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Linux Viewpoint: Sun Shows Its True Colors, Says Groklaw's "PJ"

Linux Viewpoint: Sun Shows Its True Colors, Says Groklaw's "PJ"

If you are still in doubt as to Sun's plans for the future, particularly its relationship with Open Source and the GPL, you will find an eWeek interview with Jonathan Schwartz helpful. Here's part of what he said:

"Should we license technology from Microsoft, it would clearly advance the interests, for example, of the Java Desktop System, and if that's running on Linux, then that obviously helps the underlying Linux community as well as the overall growth and viability of open-source technology.

"Just remember, ....RealPlayer's not open-source, but its availability certainly enhances the value of our Java Desktop System.

"There is work done in the open-source community to advance StarOffice, but certainly Sun stands behind and indemnifies StarOffice. To the extent that we license protocols from Microsoft, we would be including them in StarOffice-and not obviously distributing them free of charge-just as we do today with RealPlayer.

"There is nothing that precludes us from taking the protocols we license from Microsoft and incorporating them into our products. Now, where those products run is up to Sun. So, if we take a license from Microsoft, there's nothing that precludes us from incorporating that technology into our Java Desktop System. "

So there you have it. It looks like Sun is indeed going to re-run Caldera, right down to creating a Linux distro (Java Desktop) with lots of proprietary addons in an attempt to enforce per-seat/per-employee licensing. Deja vu all over again. And it hopes we will all be foolish enough to not care about the GPL and thus forsake Red Hat and SuSE, etc. Dream on, Sun, dream on. The real question is, when that fails, then what will Sun do?

Schwartz attacks Red Hat:

"It's a naive analysis of the open-source community that says it's all about forking over source code. It's not—it's about building community, about making investments in marketing, in developing technologies that run on, with and through the open-source community. We have a very long history of working with the open-source community.

"Despite some of our peers in the industry who hire people with titles like evangelist, our folks have titles like developer and architect, and they go work with the open-source community to build technologies and solutions that solve customers' problems.

"I would point back to the Java Desktop System as evidence of the work we've done with the GNOME community, the Mozilla community and the Linux community to really bring products to market that don't just add more lumps of source code into the source tree but deliver value to customers so that they want to inject money into an ecosystem and make it self-sustaining and profitable."

Sick to your stomach yet? He doesn't mind Novell, he says on page two, because he and Microsoft share a common view, and he thinks competition is a good thing:

"Novell's participation in the market is a good thing, because it validates the market as creating an opportunity for more than simply one company. So, I welcome the competition. To us, it's really emblematic of the nature of the relationship we have with Microsoft, which is a deeply held belief that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that interoperability between Sun and Microsoft grows the overall market for both of our products rather than advantages one company versus another."

Microsoft? That Microsoft? The one twice found guilty of antitrust violations? That Microsoft believes that a rising tide lifts all boats? Is Sun in for a shock someday.

He is totally into DRM, and authentication, and autoupdate, and it's all about market share. Here is a hint as to how to block them, should you care to:

"So, with interoperability and a focus on ease of use, we're trying to use both StarOffice as well as Java Studio Creator to create a broader market opportunity and add interoperability to that mix. It's about growing the largest market possible, trying to help build the biggest tent atop all the developers in the world rather than forcing people to go make choices that may preclude their opportunities. . . .So, I am very convinced, with Steve, that he who has the most customers—and I would just add developers into that—is ultimately going to be the long-term winner. "

They don't have the biggest tent if developers stay away. And if you are in the mood to throw up, here's a couple of sentences that just might do it:

"We're going back to pub-sub, and we're moving away from a concept of 'I'm going to go to a Web site and pick up content.' The pull model of computing—the days are numbered. . . . At the end of the day, that's great [Sun's competition with Microsoft] for customers. The fact that we're committed to interoperability means either choice is a safe choice. We're very bullish on the future of the network and very bullish on the future of intellectual property in open source as well as in open standards to continue to drive that opportunity."

Excuse me? The "future of intellectual property in open source"? We certainly can't complain that they were confusing or schizo here. It's plain as day. It's going after Red Hat. It doesn't support the GPL. It will push open standards as being what you really want, not open source. Sun thinks  that we won't care, as long as it's easy and fun. Itintends to be the substitute for free/open source software. Here you go: Brand X Linux. And it intends to destroy the Internet. If you think that sounds wonderful, stop and consider that if Sun gets its way, there would never be a Groklaw. Microsoft never did get the Internet. It thinks all we want to do is buy stuff. So, that's their plan, Stan.

