out there who make one ashamed to "confess" liking linux and open source (yeah, really).
    But you have to realize that whether the open source community thinks of microsoft and sun as their enemy or not, these corporations and esp. ms HAVE TO think of linux as an enemy.
    And their actions against linux are sometimes tiresome and do feed some hostility.
    For one, there are certain corporate webpages or benchmarks, I could ignore these, my clients till now hadt read them anyway.
    But document formats (office), missing interoperability (just imagine having to use a mssql backend with a linux webserver), ignoring of standarts ("we want to send our corporate mail with fancy logos in it, dont tell us it isnt possible, my son does it all the time with outlook") - these are the problems which make me desire the downfall of certain companies.

    I dont mind which os someone uses, but at the same time, I want to have the chance to do it at my will as well.
    It seems big companies pose the biggest threat against this desire, and thats why I personally fear them and many hate them.
  • "Open Source is a movement that encourages people to release their source code without caring about the freedom associated with it."

    And what freedom would that be? It's not a political freedom. I call it Free Software because it's free for me to use it, not because it gives me some right akin to free speech. If you truly think Free Software is the moral equivalent of Free Speech, then you really don't know much at all about Free Speech. Free Speech gives me the right NOT to speak. Free Software as defined by RMS tells me that I MUST release my source code.

    "I care about good software, but I care more about freedom."

    Good for you. I feel the same way. Unfortunately, Free Software has nothing to do with freedom. If Congress is passing onerous laws like UCITA, or preventing me from creating code through patent laws, then they are taking away my freedom. But Sun does nothing to infringe any of my natural and unalienable rights, or any of my political freedoms granted or ungranted by my government.

    "Open Source" is much more accurate than "Free". And "open" is just as positive as "free". Unfortunately, "open" doesn't have the emotional quality that "free" does. Revolutionaries always like the words "free" and "freedom". They incite emotions in the simple populace, who are so ignorant that they fall for that old trick, and gladly install dictators over them.

    Stop fooling yourself. Free Software is not liberty.
  • "I want source with my software because that is my right!"

    But it's not your software! It's mine. I own it, it is my intellectual property. If it was not mine, then I couldn't demand that you follow the dictates of the GPL license that I put it under! If there is no intellectual property, then ALL software is public domain.

    You may have the right to fix YOUR broken chair, but you have no right whatsoever to fix MY broken chair that I lent to you.
  • Oh yes, I have read those pages. And they still have nothing to do with political liberty. They give me the freedom to use someone else's software. They are a list of permissions. I have the permission to redistribute the software. I have the permission to modify the software. I have permission to redistribute the modifications. And so on. If you think that Free Software is morally akin to Free Speech, do you also think that it should be enshrined in the Bill of Rights as well?

    I'll rephrase your question to me. Who precisely forces you to use Sun's license? If you are free to choose not to use it, then it isn't restricting your freedom!

    The Sun license says that I must follow their rules to use their source code. Ironically enough, Richard Stallman says exactly the same thing: follow my rules or don't use my software.
  • The situation can be summed up rather simply: with MS you have a company that wishes to control you through a rigid licensing of binary software. With Sun you have a company that wants to rigidly control you (not quite as bad though)through Source-Code licensing. They both are not Open Source, they both give control to a single company, and they are both not what the community wants or needs. You have to see that this is merely a product of Sun't position as a public company, i.e if people are waiting for Sun to Open Source Java and other pieces of software here is a wake-up call:

    If for example they Open Sourced Java they lose a revenue stream of Java licensees such as micros~1, IBM and others. Losing revenue is VERY bad for a public company becuause your owners (stockholders) want their stock to INCREASE in value. Sun as a public company can't afford to be altruistic, and it's stock holders may fire a board that does so. There are two ways to compete in a broad marketplace: have the best price, differentitate yourself by product. If Sun GPLed their products then they lose both avenues in order to beat their competitors. Sun would have to move into a service-based revenue stream which would be too difficult to change to at this point. It took IBM YEARS to do this, and Sun's corporate culture wouldn't allow methinks ;)


  • by jilles ( 20976 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @12:25PM (#1610594) Homepage
    "First of all, I believe that any company that produces only proprietary software is an enemy of Free Software, and freedom in general. I know this sounds Stallman-esqe, but that's because it is. Remember Free Software? It's what we believed in before open source turned us into proponents of a business model instead of an ideal."

    I never believed in free software. Linux is a nice product, I might use it in the future but its not revolutionary. I'm not an idealist. I like to think of my self as a pragmatic person. All this talk about evil companies and enemies of OSS makes me laugh.

    OSS is an efficient way of incrementally improving software. I have yet to see any new stuff originating from the OSS community. With new I mean something that is not a cleanroom implementation of something that already exists. I think John Carmack made a similar statement in the interview earlier today.

    Most companies currently involved in OSS are pragmatic too and are in it for one thing only: making more profit. Red Hat sells shrink wrapped linux, IBM and SUN are hardware companies in the first place. They also make money supporting software (either their own or open source stuff.). Making software is something they do only to support the first two things.

    Because of this, Linux is not an "enemy" to SUN. They can make money selling hardware that runs Linux and they can make money selling support (something they are not doing right now).

    Giving away their own software (under GPL) won't boost their hardware sales significantly, also it won't improve their support revenue. So why are they bothering with semi OSS? Simple: they found out that it is a good way to improve their software without losing control.

    Is SUN different from MS? Yes, MS is a software selling company in the first place and a software support company only in the second place. OSS can only cut their revenue since everything given away won't bring in revenue. SUN on the other hand only gets a minor percentage of their revenue from software sales. If they can boost hardware sales by giving away software they will do it. IBM is in the same position and is following a similar strategy.
  • Keep in mind that I was trying to defend the anti-Linux Sun people.

    Back during the benchmarking circus, Mindcraft published hate mail from Linux people. It was deplorable of people to send this hate mail, don't get me wrong. What Mindcraft did was to publish this hate mail under the guise of: "Here? See what these Linux people are like? Do you want to base your company on stuff written by these folks?" In some slashdot discussions it was pointed out that, by publishing the hate mail, they were spreading FUD.

