Kicking a Puppy

Red Hat In Boston, Part 2.3: openSUSE And Openness, Period: "On Sun re: OpenSolaris: 'They're 10 years too late to create a community [around OpenSolaris]. I hate to say anything about about a free Unix because I feel like I'm kicking a puppy, but on the other hand I'm very disappointed that they can't just bite the bullet and participate in Linux. The work that's done for Solaris is done only for Solaris. And if you're a customer, do you really want to adopt an open source OS where the only real vendor option is Sun? It's great to work with Sun in community projects where Sun is an equal member, but not as much fun to work in a community that is controlled by Sun.'" -- Joe Brockmeier, community manager for openSUSE.

Interesting comments.

At first I was disappointed to read this coming from a community guy and all, but then I slapped myself silly. I know better. I've been doing this for a while now. People in this business (any business, really) attack for basically two reasons: (1) they are afraid that someone smaller than them may grow up and kick their butt, or (2) they are small and want to pick a fight with a big guy to get attention. There are other reasons, but those are the biggies.

Anyway, if you read this article in its entirety, that paragraph up there on OpenSolaris really sticks out. One wonders what the real context was because it doesn't really fit the piece that well. Regardless, the bit about the "work done for Solaris is done only for Solaris" doesn't make sense since there are things in OpenSolaris now that are not even in Solaris yet. Anyone with any knowledge about OpenSolaris knows this. And those ZFS and DTrace bits now living nicely in BSD/MacOS also don't fit the attack that well, too. I think we have a few distros out there now, as well. Not as many as Linux, surely, but our technology is starting to spread, and that's great. But the "10 years too late to create a community" is the real kicker. To accept that statement is to believe that tiny little markets like China and India and Brazil and Russia are fully developed and there's no room for another operating system, no room for another community. Just no room. Wrong. And obviously so.

Whatever. I run MacOS at home and it's great. I run OpenSolaris at work and at home and it's great (nascent though it is). I also run Linux (Ubuntu) at work and at home, too. In fact, I have more and more respect for the technology in Linux (what I can understand, anyway, being a non-techie myself), and I regularly learn from Linux guys about community building issues. I'm also proud of all of the software Sun has contributed to the FOSS community that runs on Linux and helps make Linux successful around the world. I haven't tried openSUSE yet and I don't know much about the community, so I really can't comment on that -- other than I've heard great things about both. More from Patrick.
Comments:

Jim,

I've been a techie for 25+ years (starting with IBM mainframe iron) and have worked with several different hardware & OS platforms over the years. The one thing that has remained constant through-out is that everyone brings something new (and possibly better) to the table. This is especially true when open software (and where feasible, open hardware) is involved.

Over the years, there have been "open" technology communities that have been created and thrived until some corporation attempted to monetize a product and shut off open access to the community of \*ideas\*.

Here's my point: why would anyone think that nothing new could not be learned and adapted to other applications from contributions made by Sun? Aside from the obvious things that you've already mentioned (DTrace, ZFS, etc.) Sun can arguably claim pre-eminence in the area of multi-threading support and effective management of large numbers of CPUs (in the multiple hundreds) within a single server, something that is not in sight from anyone else including any Linux distribution. At the moment, \*nothing\* effectively manages and uses as many threads on as many CPUs as Solaris/OpenSolaris. Providing that technology to the FOSS community is wonderful thing.

To advocate walking away from those kinds of contributions simply because OpenSolaris is a relatively late entry to FOSS is more like kicking your own butt than kicking a puppy.

Posted by Mark V. Dalton on July 02, 2008 at 08:48 PM JST #

Microsoft was late to the web and browser game. They went on to dominate it (OS monopoly helped). By his logic Mozilla, Firefox, Opera and others shouldn't bother because they are 10 years to late?

Communities are built by those who need and want them when they need or want to. You are never too late.

"Solaris is done only for Solaris"? How many million lines of code has each company contributed to the open source community? Sun is number 1 with Java, OpenOffice and Solaris and all the rest.

I think it is both #1 and #2 that you pointed out. Suse is such a distant Linux distro that they are both afraid and trying to get more publicity.

Ubuntu has kicked both Redhat and Suse off the desktop pretty effectively and now they see someone coming after their bread and butter servers. They couldn't figure out how to do the desktop and are afraid of being leapfrogged by OpenSolaris.

Linux and Solaris are just kernels. The GNU stuff works great on both so maybe he should start debating the merits of each kernel.

Posted by Tim on July 02, 2008 at 11:14 PM JST #

Maybe Novell should sort out there own distro before mocking others! Its crap on many levels.

If they want to say things like "work that's done for Solaris is done only for Solaris" then what about there fork of OpenOffice to Novel OpenOffice. !?

Regards,
Edward.

Posted by Edward OCallaghan on July 03, 2008 at 08:28 AM JST #

Good points, guys. Hadn't though of many of those, too. :) Joe had said some supportive things about OpenSolaris in the past http://blogs.sun.com/jimgris/entry/open_communications so I'm not sure what happened.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on July 03, 2008 at 06:21 PM JST #

Jealousy coming from a "Community guy" that still didnt evolve out from SUSE and its still trying to find its way...

Shame on you Microso... err, SUSE guy.

Posted by HangLoose on July 04, 2008 at 10:01 AM JST #

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