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Sun Microsystems Businesses Red Hat Software

Is Sun Turning against Linux and Red Hat? 542

An Elephant writes "Groklaw is reporting, based on a ZDNet UK story, that Sun's strategy for survival in the near future is based on trying to equate Linux with Red Hat, and then attack Red Hat as too small to support enterprises. This seems strange -- Sun is selling a Linux distro itself (the Java Desktop System). As I write this, there's no mention of this on Sun's website -- neither confirmation nor denial. What's going on?"
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Is Sun Turning against Linux and Red Hat?

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  • by coupland ( 160334 ) * <> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:27PM (#10336355) Journal

    This is definitely true, I'm not sure why this would surprise anyone. The first I saw of it was on [] on the 20th, two days before the ZDNet UK article. It was based on a telephone conversation with Jonathan Schwartz. Sun wants to find a way to avoid commoditization of software, and to make their HW/SW bundle inseparable. That HW/SW bundle doesn't include Linux, at least any moreso than they have to pay lip service to Linux support.

    I'm sorry, did you actually think Sun was an ally? I guess it was their $2 billion deal with Microsoft to try to face IBM head-on (the only company whose Linux support has actually lived up to their promises) that convinced you Sun was completely benign.

    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:40PM (#10336455)
      >I'm sorry, did you actually think Sun was an ally?

      And why should they be? Linux installations are killing commercial unix, moreso than MS's server offerings. These are the mechanics of market competition. On top of it, even if Sun is serious about the Java Desktop they can still push it and attack other linux distros at the same time. All they have to claim is that their solution is better than Red Hats (or whoever).

      The world of business makes for odd enemies and bedfellows.
      • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:10PM (#10336980) Journal
        The world of business makes for odd enemies and bedfellows.

        Absolutely! No Windows, no Sun... we geeks don't need this when we have Slashdot to bathe us in it's nice warm green light.

        Yummm. Usss likessses ittt.
      • by j.leidner ( 642936 ) <> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:25PM (#10337060) Homepage Journal
        Linux installations are killing commercial unix, more so than MS's server offerings.

        Yes, but it's not Linux alone, I believe might be the fact that Linux runs on Intel PC commodity hardware that kills commercial unices more than anything else.

        And that they go is actually a shame, because they are very stable and highly standard compliant, exactly what a developer expects from his or her box [there's a HP 715-100XC sitting here under my desk]...

        Try Nuggets [], the mobile search engine. We answer your questions via SMS, across the UK.

      • Sun vs. Everybody (Score:5, Informative)

        by solprovider ( 628033 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @12:11AM (#10337329) Homepage
        I have written before that most of IBM's actions over many years seem to attacks against Sun. IBM is killing its own software offerings to try to control Java. IBM even partnered with MS to take standards away from Sun.

        Now Sun is partnered with MS. That alone could kill Sun if it is not very careful. But MS is running scared, and could die before leveraging their partnership to destroy Sun.

        Sun wants to equate Linux with Redhat. That might have worked a few years ago. Redhat is American; SuSE was German; Mandrake is French; TurboLinux is Asian; Lindows is playing a different game. Now SuSE is American, owned by Novell, and IBM is investing in it. Does Sun not realize that SuSE moved into the neighborhood? Redhat is attempting to emulate MS, and earning MS-like badwill, but there is an American alternative. Of course, SuSE has the similar problems in putting proprietary programs into its distribution. It is difficult to find a totally-free but commercially-viable American distribution, but that does not affect Sun's market.

        IBM and Sun are still focused on powerful hardware. Google has demonstrated that many applications work well with a large server farm of low-power computers. IBM realizes that the only way to keep the hardware prices high is to commoditize software. Sun has great engineers, but their business strategies do not reflect today's market.

        I like Sun, and wish them well. Dell is winning on hardware, MS is struggling to stay viable in software, and everybody else is wondering how to stay competitive. Sun does not have a good answer yet.
        • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @12:40AM (#10337481) Homepage Journal
          It is difficult to find a totally-free but commercially-viable American distribution, but that does not affect Sun's market.

          Debian []? Of course, there's no such thing as national boundaries in free software. It's commercially viable the same way all free software is. IBM is demonstrating that you don't have to have software secrets to make money. Consulting and hardware sales pay manyfold what you might put into software development.

          IBM realizes that the only way to keep the hardware prices high is to commoditize software. Sun has great engineers, but their business strategies do not reflect today's market.

          IBM realizes that their hardware has to do useful things if they want to sell it. Bill Gates taught them a big lesson about non free software. When your software has owners, so does your hardware.

          Sun, on the other hand, seems to have gone insane. Without community involvement, Solaris will continue to fall behind free tools. No one company can compete against the free software world. If they start spewing M$ FUD, the community will desert them. That will leave them with nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:27PM (#10336356)
    Sun has just nailed Red Hat and Linux with a steel chair! Oh no! It's SCO... and SCO is raising Sun's hand! What does this mean?! This can only be settled at Linuxmania!
  • What's going on? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:30PM (#10336374)

    > As I write this, there's no mention of this on Sun's website -- neither confirmation nor denial. What's going on?

    Slashdot is reporting that Groklaw is reporting that the ZD FUD machine is reporting that...

    OK, maybe it's true, but I wouldn't take it to the bank yet.