    Similarly, I dislike the fact that Sun advocates sent hate mail to upside. But, just as most Linux folks do not want to be seen as fanatics just because some loonies like the OS, all of Sun should not be demonized because some wackos called an upside journalist an "idiot."


    Re-reading your post, I think this answers your question. What exactly was your criticism?

    "So, what do you want to hack for, Bickle?"
    "I can't sleep nights."
    "They got porno theaters for that."

  • Remember following the Mindcraft follies, when Mindcraft published all its hate mail as a way to misrepresent Linux/OSS advocates? That was a shame, both that some zealots would write hate mail and that Mindcraft would exploit it. While it's too bad that Sun advocates would send hate mail to upside, I'm disappointed in upside for publishing it. Not all Sun employees (I speculate) are short-sighted assholes. They shouldn't be represented as such.

    "So, what do you want to hack for, Bickle?"
    "I can't sleep nights."
    "They got porno theaters for that."

  • that's the problem with you guys. You think you have a good thing with open source
    That's just it. I specifically said Free Software, not Open Source. Open Source is a movement that encourages people to release their source code without caring about the freedom associated with it.

    I care about good software, but I care more about freedom. Certainly, I'm pragmatic when I need to be, just as most people are. However, I have never had a reason to ignore the issue of freedom altogether. I think that saying "we" (Free Software advocates) have a "problem" is a little insulting. We just have different priorities.

    The only real enemies of Free Software are the ones that present a danger to it. Microsoft is not dangerous right now. This battle is about ideals in the sense that the only way to defeat Free Software is to make us not care about it any more. That's why I dislike Sun's attempts at a "compromise."

    There are many open source products that are just crap. That's the real enemy to open source.
    I agree, to a point. But what about "open source" products that aren't "open" at all? Is that not also an enemy to Open Source, maybe even a greater one? I think so.

    But hey, opinions make the world go 'round. Or something. ^_^

  • by zhobson ( 22730 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @11:41AM (#1610598) Homepage
    I'll leave it to others to discuss whether Sun is *their* personal enemy, or even the enemy of Linux. However, as a major proponent of Free Software, I think that in many ways, Sun is a greater threat to Free Software than Mircosoft!

    First of all, I believe that any company that produces only proprietary software is an enemy of Free Software, and freedom in general. I know this sounds Stallman-esqe, but that's because it is. Remember Free Software? It's what we believed in before open source turned us into proponents of a business model instead of an ideal.

    But now, Sun has progressed beyond simply producing proprietary software. They have taken the same software and given you the source without giving you the right to use it as you see fit. Fine, that's their disgusting prerogative. Here's the worst part. They're calling it a community license. They can blabber all they want about how they never presented it as "open source." They know exactly what the word "community" implies, and they're spitting in the face of this concept.

    This ladies and germs, is what makes them the enemy. I kept hoping that Sun would either rename or redesign the SCSL before they released more software under it, but I have given up hope after the Solaris announcement. As a Free Software proponent, I find Sun's actions disgusting, subversive, misrepresenting and manipulative.

    I hope that other Free Software advocates see this as the gross ruse that it is, and spread the word about the SCSL and it's danger to the very community that it claims to represent.


  • There are a number of licenses people can choose to distribute their code under when the day comes that they think the rest of the world might be in someway interested in what they have done.

    If they choose the BSD license IMHO what they are saying is I don't care what you do with it just recognise that I did it first; if you have more time than me to work on this and make money then go for it, if you think your work is ground breaking enough that others can learn from your source then let them see it. On the other hand if you thing for some reason you don't want others to see your code then that also is your choice.

    If you go the GPL way, my take on this is you don't care what happens to your work except that anything that is ever based on it is also published. IMHO this is selfish you are imposing your personal values on everyone who ever thought you did some good work and wanted to extended your orignal good work for the benifit of others.

    So what has all this got to do with Sun's Community Source License ? SCSL is just another license it is a compromise between the BSD, GPL and the needs of the SUNW stock holders.

    GPL has problems too, the major one IMHO is that most people who shout about it don't understand what it really means. The way many GPL activists behave really discusts me, I'm not talking about RMS or people like that - I'm talking about the newbies out there who think they have a right to do what they like to everyone elses code, but have neither the skill or the intention of actually doing anything with it.

    I've released code under GPL in the past and now I wish I hadn't - lucky it wasn't anything I care about much. I don't like the license as much as many of its supporters don't like the SCSL.

    At the end of the day this is all about choice, make your choice based on your personal values about how you want others to treat work you personally have done, not what rights you believe you have to others work.

    Darren J Moffat

    This is my opinion and does not constitute official and offical statment from Sun Microsystems Inc.

    This text or any portion of it may not be used outside of the forum if my name is attributed to it directly or indirectly (eg An Anyomous Sun source said...). The above text is to be protected under Scottish law.
  • The difference between Free Software and Open Source advocates is that they use the same means for different ends.

    Let me tell you about freedom. Freedom is not being forced to do anything other than what is required to allow others them same freedoms. Not allowing modifications to software is stripping away freedoms that people should have. It is like saying you can't fix a chair if it is broken. Not allowing you to redristibute doesn't have much of a metaphor to real objects other than sharing. But if replicators are ever made, freedom might be an issue that we would all expect.

    As for not giving out source code. You can give source if you want. Just don't give me the binaries then either. I want source with my software because that is my right!


  • by extrasolar ( 28341 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @06:21PM (#1610601) Homepage Journal
    I agree completely! Especially the following:

    Remember Free Software? It's what we believed in before open source turned us into proponents of a business model instead of an ideal.

    Absolutely. All this talk of PR for Apache instead of Linux and advocating Linux to employees makes me cringe. Who needs these companies anyway?

