Home > Oracle and SUN > Sun Exec Denies Linux Desktop RetreatSun Exec Denies Linux Desktop Retreat Submitted by george 2005-07-19 Oracle and SUN 27 CommentsReports of the death of Sun Microsystems’ Java Desktop System with Linux combination are exaggerated, says its chief software executive.About The Author Thom HolwerdaFollow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 27 Comments 2005-07-19 7:51 pm orestesSomehow, I have trouble taking that at face value. 2005-07-20 8:16 pm Having OpenSolaris I don’t see why they (indeed anyone but specially them) spend their development efforts on Linux. 2005-07-19 8:10 pm I don’t think I will switch from KDE anytime soon. I know this is the start of a holy war, in spite of that, here is why I prefer KDE over GNOME : * Lots of good applications – Kate, Konsole, Quanta Plus, K3B, KSysGuard, Cervisia, KSnapshot, and many many more. Show me some reasonably good equivalents in the GNOME world. I’ve come across none. * Konqueror rocks – A web browser, file explorer, FTP client, manpage viewer, etc, etc all rolled into one. * Integration – Because of the KPart system, I can view zip files or read text within Konqueror and without the need to open another application. Also, all settings can be changed from a single Control Center. * OK and Cancel buttons are in the right order – yes, this is a serious usability issue for me. * IMHO, KDE is faster and more stable than GNOME. Also, Qt applications tend to be more lightweight and more stable than Gtk applications. For example, compare Kontact and Evolution, KDevelop and Anjuta, and the best comparison of all, Konsole and gnome-terminal. * KDE works well on FreeBSD whereas GNOME comes lacking in this respect. I know this doesn’t particularly apply to me but in a company like Y! where almost all of the developers are on FreeBSD, this matters. * Upcoming KDE 4 will make you switch back to KDE. Period. 2005-07-19 8:21 pm segedunumI don’t think I will switch from KDE anytime soon. I know this is the start of a holy war, in spite of that, here is why I prefer KDE over GNOME :Yer, OK, we get the point. Yes, I prefer KDE, even for some of the reasons you’ve listed, but this isn’t the time or the place to do it just because Sun happens to use Gnome. Or more specifically, they don’t use Gnome but base their desktop on it. 2005-07-19 8:35 pm I don’t think I will switch from GNOME anytime soon. I know this is the start of a holy war, in spite of that, here is why I prefer GNOME over KDE :*Lots of good applications – GEdit, Terminal, BlueFish, NeroLINUX and many many more. Show me some reasonably good equivalents in the KDE world. I’ve come across none.*Konqueror sucks – A web browser, file explorer, FTP client, manpage viewer, etc, etc all rolled into one memory hog.*Integration – Because of the KPart system, I can’t view zip files or read text within Konqueror without loading all the other libraries I will never need.*OK and Cancel buttons are in the right order – yes, this is a serious usability issue for me compared to what others have copied from Microsoft Windows[TM].*IMHO, GNOME is faster and more stable than KDE. Also, Gtk applications tend to be more lightweight and more stable than Qt applications. For example, compare gnomesu and kdesu, GEdit and Kate, and the best comparison of all, yelp and khelpcenter.*GNOME works well on Solaris whereas KDE comes lacking in this respect. I know this doesn’t particularly apply to me but in a company like X! where almost all of the developers are on Solaris, this matters.*Upcoming KDE 4 will make you switch away from KDE. Period. 2005-07-19 9:33 pm Glad you like KDE. I happen to prefer GNOME. Though today, I’m checking out XFCE and Fluxbox and I like both of those, as well. 🙂None of our many possible desktops would be as good as they are if they had not had competition. Not just from MS and Apple, but more immediate competition from other X desktops.Each has something unique to offer that the others don’t. Each has something that appeals to a certain segment of users. 2005-07-19 8:45 pm To all gnome fans who think that gtk is more business orientedI have yet to see commercial GTK applications whilekde plus qt have many succesful commercial apps. 2005-07-19 10:19 pm > To all gnome fans who think that gtk is more business> oriented I have yet to see commercial GTK applications> while kde plus qt have many succesful commercial apps.Where are they? I don’t know any! It’s no surprise because it’s ridiculously expensive: It starts from €1420 up to €5260 and is controlled by a single company.OK, one popular exception is Skype. On the other hand, there are acroread, RealPlayer, Eclipse, Nero, VMWare, StarOffice, BitRock and Moho.The X11 market is very small anyway, but who wants to pay at least €1420 for developing on a platform that almost nobody uses (0,4% desktop market share) if