    • by DustMagnet ( 453493 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:45PM (#10336490) Journal
      It's really sad to see this level of FUD. Sun has always won by out-engineer everybody else. Sure they got a little big and started to milk the market, but they know that's over. At least they were smart enough to keep a good staff of engineers.

      They drove me away with poor hardware support and I'm now using RedHat on x86, but they know how to get me back: quality engineering at a fair price.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge free software fan (or is that fanatic), but this FUD is the worse FUD I've seen since Darl shut up.

  • by john_chr ( 700513 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:30PM (#10336380)
    The Linux "movement" is too nebulous to compete against so in order for Sun to be able to work out what to do they must feel a need to reduce the problem down to a traditional competitor and then go after that hoping to squash the problem that way.

    I think they missed the point.

  • Baaahhhh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:30PM (#10336381)
    /.ers never really needed sun anyway. Its all indoors and its nice here. Wait. Which sun are we talking about here?
  • What about Novell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frac ( 27516 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:38PM (#10336430)
    I'm surprised to hear that Novell is being discounted and ignored. Sure, you might laugh, but don't forget that they now own SuSe (which is still the most popular distro in Europe), and Ximian, which owns Evolution and has a stronger influence over the direction of GNOME and Mono.
    • by Jon_E ( 148226 )
      Novell is definitely not being ignored .. in fact there were rumors about sun buying them out (heck JDS is SuSE underneath .. not quite as bad as the old "Sun Linux" which was RH6 .. and evolution is one of the star apps to help with office bolstering - the hydrogen connector to the Sun Calender server was done in conjunction w/ Ximian/Novell)

      What sun is after is what they see as a gap in IBM and HP .. IBM is pretty much dropping AIX in favor of rolling more into linux, and HP doesn't seem to be doing much
  • Wait a minute (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:41PM (#10336464)
    Sun sells unix. Linux is a free clone of Unix. Why would anyone expect Sun likes Linux.

    They tried to make their own distro of Linux and that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I guess Sun just has to be more competitive and work harder to get support contracts away from redhat.
  • Mod parent down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by csoto ( 220540 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:44PM (#10336480)
    This is *news*? Geez.

    Sun can't compete against Linux, because it's not a company. They can compete against Red Hat, SuSE, etc. These are companies. They make and sell stuff, including support contracts, etc.

    Schwartz also states that he thinks Linux is a good proving ground, but Solaris is better, even at running Linux applications. Sounds like a good strategy, if people buy it. Now that Sun sells AMD boxes, as well as SPARC, it's a lot less of a hassle for their customers to try exactly that.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:47PM (#10336502)
    You guys are going nuts on trying to figure out if Sun is Pro-Linux or against it. The truth the both and neither. If sun can make money off of Linux then they will support Linux in areas. If other Linux companies are cutting into their market share then they will play the Solaris Card and down the disadvantages of Linux. Suns stance on Linux was always this. Linux is good, but Solaris is better. So if people complain that Sun hardware w. Solaris is to big then hey lets use Linux and see if you want Solaris later. But if they want Solaris then they will go lets see if we can get rid of all those nasty Linux systems. Solaris Does have advantages over Linux and some really good scailing features. But for most companies and people linux does the trick. So Sun is Linux if you want but we rather you go with Solaris.
    • You guys are going nuts on trying to figure out if Sun is Pro-Linux or against it. The truth is both and neither

      The situation with Sun reminds me a bit of the competing units within Sony. In many large corporations, there are divisions that are not always pulling in the same direction. Sony, for example, makes consumer electronics that can, among other things, play, record, or otherwise distribute music. The goal of this division is to make money by making this easier for the consumer. Another divis
  • what?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:48PM (#10336505) Homepage
    As I write this, there's no mention of this on Sun's website -- neither confirmation nor denial. What's going on?"

    Are you serious?! Sun isn't posting their future strategies on a publicly accessible website?!?!? THAT'S INSANE!!
  • Not all bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jon Proesel ( 762574 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:48PM (#10336507) Homepage Journal
    It's not all bad that they're advertising Linux as Red Hat. A lot of my non-tech friends have no idea what Linux is, but they do know what Red Hat is- they heard that name over and over when Red Hat made a strong IPO.

    If those same guys even knew that Red Hat was an alternative operating system, that would be a huge step forward. Heck, even if one of them tries it out, they'd learn soon enough what Linux really was. Until then, let's take all the advertisement we can get. Just get Linux, Red Hat, whatever out there as well-known terms.
  • by ScytheBlade1 ( 772156 ) <`scytheblade1' `at' `'> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:48PM (#10336508) Homepage Journal
    Okay, so let's assume here, that Sun is successful in "merging" Red Hat and Linux into one. First off, Microsoft has basically already done so, as any benchmark of windows vs. "linux" is Red Hat. Keep this point in mind.

    So, we've had Microsoft preaching that linux IS Red Hat, for a while now.

    Have the /. linux users gone down as a result? Have any of you switched your Red Hat (read: any linux distro) systems to windows server?

    I know I know, businesses may have. But have YOU?

    Apply the same to Sun, and take note of their respective sizes. Assuming that Sun pulls the "merge" off, just what exactly will it affect, compred to microsoft? MS isn't making any big dents (yet, time will tell), so how could Sun? (In a completly closed-mind view.)

