Home > Rumors > Sun, IBM Should Quit Open-Source Posturing Sun, IBM Should Quit Open-Source Posturing Eugenia Loli 2004-07-02 Rumors 29 Comments Sun has brought the debate over who is “more open source” down to the playground level, and both companies could do better at it, eWEEK’s Linux & Open Source Editor Steven Vaughan-Nichols writes. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 29 Comments 2004-07-02 1:53 am The author seems to forget about Open Office which is pretty important – I don`t see anybody else rushing to give away full featured desktop suites. 2004-07-02 2:01 am It is no surprise to see an increase of attacks on IBM by Sun. After the giant payoff and the installation of the Microsoft mind puppet as the new CEO of Sun — Schwartz — the game plan was set it stone as “attack all enemies of Microsoft”. I would expect to see an increase in attacks on other companies by Sun as well as greater and greater claims to some ethereral intellectual property that is “UNIX”. What the author fails to point out is that all IBM is doing is asking Sun to join the Open Source movement for real, not just pay it lip service all the while stabbing it in the back. There is no spat between IBM and Sun, just Sun the Microsoft attack dog going after IBM. I don’t think too many are getting fooled by Microsoft’s latest puppet trick. 2004-07-02 2:04 am I wonder if Steve gets paid to write for eWEEK? Seriously, he says Sun should open Java and Solaris and IBM should give away their patients? They have to make money somewhere, sure RH sells services and support, but just because they do it does not mean that market is large enough for everyone to do the same. Maybe MS should GPL windows and just make money on tech support, just because that works for some people does not mean you can take a cookie cutter approach as assuming it will work for everyone. That said, I once stated that I didn’t really see where Looking Glass fits into Suns future, in part being that it is runs on SuSE Linix which is now owned by Novel. I figured they would lose focus on the project, and with that said, they make it open source. 2004-07-02 2:32 am Sun is far from Microsoft’s attack dog. Sun is right to point out that IBM will be the biggest winner if Java goes opensource. 2004-07-02 3:24 am Lets face it, IBM and Sun have pretty much be about equal as far as open sourcing goes. Sun technically can’t open source Solaris cause of SCO and to be fair IBM protects itself by pateting stuff. IMO I think Sun doesnt need to Open Source Java or Solaris and IBM doesnt nor needs to Open Source their top level software. Free software has a negative cost to the developer. Its kinda like a free sales tax sale at a funiture store, the store still has to absorb the costs, and FOSS costs money. Therefore Free and Open everything isn’t all that great and these corporations are technically only looking at their own interest 😉 I also think People should stop dissing Sun. Sure their main executives should shut up and do or do not instead of saying they MIGHT. But I see as much OSS in Sun as I do in IBM. Of course if both would work at fixing the patent issue id be much happier. They do have Lawyers, why are they lobbying. X_X. Makes you think dont it. /rant 2004-07-02 3:27 am I hate replying but someone will probably comment. why aren’t* they lobbying. 2004-07-02 3:34 am As usual, Sun is crazy and boastful, IBM is crafty and plays its cards close to the vest. Nothing new to see here, move along. 2004-07-02 3:47 am IBM wants to open-source Java is because they don’t want to have to maintain their own copy anymore, but, at the same time, don’t want to use Sun’s. The IBM JDK is a memory hog, crashes A LOT, and, IBM knows it. Not by choice, but, I do have to use it for my work, developing under Studio. If there was an easier way to develop from IBM WAS outside of Studio, I would do it, but, if you need to take advantage of any of IBM’s proprietary extensions to J2EE, you need Studio (yes, you can use the AAT, but, it does not support all the options available through Studio). But, alas, now I have gone off on a tangent. Back to the open-source JVM question, well, my point is, they don’t want to open source it for the community, they want to do it for themselves, and could care less about the community. But, that should be expected. After all, they are a business, and, open-source users aren’t their clients. 2004-07-02 3:57 am Sun are about to go bust. In my mind, one of the main reasons for Sun’s push towards open source is that it’s acknowledgement of their impending doom. At least they’re giving something to the community in their death throws, and I have to respect that. 2004-07-02 4:26 am I did a blog entry qyoting my thoughts on this editorial. I wont reproduce it because its lengthy. If you wanna read it go here. http://rjdohnert.blogspot.com/2004/07/sun-ibm-should-quit-open-sour… 2004-07-02 4:33 am But, alas, now I have gone off on a tangent. Back to the open-source JVM question, well, my point is, they don’t want to open source it for the community, they want to do it for themselves, and could care less about the community. But, that should be expected. IBM has seen the business value that a community can bring. Most well-run companies have – MS with MSDN fr’example. Sun has been notably sucky at fostering business-beneficial communities. Leaving aside Java for the moment, look at the on-again-off-again shafting they’ve given Solaris x86 users. Take the Cobalt Qube, which is now taking off (in Japan, as it happens) only after they’ve open-sourced the ROM code as a way of dumping it. OpenOffice is notably hacker-unfriendly. GNOME is maybe their one OSS-community success – and it was already a stron community before they stepped in. Sun’s participation in open-source has been transparently self-interested. “CDE sucks, let’s fund GNOME”, “we hate MS, let’s open-source a competitor”. IBM’s by contrast, has had the appearance of sincerity, although of course it too is self-interested. All of this may be cosmetics and finesse; but cosmetics and finesse are important when you’re concerned with PR. McNealy and Schwartz are not good at finesse. So the JCP is the big banner example of a Sun-driven community. To me, a “community” driven by entrenched big-corporate developers with a LISP-sized “small problems don’t concern us” chip on their shoulder is not much of a community. The JCP and the world of J2EE development is seriously out-of-touch. After all, they are a business, and, open-source users aren’t their clients. Er? 2004-07-02 4:43 am Let’s also not forget that IBM is kind of handcuffed right now, because of the lawsuit….. 2004-07-02 5:20 am “Sun is crazy and boastful, IBM is crafty and plays its cards close to the vest.” As a sun and IBM investor, I totally agree with you. That’s one of the smartest things said yet. IBM, however, were the ones who started this crap with sun when they started criticising them over open source java. So… they were using their unique position in the SCO suite to take advantage and shoot sun with OSS people and they successfully did it. IBM is smart and although they are evil, they are still very smart. 2004-07-02 5:37 am Sun’s participation in open-source has been transparently self-interested. “CDE sucks, let’s fund GNOME”, “we hate MS, let’s open-source a competitor”. IBM’s by contrast, has had the appearance of sincerity, although of course it too is self-interested. All of this may be cosmetics and finesse; but cosmetics and finesse are important when you’re concerned with PR. McNealy and Schwartz are not good at finesse. Excuse me!!!! CDE was jointly developed by many unix vendors. HP and IBM also join the GNOME foundation to develop it to replace CDE. So far only Sun has done anything to that end. HP and IBM are passive. http://www.software.hp.com/products/GNOME/ Hp stopped at 1.4 and outsourced development to Ximian, while Sun is actively contributing. http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/aix/os/sysman/desktop.html All this after, http://zdnet.com.com/2100-11-522998.html?legacy=zdnn “Among the companies slated to announce their support for GNOME at a press conference Tuesday at LinuxWorld in San Jose, Calif., are Compaq, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun. The group will call itself the GNOME Foundation.” What about NetBeans, NFS? what was the self interest there????? I will give you one thing Sun is brash and IBM is subtle. 2004-07-02 6:08 am don’t you see IBM is using their position among open source lovers because of the SCO lawsuit thing. They are USING the community to hurt their competetition. That’s something the Open Source community should stay out of–business–for the most part. When you take the open source community and make them align with specific businesses and hate other businesses that clearly support open source as well(and more if its sun).. it is very damaging to the community and the Open source community can obviously be doing much more than do what big huge billion dollar companies that lead foreign outsourcing, and have a hush-hush attitude about exposing employees to toxins. Hphm. 2004-07-02 7:09 am ” don’t you see IBM is using their position among open source lovers because of the SCO lawsuit thing. They are USING the community to hurt their competetition ” Im going to expand on this a little bit. I agree with what this guy has said. IBM has more than done its fair share of rallying among the Open Source community. To the point that most users wont even acknowledge the fact that there could be SCO owned code in Linux. So my question is this, if I license software code to IBM for them to incorporate into their products. IBM decided they hate my license agreement and decides to Open Source it anyway, they sneak it out to the Linux community over time. When I go and claim that code, will I be the subject of as much hatred and community spawned rhetoric? 2004-07-02 7:52 am Raptor, Thanks for your response. I will give you one thing Sun is brash and IBM is subtle. Okay. That was basically all of my point. Any move a corporation makes is self-interested; some do a better job at eliding this. To elaborate a little: so far Sun’s open-source contributions (and let me acknowledge right off the bat that they have given over more code than anyone else) but, Sun’s open-source contributions have tended to be – how to say it? – kind of around the edges. OpenOffice, shortcomings aside, is a godsend. The work Sun did for Gnome is outstanding. But the open-source desktop is, regrettably, still a small market. On the other side, things like NFS are a bit arcane. NFS is substantial to those who know their stuff, but beyond the horizon of the average Slashbot. Now, take IBM’s work on the Linux kernel. Core technology. All of a sudden somewhere around 2000-ish analysts started changing their “Linux is not ready for the enterprise” tune, and you started seeing uptake beyond small web boxes and print servers. When people say “Sun has done nothing for open-source”, they should really be saying “nothing headline-grabbing”. IBM also appeared to be helping Linux at the expense of their own AIX product. Nevermind that they’d neglected AIX for years; nevermind that they still try to steer AIX customers away from Linux. It looked like they were drawing their own blood. Also, IBM was the first really big corp. to jump on the bandwagon. They seemed ahead of their time. Finally, some of Sun’s OSS moves – like the Cobalt Qube ROM – have been products they’ve given up on. “We don’t want it, you can have it” does not generally inspire gratitude. Despite Solaris’s technical virtues, many people perceive it as another throwaway. So open-source advocates tend to fawn over IBM because their contributions, while smaller in terms of codebase, were core, headline-grabbing, apparently risky to themselves, timely, and not perceived as throwaway. IF – if – Sun wants to get the same kind of adulation as IBM, about the only thing they can offer that meets all those criteria is Java. Of course, their job is to please shareholders, not open-source coders. If the two groups’ interests diverge, too bad for open-source. If they happen to coincide, Sun should know what they need to do. 2004-07-02 10:22 am There is absolutely no problem with IBM being self interested. Look at it this way. In commerce, when a transaction occurs, both parties should believe it to be mutually beneficial. So if IBM makes a contribution to Linux, it benefits IBM because Linux is now better and IBM is seen in better light by the community, and it benefits the community in that Linux is now better as well. If Java were open sourced, the community would be happy, and if IBM were responsible for that by applying pressure, then the community would be happy with IBM. standardisation would probably follow because there would be no need for iBM to have its own independent code base. No likely forking is going to take place because Java is probably huge. it would probably kill Classpath and so on. java is too big to fork for little benefit if it were to become open source. I think SUN want power, which is why they won’t open source Java, but I seriously believe they are looking into it because of the threat posed by Mono and .NET. 2004-07-02 12:29 pm Maynard I think your right, Java like Open Office will be to big to fork. But probally every other version would disappear very quickly, including IBM’s own versions. Open Office would never be forked either(minus Star Office). Sun’s only real reason is because they don’t want to lose control of java, but unless something happens soon, .net(mono) will take complete control and java will be done anyway. Java needs a boost soon in order to counter MS. 2004-07-02 12:32 pm >>don’t you see IBM is using their position among open source lovers because of the SCO lawsuit thing. They are USING the community to hurt their competetition.<< FACT: it was scox who initially attacked ibm and the open-source community. It was not some scheme coooked up by ibm to “use” the OSS community. >>That’s something the Open Source community should stay out of–business–for the most part.<< FACT: scox attacked the open-source community. The open-source community is only defending itself against scox’s extortion scam. >>When you take the open source community and make them align with specific businesses and hate other businesses that clearly support open source as well<< FACT: sunw joined scox to attack ibm and the open-source community. Who do you think the OSS community would side with? 2004-07-02 2:25 pm Ever notice how Sun seems to jump on the bandwagon and start yelling like they are something special ? Late to Linux (now they want to open source Solaris), Late to Open Source (suddenly they are the *most open source company in existence – ya right*), Late with real developments (only since .net have they started ramping up the Java development, had they pushed hard the whole time Java would be farther along). Sun isn’t a leader anymore. They are a whiney knee jerk organization that is showing signs of no focus. They don’t really have a plan. Its panic time. Time to start settling with companies like MS, accusing other companies of god knows what and throwing around the buzz words like they are still relevant. Sad truth is they aren’t relevant anymore. The sun is slowly setting on a has been and they can’t see it. 2004-07-02 2:43 pm I think that the Linux “Community” should take what they can get. If these two want to fight great! it just brings more attention to Linux! This guy is just a whiner trying to turn up controversy where their isn’t any* *Disclaimer IBM is a big company what i do for them has nothing to do with their Linux interests. The opinions expressed here by me are mine alone. 2004-07-02 2:46 pm Your resume has a small typo: “Compaq Insight manager ,Iplanet webserver” should be “Compaq Insight manager, Iplanet webserver” 2004-07-02 3:00 pm “IBM Should Quit Open-Source Posturing” or. . . opensource OS/2 🙂 2004-07-02 3:12 pm “IBM Should Quit Open-Source Posturing” or. . . opensource OS/2 I’m pretty sure you’re joking, but for those who might wonder, they can’t – MS owns much of the code. 2004-07-02 5:17 pm I wouldn’t compare Java to Open Office. There’s little reason to fork Open Office (BTW, there are already KDE and GNOME forks, but those will be remerged in OO 2.0 and will result in three OO flavours for Linux.). The most you can do is package only a subset of OO (e.g. only the word processor). Java is a lot more like Debian or Fedora or United Linux (which now only consists of SuSE and Conectiva). Java is a *distribution* of technologies. It covers a lot of areas and tries to duplicate every aspect of the underlying OS. There are currently 3 “forks” of Java: J2ME (for embedded devices), J2SE (the standard edition), J2EE (which is a superset of J2SE that includes JSP, EJBs, etc). These forks are pretty benign since each is essentially a superset of the one below it. If Java were open sourced, it’s almost certain that that incompatible forks would be created. For instance, some embedded device providers may opt to use J2EE, but cut out Swing and other things they don’t need. They would use SWT or embedded Gtk or embedded Qt for their graphics needs. They’d use direct access to devices instead of through Java’s standard devices. If that fork became popular, you’d have an embedded version of Java that was incompatible with other versions. It would cause Java to no longer be Write-Once-Run-Anywhere. HTML is an example of what you get when WORA becomes “Write Once Kludge Everywhere”. Writing something nontrivial that works in Netscape 4.7 and Mozilla and IE 5+ is not fun. Personally, I think that the best way around this problem is the Linux Standards Base approach. Only Java distributions that have passed the “Java Standards Base” certification may call themselves Java. You can chose to ignore the Java Standards Base (Gentoo ignores the Linux Standards Base), but then you’re at the mercy of your users. Gentoo ignores the LSB, but from what I understand, it tries hard to avoid gratuitous incompatibilities since the LSB has advantages. 2004-07-03 6:34 am “So my question is this, if I license software code to IBM for them to incorporate into their products. IBM decided they hate my license agreement and decides to Open Source it anyway, they sneak it out to the Linux community over time. When I go and claim that code, will I be the subject of as much hatred and community spawned rhetoric? “ The hatred would not be there if SCO could produce the code. The fact is they have yet to be able to produce any code they claim, instead they have kept asking for more and more source of AIX, in order to find the infringing code. The whole thing was based on SCO claiming there was infringing code in Linux, and they knew what it was. Yet here we are and they have yet to be able to produce one line to the courts. They claim thousands, however not one has been identified yet. That seems a little fishy to me, and deserving of doubt. Especially when you have a company that has not had a viable product in years. Just my opinion of course. 2004-07-03 4:47 pm i can’t believe this dude got paid to write this “article”. it’s nothing more than a rant that wouldn’t look out of place among the modded down posts here or the comments on slashdot with a score below 2. he starts off saying that he’s tired of the school yard type fights that big corporations like Sun and IBM are waging against eachother and then he joins in! anyway, i know it’s a popular bandwagon to jump on to and start lashing out at sun but we shouldn’t forget that they did release openoffice.org which is one of the most important projects for desktop linux (aswell as corporate). if it was suddenly withdrawn (which, i know, is impossible), desktop linux would be set back by at least 5 years. 2004-07-06 12:57 pm This is not about a particular product, rather this is about IBM’s lack of it’s own programming platform while playing second fiddle to SUN Microsystem’s Java platform and Microsoft’s .NET. There is a pure OOP programming platform that IBM can rally around and it’s been around for years. That platform is Smalltalk. In terms of OOP, Smalltalk is better then Java and C#. Don’t be an also ran fighting with SUN over Java. Rally around Smalltalk now!! . Get Alan Kay and his team away from HP and in the process create a platform that would make Gosling and Hejlsberg wonder why they didn’t think of it. Hmm….a modernized Squeak platform with Eclipse hooks might be interesting.