he can get a 100% unicode-based one for free? 2005-07-20 9:54 am Companies wouldn’t be paying that amount to develop for a platform some low percentage (which you pulled from your rear) uses, they would be paying for a platform that runs on Windows and Mac and Linux and which does a good job of simplifying development for these 3 disparate platforms. I’m pretty sure no company wants to make commercial Windows or Mac apps with GTK, so your comment about market size is pretty off base.They’d be getting an easy to use tool that reduces the cost of development (that 1420 euro figure you cite is a negligable percentage of the wage of a good programmer, who would potentially take less time to do something with Qt).Even if that cost proves to be too much for companies, it hardly means KDE failed. Not everyone in Open Source really cares about pandering to proprietary software, there will be those who are perfectly content to use KDE with only Free software.I just can’t see where your fixation with Trolltech’s commercial license comes from. 2005-07-19 8:55 pm segedunumHowever the company has experienced problems selling it to corporate desktops, where Microsoft’s Windows remains entrenched.Well of course they have. You don’t just wander into environments and expect it to replace Windows. Firstly, Gnome, and certainly Sun’s version, and the applications they’ve cobbled together are not up to the job. You’ve then got the entrenched lock-in of various software. You’ve got to have a clear strategy of how to get people off Windows, what to recommend and work out what keeps them there, but Sun are simply too weak to come up with one.One proponent of JDS on Solaris is Sun desktop engineer Glynn Foster, who several weeks ago proposed the genesis of a community of developers to integrate JDS more tightly with Sun’s OpenSolaris operating system.I find Sun’s Open Solaris community amusing. There seems to be a strange expectation by Sun that an open source developer community will magically materialise out of thin air to integrate JDS with Open Solaris, all for Sun’s own financial benefit. If you want to do that with JDS and Open Solaris then you’re going to have to invest totally in that yourselves, Sun. Like Microsoft before them, Sun seem to have latched on to this word free, but have no clue as to how it works. They should know by now that no open source developer works for free. You just have to understand the currency of payment.The alternative is to properly pay open source developers by fully open sourcing Open Solaris, relinquishing control and letting people do what they want with it in the same way that you can with Linux and BSD. Open source developers are not stupid. Unless you give up control completely and let the whole project move in its own direction you can simply forget about Open Solaris being open, and there’s no way that Sun will attract the developers needed to make this happen.One of Foster’s admitted aims was to disprove doubt about OpenSolaris being ready to be used on desktop systems.They’re certainly free to do that, but given that in every other company outside of Sun ‘Unix on the desktop’ means ‘Linux on the desktop’, Sun are going to have to take the full brunt of the cost of making desktop Solaris happen. No Open Solaris community is going to materialise to do it for them as it stands. You have to ask if that is economically viable, as open source development depends on shared development effort, even amongst competitors as well as individuals.http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/linuxunix/0,39020390,39206659,00.h……if you had to ask me what’s the most important initial in free and open source software, to me, if you want to reach the broadest marketplace in the world there’s one price that works for everyone, and that’s free… and so the free part is what we’ve been focused on,” said Schwartz.Sun just doesn’t understand that the free part has to be paid for, they just simply don’t grok how it all works and they’re going to pay for their free software. Literally. 2005-07-19 11:02 pm marioHow can you say that “Sun just doesn’t understand that the free part has to be paid for, they just simply don’t grok how it all works and they’re going to pay for their free software.” when Sun pays dozens of it’s own staff to work on Gnome!? Or how about Sun buying Star Division (or whatever was their name) for half a billion bucks, and then releases the code for StarOffice? 2005-07-20 10:08 pm segedunum…when Sun pays dozens of it’s own staff to work on Gnome!? Or how about Sun buying Star Division (or whatever was their name) for half a billion bucks, and then releases the code for StarOffice?There’s a difference between hiring open source developers and working out what you’re going to do with it and how it’s going to pay for itself. Has Star Office payed for itself yet? I’m as big a fan of open source software as the next person, but when all is said and done it has to be econimically viable, especially for a financially problematic company like Sun. 2005-07-20 7:48 pm your a mean and your opinions are flawed 2005-07-20 10:18 pm segedunumyour a mean and your opinions are flawedWow. Thanks for that well reasoned and well argumented comment ;-). 