    I know, I know, in two years, MS might be a thing of the past, and then in 4 years, if it's not a SCO server then it's not worth anything. I won't debate how the future works, as it really is pointless.

    If I may remind you all of a quote of Linus, which goes something to the point of, "My goals were never to destroy Microsoft. That will be a completly unintentional side effect." (Yeah, that's probably a horrible 'quote', but live with it, you get the point.)

    So, why should you care if Sun does this? Sun can spout all the FUD they want, as can Microsoft, as can 'Red Hat' (read: any linux distro), but that doesn't change the fact that some PR FUD changed actual benchmarks, it doesn't change the prices, and it doesn't change what really works. If Sun does the job better than linux, go for Sun I say. If linux does it better, go with linux.

    Just take note: using the 'PR' view, we should ALL be using Microsoft Server, linux it's worth 2 cents, and Sun is some upstart with millions, who's preaching against a 2 cent OS.

    Form your own opinions, people. Chill.
  • by Thaidog ( 235587 ) <.moc.hsuh.myn. .ta. .357todhsals.> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:49PM (#10336523)
    If SUN really wanted to do this it could happen... But let's first face facts SUN's java desktop is ass. When they finish the 3D desktop enviornment "Looking glass" you'll finally have somthing on the x86 side that looks as good as OS X. then next is their new filesyatem ZFS... which sounds awsome. All this openedsourced and where would you go? I know I'll be downloading it! Solaris's backend is probably the best in the system and then have a desktop that's beautiful too? What more could you possibly want in an OS?
  • Chaos Theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:50PM (#10336527) Homepage Journal
    What's happening is that Sun is being run by chaos theory. How many different strategies has Sun had toward Linux over the past few years? How many different "philosophies" regarding open source? How many different strategies regarding x86 support? Maybe somebody who follows Sun more closely than I can answer some of these questions. I know it seems to me as if Sun changes direction more often than the wind. Name any important issue in the past few years and Sun will have had two or three positions on the issue - even more if you count the "unofficial" positions. They need a strong leader and sense of direction more desperately than any group except, maybe, the Democratic Party.

    If I'm wrong, PLEASE let me know. I'm a Sun user and I like Sun, I really do... I just never know where they're going from one day to the next.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:51PM (#10336534) Homepage Journal
    No problem. Let MS and Sun go right on believing that Linux == Red Hat. Let them even try to kill Red Hat if they can. We'll just keep doing what we've always done: building better software in and for the open source community. To use "their" terminology -- our Value Proposition continues to improve, year after year, relentlessly marching on, happily coexisting with (but not depending on) the corporations who operate within our space.

    Seriously, if MS and Sun think they can beat Linux by beating Red Hat, let them believe that. It'll keep them off our backs while we build the next generation of superior software.
    • I think both Microsoft and Sun now realize you can't "beat Linux" the way you can beat Lotus or you can beat Digital. Linux isn't a company. It will never disappear or go chapter 11. It's a technology, like XML or TCP/IP, and like those technologies there's no real money it.

      The money is in services: installation, maintenance, outsourcing and customization of this technology. And Red Hat, posing as a software company, snuck right into this market.

      If I were Sun, I would definitely try to crush the upsta
  • by wahgnube ( 557787 ) <> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:52PM (#10336548) Homepage Journal
    A sun engineer's post [] on the issue of Sun "simply moving" to Linux.

    And a good rebuttal [] from a linux kernel hacker.

    • by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @12:29AM (#10337420) Homepage
      Funny, I think that's a pretty lousy rebuttal. I think the big sticking point here - at least the big sticking point I would be looking at, if I were Sun - is the binary incompatability. And yet he doesn't have *any* good arguments for it. Most of them sum down to "it's too hard". And, you know, if he thinks it's too hard, that's fine - but "it's too hard" isn't a reason that Sun should look at and say "oh, okay, that's fine then".

      Windows has binary compatability. Windows runs in both SMP mode and single-processor mode. Windows might not have as glitteringly perfect of a driver model as Linux, but let's be honest here, it gets the job done.

      He's given a lot of good reasons Linux doesn't have binary compatibility. Okay. Sure. How about listing the reasons Sun wants binary compatibility and showing how those goals are achievable in other ways, instead of just throwing away Sun's requirements as insignificant?
    • Good rebuttal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doomdark ( 136619 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:45AM (#10337710) Homepage Journal
      And a good rebuttal from a linux kernel hacker.

      Good rebuttal? Uh, he's reading the original blog article like the devil reading bible... and then doing plenty of strawman attacks.

      Original article didn't say anything about "Sun not wanting to help with Linux kernel development". It is only saying it wouldn't make sense to (try to) dump Open Sourced Solaris code in Linux, to port Solaris features. Neither does the article claim that Linux developers do not value good engineering principles -- just that highest priorities are different from those of Solaris kernel development team. What's wrong with such a statement? Quite obviously priorities are different; what else would you expect between a "traditional" engineering effort of a big corporation, and a leading-edge open-source development effort?

      What a crappy rebuttal. Wonder why the linux kernel hacker even bother with such a knee-jerk writing I have no idea. I'm not sure if he even read the writing he was replying to; and certainly didn't try to understand it even if he did.

