Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Java IoT

Open Source Cloud: Article

Flashback to '04: "Let Java Go" – ESR Writes Open Letter to Sun

"'Mr. CEO, tear down that wall," pleads Eric Raymond

  • Read this Open Letter in its original version at Eric Raymond's Web site
  • Read a previous Open Letter from ESR published at LinuxWorld
  • The open-source community has been hearing reports that you have recently said of Sun Microsystem's strategy "The open-source model is our friend". We're glad to hear that, and Sun's support of OpenOffice.org certainly puts some weight behind the claim. But that support is curiously inconsistent, spotty in ways which suggests that Sun is confused in the way it thinks about and executes its open-source strategy.

    That confusion is evident in another of your quotes. Many of us think you are right on when you say that "Sun [...] is less threatened by a zero-revenue model for software than just about anybody out there." We agree that the potential for you in using open-source software as a value multiplier for Sun's hardware business is huge. This wouldn't even be a novel move for Sun; your release of the NFS standards in 1984 was possibly the single most successful market-shaping maneuver in your company's history, and we'd love to help you repeat it.

    But the casual equation between "open source" and "zero revenue" suggests that on another level you don't really know what you're talking about. Open source is hardly a zero-revenue model; ask Red Hat, which had a share price over triple Sun's when I just checked. Or ask IBM, which is using Linux as a lever to build a huge systems-integration business in markets like financial services that Sun has historically owned.

    It doesn't have to be this way. If Sun were prepared to go all the way with open source it could seize back its position of industry leadership. Sun is one of a small handful of companies that would both have the smarts and the street cred to do even better than IBM has from a full-fledged alliance with the open-source community. Indeed, on historical grounds you might do better; many of the senior people in the movement are old-time Unix hackers who remember that Sun was founded by geeks like us at a time when IBM was the Great Satan.

    But Sun has done other things that make us wonder if the vision and courage to choose the open-source path are really there. The suspicion persists that OpenOffice.org is just an expedient way to poke Microsoft in the eye, not the cutting edge of a open-source-friendly strategy that will position Sun for the future. Matters aren't helped by the fact that Sun appears, with Microsoft, to be one of the two companies doing most to stuff SCO's war chest for its attack on Linux.

    In 1987, three years after the success of NFS, Sun lost the war to define the standard graphics interface for the next generation. The winner, the X Window System, was technically inferior to Sun's NeWS offering. But X had one critical advantage; it was open source. Ten years later in 1997, when Bill Joy came to a Linux conference to push Jini as a universal network-service protocol, we in the open-source community told him straight up "You can have ubiquity or you can have control. Pick one." He picked control, and Jini failed in its promise. The contrast with NFS could hardly be more stark.

    Today, the big issue is Java. Sun's insistence on continuing tight control of the Java code has damaged Sun's long-term interests by throttling acceptance of the language in the open-source community, ceding the field (and probably the future) to scripting-language competitors like Python and Perl. Once again the choice is between control and ubiquity, and despite your claim that "open source is our friend" Sun appears to be choosing control. Sun's terms are so restrictive that Linux distributions cannot even include Java binaries for use as a browser plugin, let alone as a standalone development tool.

    Mr. CEO, tear down that wall. You have millions of potential allies out here in the open-source community who would love to become Java developers and users if it didn't mean ceding control of their future to Sun. If you're serious about being a friend of open source, if you're serious about preparing Sun for the future we can all see coming in which code secrecy and proprietary lock-in will no longer be viable strategies, prove it. Let Java go.

    Eric S, Raymond
    President, Open Source Initiative
    12 Feb 2004

    More Stories By Eric S. Raymond

    Eric Raymond, usually known in the Open Source community simply by his initials, ESR, is President, Open Source Initiative.

    Comments (45)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    IoT & Smart Cities Stories
    Moroccanoil®, the global leader in oil-infused beauty, is thrilled to announce the NEW Moroccanoil Color Depositing Masks, a collection of dual-benefit hair masks that deposit pure pigments while providing the treatment benefits of a deep conditioning mask. The collection consists of seven curated shades for commitment-free, beautifully-colored hair that looks and feels healthy.
    The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
    The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
    We all love the many benefits of natural plant oils, used as a deap treatment before shampooing, at home or at the beach, but is there an all-in-one solution for everyday intensive nutrition and modern styling?I am passionate about the benefits of natural extracts with tried-and-tested results, which I have used to develop my own brand (lemon for its acid ph, wheat germ for its fortifying action…). I wanted a product which combined caring and styling effects, and which could be used after shampo...
    The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
    There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
    Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
    At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
    Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
    BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.