2005-07-21 12:58 am If linux is so open how come I cannot get a kernel debugger for stright linux. There are some distro’s that are incorporating them now as part of their distro. Same with kernel dumps. What I am trying to get at is Linux is not that open. If Linus does not like your changes it does not go in. You are of course free to look, modify, change and redistribute your changes along with Linux kernel which is what the distros do.Now before you go off on a rant on Sun, CDDL and OpenSolaris, please read and understand the CDDL license. You will see that there is nothing to prevent one from making changes and distributing those changes, w/o providing them back to OpenSolaris. 2005-07-21 1:24 pm segedunumIf linux is so open how come I cannot get a kernel debugger for stright linux. There are some distro’s that are incorporating them now as part of their distro.Because if I’m using Linux I simply don’t need, or even want, a kernel debugger. Those are for the hackers and engineers. If many distros are now providing such tools, and it interests me, then that’s great but it’s hardly an essential tool for people using the software.What I am trying to get at is Linux is not that open.What, Linux isn’t open because many distributions haven’t included a kernel debugger? Well, I’m sure some of us will get over the disappointment :-).If Linus does not like your changes it does not go in.Total bollocks I’m afraid. There are hundreds to thousands of developers committing to the kernel every week, with thousands of commits going in. On big issues and changes, Linus tends to get the final say, but he rarely does these days simply because he cannot review everything. The person in charge of 2.6 maintenance is Andrew Morton, and there are dozens of other people who verify and sign off each other’s patches every day.When there is a community of people around Open Solaris, both individuals and people from other companies outside of Sun, making thousands of commits to Open Solaris at a time then you can give us all a call. Sun controls Open Solaris, and no open source developer will be stupid enough to give up his time and effort to that.Now before you go off on a rant on Sun, CDDL and OpenSolaris, please read and understand the CDDL license.Th CDDL is a license designed for Sun to keep control and make sure code stays inside Sun’s realm. The CDDL is simply an unecessary license give all of the other choices Sun could have made.Just because a license is ratified by a body that will ratify just about any license as an open source one, that does not mean that it’s open source or that it will work. The license doesn’t matter so much as the community that is built up, but the license has to encourage developers take part and to cross-pollinate from other open source projects.You will see that there is nothing to prevent one from making changes and distributing those changes, w/o providing them back to OpenSolaris.Well duh. However, you will have great difficulty contributing CDDL code to any other open source projects. I could fork any open source project I like and not contribute code back, but given the size of the projects and manpower required, what’s the point? 2005-07-21 2:55 am The OpenSolaris desktop community is nothing to do with integrating JDS with OpenSolaris – Sun is quite happy, and more than willing to do that itself. The principle goals of the community is to encourage users and developers to run and develop desktop applications on OpenSolaris.I think Sun and the JDS team understands open source better than you give them credit for. Sun has been involved in GNOME development for the past 5 years, and has put significant resources into that project – along with many other open source projects out there. 2005-07-21 12:46 pm segedunumThe OpenSolaris desktop community is nothing to do with integrating JDS with OpenSolaris – Sun is quite happy, and more than willing to do that itself.Maybe you didn’t read the article, or you’ve got something stuck in your ears (or your eyes):“One proponent of JDS on Solaris is Sun desktop engineer Glynn Foster, who several weeks ago proposed the genesis of a community of developers to integrate JDS more tightly with Sun’s OpenSolaris operating system.”I think Sun and the JDS team understands open source better than you give them credit for. Sun has been involved in GNOME development for the past 5 years, and has put significant resources into that project – along with many other open source projects out there.Putting resources into open source projects is easy. Knowing how they work and how to get something out of the whole process is something entirely different. I’ve argued successfully that Sun doesn’t have a clue about that, and has simply latched, like Microsoft, on to the word free. 2005-07-19 9:59 pm You mean like vmware. 2005-07-20 6:25 am testyou mean like MySQL Admin & MySQL QueryBrowser ? 2005-07-19 10:28 pm Nobody wants to pay the Troll tax. The X11 market is meaningless so they don’t want to waste their money. The only hope for KDE is for someone to buy trolltech.The desktop wars are over and Gnome has won because it has a more free license. 2005-07-20 10:17 pm segedunumNobody wants to pay the Troll tax. The X11 market is meaningless so they don’t want to waste their money. The only hope for KDE is for someone to buy trolltech.If you don’t develop software for a living then just say so and don’t comment. Proper developers out there need good development tools, and there’s a huge gulf between that and what’s on offer in the Gnome world.The desktop wars are over and Gnome has won because it has a more free license.The desktop wars are not over because Microsoft still has 90%+ market share. And if there was, or is, a war between KDE and Gnome then it is decided by the users using each desktop.Users decide on a desktop that they think is good enough, not on what license it is published under. I’m sorry, but fanboys in their bedrooms who want to develop everything for nothing do not dictate the direction of things. It’s the people using the software in an impartial manner that count, and I think the two-thirds of desktop Linux users have spoken. 2005-07-19 10:58 pm Why can’t Sun executives simply come up with a company strategy, and then say what they mean to say instead of shooting off their mouths, then following up with a clarification, then have another executive contradict their statement in another forum followed by the ‘shoot-off-mouth/issue clarification’ cycle.Maybe this is their way of staying in the news, but it makes them look like a bunch of clowns. 2005-07-20 12:58 am Yes, but sun takes those changes made to openoffice and injects them into their proprietary fork to make money. Not saying it’s immoral just that they don’t look as innocent to me. 2005-07-20 6:34 am This is a matter of ‘journalists’ mis-interpreting someone’s words…how that’s flip flopping, I’m not sure.You know, the only thing that Sun has really flip-flopped on, as far as OSNews is concerned, was Solaris x86 support _years_ ago. Solaris itself has always been marching steadily forward with improvements, changes, and obseleted items laid out in the release notes. Same with Java, always marching forward. Sun does still sell and maintain Linux, and has done so for several years, now.Solaris is actually the least flip-flopped commonly available platform I’m aware of. Packages from Solaris 8 (that’s, what, 6 years old, now?) still work well on Solaris 10, for example. They were advertising guaranteed binary compatibility going back to Solaris 2.6, I think, and source compatibility going back to Solaris 1.x. Binary compat could go back further, but I don’t know.These are things that Linux distros don’t maintain past even point revisions on the kernel, sometimes. 2005-07-21 12:43 am IMHO its stupid to think in terms of “wars”. Yup its macho to talk it terms of war. Desktops in the end serve users. Users have preferences. I use GNOME/JDS/KDE/Apple’s desktops…sometimes all in one day. Each desktop has its strenghts..include (gasp CDE). It looks awful but hey its fast. 2005-07-21 9:44 pm “Th CDDL is a license designed for Sun to keep control and make sure code stays inside Sun’s realm. The CDDL is simply an unecessary license give all of the other choices Sun could have made. ”The CDDL is necessary because Sun believes in intellectual property, patents, copyright, trademarks, etc. This automatically disqualifies most OSS licenses, because the communities surrounding them are completely hostile to patents, for example. Sun is forced by the _real_world_ to compete against the likes of IBM and Microsoft, who also believe in IP and patents, thus they have to carve out a niche to compete with.Even IBM isn’t completely open, in spite of their nominal adoption of GPL. They cordoned off a fork of OO.org for themselves, for example. Linux-on-mainframes is still proprietary hardware and virtualization technology. Very little of their other software offerings are even open source (DB2? AIX? Notes? Smartsuite?).Compare that, at least, to Sun’s indications that nearly _all_ their software offerings will eventually be CDDLed. I’d love to see IBM or Microsoft even approach that. For software developers, Sun’s approach is a god-send, no matter the license (just seeing the code for support/debugging is invaluable).