    • by pavera ( 320634 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @05:18AM (#10338303) Homepage Journal
      First off, this is an argument that no user cares about

      This statement from the rebuttal is the most moronic thing I've ever read. The fact that I couldn't use my hardware properly for nearly 4 months when I upgraded to the 2.6 kernel BUGGED THE HELL OUT OF ME! (nVidia graphics card), further, just this week I could finally use cisco's vpn client again (yes its been "working" for longer, but only officially supported on 2.6 in a release 2 weeks ago). This is a huge issue, that ALL USERS care about.

      To say that no users care about driver compatibility is just insane. It would be nice if there was some sort of API that binary device drivers could write against that never changed... but who knows thats probably really hard (I don't know anything about kernel devel) His argument for why the linux kernel can't and won't do binary compatibility is good, not having crap code sitting around just because it was the best we could do in 1982 and someone touched the api with some scsi card driver and now we're stuck thats good.

      I'm mostly just pissed that he's decided to write off what "all users" think, and that "no one" cares that they can't use their nvidia card for 4-6 months after every kernel release.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:53PM (#10336555)
    RH has nothing to worry about.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:49PM (#10336855)
      Tried it out 9/21 on a Dell 2xP3500 512M, and an AMD xp2400 512M, after listening to their web event on friday. Next I want to install it on a 2x2.8 Xeon, 2G.

      -Installation time: 1hr-2hr
      -Drivers: what drivers!
      -Gnome 2: Crashed first time on, but stable after.
      -Couldn't mount floppy to install 3rd party net driver - need to read docs.
      -Docs... what docs... Docs iso does not exist, docs available on line.
      -couldn't start scm? (manager tool) because it couldn't find the server - net problem I believe - see above.

      I'm not saying most of the problems are Sun's fault, and with Gnome's crash exception, I should be able to fix most problems after browsing the docs, but not having a manageable system (for whatever reason) after a clean install is not good for business.

      I really want to give Sun a chance on x86, but history is not in their favor, especially after they almost pulled the rug from under x86 users.

      On paper 10x86.html solaris looks great, if it was 1990s, but I don't think Sun realizes how advanced (at least in terms of eye candy, user-friendliness, and gui tools, but not necessarily system stability) some of the linux distros are.

  • by upsidedown_duck ( 788782 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @09:55PM (#10336570)

    I doubt Sun hates Linux, but it is clear why they would dislike Red Hat. Red Hat is a true competitor against Solaris and Sun's own Linux distributions. Sun would play along with Red Hat as a reseller only as long as it takes to replace any Red Hat-branded software with Sun-branded software.

    I still don't understand why the common culture at Slashdot is to bash Sun at all costs, even if it requires misinformation to do so. It's almost as bad as some of the rants for and against Microsoft, HP, Intel, etc. (not IBM, of course, because IBM paints penguins on sidewalks--that makes them all nice sugar and spice).

    • by dont_think_twice ( 731805 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:27PM (#10336747) Homepage
      I still don't understand why the common culture at Slashdot is to bash Sun at all costs

      Maybe this will help:
      1) Donated a very large sum of money to a company that committed the legal equivalent of a suicide bombing against linux.
      2) Sold their soul to the devil (Microsoft) in return for temporary bankrucpy prevention.

      Sun is a company, and they have the right to behave as they want, but I don't have to like the fact that just about every action they have taken recently has been intended to destroy my ability to use gnu/linux, my operating system of choice.
  • by erikharrison ( 633719 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:07PM (#10336646)
    Mostly because I didn't believe Sun to be that incredibly stupid.

    I mean, it's not surprising that Sun isn't real happy about Linux. There are only three enterprise Unixes left: Irix, AIX, and Solaris. Only one hasn't been phased out by it's parent company for Linux. Sun's betting on being THE enterprise Unix vendor. Fighting Linux is a reasonable strategy.

    But the Redhat == Linux == No Enterprise Power strategy is so dumb even MS figured out it was wrong. Fight Redhat, cool, Redhat is a competitor. But trying to fight Linux by pigeonholing it will never work. Linux is a technology. It's like AOL trying to fight the open Web by saying the Web == Earthlink == None of our wonderful proprietary content. It doesn't make any sense.

    Sun will loose because the quality of their products doesn't matter because that quality only means anything in an IT world that is slowing ceasing to exist, and Sun can't figure out how to deal with it. Linus Torvalds is not your competitor! Your competitors are still IBM and SGI for the high end, custom hardware market (with Apple scooting in), and Redhat and Novell for the midrange commodity hardware market, even if they are all running Linux. IBM still has the resources to support Linux richly, so you can't win this battle this way, you'll just loose to IBM with Linux instead of Redhat.

    I'd like to see Sun get this right. Linux needs someone to keep it honest, and the BSD's are becoming less and less general purpose, loosing their ability to compete in the exact same area's as the distros. Linux needs a competeing strong Unix kernel, and a competeing strong desktop kernel. We've got OS X and Windows - where is our enterprise server OS?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, I fing this very surprising . . . Mostly because I didn't believe Sun to be that incredibly stupid.

      Never underestimate the stupidity of management.

      I work at Sun. Posting anon to well, be anon. I probably won't be working here much longer, but that's my own decision - I'm not liking the direction the company is heading. Everything, and I mean *everything*, is pointed towards making money. That's fine, I mean we have to do that in order to survive, right? But when it comes down to a higher-u
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:08PM (#10336652) Journal
    Well, if Sun turns on Redhat, it will allow Novell and the rest to profit. Basically, the others will be out in the field to tell companies that Redhat is not Linux. This shows that Linux easily survives a company.
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:14PM (#10336682) Homepage Journal

    I fail to see where the problem is, or how this exactly equates to Sun being anti-Linux.