    I would like to say something though that may offend some people. Far too much of Open Source is about marketing. Marketing marketing marketing. There are many people where GNU/Linux doesn't make sense but the Open Source advocates are selling it anyway. Come on, this is far from pragmatic. This is taking World Domination from a good natured joke to an obsession. Someone's sig a while back had a good quote from Stallman. Something about World Domination not being the goal because freedom doesn't dominate.

    Seeing some of your replies, I have to comment. There is a reason I am a free software advocate. I thought it through. Let me explain:

    Anyone ever notice how software has the tendency to form monopolies. First IBM then Microsoft. Come on, you know that Microsoft didn't do anything special to get to where they are now, they just happen to have the right idea at the right time. Right now Microsoft has an entire empire of software and standards moving them forward. But the biggest reason they are on top is because all their software works together. See what I am saying is: Software is much better at cooperating with each other than competing. Say this to yourself over and over again and you can come up with more examples that agree with me.

    Knowing this, I can think of three ways software can cooperate:
    • One all encompassing company writes all the software. This like today with Microsoft.
    • Many software companies taking certain niches with extensive government regulation.
    • Free Software

    There may be more but I couldn't think of any. But of the three, I would choose the last one. I think most people would too, given a choice. This comes to my second theory: Software wants to be free. Say that one over and over again. It is based on my first theory.

    You see? If you have many many software packages on your system, the best way for them to all cooperate is if you have source code, if you can freely redistribute, if you can use it, if it is free! This way no company can lock others out of the market by propietary standards or intellectual property. Best of all, companies and developers would be sending each other modifications of their software because they want the software to work well with each other; because ultimately, the customers want it too.

    This is what many call the open source development model. But for the model to work, it requires freedom first to make the software work well with each other.


  • who is suns visionary? joy or mcneily?
  • I don't understand why the Linux community, and the OSS movement as it relates to Linux, has to think of any company as an enemy.

    The very nature of OSS as a non-profit operation means that the normal rules of capitalistic competition do no apply. As open source software's original goal was never "domination of the desktop", but more provide free alternatives that any may choose or not choose, then what possible effect can an enemy of Linux have on those who choose it?

    The real enemy of Linux specifically at this point is its success. Questions like how long can donated development co-exist with a deluge of commercial releases will make this a very interesting ride. But please, let's get off the track of us versus the world and who's with us and who's against us. []
  • I think he is wrong, to some extent, since he doesn't see the differences between Java and Linux.

    Linux has a dictator in Linus. He is a good dictator, since he has proven over and over again to make good decisions that are good for us all.

    Java has a dictator as well, Sun. If Sun made Java open source, the risk of fragmentation is high, because Microsoft wants nothing else than fragmentation of the Java movement, AND they have the channels to do it. They could just twist the Java source the way they want it to be (tied to Windows) and then ship it with every Windows box, which would make it turn up on perhaps 80% of all
    PC:s on this planet.

    No one else wants that, but that is what would happen if they just made Java open source.

    Linux doesn't have that risk hovering over its head, because MS is very unlikely to ever ship an incompatible Linux version to anyone.

    What Sun should do is to give the current Java 2 spec to ISO for standardization. That would be fast and pretty painless. Microsoft cannot fiddle with ISO. They tried 2 years ago and failed. After that there would be a standard base which all Java environments had to adhere to, and from there on Sun could let people innovate, by making the rest of Java open source.
  • because some of the codebase belongs to other companies. I got this from James Gosling who I chatted to last week (he was visiting this country).
    He said to me that Scott McNealy is pro OSS but at the moment his hands are tied up a bit by companies like SCO who are being sticky about the issue since they have some code in there. It made sense to me given the history of commercial *nix source - I think that Sun hasn't gone all the way with their source licensing but couldn't figure out why. Maybe it's because they can't just yet...
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Friday October 15, 1999 @11:09AM (#1610606) Homepage Journal
    is Sun an enemy? Or is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

    Why do they have to be either? They are a software developer. If they're smart, this is the first step in testing the waters of true Open Source. After all, they may find that Linux makes huge strides in some area that they want to pick up source from. If they move to a truely open license in the future, they will be able to do this.

    This makes them no more or less an enemy than BeOS. They are a software developer and have the same standing in the community as any other software developer give-or-take the quality of their code and the nature of their actions WRT the community.

    We must never drop to the level of "Not... us... must be... enemy! Must... KILL!" That department is well stocked with hundreds of companies of which the usuall ScapeGoat mentioned here on Slashdot is only the most successful. If Sun chooses to embrace a different path, we should not turn around and slap them in the face for it!
  • Ok, when anyone does anything, its generally because they see an advantage in it. RMS created FSF due to his morals, Linus created Linux because he was interested in it, etc. Sun would embrace the Open Source movement if it saw an incentive for it. The article basicly says.. Sun is inept by openning its code, but doesn't give it out freely for the developers to tweak. I don't see the incentive, I generally see the same people saying "Linux rules.. we'll kill all other UNIXes (and OSes)." That's one way to solve the UNIX frgmented market, I guess.

    Lets examine how SUN would make money (more money) off putting everything under the GPL or the BSDL. The Solaris/Sparc combination is highly used at ISPs because of stability and performance. Many of the same ISPs that use Sun boxes use FreeBSD on lower end PCs, because FreeBSD has great performance/stability, and can handle what a Sparc isn't needed for.

    Sun made Solaris's code open, which IMO was to make it easier for developers to write on the Solaris/Sparc platform, rather than getting them to go find bugs and enhance the OS. I doubt that if Sun made the OS open source, that anything more than leeching of code would take place, just like the Slashdot forums were full of comments about trying to GPL open source BSDs (for good and down right sickening reasons) when the BSDL changed. This merely improves Linux (& BSD), but on a range of platforms. Linux gets stabler, and now Sun has to deal with competing with PCs running an OS closing in on Solaris's quality, rather then NT which many have gripes towards. That, IMO, would increase compitition, and as PCs are dominent, it would not create a bigger market for Sun hardware.