I had a chance to take a look at Sun's Java Desktop evaluation CD, thanks to a friend who used to be a Java developer, until he got the CD and noticed the same thing I noticed when I tried it. First, there isn't any sign on the cover that there is anything GPL inside, even though there is plenty. It does mention Linux and the GPL VERY briefly in the command window during bootup, but it is so brief, unless you were paying very close attention, you could easily miss it. There is also a rather draconian EULA as you boot into the system that mentions absolutely nothing about the GPL anywhere and expressly forbids you from making copies of the CD. There is a brief mention of a third-party licenses directory in the EULA text. You really could get the CD and run it without ever knowing it had anything GNU/Linuxy in it or that the GPL provides you with guaranteed freedoms that Sun would like you not to know you have. My friend tells me he will no longer do any Java development. He was about to recommend to his boss that they do some Java Desktops, but now he intends to recommend only a distro that acknowledges its roots.

Are you convinced yet, all you folks who send me e-mail about how Sun really is supportive of the Open Source community? Not yet? Then how about this article in eWeek, where Schwartz calls Red Hat a "proprietary" Linux? He says they forked and now CIOs are noticing that "Red Hat has pretty much forked the distribution" so now they realize "open source does not equal open standards. Open standards, which Sun has always supported, are better. Proprietary open source [like RHEL] can come back and bite you."

Naturally, Red Hat responds, and so does Linus and neither agrees with Sun:

"Informed of the comments, Red Hat spokesman Leigh Day offered that 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux is licensed under the GPL, and we're totally open source.'

'"[Red Hat is] not proprietary,' Day continued. 'We are fully committed to open source and our code reflects that. Red Hat has no proprietary software built in our distribution. Our core strategy is built on open source and we will not deviate from that strategy.' . . .

"In addition, Linus Torvalds, Linux's founder, considers Red Hat Linux to be Linux. 'Sure, RH definitely has their own vendor kernel, but it's not proprietary, and a number of the top Linux kernel contributors are Red Hat employees,' Torvalds said."

Time to think about OpenOffice and Sun pulling a SCO someday, gang. Remember that patent they put into their Linux distro, Mad Hatter? Time to think. It is thinking, but in old-fashioned ways, about mo' money, and it will fail there too, of course. Sun has made its choice and opted for The Way Things Used To Be. It's a new world, and Sun is not in it.

More Stories By Pamela Jones

Known to millions of online readers as "PJ," Pamela Jones is the editor and moderator of Groklaw. They also know her as the heart of the open-source community's legal battle against litigation aimed at the Linux kernel and other free and open-source software.

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Most Recent Comments
Sceptic 10/26/04 08:16:00 AM EDT

PJ, have you the power to delete dissenting comments here as you do on your own blog?

linuxworld reader 10/26/04 01:18:00 AM EDT

More stories please. Anything. Keep em coming PJ. I found the link on GL

dravine 05/24/04 09:47:15 AM EDT

Bob - Perhaps I was unclear in my original post. I don't write java applications, but I do have the misfortune of using them frequently. The Eclipse project is probably one of the more well known projects, and it is certainly one of the best examples of Java development out there. It's certainly the most stable Java app that I've ever used, but it's still slow. And before you write something like "well if you run java on a 386 it's gonna be slow!", I thought I'd give you a rundown of what I run this app on. I've got a 2.4Ghz P4, 30 Gig UDMA5 hard drive, and 384 megs of ram, which is why I think it's the tool at fault.

I guess I'm just of the opinion that there are a lot better technologies out there to build apps on, at least for apps that are designed to run client side. I've lately been using a lot of apps written in C++ using the wxWindows toolkit. These apps run way faster than java apps, and still retain cross platform capabilities which make java so appealing.

I don't completely hate java, I just don't feel that it's implemented very well right now. Server side java, such as JSP seems to be much further along the development path that client side java, which is my biggest bitch about the technology.

Bob 05/21/04 05:36:15 PM EDT

dravine commented on 28 April 2004:

"Java is a load of garbage, flat out. I use it every day, and I hate it every day. Apps written in java are slow, and unstable, so all this java support is really pointless. Yes, java lets you write something that runs on many platforms, and it sucks on all of them equally."

Woah.. there's an interesting viewpoint. "I create crap with this tool everday - therefore, it must be the tool that's at fault." Hey Buddy, did you ever stop to think it might not be the tool that's the problem?

- BA

FUTURE 04/30/04 11:28:43 PM EDT

I reallize that Sun is closed to Microsoft.
Sun is so risky.

Microsoft's jump to High End Server now.
How Sun can survy in the future?
Sun will lost the market in the future.
Microsof will say, "MS Server is cheaper & Better than Sun Unix Server".
How Sun can sell their Unix server any more?

What Sun's really want to do now?
Such as People say that " Sun is giving up its Future.
So disappointed.

After Sun help Microsoft success in the world, can Sun sell expensive Unix Server any more? Can Sun sell thier Java Desktop any more? Can Sun have billions dollars sales volume? No. No. No.

What Sun's bond holder can get? nothing.
What Sun's Expert can do? Go to Microsoft? On there, Microsoft can give you money. On there, it is your home.

Byebye Sun

Joseph Brenner 04/30/04 02:00:03 PM EDT

closed source programmer commented on 28 April 2004:

"(1) I pay big taxes at gunpoint. (2) The money gets sent to universities and other non-profits (e.g., FFRDCs, national labs). (3) They take my labor and turn it into GPLed (not BSD licensed) software that I cannot use without giving away all the IP I developed at my own expense. "

Hm, now consider the BSD situation. You get paid to do "research" at a publically funded institution, so you release your code under the BSD. Everyone gets interested in your code, because it's under an OS license, they don't worry about vendor lock-in. Then you leave the institution, form a company, and do a proprietary fork of the code.
Congradulations! You got the government to fund your start-up company. (Which then makes only a tiny amount of
money, and staggers along for awhile before going belly up,
and years later someone finally picks up the old BSD version off of the floor and starts maintaining it again.)

Be a history 04/29/04 11:29:34 AM EDT

Sun get married with Microsoft.
Everyone seen it.
Such as people say that "Sun give up his future"
So disappointed.

Case is so simple.
After Sun help Microsoft to win the market, what Sun can do?
Can Sun have billion dollars sales volume again? No.
What Sun's bond holder will get? Nothing.
Where Sun expert can do/go? Goto Microsoft.
There is your home.

Byebye Sun.

Sid Boyce 04/29/04 08:58:52 AM EDT

elmer commented:
I think you just shot your credibility wad there buddy. Sun is undeniably behind in the CPU wars, but it's ridiculous hyperbole like yours that illustrates the often repeated chorus: there's no pleasing a GPL Zealot. Hell, Sun could Open Source Solaris tomorrow, and if it wasn't GPL y'all would be claiming it was just a publicity stunt.
I'm talking from decades of experience, I've worked on Sun boxes up to E10K providing Technical Support worldwide. I've likewise worked on, supported and taught Fujitsu SPARC boxes up to Primepower 2500, the latest out there. I've also taught and supported IBM and Amdahl mainframes. I know the differences in performance, resilience and reliability of both the software and hardware on those platforms, so I'm not dreaming up a position. I worked diligently on all platforms, but the differences are starkly there to see - I take the cash from all of them happily.
To the point of the so-called Java Desktop, no one has asked Sun to do Linux, they've made that choice for survival reasons and still have to fire thousands of employees. The ZEALOTS are the ones who insist on using GPL code as a substantial base, then try to make it proprietary. Sun could have licensed Windows if they wanted a proprietary platform, they could have stuck with Solaris. If you don't like the license, avoid it, but it is hypocracy of the highest order to make use of the GPL and try to denigrate it - like priests in a pulpit belting out venomous sermons against fornication and sodomy of which they are consumate practitioners. Sun and others expect to do as they wish with their proprietary software, but would deny the GPL sofware writers the same rights.

beachdog 04/28/04 01:11:31 PM EDT

Thanks to the previous posters for many insightful comments.

Remember the Scott McNealy cover story and interview in Linux Journal two years ago? .

You can see in the quotes of Mr. McNealy that Sun corporate leadership is caught in a swamp of "business-speak". From the article I got the feeling that Scott is a really forceful guy that can dominate his entire board of directors with this un-answerable snarl of ideas called "business-speak".

