Poll: Sun Reaches Out to Linus

Vendors are hiring the Linux faithful and reaching out with offers of collaboration. Is all the recent interest in Linux good for the OS?

It seems these days more and more vendors have a vested interest in Linux. Microsoft recently hired away Tom Hanrahan from the Linux Foundation to head up its Linux interoperability efforts. Prior to that, Sun hired Ian Murdock, creator of Debian, for the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, focusing on Solaris.

And now Sun is again reaching out to the Linux community, this time with an open letter from CEO Jonathan Schwartz to Linux Torvalds inviting him to consider both dinner and an “An OpenSolaris/Linux Mashup.” Jonathan’s suggestion is an excellent one, if a bit complex since some of the technology that makes Solaris unique isn’t openly available.

My question for the comments is how can both parties benefit from working together and do you trust Sun in its new role as an “Open Source company?”

Comments on "Poll: Sun Reaches Out to Linus"


Jonathan Schwartz seems to be demonstrating a genuine commitment to open-sourcing Sun’s intellectual property. He’s crazy like a fox, because of course who has as much experience with “mega-computing” as Sun? It’s a darn short list. Sun stands to get potentially more in this bargain (in hard business dollars) than it contributes (in IP), though mega-multi-processor kernel code ain’t no small shakes either.
If Sun and Torvalds can work out licensing, I think we ALL will benefit.


Solaris is where many of us cut or teeth, Linux is where most of us did personal work at home. Jonathan and Linus have much to share, Linux needs a better files system, OpenSolaris needs more applications. Ian will certainly help with the applications as well, but Linus is the leader of the Linux pack.


“Jonathan Schwartz seems to be demonstrating a genuine commitment to open-sourcing Sun’s intellectual property.”

Excuse me, but HOW SO? Where is the demonstration? What behavior has demonstrated “genuine commitment”? I ask only so the unwashed and clearly out of touch among us can know. I also want to point out that commitment means NOTHING. It implies nothing. Actual behavior is meaningful.

Also, what do you think you mean, what do any of us mean, when we use terms like, “genuine”, or “sincere”, or “good”.

Mr. Schwartz’s job is to create and maximize, at the edges, at the margin, and wherever else possible, the profit and revenue of Sun, period – that is how his performance is judged, that is how his salary is set, etc. It also makes it reasonably simple to intuit and understand his behavior, which in turn has the added benefit of allowing one to better understand the entity that is Sun – i.e. profit seeking is a context that leads to well understood behavior, hopefully rational, even if strange, obfuscated, and murky at times.

And that is all well and good, go Amerika! and all that.

But my question to you reader is, are you under the impression, living in a world inside your head of “magical” thinking and childish wish fulfillment, that this is some kind of love-in and “Jonathon” is some kind of hippy dippy ponytail wearing high priest of all that is good and wonderful about OSS and Linux?

I would also suggest that if you, as in whomever is reading this, are not on a personal first name basis with Mr. Schwartz, to use the man’s last name as a show of respect and more importantly, as a buffer for objective analysis: he is not a pop-culture Disney icon who has invited the world to endear themselves to him, and he to they, through the folk usage of his first name.

My almost last question: Why must we give Mr. Schwartz the benefit of the doubt for the moment? He has had it for a long time. His response to the post by Linus Torvalds, as indicated by many posters at this point, is somewhat disingenuous and avoids seriously responding to the charges on the table. Just go read the post by the team lead of SSH for an explanation of what I am alluding to here.

So, let us see what Mr. Schwartz, and the company called SUN, that HE RUNS, and for whose PROFITS he is held RESPONSIBLE, does.

Final Jeopardy Question: When a Linux/OSS/Free Software person uses the word “good” when describing or discussing behavior or choices related to software development, the industry, OSS, Linux, etc, do you think it has the same meaning Mr. Schwartz ascribes to it when used as a modifier like, “good profits”, or, “good behavior that will lead to good profits”?


I’ve been using Linux for over 8 years now, had dealings with Solaris for 3, and quite frankly I can’t see much benefit from a mash-up, specially with Sol 10 and ZFS; ZFS has a few good points, but the implementation as far as I’m concerned is very lacking. We’ve seen panics here caused by ZFS, and the fact that Sun recommends 1GB of RAM to use ZFS doesn’t endear it to me particularly, either.

I can’t stand Sun’s PAM implementation. And can’t find much in the OS that I’d prefer to how it’s done in Linux, not to speak of the (not necessarily related) applications/tools that are bundled with it; awk, sed and grep as shipped with Solaris are very feature-poor compared to the GNU counterparts.

I do, however, like dtrace.


actually, Zones would be nice to see ported elsewhere and GPLed. i think they did a decent job implementing containers.

i would certainly rather deal with Sun than MS. i’m undecided about IBM, as they are hard to judge: backing OSS, but hideously bureaucratic and hierarchical organization with vestiges of the most conservative proprietary culture on the other hand.


I don’t see this as anything more than Sun trying to look good to the Linux community. I just sat in a meeting with Sun sales rep’s receiving a presentation of Sun’s new low-end storage server, just a jbod with ZFS. When I mentioned that we were a Linux shop and converting our existing Solaris systems to Linux (RHEL to be exact), all I got was a song & dance about how Solaris was better, and that Sun contributed to the open source community with open Solaris. Has anybody look at open Solaris? It’s pretty lame. And even after all these years, they still don’t have a comprehensive admin interface, like YAST. (admin console doesn’t qualify as a comprehensive admin interface) Sun HAD to build ZFS, they were loosing their lunch to Veritas. Even AIX and HPUX has some form of sysadm. I don’t see how anything that Sun has could be a valuable contribution to the open source team.


We use Sun servers rather extensively, and have found zones to be excellent technology. We have’t adopted ZFS yet, although the technology looks sweet for higher end machines.

Sun has indeed donated more code to the GPL than most any other on the planet, most famously Java. I don’t consider it fair to state “they had no choice” and also “they should be judged on their actions, not their words”. While they are certainly acting in their own best interest (as they should), both their actions and words have been rather pro-FLOSS for quite some time.

I’m not ready to pick out curtains or anything, and have always felt that Sun would much rather be Microsoft than Sun, but Sun is donating while Microsoft is threatening and undermining – so give me Sun over MS any day.


Did anyone notice the spelling of “Linux Torvalds?” funny no?

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