    Red Hat sells Linux. Sun sells Linux in the form of JDS. Sun is coming up with a strategy to encourage potential buyers to purchase from them by claiming that Red Hat isn't up to handling large enterprise accounts.

    This is what competition is all about, folks. One of the great things about Open Source is that we can have multiple competing distributions. Mandrake and SuSe aren't buddy-buddy with Red Hat -- they compete with them as well. Do you somehow think that when they're competing with Red Hat for an account that they don't go in and try to show the potential buyer how they are better that Red Hat, or where Red Hat's weaknesses (perceived or otherwise) are?

    This is the nature of competition. It doesn't mean that Sun is anti-Linux (although I don't believe that Sun is a great friend to Linux either). It's simple competition. This is news to anyone? Would anyone expect anything different between two competing companies? This is a complete non-story if I ever saw one.


  • Sun ignored Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I_redwolf ( 51890 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:15PM (#10336686) Homepage Journal
    Sun had alot of interesting technology that could of kept them on top. Only if they weren't profit minded with certain parts of it. Their management doesn't seem to see things longterm but who could truly blame them. Who would of thought opensource would of been viable.

    A while ago I read a paper by Larry McVoy which essentially detailed the current threats to Sun at the time. One of those threats was NT (well no one who actually knew anything about Unix at the time saw it as a threat but those were geeks not business minded people) and the other was Linux and what he termed Sourceware at the time.

    The paper is still available [] to read.

    I had the good fortune of speaking with LM about what happened to the Spring OS which is mentioned in the paper. His response was that nothing happened, it essentially died. Some of the interesting and functional bits made it into Solaris but thats about it.

    From the paper A royalty free operating system. Sun wants this so badly that they are currently spending roughly the same amount as the Unix royalty stream to fund development of a royalty free operating system called Spring.

    Obviously Sun didn't want it so badly and instead of seeing Linux as a moving target gaining speed many just shrugged it off. This, again, a mistake. I like Sun, they have extremely good hardware, documentation and support. They need to find a viable business plan and it would start by maybe re-reading this paper and compiling a new one assessing their current and future threats.

    If Sun genuinely wanted to they could be a dominant player in the linux market, ahead of Redhat and Novell. No one does support like Sun; period. However, they just let the ball drop way too many times. If you read the paper carefully you'll see that Novell even though they are late to the game are pushing through with what they want. I wish them the best of luck.

    Sun still has enough money to make a change but sometimes it's hard to let go of certain things. The reality is that Sun doesn't have to let go of it's main babies such as the Sparc or Solaris. If they truly want to keep them they could recommend them for high end usage in certain critical performance server areas. There's a whole host of different configurations they could keep those things specialized for but they just aren't serious.

    Still, I wish Sun the best of luck. If this rumor is true, they are going to fumble the ball one last time.
  • by Marc Slemko ( 6200 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:26PM (#10336744)
    Jonathan Schwartz's blog []

    Scan through it for a while and you get a bit of an idea of the direction he thinks in, publicly at least.

    For example:

    IBM is in a real pickle. Red Hat's dominance leaves IBM almost entirely dependent upon SuSe/Novell. Whoever owns Novell controls the OS on which IBM's future depends. Now that's an interesting thought, isn't it? But if IBM preemptively acquires Novell/SuSe, the world changes: linux enters the product portfolio of a patent litigator not known for being a social-movement company. But where else will IBM go? With it's current market cap, Red Hat seems unacquirable - but absent action, IBM's core customers will be eroded by Red Hat's leverage. And Sun's ability to leverage our open Solaris platform (on industry standard AMD, Intel or SPARC), or Java Enterprise System, even on IBM's hardware, gives us a significant - and sustainable - competitive advantage. With the demise of AIX, IBM is once again vulnerable. Me, I'd keep a close eye on the Novell/SuSe conversation. If IBM acquires them, the community outrage and customer disaffection is going to be epic... but where else does IBM go?


    And proving our commitment to building Solaris as the cross platform standard, we're now compensating Sun's hardware salesforce for selling Solaris on non-Sun hardware. So if a sales rep sells Solaris on Dell or IBM, or even HP (Xeon or Nocona), we pay them as if they sold the hardware. This is a huge culture change, obviously. It also focuses everyone on keeping customers happy - and driving hardware choice. (And Fedora upgrades.) I'm not sure we could make the point more clearly that we're committed to making Solaris the volume leader on all systems - and building the most price performant systems a customer can find. How confident are we Solaris customers will choose our new SPARC and Opteron systems? We're comp'ing our reps the same, no matter which systems the customer buys. We're putting money where our mouths are. Want proof? Got a farm of legacy Xeon systems, supplied by someone other than Sun? Talk to your rep to license Solaris - and let me know how it goes.

    Sun definitely seems to think they have a strong competitor to Linux with Solaris 10, especially with adding support for running Linux applications. Their pricing for Solaris x86 is ballpark with suse or red hat enterprise.