    Lastly, if Sun did do that, its competetors (IBM, Compaq, Microsoft) could take the code too. That is, unless they use the GPL due to its restrictions, and thus taunt its competitors with access.. yet not without them opening up too. Instead, Sun is using the SCSL to help developers use its technologies, but Sun gets some revenue and doesn't see splintering. Sun never gave up its power over Java, and has bitterly fought Microsoft for trying to make it platform dependant. By opening its technologies under the SCSL, Sun also increases its market by not having increasesd compitition, but rather having more out there for customers.

    It could easily be argued that SUN would help the community by opening up, but when you look at the bottom line, I have not yet seen a good argument on why Sun's revenue would sky rocket. If someone has an answer, I'd love to see it.
  • I know. However, human nature makes that impossible. People will do something because they want to, or are forced to, or see something making it worthwhile. That's only logical, though not the best. Sure, I wouldn't want companies to use child labor (ie, Industrial Rev), but they saw money as the factor. Over time, enough workers protested to change that.. because it was in their interest not to have 16 or so hours a day, etc. A things can't come by saying.. I would hope man would be better.. because man only can when things lead up to it. The open source revolution is making open source a real option. In the 80s Sun never would have even used the SCSL, yet now they do. You keep on inching, and eventually you meet your goal.

    In that way, I think RMS was before his time, but in his time he was to extreme.. yet he did change the way people viewed software. I'm almost afraid to compare RMS to Marx (and if I get flamed, you better have actually read Marx).. but both changed people's views, seemed to understand in better detail then fellow revolutionaries (I guess you might say BSD) around him, and outlined away towards an eventual utopia, if you will. Sheesh, I'm fearing for my life because I said that. :-) Better shutup now.
  • I would think so.. but Bill Joy seems to ignore open source, and has adopted the idea that you use open source when playing with the little guys, and when you need the big ones, you go to Sun. That's why they support Linux, Sun believes that if your done playing, you get Solaris. Same with PCs. From the few times I've read Bill Joy make remarks on open source in recent press, he seems to have forgotten that he pioneered it, along with FSF and others. He did much of the work on BSD.. and its sad Sun went System V, because it seemed entirely for advertising rather then users (as many clung to SunOS and disliked Solaris..)
  • by NovaX ( 37364 )
    Learning by understanding their code (which is freely viewable), and then re-engineering it.. but.. that likely wouldn't work, because the developer is agreeing to certain conditions, and thus may make his code truly Sun's. That's why companies must inform developers that they cannot agree to such licenses or else the company may have to give Sun whatever code they create...

    Also, Sun does better SMP both because Solaris is superior in that area, and Sparc is far better than x86 in MP configurations. It would surely help, in general. But, licenses are always a problem.

  • I like to say "the enemy of my enemy is my entertainment".

    Regardless of whether they have our best in mind or not (and if they do their stock owners should sue management) the whole Sun and friends vs MS thing has great entertainment value.

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • > Regardless of how you feel about Sun, you have to admit, they do one thing better than Microsoft: turn on a dime.

    Microsoft does it just as well as Sun. Just look at the change in Microsoft toward the internet - their original policy was hostile toward it but one day Bill decides the internet is the 'next big thing' and suddenly *everything* Microsoft touches becomes 'internet aware'.

    The main reason Microsoft, Sun and Oracle can do this is that they all have a strong 'visionary' leading the company. Without this, all three companies would be the lunbering hulk that most corporations are.
  • Linux is definately cool, as are the ideas of open source. The problem is that, while the original goal of the Linux commmunity was most likely not to destroy Windows, it has become a goal of many Linux users to whom I have been exposed. Repeatedly on Slashdot, I see comments from "hardcore" Linux users (and those users of every other OS in existance, to be sure) who utterly despise every other OS in existance just because. They rarely ever see the strong points of another OS, even Windows (and no, I don't like Windows). Oftentimes, strict lines are drawn by people who are evangelizing their OS of choice, and Linux users are no exception.

    The same is the case with the so-called open source movement. Sun is a corporation that is testing the open source waters, just as Apple is doing with Darwin. The corporations need time to adapt to the various movements within the computer industry. The open source movement, by nature, is really hard to define. One person's view may be that Sun's Community Source License is just one more manifestation of the open source movement. Just because the GNU General Public License or the Artist's License are the only ones accepted as truly open source in your eyes doesn't mean that Sun isn't starting to see the benefits of open source.

    Anyway, enough of my ranting.
  • Sounds as if Brandt didn't receive any positive feedback from his original article. Well it is easier to complain than extoll, but if that is right, it is a shame: I rather liked the original piece, and he seems to be right on target in his analysis of how Sun has come to be the way it is today.

    Little factual error: he seems to think before the free *NIXes came along that Sun's offerings had achieved a total dominance amongst UNIXes. Not true: IRIX, SCO and AIX are still quite healthy in their respective user bases.

  • Sun is a buisness, Linux is not. Linux was meant to be free and Solaris is a licensed copyrighted product and is Suns flagship software. Asking Sun to give up control is a funny.

    The one serious problem with this statement is that Sun does not now nor has it ever made money from its software. Any doubt about that was quelled with the Solar System fiasco. At best Solaris helps sell Sun hardware; they sell more hardware (a lot more) by offering Solaris than not.

    Now, lots of lipwork has gone into the battle between Sun and Microsoft. But here's the thing: Sun's enemy isn't Microsoft. If anything Sun could to pretty well cooperating with Microsoft, leveraging their software expertise against Sun's hardware expertise. That they have not done so to date has been to their advantage in that they provide little encouragement to their customers to stop using Sun hardware. But for how much longer?

    Sun's problem isn't Microsoft and it never was. Sun's problem is Intel . Sun makes their money from hardware. They always have. They sold stuff that could do things almost nobody else could do at a terrific price point. The fact that it ran UNIX instead of Domain or VMS wasn't material to customers -- it was fast and cheap.

    The problem they have is that commodity hardware (Intel hardware) has improved to the point that there's not much you can do on Sun systems that you can't do on Intel systems -- but at a lower cost. Barring some reason not to do so people will tend to buy the cheaper stuff.

