eWeek: Cut and Paste Journalism

Nice to see Greg Papadopoulos, Sun's CTO, blogging, eh? And his first post today was on OpenSolaris. Excellent!

eWeek picked up on Greg's blog and wrote an utterly fascinating article -- Sun CTO: New License Protects Developer Rights. And it's rather telling how eWeek characterizes Sun, Greg, HP, Linus Torvalds, and OpenSolaris in the piece.

First the eWeek writer, Peter Galli, quotes Greg's blog from today:

"Open software is fundamentally about developer freedom," Papadopoulos said.

"We want developers to freely use any of the Open Solaris code that we developed for their purposes without any fear of IP [intellectual property] infringement of Sun: either patent or copyright. We chose a license, the CDDL, an improvement of MPL [Mozilla Public License], that clearly and explicitly gives that freedom," he said.

Then Galli quotes Linus Torvalds from this article on December 13, 2004:

But Torvalds said he sees no such freedom in the license choice, telling eWEEK recently that Sun "wants to keep a moat against the barbarians at the gate."

"I think there are parallels with the Java 'we'll control the process' model," he said. "I personally think that their problem is that they want to control the end result too much, and because of that, they won't get any of the real advantages of open source."

Ok, it's a really old quote, but at least it's characterized as an old quote with the "recently" reference. But my question is this: why did eWeek feel the need to recycle an old quote from two months ago in the first place? It's just odd. Especially since Linus commented on OpenSolaris and CDDL in CRN just last week and said this:

"It all looks good. I was disappointed in their Java work, it was a complete disaster, and Sun took control of it," Torvalds told CRN, alluding to the Java Community Process. "But CDDL is different. Everything is in place for it to work well."

So, not only does Galli not mention Torvalds' more recent positive statements in CRN, but he then juxtaposes Greg's recent comments directly with Torvalds' comments from two months ago, giving the reader the impression that the two men are debating when they clearly are not:

In comments posted to his first "official" blog on Monday and titled "My views on open source," Papdopoulos disagreed, further defending the CDDL by saying that complementary to developer freedoms are developer rights. He said code developers do have rights to the code they have developed, as this is, after all, the fruit of their labor.

I don't know about you, but I hate it when reporters do this.

Next Galli recycles some negative comments from HP from that very same December 13, 2004 article but doesn't attribute them as such. So, we are led to believe that these comments from HP are recent. They are not.

Some of Sun's largest competitors are welcoming the dissention over the CDDL. Efrain Rovira, worldwide director of Linux marketing at Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif., told eWEEK that he enjoys competing with Sun when it continues to make mistakes such as this.

"They will not be able to build a viable community to support Open Solaris if they use the CDDL," Rovira said. "What they are saying to the community about their support for open source and Linux is that they are half pregnant.

"There are no half measures here: You either are or you aren't. This is part of the schizophrenic attitude we continue to see coming out of Sun," he said.

But Papadopoulos said developers could take any or all of the Solaris modules and, if they respected the basic license terms of propagating it and making public any improvements or bug fixes, they could "do with it as they please."

Did you catch that last paragraph? Galli now has Greg debating HP -- separated by two months in time but clearly positioned otherwise.

Next Galli offers more of Greg's blog from today:

"Embed it any product. Build your own custom distributions. Intermix with any other code you wish -- assuming that code lets you do it. You can do any of that, and you get a grant to any patents we might have covering our code. That's an explicit part of the license," he said.

The only thing Sun asks in exchange was the same thing that Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and author of the GPL, and Torvalds and every other open-source developer asked in exchange: "that the license be honored," he said.

Ok, fine. But now Galli goes back in time again and recycles a quote from Cybersource, which can be found not only in that December 13, 2004 article but also in a January 19, 2005 article as well:

But some users said they disagree with that assessment. "I suspect Sun would be overjoyed if open-source software continued to flourish, but Linux somehow vanished from the scene," said Con Zymaris, CEO of Cybersource Pty. Ltd., a Linux and open-source solutions company in Melbourne, Australia.

"I will now have to choose between supporting development and adding momentum to Open Solaris or to Linux. I will choose Linux. Our customers have."