It sounds like Sun's business appproach is still a shaky jumble.

The damage done to Java by Microsoft when it was loosely licensed is an intensely negative event for Sun. Sun has never found an intellectual path to GPL Java because of that damage..

Trailer Trash 04/28/04 11:01:50 AM EDT

Quick pop quiz: who makes the most money from Java? Sun, right? Wrong. It's IBM.

Sun sells Java, but IBM sells services around it, and they make a ton of money doing it.

It's difficult to sell the idea, but had Sun completely opened Java and set up a services business around it, they might be farther ahead than they are now. I say "might" because IBM already had a large services business built, etc., but let's face it, they had to start somewhere.

My main problem with Sun is the whole "we're open and you're not" thing, which they started years ago and then segued into a "we're kind of like open source and you're not" when that was the big buzzword. They've always been a proprietary software company and probably always will be. That's fine, that's their gig, I just want them to be honest about it.

closed source programmer 04/28/04 10:41:02 AM EDT

(1) I pay big taxes at gunpoint. (2) The money gets sent to universities and other non-profits (e.g., FFRDCs, national labs). (3) They take my labor and turn it into GPLed (not BSD licensed) software that I cannot use without giving away all the IP I developed at my own expense. This is all very Stallmanist.

Răzvan Corneliu VILT 04/28/04 10:36:54 AM EDT

I personally am a fan of both Red Hat and Sun Microsystems, but I'm dissapointed of the fact that they do NOT provide the sources of their java desktop system. They modified GNOME a lot and as it's GPL/LGPL they have to make the sources available on the net. They didn't. FSF didn't react to this. I've sent them multiple mails for the gnome patches they used and got no answer. This IS disapointing. They did provide only the sources to the gnome 2.0 they used in solaris.

About Red Hat, their strategy is very clear. Almost all the major GNU/Linux distributions out there do not offer a way to get them for free from day 1. Red Hat does. For RHEL you only have to recompile-it, and Fedora is available for everyone. Red Hat is perfectly open source from my point of view.

elmer 04/28/04 10:32:46 AM EDT

Sid Boyce commented:

"They've lost the hardware battle with their lack of foresight and talent, producing stuff that is 20 odd years behind and proclaiming it as the latest greatest."

So you're saying that multi-threaded cores were available from everyone but Sun in 1984?

I think you just shot your credibility wad there buddy. Sun is undeniably behind in the CPU wars, but it's ridiculous hyperbole like yours that illustrates the often repeated chorus: there's no pleasing a GPL Zealot. Hell, Sun could Open Source Solaris tomorrow, and if it wasn't GPL y'all would be claiming it was just a publicity stunt.

thunt 04/28/04 10:00:27 AM EDT

Waaaaaaa! You won't give us your source code! Waaaaa! Things aren't the way I want them to be! Waaaaaaa! Sun want's to make money. Waaaaaa! I have nothing better to do than bitch about things that I only think I have a clue about! WAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

dravine 04/28/04 09:56:49 AM EDT

Actually, I don't code in java, nor would I want to. If you look at very mature projects written using java such as Eclipse (www.eclipse.org) you can find examples of decent java code, but it still has it's fundamental flaws.

I won't argue that there is a responsibility with the programmer to optimise the code, and I'm not going to argue that you can't make java do certain things fast, but when it comes right down to it, there is still the VM sitting there taking up resources that could be used more efficiently if these apps were compiled to run natively.

I can understand why java became popular in the 90's, but if anything OS has proven that it isn't necessary. Look at how many Linux apps run on almost any hardware, and most of them have been ported to other operating systems with few problems. Look at the windows port of the Gimp for instance.

WillAtMH 04/28/04 09:52:31 AM EDT

"Now add Oracle to that little trio. Kinda looks and feels like MS/Sun/Oracle are carving the market up against Big Blue doesn't it?"

Last I heard, Ellison hated M$.

phil 04/28/04 09:47:20 AM EDT

Despite some of our peers in the industry who hire people with titles like evangelist, our folks have titles like developer and architectHe must have forgotten Gilad Bracha, who is a Computational Theologist at Sun. :-)

rjamestaylor 04/28/04 09:43:28 AM EDT

Sun has shot itself in its foot (again) with the Java Desktop
System, which is more about technologies other than Java than it is about Java,
but that's the point, isn't it? See, Sun killed its chances of marketing their
Linux distribution by calling it "Java" Something. Java is so 1990s.
So dot com.