    One big reason Sun customers haven't jumped onto Intel stuff wholesale is that it was not all that easy to get UNIX software to run under Windows. But now there's this Linux thing: it's not hard at all to move Solaris-based software to Linux, and Linux provides many of the same benefits you'd get running Solaris. All that's missing is the really big hardware and Moore's law and the quest for more money is driving the Intel vendors that way at breakneck pace.

    We've seen this before. It's exactly how Digital took the market from IBM with its minis and how Sun took the market from Digital with its workstations. The question is not which one is better, it's which one is cheaper and still gets the job done.

    In the past few years a lot of prior Sun customers like myself started using NT. We did so not because we thought NT was better but because it was good enough and a lot cheaper. Now here's this Linux thing; we can have everything we always liked Sun for, but at a price even better than that of NT. I don't know about the rest of you, but that's pretty damn appealing to me. It may be why a quarter of engineers at my company run Linux today, a transition that happened in just the last couple of months.

    And that's Sun's problem in a nutshell. Intel-based systems are going to eat them alive, and Linux availability is going to make that happen far faster than it would if they were competing against vendors running only NT.

    Sun's "community source license" is a PR stunt, taking advantage of the momentum of open source in public perception. The licenses are a sham; you're welcome to help them but you can't make money off of it. That is not a sustainable position; one incentive for Open Source is that there is always the possibility that you can take what you did and make some money off of it. As we've seen there are certainly people making money off of Linux!

    Sun's lawsuit against Microsoft for dirtying Java is also a PR stunt. Have you actually used Microsoft's JVM? It's pretty good. If I were interested in suing people for dirtying the language I'd be suing Netscape in a flash because their JVM is a piece of crap. (Actually that should be plural. There are dozens of incompatible -- both with the Java standard and amongst themselves -- Netscape JVMs, and none of them are stable enough to use for real work.) That Sun went after the big boy Microsoft rather than the real core of the problem is rather illuminating in terms of their underlying motivation.

    I've been a Sun proponent for years, ever since my first exposure to the Sun2. But I can see the handwriting on the wall: Sun's position is untenable. Their life has been extended a few years by the explosion in large system demand caused by the Internet, but it is not sustainable. All this PR around their community license and whatnot is great in the short term but completely beside the point.

    jim frost

  • Software and hardware sales are interrelated, no question, but it is false to say that the software drives the hardware sales. That's true only in a stable, mature market.

    The problem is that the onslaught of ever faster, ever cheaper hardware lends automatic instability to the market. New hardware platforms show up that can do the same job for a lot less money -- and when that happens people first start building homegrown systems on it, then as system sales jump the software vendors get into it, then the network effect takes hold as the market matures.

    This isn't theory, we've seen it again and again. Why did people jump off of IBM 360 hardware in favor of the PDP and VAX hardware? Why did people jump off the VAX in favor of SPARC? Why are people using Intel hardware now when they used to use SPARC?

    Using history as a guide I'd estimate that software drives hardware until you hit a price/performance differential factor of about three. Then you see a platform jump.

    jim frost [mailto]

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @11:21AM (#1610617) Homepage Journal
    - is Sun an enemy? Or is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

    I'd say that talk of "enemies" is dangerous. Forget "enemies". Forget talk of "Beating Company X".

    Remember, the goal isn't for Linux to rule, or for FreeBSD to rule, are whatever. The goal is "Software that doesn't suck". Personally, I don't care who writes it, or what it is. It could be Windows. It could be Solaris. It could be Linux. Who cares? I just want it to work well, without being a hassle. And quite frankly, no OS I've used is there yet. In fifteen years, many of these religious wars will sound as stupid as the "C-64 vs. Apple ][+" debates that raged on the BBSes in 1984.

    Hell, if the long term of destiny Linux was nothing more than to force Microsoft to start competing by producing better software instead of using shady business practices, I'd call it a victory for all of us.

    If you want good software, well I'd say that the key is to stop worrying about "enemies" and instead:

    1) Write good software.
    2) Calmly and rationally explain the good points and bad points of any software you encounter.
    3) Promote development methods that promote good software.

    The only way Sun could be "The enemy", in my mind, is if they break the law. (By, for example, stealing GPL'd software.) Otherwise, they are just a company that may or may not have a product worth having. No need to worry unless you are buying.

    These stories remind me a lot of the alarmism about communism a couple decades back. The theory was that the free market was more efficient than communism. If you truly believed that, than there was no need to "fight" communism, as the free market, being more efficient, was bound to emerge victorious. Same goes here. If "Open Source" really does produce better software than the alternatives, then there is no need to fight for it. It will "win" on its own, and the companies that support it will survive. Those that don't, won't. All that is important is that we ensure that everyone fights fair.
  • How can a company make money from OSS?

    I read this great article explaining the business model of open source or free software. Probably one of the most important points is that something like 90% of all code is written in house. This means a large majority of software is written by people who work at a company with the intention of using it, not selling it.
    Therefore, a company like sun can release software open source, save time and money on the programming side, have better end results, and concentrate on their core business: hardware.
    Other companies will concentrate on service, and others on things like books.
    The point of open source software is not just good software...but software that does what you want-exactly what you want.
  • Well as Richard said, i think whats more important is better code, not more money. I know they have to make a living and their a great company, Im sure they do fine if they decieded to open up. they have alot of other products their working on. I just dont think companies need to base every decision on the money factor. I would hope the ultimate goal would be to better our society thu the use of computers running great software.
  • by c-A-d ( 77980 )
    AOL would be very smart to release an open source version of their access software. AFAIK, they only have Windoze versions available. If they really want to take on Microso~1, they need to expand their customer base. Providing Linux/Unix clients et al, would be a good start. Anyhow, that's my $0.02CND.... roughly 1/4 of a US penny..... :-)
  • My first reaction is to wonder what drugs you are on.... but that would be pointless and counter-productive. It would also be a rather ignorant responce to your comment...

    Instead, I expect to see your apology to the *nix community 6 months after the actual release of W2K for thinking that one product can be the answer to all computing needs.