    Sun realizes that Linux is making certain layers of the stack a commodity, and is fighting strongly both on the front of bringing Solaris into the market while providing some added value (what a change from when they were killing Solaris x86 just a short while ago...) and moving up the stack (java desktop, application servers, etc.) while at the same time trying to expand their offerings of commodity servers that can run any platform... and using that as an entry point to get Solaris in the door.

    I mean, "duh" Sun competes with Red Hat, and makes a big deal about being able to be a vendor that has a full hardware and software stack of their own. I don't, however, see any signs that Sun is betting the farm on Solaris.

  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:32PM (#10336766) Homepage Journal
    By collapsing Linux into Red Hat, Sun now has a clear target. It can hammer away at a company, as opposed to waging the impossible task of fighting a social movement.

    Dear Red Hat,
    I bet the decision to abandon the social movement (Bluecurve, Fedora) and become a "clear target" looks a little different from where you stand now, doesn't it?
  • Actual Competetion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bajan_on_ice ( 32348 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:32PM (#10336768)
    Y'know, sometimes I think that all the /. crowd wants to see is All Linux, All The Time. God, how boring. Despite what most of you have experienced, there are actual other OS's that are very good. Some *gasp* might even be better than Linux. And I think the day when Linux is the only OS in the datacenter would be a terrible day. Variety is what made Linux so powerful. It was a good/cheap alternative to Solaris/Windows/AIX/HP-UX.

    Sun is trying to be competitive. They can't say "Linux sucks, go with Solaris" because it impossible to compete with an ideology. And besides, they sell Linux for the desktop. BUT they CAN say "Redhat sucks, go with Sun" which is what they ARE doing. Seems fair, right? I mean, for years, Linux advocates have been saying "Windows/Solaris/'All other OS's' suck, go with Linux"

    Bah, who cares. Ill still recommend Linux for 1-4 way, and Solaris for anything heavier.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:34PM (#10336780) Homepage
    Red Hat's main product is Enterprise Linux, designed for the server market -- Sun's bread and butter. Java Desktop System is targeted (obviously) as a replacement for Windows desktops. This is still a relatively small market, mainly consisting of companies with a need for volume lightweight deskop installs (e.g. call centers and the like). So there's not really a contradiction here. Sun's position is that Red Hat can't support mission-critical enterprise infrastructure to the extent to which Sun's products and its service organization is able. It's not like they're trying to destroy Linux. They're just trying to discredit their competition. They're well aware that Linux will go on as always, supported by the OSS community, no matter what they say -- and the JDS will continue to benefit from that.

    It'll be more interesting to see how they go after Novell.
  • And so? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:40PM (#10336806) Homepage Journal
    Like it or not, Sun is dispensable. Linux has already been adapted to run on the SPARC and SPARC64 processors. Sun's customers don't need Sun nearly as badly as Sun needs them.

    It does not help Sun's case that they ship Linux, that they've been forced into shipping Solaris as Open Source (or some derivative thereof) and that Java has been pushed from being utterly closed into being semi-open. Customers have already accepted the fact that Sun believes that it cannot compete with Linux.

    It is irrelevent as to whether this is true or not. What is important is that it is generally accepted.

    Sun can quite easily survive in the mid-to-high end of the market, where Microsoft dare not go. SGI, for all its stupidities of the past, has done very nicely from focussing itself on a market that - by nature - tends to be picky and has very specialised needs. Likewise, IBM has long-since abandoned the low-end market. There's not enough money per seat, there. The market can't handle the costs of heavy R&D, it barely copes with the costs of minimum-wage labor (or sometimes prison gangs) assembling mass-produced junk parts.

    By targetting Red Hat, Sun is also missing a far more serious threat - SuSE/Novell. Novell has a very substantial image in the server market, and SuSE has grabbed the attention of a great many European Governments. SuSE is also the only DoD-certified distribution, making it the only (legal) player in the US military markets - and they're the ones with the serious money.

    Sun's tactics are about as suicidal as SCO's and I honestly doubt either company will survive the use of scare-tactics in the end. Think about it for a moment. You're a customer. You're scared that the wrong choice will cost you a lot of money. Your existing system - whilst no great - does at least work. What do you do? Probably nothing. Doing nothing is cheap, predictable and doesn't tie your hands. It's also politically safe, as it means you can blame the last guy in charge.

    Doing nothing, however, would also put Sun out of business.

    For Sun to survive, it has to induce customers to spend more, not dig in for survival. Survivalists are misers. They don't buy big iron. Sun sells big iron. Survivalists don't buy leading-edge technology. Sun sells leading-edge technology. (They were an early adopter of IPv6, for example.)

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:46PM (#10336837) Journal
    I can put Sun's problem with it's Red Hat strategy in one word:
    Ok, two words:
    Ok, ok, three words:

    They had better watch their asses or else in some years time you will be able to hear this when discussing Sun: "Wasn't Sun that company that used to make purple servers?"
  • by dmorelli ( 615543 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:52PM (#10336863)
    Where have you people been? ZDNet, Groklaw, and you guys -- you're all late to this party by two months.

    I read this, on Johnathan Scwhartz's weblog [] posted on July 21, 2004. He explicitly talks about Linux == Red Hat.

    I then posted on my own weblog about it [] on July 26th.

  • by SlashingComments ( 702709 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:58PM (#10336899)
    Sun is setting.