But the desktop is about Linux and Gnome and Ximian and ... oh yeah, it runs
Java stuff, and python and perl and mono and C and C++ and Fortran and...

Techies aren't fooled. Non-techies eyes glaze when they hear Java. The buzz is
Linux. The buzz is GPL. SCO's audacious claims roused even more interest in
Linux and the GPL. Not "Java." If Sun weren't focused on their
reflection in the mirror they'd come out with StarLinux by Sun to capitalize on
StarOffice. I'm not saying it's great or would suceed, but it'd be a heck of a
lot better than Java Desktop.

But, then, Sun is on the wrong side of the SCO/Linux debacle, aren't they. Clueless, the Sun folk.

No wonder the Joy has left Sun.

Michael H. Collins 04/28/04 09:33:37 AM EDT

Thanks for making me sick this early with all those quotes from Sun. I could tell this was going to happen when Sun announced its white box linux at LinuxWorld a few years ago. It has come completely to fruition now. Most of those quotes sound like they came from MS spin Doctors.

Keep up the good work.

JavasCool 04/28/04 09:29:21 AM EDT

Don't blame the language, blame the developer. Plenty of fast Java apps out there. Plenty of benchmarks showing Java beating the crap out of g++ (not gcj, g++, that's right, the c++ compiler).

When programmers write slow c++ programs, they blame themselves and figure out how to optimize their code. When the same people write slow Java programs they blame the language. Go learn to do Java optimization!

dravine 04/28/04 09:01:57 AM EDT

Ok, Java is a load of garbage, flat out. I use it every day, and I hate it every day. Apps written in java are slow, and unstable, so all this java support is really pointless. Yes, java lets you write something that runs on many platforms, and it sucks on all of them equally. Yay for java.

The idea of writing a desktop in java gives me the chills.

As far as Sun being a contributor to the OS community, I've got mixed opinions of that. Wow, they gave us star office. Do any of you remember how much star office 5.2 sucked? There was no way Sun would devote enough coders to fix that pile of crap. No one would buy it, also because it sucked. So what choice did they have? Now, they take the OOo code, add some commercial crap to it, and they can sell it, and while it is still bloated, it sucks less by several orders of magnitude.

As far as Sun giving Java away, whooopdie doo. As far as I'm concerned, it would a travesty for them to try to charge for it.

Sheesh, next thing you know, sun will be selling a JavaOS (don't even try it, I'm filing for a copyright this instant) ;)

JoeBob 04/28/04 08:59:30 AM EDT

Jason, PJ is a paralegal, you tool!

Jason 04/28/04 08:31:04 AM EDT

If Pamela Jones is so concerned about monetary based motives, why doesn't she publish her motives. Does she make a living from software development? No, she is a lawyer. "Oh, but I only makes money defending the GPL, he he", say PJ. How much you making Pam?

Sid Boyce 04/28/04 08:22:45 AM EDT

Just what I've been saying all along. I've watched Sun and their very cold attitudes to Linux, they can't beat Linux, so they try to usurp it. They've lost the hardware battle with their lack of foresight and talent, producing stuff that is 20 odd years behind and proclaiming it as the latest greatest. If you work with Solaris and SPARC and you also work with IBM mainframes as I do, it's all too obvious. As colleagues have said, that stuff was called a different name and we did that back in the early 1980's, old hat to us. Fujitsu is to produce the new superior SPARC chips and maybe the SPARC systems for Sun to run antiquated Solaris on. As one of our customers pointed to his 2 E10K's, he referred to them as "that SH*T" we sold them.
Good on you, PJ, it needed saying and it needs hammering home time and time again, SUN HATES LINUX and they do their bit towards weakening it.

Retro 04/28/04 07:35:41 AM EDT

"The fact that we're committed to interoperability means either [Sun or Microsoft] choice is a safe choice."

Get ready for the wake up call.

MS and Sun are building interoperable systems at the protocol level. Most of you don't realize how significant that single sentance is. It lays out the MS/Sun combined strategy to defeat Linus and his band of merry fools.

Now add Oracle to that little trio. Kinda looks and feels like MS/Sun/Oracle are carving the market up against Big Blue doesn't it?

Lee 04/28/04 05:38:15 AM EDT

This is spot on, PJ. Glad to see Sun aren't pulling the wool over EVERYONE's eyes. Good job! :)

moredhel 04/28/04 05:28:21 AM EDT

Sun has pushed more code into the Open Source community than anyone bar the University of California in Berkeley - you know, as in BSD? Work on Gnome, Evolution, OO.o and NetBeans is just the recent stuff. Before that there was NFS, OpenLook, RPC, vi, work on XEmacs, and other projects up and down the distribution. 5-6 years ago someone took a copy of RedHat and analysed it to figure out which copyright header what percentage of code came under. Sun scored 11%+. Only FSF owned code beat it, and that's a *lot* of developers under one banner.

And you *do* get shown the GPL to accept when you install JDS.

So what, exactly, is the problem? That Sun dares to try to make a Linux release and make less money per seat than RedHat are, for a better product for its target audience? That Sun beat M$ into paying $2B towards making that happen? Do you see anything in the announcements on either side of the Sun/M$ agreement that suggests anything but M$ capitulating, and Sun winning big? Other than Scott having to appear on stage with that fool, and M$ not having to admit they did wrong? And even the DoJ couldn't force them to admit they did wrong...

Trawi 04/28/04 05:11:49 AM EDT

SUN is doing a big mistake. The still think of the FLOSS community as bunch of hackers that can't compete with their Closed Source UNIX products.

With this attitude SUN is about to alienate the whole FLOSS community. Even if SUN obliges the rules of the GPL. How do they expect so get any help from anybody when they continuously talk about closed software, patents and IP rights?

No FLOSS programmer will give them any support. No decision maker who support FLOSS software will buy any of their products. In this respect SUN is likely to repeat every mistake Caldera / SCO has made.

Who is gives you the assurance that in 10 years time SUN won't sue you for copyright infringement if plan to migrate from JDS to a 100% Free Linux Java Desktop?

The example of SCO should show SUN that live isn't much fun when thousands of FLOSS supporters wish your immediate death. That's almost as bad as having an license agreement with Microsoft.

Seeing what SUN is doing I have to give credits to IBM, HP, Oracle and SAP for treating the FLOSS community very well and very wisely. What SUN is doing at the moment is just stupid.

outofeurope 04/28/04 05:09:21 AM EDT

i can understand the hope that sun will stay a supporter of the open-source community, but i'm afraid this is just wishful thinking. pamela jones sees it like it is - they are a business, they want to make money, and they are in big difficulties. the "wounded dog"-picture mentioned here fits the situation very well.

instead of just using openoffice i bought staroffice7 explicitely to support sun's contribution to open source, but now this chapter is closed, and we'll have to start thinking how to make do without star/openoffice. the choices are not great at the moment, maybe something can be done about that.

outofeurope 04/28/04 05:08:59 AM EDT

i can understand the hope that sun will stay a supporter of the open-source community, but i'm afraid this is just wishful thinking. pamela jones sees it like it is - they are a business, they want to make money, and they are in big difficulties. the "wounded dog"-picture mentioned here fits the situation very well.
instead of just using openoffice i bought staroffice7 explicitely to support sun's contribution to open source, but now this chapter is closed, and we'll have to start thinking how to make do without star/openoffice.
the choices are not great at the moment, maybe something can be done about that.

EPrime 04/28/04 04:05:21 AM EDT

This rant was more like I, Cringely than the PJ we've all come to know and appreciate. Many of the key points were accusations and opinions, not facts. Sad, but shows that you should not write articles when emotionally affected by something..

NotSo 04/28/04 02:17:02 AM EDT

In the eyes of the developer community, they are better than say, Microsoft or even IBM simply because Sun's standards are open

Metlin, C# and the .NET CLI are ECMA standards. Web Services/WSDL is a W3C standard. Java is uhhhh.... not a standard.

What was that about more open standards than the competition?

Metlin 04/28/04 02:16:10 AM EDT

I think one of the reasons the OpenSource community likes Sun is because they are the lesser evil.

In the eyes of the developer community, they are better than say, Microsoft or even IBM simply because Sun's standards are open, or at the very least more open than the competition.

Is it because that they are the underdogs? Maybe so. But be assured that tomorrow if they do come to the top, they will be ostracized even more.

And another thing is that, I do not think we can blame Sun for what they've done. Hey, you give your source out? That in no way means I have to or let you do what you let me do

illumin8 04/28/04 02:14:53 AM EDT

Right! Without OpenOffice, which was given to the open source community by Sun, Linux wouldn't have any hope of consideration as a desktop platform.

grhamz 04/28/04 02:14:02 AM EDT

I believe Sun has more people working on real open source projects than anyone spare a couple of universities.

Certainly OpenOffice is very valuable, and I think they work on Evolution too.

Vagary 04/28/04 02:13:00 AM EDT

Actually, There'sNoPleasingSomeFolks, Gnome bailed out Sun.

Without Gnome, Solaris would still be using the unbelievably bad CDE desktop environment. Until I heard about Gnome on Solaris I was prepared to recommend to my boss that we install Debian on all the SPARC workstations because the users couldn't bare CDE (don't get me started on the administrative problems). So basically Sun's options were to make a desktop environment from scratch or use an open source one -- they couldn't stick with what they have. Obviously it was way cheaper to adopt Gnome. Then should we be impressed when they throw in a few manhours and dollars so their pet features get implemented?

HiThere 04/28/04 02:10:19 AM EDT

Sun does lots of good things for FOSS. They also do a lot of really vile things.

If something comes from Sun, I give it a 40% chance of being a really nice thing, and a 40% chance of carrying plague. The other 20% is somewhere in between those two endpoints with the low spot in the center of the bi-modal distribution.

I once had a friend like that. He couldn't help it. But having him as a friend was too much strain, and now he's a *distant* acquaintance.

There'sNoPleasingSomeFolks 04/28/04 02:09:18 AM EDT

Never mind that Sun has contributed dozens of engineers and probably a significant sum of money to the Gnome project. (Which last time I checked is open source).

Let's also forget the fact that without Sun's money/effort, Gnome Usability (ie. HIG) would be nowhere near as good as it currently is. Sun is a major backer of Gnome, and a corporate contributor to the Gnome Foundation..

Instead, let's bash Sun for not sufficiently acknowledging its Linux roots in the JDS. (Something that the GPL does not require)

SW 04/28/04 01:39:15 AM EDT

All you morons are blathering about JDS, have you even installed it?. The first thing the installer does is make you accept the GPL!. PJ didn't install JDS and neither have any other of you gasbags done it.

It's SuSE under the covers fer christ's sake.

James 04/28/04 01:30:14 AM EDT

PS: Novell is still out there somewhere right?

Kyle Weigel 04/28/04 01:29:14 AM EDT

I'm running a prototype of JDS currently and find it a hell of a lot of an improvment for end users than other distros I've used. I'd say it's more meant to be a drop in for Windows than a drop in for Gentoo,Debian,Suse etc etc. Can't say it's going to replace my gentoo install, but on any computer where an end user needs to get work done JDS has done very well. I've heard from some of them that they couldn't tell that it wasn't windows (not sure if thats a compliment heh). I think SUN is on the right track, and from teaching programming classes on Solaris 7 (CDE) JDS is a real breath of fresh air.

James 04/28/04 01:27:54 AM EDT

Sun missed the boat several years back when Netscape, (you know, access to the internet) was up for grabs. That would at least have given Sun a desktop presence.

Then Sun came along and delivered a killer, web-secure, transaction safe, coding environment, Java. Well okay, they never leveraged that onto a desktop presence, instead settling for "middleware". That left the desktop environment to Microsoft where they have ruled for decades, and the server side to anybody who could plop a (RedHat) Linux CD into a server's CD tray.

OpenOffice.org, opens up a small chink in Microsoft's armour. Is that enough for Sun? Only if they have the courage to go toe to toe with Microsoft on their own turf, The desktop.

RedHat is "abandoning" support for RH/end-user linux, instead focusing on the "enterprise" aspect of the computing world. This pretty much leaves the Linux world without a vendor to support the end-user environment.

Now that Sun has apparently sold it's soul to Microsoft, are they up to the task to try to capture marketshare on the desktop, or will they let Novell seize the day?.

I am guessing the latter.

wojtek 04/28/04 01:25:20 AM EDT

Sun Micro is THE biggest contributor to Open Source. If it wasn't for Open Office donated by them there would be no Linux on desktops. Period. Show more respect.

Response to a troll... 04/28/04 01:20:13 AM EDT

Hong Tu, you can't be so blind as to see that software STILL needs to be written. You can still dip into the same well for more money. Case in point. Write the software. Release the software as Free, as in speech. Corporation A likes your software but needs an improvement. Hires you, the original developer, to write new feature. Why? Because you know the software best. You work for a while, build the new feature, release it as open source. Your software gains popularity. You thank Corporation A for funding your project and the cycle continues. Pretty soon, if you're lucky, someone will hire you to develop full time. The Model works.

JL 04/28/04 01:16:31 AM EDT

"Please don't lump GPL supporters and OS developers together. A great deal of us Open Source developers (see Eric Raymond) intensely dislike the GPL as an extremely restrictive licence. I don't like a lot of the things Sun does, but I applaud them for taking on the GPL zealots."

Hey, if you don't like the GPL, don't use it, go use your proprietary licenses if you think GPL is restrictive.

GPL is only a set of root rules that you must abide to if you are to use, modify and (re)distribute the GPL'ed software. If you will not abide to those simple core rules, you are backstabbing the community. Simple as that.

Hong Tu 04/28/04 12:26:19 AM EDT

Sure it is a new world in which nobody can make money by writing software. How can you expect to make a living by giving everything away? If there is no SUN/IBM/NOVELL of the world to develop the technology and no tax payer's money, there is no future for Linux. Don't you tell me Linux was developed by one person without coping and stealing from UNIX source code.

amoral 04/27/04 11:52:36 PM EDT

There shouldn't be any surprises here. A few facts about any large corporation:

i) they have armies of lawyers checking everything. It is very unlikely that someone like Sun would violate the letter of the GPL (but the same doesn't go for the spirit; see (ii)

ii) they are responsible only to their shareholders, not to a "community". Companies like Sun, Microsoft and IBM are not "good" or "bad"; they are just successful or unsuccessful. You may think one company is good and another is bad because that company's current business practices are more in line with your values, but that is simply fluke, not because they ahre those values.

Bottom line - as long as it suits IBM and Sun et al to *exploit* Linux in the interests of delivering value to their shareholders, they will do so. That doesn't make them trustworthy. *Especially* given that the GPL reflects a left wing politic that runs counter to the capitalist tenets of publicly listed companies; these corporations "support" of open source is pure expediency and not solidarity.

What? Sun is a mean corporation? I'm shocked. 04/27/04 11:09:20 PM EDT

It is pretty simple really. Sun does not have to mention in its installer that it uses anything "GNU/Linuxy"; however, it must follow the GPL for its GPL code. Simply put, it must provide source code for the portion of its software that is subject to the GPL and it must include all GPL licenses and notices in their proper place. No more, no less. If it does that, all is right with the world, the sun comes up tomorrow, and the Sox might actually win the super bowl, or whatever it is that Sox win.

Anonymous 04/27/04 10:04:04 PM EDT

Please don't lump GPL supporters and OS developers together. A great deal of us Open Source developers (see Eric Raymond) intensely dislike the GPL as an extremely restrictive licence. I don't like a lot of the things Sun does, but I applaud them for taking on the GPL zealots.

Alex 04/27/04 10:01:25 PM EDT

What worries me is the future problem for Linux that SUN may light up.

SUN and Microsoft now share their IP portfolios and you can bet hefty amount that as Scwartz hinted, they will incorporate Micrrosoft technologies into their JDS in order to be as interoperable as possible. This will probably include DRM, Windows Media, and much more. This added edge of being able to cooperate better thana nyone with 90% of the world's other computers might make SUN the king of desktop Linux.

Other Linux companies let's say hypothetically will be phased out or broguht out by Novell, SUN and maybe IBM. There will always be niche players, but the distros that come out of IBM, SUN and Novell will be sued by 90% of Linux users. Linux will grow in marketshare, perhaps to about 15% in just a few short years, but the growth will really be just for Novell, SUN and IBM. The other distributions which remain free will only remain popular within the geek and hardcore userbase because these distributions will not have the money to licens expensive technology from Microsoft to comepte and so on. In the end each of these vendors will interoperate but have many proprietary extensions built into the system, it will no longer be free.

What do you guys think?

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