    Every OS has it's place, thinking that any one OS can be the answer to all is rather ignorant. Even Linux doesn't belong everywhere. Besides, it's a much more interesting world when there is diversity.
  • by c-A-d ( 77980 )
    In retrospect, that is a good point.

    What I should have stated was that they should release a client for their network for a Unix box. Even a compiled object that could be recompiled for specific systems or something along those lines.

    Just an idea though. I'm guessing that they'd have to recompile for Linux, BSD, Solaris, et al...
  • Why was it wrong of them to do this? Linux "zealots" made a direct insult to their proffesionalism. A direct slap in the face. In feudal times this would result in a duel would it not? Why is it that Linux advocates are allowed to flame anyone they please and get away with this? The Linux community wasn't "misrepresented" it _was_ represented. Until all this "M$$$$ Evil Empire yadda yadda, Linux is superior! OSS now or die!" garbage goes away _that_ is how linux will be represented. This is how the majority of Linux advocates act.
  • Okay, Linux advocates (and I say advocates _not_ flamers, as pretty much everyone screamed "Mindcraft is a Microsoft posterior region kisser yadda yadda" ) insulted Mindcraft's proffesionalism. What should've been their response? From reading over the situation Mindcraft _bent_ backwards to clarify that even though they might've not made all the right tunings, their results were still for the most part valid. They worked their ass off with the Linux community, invited them into the lab, repeated the test at _their own_ expense. The tests proved the end result, NT wins in that scenario, Linux looses. Were they given the least bit of thanks? Did anyone apologize to them? No. As this time around nobody could scream "Oh it was a rigged test, they made the linux machine look bad" everyone simply dismissed it. So what about Mindcraft? They were insulted, had to pay for the second test. And what did they have to show for it?
  • I see, so the answer is Linux is "good enough" Hell if humanity was pleased with that we'd still be huddling in a cave next to a fireplace.
    Yes the test was funded by Micorosft. Mindcraft does this sort of testing for customers, not for their own personal entertainment. If Linux advocates wanted to prove them wrong in a different scenario why not have Redhat or whomever hire them for a different test? Or is all Linux advocates can do is scream injustice and flame?
  • I work on Sun boxes all day long, because Sun's advertising and salesreps convinced someone in my company, who wouldn't know a line of code from a line of Goethe, that our company would be better off paying for Solaris than running Linux.
    That's a problem, and not one that's going to go away while Sun looks to make a profit.
  • We need to be very careful of Sun. They seem to be hanging around and paying attention, but not really agreeing with what we're doing. They know the buzzwords, and they seem to know the philosophy, but the people making decisions are staying close enough for the magic to hopefully rub off, but definitely staying out of the range of the "Holy Penguin Pee".
  • ROFL that's the feeling i get when i see scott or oracle say anything. You're so correct it's untrollably funny when you say everything coming out of mcnealy's mouth is "MS this and MS that".

  • Isn't there already an oppurtunity for Java to fork due to clean-room implementations of the JVM like Japhar and Kaffe (under LGPL and GPL, respectively)? It's a notion that popped into my head a while back, never gave it too much thought, though.. I haven't looked at Java 2.0 (or even that Java compiler I think Cygnus came out with.. as you can tell I don't exactly stay "on top" of the Java scene ;), but I hear it was mostly bloat. A fork in Java might not be all that bad (slap a new name on it, of course), as avoiding bloat is good. ;)

  • Disclaimer: My views, as usual, are strong. I'm very much in the "free software" camp. Enjoy this post at your own leisure if you really care to hear what I have to say.. ;) (I'm also not quite awake.. not enough caffeine..)

    The difference between Free Software and Open Source advocates is that they use the same means for different ends.

    Precisely.. wrong. As explained by Stallman himself:

    Radical groups are known for factionalism: organizations split because of disagreements on details of strategy, and then hate each other. They agree on the basic principles, and disagree only on practical recommendations; but they consider each other enemies, and fight each other tooth and nail.

    For the Free Software movement and the Open Source movement, it is just the opposite on every point. We disagree on the basic principles, but agree on most practical recommendations. We work together on many specific projects.

    Now, on to the bulk of this post..

    Let me tell you about freedom.

    Perhaps I should begin by saying that there are several kinds of "freedom". For absolute fanatics (like the one you are arguing with, apparently, as they remind me of some BSD elitists I had the misfortune of speaking with.. note the difference between BSD user/proponent/advocate and elitist .. this is not a bland generalization on my part, as I am not including all those who like BSD), there is this cute little page [] which explains what "freedoms" the GPL is intended to impart. No one on the GPL side of the fence kids themselves: this is a restrictive license. However, the astute will notice that even a democracy such as the U.S. is not truly "free" in the strictest of terms. Pure anarchy would be much closer to being "free" in the way certain fanatics would scream out against the GPL. For those of you who think like that: get a life.

    Freedom is not being forced to do anything other than what is required to allow others them same freedoms. Not allowing modifications to software is stripping away freedoms that people should have.

    Before I begin, I think I should note that my political stance is between that of Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, leaning toward the former. I believe free software is better than proprietary software, and dislike using stuff that isn't under the GPL (except for simple things like PINE or PICO, which really don't need me to tinker with them, anyway). However, I understand the need for choice. BSD elitists will complain about the GPL. GPL elitists will complain about the BSD license. However, neither are as restrictive as most proprietary licenses. I must stress that he/she who produces the software is free to use any license they want. You don't like it? Who gives a fuck? No one forces you to use their license. No one forces you to use their software. It's your decision. If you don't like something, don't subject yourself to it. Complaining about it isn't going to make it go away. Elitists on either side of the fence on this issue usually are making arguements which, if they could make them a reality, would take away freedom from the other group. Freedom is about choice. Exercise that freedom, and let others get on with their lives. Otherwise you might as well be Joe Public complaining about how horrible television is and yet you continue to sit on your fat ass and watch it all day. Real productive.

    It is like saying you can't fix a chair if it is broken.

    Sort of, but not quite. Source code is what is used to create a given piece of software. If you take this arguement to its logical extreme, you're really complaining that when someone sells you a chair, they should also give you the tools necessary to build it (which would probably be what, an entire factory? heh). Also, you're missing the point that you can't really change a chair. A chair is a chair is a chair. It will always be a chair (or else a pile of useless wood if you get really angry.. or some other material if it's not wooden). Software, however, can evolve. And while some may think its a neat idea to put a third arm on a chair, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    Not allowing you to redristibute doesn't have much of a metaphor to real objects other than sharing. But if replicators are ever made, freedom might be an issue that we would all expect.

    Most uses of the term "freedom" are highly generalized. I would like to once again assert that there are several different kinds of freedoms, and obviously if you had some Star Trek-esque replicator people are going to have a hard time keeping you from replicating your chair and giving it to a neighbor. However, by the time our technology is that advanced, there won't be much of a market (or need for) chair makers, as we will by then have a strong market for companies who produce gadgets that fuck with molecular structures and what have you.

    As for not giving out source code. You can give source if you want. Just don't give me the binaries then either. I want source with my software because that is my right!

    Well, that's your right if the software in question is covered under the GPL or a similar licensing scheme. Contrary to popular belief (sort of), people can do with their code whatever they damn well please.

  • should read up just a little on the topics at hand before you shoot your mouth off like that? I believe you should bother yourself to check out this page [] which defines what "free software" is and what freedoms it is meant to bestow upon you (as there is definitely more than one kind of "freedom" in the world), and that page [] which goes out of its way to explain the difference between "open source" and "free software". It's almost like getting hit by a clue-by-four, one might say..

    If you're still not clue-aware after that, you can go ahead and read this post []. If your attention span is too short for that, I'll sum it up with this basic question: who precisely forces you to license your software under the GPL, use GPL'ed software, or modify GPL'ed software? That said, why must you release your source because RMS "said so"? You can certainly use another license or piece of software, don't you think?

  • I love hearing how OSS and free software is great. I agree a lot of it is. But one thing I have not seen is ANYONE from the OSS/free software camp inform a corporation that is trying (with whatever grain of salt you want ot take it) to move in that area while still making money on the product.

    Sun is a public coporation. Therefore Scott & co have a fiscal and legal responsibility to shareholders. Solaris and Java licensing contribute to Sun's profit margin. I have yet to see anyone propose how to minimalize the impact to Sun's bottom line. If RMS or ESR can I'm sure Sun would love to listen, because they win a lot of fans. However, until that is done, the board at Sun's hands are tied, because if they decrease their bottom line without justification (ie loss now for future revenues) then the board can be sued by the shareholders for fiscal damage. Not a position I'd want to be in.

    Every time the radicals (I'm not saying all OSS/Free software advocates) yell at public companies that normally make money on a product to replace it, consider what I've mentioned above.

  • I have a great and not so original idea, use the software that works the best for you. I only use software that works for *me*, I couldn't give a rats ass who makes it, if it proprietary, community source, etc. In the end i'm using the maker of the software, if they don't deleiver I won't use it. I'm the bad guy, the enemy, companies/open source software developers can't make me use anything, I use want I want to and throw away the rest. Eric (Just a view from the demand side of things to show anther side of things. Microsoft is successful because people buy their stuff, if nobody bought their stuff, they would disapear almost over night).
  • IMO real open source is where you *first* make it OSS and maybe try to make money off it later. Linux started out as a "small project" Linus wasn't thinking about how he could make money, now later companies like RH or Debian are making money off of it. Sun wants to *first* make money and second get good PR from writing OSS that they get *more* money. IMO the eneny of my enemy is my friend, but not in a grand melee (software *is* every man for himself) I think that Sun is thinking: The enemy of my enemy is a tool to be used and destroyed later... Still, Sun is not IMHO powerful enough to be a real threat (we have to accept some normal competition). M$ is because they have a monopoly. All Linux users and OSS developers should stop worring and pointing fingers and keep writing that great code!

    Did you mean 'hacker' or 'cracker'?
    Do you know the diffrence? I don't think you do.

  • To be completely honest, I am not an Open Source Zealot. The only reason I support Linux is because it's NO WHERE near as crash-prone as Windows. I don't doubt that Solaris is just as stable.

    I have a tremendous deal or respect for Sun. If they were to say, usurp this "monopoly" from Microsoft, I seriously would NOT care. Why not? Because it's not the monopoly that bothers me. If Sun can get a product that WORKS to dominate the market, more power to 'em.

    But that's me.
  • Does he even know how to turn a computer on? How is this guy running a company? Oh wait he was the non technically person surronded by a bunch of nerds, so hey, he should run the company. Everything coming out of that guy's mouth is M$ this M$ that, I think he has a non sexual crush on Bill Gates and is afraid to admit it. Do us all a favor and come out of the closet or else keep your trap shut.
  • by adamthornton ( 101636 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @08:35PM (#1610637) Homepage
    You've got a point that IBM nearly dealt a death blow to VM by witholding its source. But then, IBM's been trying to kill VM for a long time. Too bad it's the only way to run MVS^WOS/390 second-level, huh?

    Nevertheless, if I had to pick *one* large company right now that "gets" Open Source, and isn't attempting to cash in on it as a cynical ploy to get a lot of cannon fodder to throw at MS, it'd be IBM.

    IBM is finally remembering that it is, and has always been, a service company, not a hardware, and not a software company. And, of course, there's the article over at Linux Today--I tipped /. off to it, but they haven't deigned to acknowledge the same: that IBM has ported Linux to the S/390 []. I know that some really smart people have been doing the same on their own: Linas Vepstas and friends []. IBM would gain a lot from bundling Linux with a VM distribution, of course: that would stanch some of the flow of people off mainframes onto Unix boxes. Further: what are mainframes good at? That's right, I/O. What do you need for a heavily trafficked web site? Hunh. Funny thing that. An S/390 running Apache would be something to see. And for those of us who much prefer VM to OS/390...well, it'd be pretty nice if Linux/390 sat on top of VM but not OS/390. Especially if it could also run on the bare iron, so those of us with Linux boxes plus Hercules could run it at home, just for the "hey, wow!" factor.

    I view Sun's latching on to Open Source as a self-evidently cynical ploy to get some attention. But as long as they are primarily software/hardware providers, they can't *really* get behind the penguin, because it's going to cut into their Solaris market. Watch: I give Star Office six months, and then they kill the standalone versions and only develop the Java client, which you can only use with the (Solaris-only, I bet) server piece, which will cost real money.

    IBM, on the other hand, makes most of its money on service. Open Source is great for them, since it means they don't need to pay developers to write the stuff. They've got an army of people doing it for them, for free. And since their plan wasn't to make money selling the software in the first place, then it doesn't hurt them to give it away. They still sell you the service on it.

    I don't trust Sun. They have every reason to turn around and screw us when the opportunity strikes. IBM, at least, has fewer such reasons.


  • you make some good points here but your argument seems to suffer from over simplification. "In the end, no it doesn't. Linux will stand or fall on it's own, no matter WHAT Sun or Microsoft do" as one of the bigger players in the market place sun does not operate in a vacum. sun's actions in any direction impact other companys. changes in strategies can come about in one organization from anothers actions. i concede that does not neccessarily mean the demise of one corp. or a drastic change in operations in another corp. but adjustments are made. always. take Linux for example. since its inrto in the market, corps. are taking a different look at things. lets take sun; it could be argued that if it weren't for Linux the SCSL would have never happened. sure they had opened up java well before Linux came around. but open java served a neccessary purpose. Flip side of the coin...what if Sun comes out tomorrow and starts open distribution of Solaris. " It will be THEY who are affected by Sun's stance, not GNU, not Linux, not the OSI, not even the moons of Saturn." I know free Solaris is unlikely, but i think it would be a poor assessment to say that it won't impact Linux, m$, IBM, HP, or anyone else if it were to happen. the impact could be positive or negative on any of these and many other companies. however, i agree with you that Sun's understanding of open source is irrelevant. a company's responsibilty is to increase stockholder equity. and i think sun is just trying to do their job. there is much to be said about "If Sun go the OSS route, they have long-term survival. If they don't, they won't". customers want stability, uniformity, backwards compatibility. the statement is too drastic to say that by not following OSS, clients will just dump Sun. I agree that a "complete dump" is a posibility , a remote one, but a possibility. however it could take years, may be a decade or two. And even then the Linux community or others would have to come up with products and services that not only meet but excede Sun's. "the major decisions of top-ranking companies don't move mountains" only explosions move mountains, and only in relatively small pieces. but corp. decisions can impact elections, economies, and more importantly, you and i. if diamler chrysler lays off thirty thuosand people (a major corporate decision) it is unlikely that america or the rest of the world would wake up w/o expos facto changes, in the stock market, car prices, and the direct impact on famiiles. i have been without a job for an extended period of time before. and when i did get a job it seemed as though a mountain had been lifted off my shoulders.
  • I work as an admin at a major telecom. We use Solaris for part of our network. One of the main reasions is the security. While open source code is great it also alows for security flaws to be found quicker. Sun spends a lot of time searching their code for flaws (they also let a select few from large companies look at relivent code). This tightness is very useful to a company that needs to keeps files and access to switches secure. Another reason is that the switches can only be controled (legaly anyway) by software that will only run on solaris. Each operating systems has it's streangths and weaknesses, and by using a correct combination of those operating systems a company can have a better network then by just using one operating system.
  • Is that what open source/free software is, an ideal? Merely that? If so then I recommend extreme caution. There is a real world out there and open source is going to have to measure up in a business model sense as well as in other ways. It has to stand on its own merit and prove itself viable (so far it seems to be far). Communism was (is) an ideal as well but competition from a seemingly superior "ideal" (ie. democracy and open market economy) brought its major exemplar too its knees. Remember glasnost, perestroika, the fall of the Berlin wall? What's a ruble worth? This isn't meant as a flame just a reminder. Ideals are easily subverted because they are ideals ie. because they are abstract and removed from reality (check out "idealism" and "realism" in any dictionary). And calling something an ideal doesn't bestow upon it any mystical worthiness. Note, I am not trying to liken Open source to Communism, just trying to point out that ideals aren't always practical or desirable. Marx and Lenin certainly thought that Communism was good and an ideal to be strived for. History seems to have proved them wrong.

    That being said I must agree that Sun's tactics are "disgusting". There are words to describe their behaviour but I hesitate for fear of being moderated.... Oh hell, moderate me if you have to, but the term "Cock Teaser" while maybe an easy analogy seems to be also an especially apt one.

  • I like this attitude. It is reasonable, inoffensive, and downright Taoist in all the good ways. It is a perspective that is polite, while focusing on the truly important things.

    Everyone should learn from reading ucblockhead's comment.

    Software that doesn't suck is the ideal, as he says.

    However, we are also talking about human minds here. Our standard methodologies of commercialism have spent the better part of this century learning how to manipulate these minds into buying products, and doing things a particular way, and expecting the markets to work in particular ways. If someone who looks credible appears on T.V., say, and says that this is the only way to do things, most people will believe it, especially if other ways of doing things are not even meantioned. Because of this, superior methods might often be ignored.

    Remember, Open Source is a movement (with software that doesn't suck as its stated goal). And it is the responsibility of a movement to advertise itself, or risk dying.

    In short, feasability and pragmatism aren't the only things governing the success of ideas. Propaganda plays a major role.

    "So far, I have not found the science" - Soul Coughing
  • It is true that the SCSL doesn't satisfy the requirements of the Open Software Definition ( and is too restrictive. But IMHO, from a legal document perspective, it is the best-written and complete open or semi-open source license. I've read through them all lately (fun oh fun), and the rest have some significant problems. I can also relate to Sun on open sourcing. I'm currently working at a large company and am trying to open source some technology. Getting through legal is a challenge though, and they have raised some valid intellectual property and liability issues. I'm sure I will work through these, but it is not straightforward.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.