    No matter whatever you say they are going down. If they don't go I will put my effort to see that Sun is out of business.

    That being said--why I am so pissed ?

    There is one thing you can never do and get away in Enterprise computing--lie to your customer.

    This is back in 1997/1998 when MSFT was not considered a enterprise level system. So we were happy running the latest E3500 and 4500 systems. Then one day the Memory problem started taking place. If there is any Sun hardware admins there they will probly remember the "J3200" error in the syslog just before the system crash.

    Sun did not tell us that was a memory problem and took us through painful route of upgrading/patching/replacing components etc. . We trusted Sun and went with that.

    Then I have found out they were going to major customers and signing out some kind of NDA where they will fix their server only at a condition the customer can not tell that to anyone.

    So, I guess the 1.5M budget we had for Sun gear was not enough for Sun. After we found out ( BTW the sales guy's name was "Steve Introcaso" -- normally works in North East Division--one smooth talker, just hope that he is not in your account ) what was going on we called Sun and they again denied about it.

    My job was on the line since I was the architect of the Stock Market Data Processing System. I have finally convinced our management with proper value proposition to start the migration from Sun to Linux since it was not possible for me to "trust" Sun anymore and IBM/HP was too much effor to port the systems.

    It took over 5 years to get rid of Sun--but I am glad I did it.

    Whatever you do--don't lie when you are dealing with a company's lifeline systems and who buys >1M worth of gears from you every year.

    And not to mention about the Java BS they did ... but that's for another day.

  • Get a clue! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stox ( 131684 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:08PM (#10336967) Homepage
    Contrary to popular belief, Sun has done more for FOSS than any other company out there. Integrated over time, Sun's overall contribution has been unmatched. Let's look at a few key points:

    1) Sun workstations were the primary development environment for FOSS from about 1987 till the early 1990's.

    2) How many copies of Linux and related software were dowdloaded from a "sunsite"?

    3) TCL came from where?

    4) Java came from where?

    5) NFS, as we know it, came from where?

    6) RPC's, as we know them, came from where?

    I'm sure I could find many more, if I went digging.

    Sun has been a less then perfect partner in FOSS, but they have been there longer than anyone else, and have made many significant contributions.

    I truly hope, and expect, this trend to continue. No commercial partner of FOSS will be perfect, but Sun's record, to date, is really quite good.
    • Re:Get a clue! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by borgheron ( 172546 )

      1) Sun workstations were the primary development environment for FOSS from about 1987 till the early 1990's.

      True, but as far as I know.. once I've bought a machine, it is mine to do with as I please. The reason that so many Sun machines were used for this purpose was because that is what most students had to use at college at the time.

      2) How many copies of Linux and related software were dowdloaded from a "sunsite"?

      Sunsites are independent sites, not run by Sun Microsystems.

      3) TCL came from wher
      • Re:Get a clue! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stox ( 131684 )

        1) Plenty of students had DEC's, IBM's, etc. Why was so much done on Sun's? May I sugggest tha Sun was a much more open system?

        2) Sunsite's were never run by Sun, but if I am not mistaken, the machines and the bandwidth were contributed by Sun.

        3) TCL is a tool used by many FOSS developers.

        4) I am no big fan of Java, but regardless, it is open and used by many FOSS projects.

        5) The concept tends to be the hardest part.

        6) See #5

        I never said Sun was a savior of FOSS, but I did want to point out t
    • Re:Get a clue! (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think that it's arguable at best that Sun has done more for FOSS than any other company; but you did forget Open Office (although Sun still sells Star Office).

      Also, as other posters have pointed out, people with @sun e-mail addresses have contributed kernel pataches.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:09PM (#10336971) Journal
    The guy in the ZDNet article makes a good point about how Microsoft is not above betraying partners. Sun is a competitor for Microsoft in the small to medium server arena, and Microsoft will in all likelyhood make sure that Sun doesn't get one little bit of marketshare that Microsoft would want. If Sun offers Windows on its low end x86 machines, then Microsoft would be in the position to use that against Sun's Sparc machines. (The usual paid for FUD "analyst studies"), and Sun wouldn't be able to do anything about because it would lose revenue otherwise.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:14PM (#10337006) Journal
    sun is in a death spiral and they're geting increasingly desperate. They've re-arranged the deck chairs so often that they think they have a new boat, but they don't and so the flunkies on one side of the ship are taking on water to help balance the other side - it's a mess.

    I don't want them to disappear - they make great gear - but I know so many ex-Sun people and they all have the same grim view: stick a fork in it.


  • Who cares? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:28PM (#10337075) Homepage
    Sun have about as much chance of impacting Linux's momentum as SCO do.

    I mean, what are they gonna do, refuse to release the specs for their new CPUs so Linux can't run on them?

    I bet the managment at Redhat are losing lots of sleep over that.
  • by Usagi_yo ( 648836 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:50PM (#10337194)
    So what's wrong with competition between Linux and Solaris? Solaris is just as free as Linux is and a whole lot better (flame gear on), at least on sparc equipment, and soon to catch up and surpass on intel platforms too.

    The truth of the matter is, Enterprise installations of Linux are no more free then any other Intel OS competitor, and I think there is a little fear and FUD because Sun is eyeing that market -- albeit later then what some wanted, and there are people with sufficient monatary interests in Linux who like to spread that FUD about Sun.