By the way, if you read Torvalds' comments from the December 13, 2004 article, you can find the very same comments recycled in the January 19, 2005 article as well.

This is all very confusing, isn't it? All this cutting and pasting and recycling of parts to artificially create a debate across time that simply never took place. Interesting choices the writers and editors at eWeek are making these days, don't you think? I wonder, what agenda is eWeek pushing here?


I can't but agree with you: that is not serious journalism!

What is more interesting though is trying to understand why eWeek and others seem willing to put out such copy. I wonder why there is doubt (I hesitate to say widespread but I do come across it often) about Sun's motives/commitment regarding OpenSolaris.

Posted by Brian Azzopardi on February 08, 2005 at 10:20 AM JST #

"I wonder why there is doubt (I hesitate to say widespread but I do come across it often) about Sun's motives/commitment regarding OpenSolaris."

Sun is still recovering from the Solaris x86 scandal from a few years back. Even though that should be old news, now, people who have an agenda against Sun get a lot of milage out of it. It's just like that UltraSPARC II e-cache deal, even though all new UltraSPARCs have ECC everywhere. Sometimes people just hold a grudge. In this case, all Sun can do is keep moving forward and prove themselves in their actions.

There is also a war of the egos going on, where people who just have to be on the winning team get flustered over things like OpenSolaris. It isn't just Linux vs. FreeBSD, anymore--it's Linux vs. the most successful UNIX kernel of all time. The Open Source purists welcome OpenSolaris, as they should consider it a win for their cause, but, in any group of people large enough, there will always be someone who takes things too personally.

Also, just like in the comments of HP's _Linux_Marketing_Director_, some of the "doubt" comes as FUD bombs from competitors--that's just business as usual. If marketing were a water balloon fight, everyone would be soaked.

Posted by Anonymous on February 08, 2005 at 06:09 PM JST #

I wonder, does eWeek have a policy regarding how many times they can recycle quotes from the past? I get the notion that some people are still upset about Solaris x86 being cancelled a few years ago, and it will take some time for us to demonstrate our seriousness. But I think that time is now. What more are we to do? We've paid the price from our mistakes, and we have clearly moved forward.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on February 08, 2005 at 06:27 PM JST #

the best thing to be done to the journalists is to call them out when they do this. never underestimate the power of public shame on a journalist, especially in this post-blair age. the important thing is to feature the journalist's name prominently (did i mention that his name is peter galli?) and then to add a few key phrases like, "boy, this post revealed the truth about peter galli!" or "jim, you are the authority on peter galli!" or just "peter galli, peter galli!" now you can be guranteed that at least peter galli will come across this blog entry the next time he ego-surfs, and if nothing else, your work should give him pause the next time he tries to cut-and-paste a story together....

Posted by guest on February 08, 2005 at 07:00 PM JST #

[Trackback] Jim Griziano notes that Greg Papadopoulos, Sun's CTO, is now blogging. Already eWeek is picking up quotes directly off Greg's blog. Jim calls this

Posted by Micro Persuasion on February 08, 2005 at 07:39 PM JST #

I think it's great that your pointing these things out, Jim. The media seems more obsessed with manufacturing as much Linux-Sun hostility as possible than in having an actual discussion on the pros and cons of CDDL, GPL, patents, etc. Keep blogging!

Posted by guest on February 08, 2005 at 09:32 PM JST #

The quality of journalism would be much improved if more articles were subject to analyses like this. It has sometimes been argued that there is a tendency for the media to believe that good news is not newsworthy. Drama, disagreement, dissent, in-fighting are what some sections of the media thrive on. This is probably a bit too harsh, although most news stories one reads (other than those which are blatant reproductions of someone's press release, or "human interest" stories) tend to have this character.

Posted by Jason White on February 08, 2005 at 10:55 PM JST #

Hi Jim, You discovered what I discovered in 2004. Since then, I stop taking eWeeks articles seriously. People like Peter Galli has ruined its image.

Posted by Iwan Rahabok on February 09, 2005 at 11:48 AM JST #

No one reads Peter Galli and eWeek anyway. It's just press hacks talking to PR and marketing flacks. Don't even blog about these people anymore. Don't waste your time.

Posted by guest on February 19, 2005 at 07:50 PM JST #

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