    I read Groklaw for legal machinations between high tech companies -- not for PJ's opinion on he state of the industry. I've written off PJ's opinion as just somebody who has some sort of financial interest in Linux. PJ has shown nothing but hostility towards Sun. Even in PJ's area of expertise (legal) PJ doesn't report objectively on Sun ... I.E Sun's 2 billion dollar settlement with Microsoft. It's contantly portrayed as something evil, rather then what it was. Expedient, neccessary and a win for Sun.

    Sun is driving towards Open source code Solaris, but they still want to (and deserve to be) the gatekeeper and ultimate authority on Solaris.

    I repeat again, PJ's and Groklaws opinions on the state of the industry regarding *any* company are just that ... opinions, and not even expert ones at that. They are however the premier source of the legal wranglings that are going on in the industry.

    The real enemy is/are software patents and software IP. Fight that, not a company like Sun that helped nourish the industry, and even blazed the trail and created the market (need) for Linux.

    I survived 4 layoffs at Sun, I've seen many fine Engineers and innovators leave. Management has never been more open to us and forthright with us on what we have to do to survive and none of it involves cheating or fuddling the Industry. It's all quality, innovation and execution.

  • Sun Had a Great Idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @12:22AM (#10337387) Homepage Journal
    With their platform-independant language that you could compile anywhere and then run the binaries anywhere else. Unfortunately the world went a different way. Java is all very nice in theory but in practise, "write once run everywhere" doesn't really work out that way.

    My prediction is that if Bush wins again in November, Microsoft will tell the DOJ to get bent, acquire SCO and Sun and mount a huge legal attack on IBM which, while doomed to eventual failure, will keep the business community out of the UNIX/Linux market until they can get Longhorn on the shelves.

  • by Zarf ( 5735 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:42AM (#10337703) Journal
    Not the first time Sun has taken a stance that if not carefully balanced was self-damning. Sun hasn't made one of these work yet. One of these days they'll get a cohesive corporate strategy because they'll either get it right or get left behind in such a small niche there'll be no self-damning stances to take.

    *) If the goal of Java was to make lots of money, then they failed. If the goal was to be really "cool" and sell books and classes then they succeeded.
    *) If the goal of selling Linux was to take the Linux marked... fail. If the goal of selling Linux was to have a cheaper to maintain 'nix to sell... success.

    Sabotaging the Linux market may be in the best short-term intrest of Sun because they win more dollars than if the Linux market was thriving. But, it's not a good long-term strategy because they'l have to work against their own press.

    It's like demanding a handi-cap for your team because it's your ball and if you don't get it you're going home. Then when you get beat bad enough getting mad and asking for the rules to be changed. It won't make you many friends. But, then you may not care about friends... you may just care about winning.

    Now, if you were playing a ball game for you life wouldn't you think about cheating too?
  • not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:38AM (#10337857)
    Schwartz and other top Sun employees have been badmouthing non-Sun open source efforts for years. They have claimed that open source cannot be trusted to deliver a standardized platform. They have also implied [] that Gnome is "open source crap" that requires effort from Sun to turn into a usable GUI (the last claim is amusing, given that the GUIs Sun has produced by themselves have been abysmal failures).

    All this would just be mildly amusing if it weren't for two things. First, Schwartz has been busy trying to redefine the meaning of "open" (which cleverly starts with "I can't define terms, but here is what the term 'open' should mean"), both in "open standards" and in "open source". In his definition of "open", apparently, proprietary software can be "open").

    The second, more dangerous effort is to misrepresent Java as an "open standard", as something that the industry should standardize on. Everybody should carefully read the legal verbiage at the beginning of Sun's Java specifications and search for Sun's patents at the USPTO; Sun's efforts are subtle, but they own and control the Java platform, specification, technology, patents. This is particularly worrisome given that Sun is having increasing problems staying afloat--dying companies can do real damage if they own widely used standards.

    Here is another choice comment from Johnathan's Blog:
    It's tough to compete against a social movement. Especially one in which you're a believer. That's what Sun's been facing for the past few years when it comes to Linux. Linux represents all the ideals we've espoused for decades: openness, freedom, innovation,

    even open source (remember, Sun was started with open source).
    This claim is disingenuous; yes, Sun was started with open source, but Sun made a business out of making open source software proprietary and then adding more proprietary extensions. Sun tried to control window systems with proprietary systems (NeWS) and failed. They generally released software only when it looked like a business failure (Tcl/Tk) and created open standards only when competition forced them to.

    Overall, the message is: don't trust Sun. When they release open source software, thank them for it, after checking the license carefully. A open source release like OpenOffice may have been self-serving, but it is still useful. But just because a company releases some open source software doesn't mean that their goals and interests are aligned with open source efforts. Ultimately, Sun is on a collision course with open source, they know it, and sooner or later, there will be a showdown.
  • by christophersaul ( 127003 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:43AM (#10338938) log/analysts_on_opensolaris

    This guy's blog puts things nicely in perspective. Some excellent points.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:04AM (#10339106)
    Sunw just thinks that Linux should know it's place. Which - according to sunw - is on the desktop, competing with msft. Sunw has specifically stated this.

    Notice the name of Sunw's Linux? "Java Desktop" ? It has nothing to do with Java, but sunw thinks Java = Sunw. And notice it's only "desktop" there is no "Java Server".

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs