Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

"Built Entirely from Closed Engineering Efforts"

When to use Solaris vs. Linux: Operating system comparison: "So what's the difference between OpenSolaris and Linux? First and foremost – Linux distributions will use the Linux kernel and OpenSolaris distributions will use the Solaris kernel. This important to note, because while Red Hat Enterprise Linux is built entirely from open source Linux, Solaris is (or was until recently) built entirely from closed/propriety engineering efforts by Sun Microsystems engineers." -- Ken Milberg, Search Enterprise Linux

"Built entirely from closed/propriety engineering efforts by Sun Microsystems engineers?" Sorry. Not quite.

The OpenSolaris kernel is over 40,000 files now (kernel, system commands, libraries, networking, filesystems), and there are thousands of files from BSD and thousands of files from AT&T and many of those of files are core to the system. And, of course, there are many other bits that come from other open source communities. Also, since we started opening in January of 2005 (that's four years ago, not "recently" as suggested above) the OpenSolaris community has been contributing. We have about three hundred contributions integrated from a couple of hundred contributors in two dozen countries and also contributions to projects and other distributions as well.

Now, given the obvious infrastructure constraints this nascent community has been working under, that relatively modest contribution level could be seen as a pretty good start. It's something to learn from and build on with the opening of more infrastructure and the creation of new package repositories in an effort to increase contributions. That's pretty much what we are doing. Are we behind on some of this? Yep. Are we satisfied with where we are? Nope. Are we "entirely" closed? Nope. In fact, that assertion is entirely wrong. Is all of this well known in the community? Absolutely. So, although it's true the majority of code in the kernel has been written by Sun engineers, we've never stated otherwise. It's simply the reality of where the project is at the moment and how it evolved. But to understand where the project is going you need more context, and that perspective is not offered in the quote above. Nor is it present in the paragraph that follows the quote and concludes the article. I'm not saying the article is all bad. There are some positive things in there about OpenSolaris, but the overall impression you are left with is that this is all a half hearted attempt to jump on some bandwagon. And, well, I just disagree.

Tuesday Jan 06, 2009

Attacks in Politics and Marketing

I see attack politics and attack marketing as pretty much the same thing. Or, a distinction without much of a difference, anyway. Politicians generally attack enemies who threaten their getting elected or getting some policy implemented. If you aren't a threat, though, you are basically ignored in that system. And if you are a little guy trying to attack powerful politicians, you are generally ignored, too. This is why collective protest is a necessary prerequisite for change. Strength comes in numbers. You have to make yourself a threat to even get noticed, and that has to happen well before you have a shot at changing things (whatever your thing is). But from the politicians point of view, since they have the power, it seems the attack principle dictates that they shouldn`t want to give too much exposure to a competitor or group they don`t support, so many politicians actually tend to attack pretty carefully. The rhetorically skilled know this very well. They think out a few moves ahead. Who should do the attacking? What`s the venue of the attack? What will the counter punch look like? Where will it come from? And when? What does it mean when no counter attack comes back at all and instead they are met with silence? And heck, what if the opponent praises in return instead of attacking as expected? The answers to these questions are imprecise at best.

I used to do competitive marketing, and I went through this exact same process. However, I always told my clients that attacks are best done by third parties and only in response to a precipitating attack. In other words, you don`t attack first. It`s not worth the headline. Instead, you be the one responding. Here`s why: those who attack first generally give away at least some of their position, and that gives you much more flexibility to respond. Unskilled politicians and marketers make this mistake all the time when they shoot their mouths off, but the concept holds up pretty well over time. I`ve said before that I think people 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 themselves and want to pick a fight with a big guy to get attention. Either way, if you study your attacker you can learn a lot.

It's a game, granted. And everyone in it knows this. Most attacks can be quite easily turned around with some basic facts and logic. But rationality is irrelevant in the arena of delivering really good emotional propaganda for the purpose of influencing behavior. That's why attacks can work in some cases if they generate a strong reaction from the attacked. Attacks spread fear. And many times that fear shapes how people think if it`s not characterized properly. In fact, the term used to describe this process is sometimes called FUD -- fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It`s a silly sounding term, but it should be taken seriously because the best propagandists out there can be rather dangerous people if they have a power base and resources supporting them (a country, a company, an interest group, a foundation, a university, a union, whatever). In other cases, however, attacks and fear mongering backfire badly, and we saw this in the recent political campaign in the U.S. where pols on both sides took some things too far and the people (remember the people?) called them out on it.

So, what should you do if you are attacked in the marketplace? First, stop. Think. Don`t react immediately with the first counter attack you can think of in the first publication you can find. You`ve been attacked so you now have the upper hand for a period of time (not forever, though). What is the attack telling you about your attacker? Is he or she responding go your attack? If so, you deserve the counter attack so enjoy your stupid little fight. If not, though, something else is going on and you may be in a much better position than you think. It means that you got someone`s attention for some reason. You may have not even intended to get this attention, but that`s what the attack may mean and that`s valuable competitive intelligence if you can confirm it. Remember, if you were really irrelevant, chances are you`d be ignored. So, dig right there before responding and respond to defend and deflect not to attack back. And if you can praise the attacker (or his product or community or company or whatever) so much the better. Attackers are generally simple minded and angry and unable to deal with praise as a response. Alternatively, your attacker could just be engaging in bad marketing or politicking. Consider that too. Either way, you have the upper hand if you do the responding, not the attacking.

Tags: propaganda attacks

Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

It's Still Too Late

OpenSolaris 2008.11 update woos Linux users: "Jones said, however, that Sun's moves to create an open source product and grow a developer community were on target but arrive too late. 'It's the right thing to do … but the party is already finished,' Jones said. 'Sun might be able to stem the tide from Solaris to Linux [by continuing to improve OpenSolaris]. But their grandiose plan of replacing Linux isn't going to happen. They are attracting more developers, but not from Linux.'" -- Richard Jones, vice president, Burton Group.

I don't know what the party reference is all about, but the too late commentary is about four years old now. Yet we still go about building community, products, and infrastructure. I think we fell behind on the infrastructure part, but the community is clearly coming along, and the main distro is earning its way from an engineering perspective as well. Warts and all, it's really quite good for its relatively young age. And as far as the "grandiose plan of replacing Linux" is concerned, I still haven't seen it. People talk and some are competitive with Linux (which is fine, by the way), but the vast majority of plans we are implementing are designed to build community, products, and infrastructure to grow the project organically. One thing I do agree with in the quote above, though, is that we are attracting new developers (and uses, too). Jones' position on that part is exactly what I've been saying for four years -- Linux will grow but so will we. I've never moved from that view. Yes, people will go back and forth but that's a side show. Although we are still a small community compared to Linux, we are indeed making progress in our own way. I do a lot of work in emerging markets, and it's easy to see that we are reaching new people now. It's probably too early to show up in massively big business metrics in the West, but that's what early project management is all about. You work in the dark for a long time. I've seen this repeated in multiple industries now.

So, is it too late to catch Linux? I'm not sure it matters much in that context. It's a big world, and there is room for all of us to fit. We simply have too much work to do learning from Linux in some areas where they are strong, focusing on some of our clear advantages in other areas, transforming the existing Solaris base into an open community, and reaching out to new users and developers who have never even heard of us. It's not too late. Not by a long shot. I just don't view projects from that perspective.

Monday Oct 13, 2008

Dissecting an Attack

Paul Murphy takes apart -- point by point -- a recent InfoWorld article attacking OpenSolaris -- Anatomy of an attack: The New York Times on Solaris. As hit pieces go, the original article falls flat on its face because it's so obviously overkill. I commented on it as well.

Sunday Sep 28, 2008

Deathbed

Shock headlines and unsubstantiated assertions. That's what you'll find in this InfoWorld piece on OpenSolaris -- Is Sun Solaris on its deathbed? It's an unfortunate article because it's so obviously unbalanced, and it's sad to see the New York Times undermine its credibility by just reprinting the darn thing. But that's ok. The community can talk back now. There are many comments challenging the conclusions in the article right in the comments section, as well as some pointing to some legitimate issues on the project. I appreciate that. That's all welcome conversation. And I see other conversations about the article taking place on opensolaris.org, OSNews, LWN.net, and Slashdot. There is bound to be more of this back and forth in the media, but I think one of the better summary posts on the Linux vs OpenSolaris issue was written earlier in the year by Stephen O'Grady at Redmonk.

In general, there are certainly many things to criticize about the OpenSolaris project -- as there are about any project -- but this "death" bit that comes up from time to time seems way over the top, don't you think? I've commented about these issues so many times before I can't even remember, as have many others too. The only thing I'd say about the article is that I'm happy the Linux community is doing well, I think we can still learn a great deal from Linux about how they build community, and I think the real market battle is between all the Unix's and Windows. I hang out with the Linux guys in Tokyo, and I'm now trying to get to know the Linux guys in Beijing. It's great to be part of international groups like these two and others that openly welcome me and anyone who wants to participate. I see BSD guys in these communities. I see Ruby guys. MySQL and PosgresSQL. Java. OpenOffice. NetBeans. Eclipse. Web 2.0. Perl. Creative Commons. Etc. It seems to me that should be the model here -- communities getting together to share ideas about engineering, community development, and open source software.

Meanwhile, on the OpenSolaris project I think things have been looking up for a while now after some rough patches last year. We keep releasing source and binaries and building community around the world. We are also making progress on fixing some of our mistakes as well. See Simon on getting open, Bonnie on contributions, David on build 98, Tim on the future, the SCM project on infrastructure, Chris on the new wiki, Alan on the webapp, the OGB on the reorg, and Sun on Solaris. And there's much more, of course. Some really good stuff going on. It's hardly perfect, sure, but it's certainly far from death. And to all of those people out there doing all this hard work with passion and dedication for the technology and community they love, I'd say some of us are pretty jazzed about the future we are building.

Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday Jul 02, 2008

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.

Friday Jun 20, 2008

The OGB Breaks Wind

Sam Varghese scratches out a very humorous quote here -- Hey FOSS project, what's your pedigree?
"The project is so tied up in its own bowels, trying to draft structures for its own operation, that the only thing it has left to chance is probably the order in which members of the governing board break wind - and in which minor key they do so. I wouldn't be surprised if even that was specified in an amendment some years down the line."
Sam, I have to admit, that's a great quote. You know pretty much nothing about OpenSolaris (just ask Patrick), but that's a very funny quote indeed. I'm saving it.

The context for Sam's quote is the whole "organic vs inorganic" open source argument. Linux is great because it's "organic" and springs to life from the great wild, and OpenSolaris sucks wind because it's "non-organic" and is driven by Sun and the OGB has flatulence. That's pretty much it. Whatever. I'm a fan of Linux (I use Ubuntu), but I really don't know enough yet about the Linux community to comment about its lack of pesticide use. I know more about OpenSolaris, so I can comment there.

OpenSolaris is still very much a mix. Some parts are most certainly organic -- porting of DTrace and ZFS to MacOS/BSD), the non-Sun distros, the user groups, the OSDevCon conference, etc. Some parts are represented by transparency on Sun's part and the interaction with other communities, such as the specification and testing of the SCM choices, the new wiki applications, the OpenSolaris Summit operations, etc. Some parts are characterized by various open development projects on the site with live gates outside the firewall with external committers, such as desktop and g11n, or just engineers working in the open as much as possible, such as some of the technologies in the new OpenSolaris distro (install, packaging, etc). And other parts of the project are still largely internal to Sun but plan to move outside, and that's probably represented best by the ON consolidation -- the kernel. The kernel source is out there, of course, and the community is contributing via the request-sponsor process, but the main gate is still inside. So, give or take few inaccuracies on my part, it's pretty much a mix of organic and inorganic. Or is it non-organic. Anyway. The problem with all this is ... what? What's the big deal? This is all normal operations for a large, multi-phase, long term project to open Solaris from within a multi-billion dollar corporation that still has build, ship, and support products.

OpenSolaris can't live up to an artificial standard of being a totally "organic" project. I'm not sure anything could, actually. And we never claimed such a characteristic, actually. I think it's fine for those involved in the project to criticize various things (and they do), but that's all in an effort to fix things and move forward. Again, it's normal. You will find that in all projects in all industries. I'll give Sam one thing, though. There is a kernel of truth in that we have spun ourselves around silly on some issues these last few years. But that's very much changing now. Sure, you can argue with the changes, but the fact is that the project has changed significantly lately and for the better. But did Sam choose to get involved and help out in the true spirit of open source? No. Instead, he chose to use a two thousand year old rhetorical technique (well documented by Aristotle) to attack while sitting safely on the sidelines.

It's not big deal, really. I just loved the quote.

Saturday Apr 26, 2008

Open Source from a Company Perspective

As OpenSolaris gains in popularity, we are finding ourselves back in the spotlight. That's fine. This stuff comes and goes. For a long while we were pretty much ignored, but I have a feeling that things will be hot for a while with the upcoming release of the OpenSolaris distro. That's ok, too. It's all part of building a business and a new development community -- and figuring out how the two mix since they both grow from the same sponsor. And that's the key. Sun is the company and Sun is opening Solaris, and Sun is also the primary builder of the OpenSolaris community in these early stages. Matt Asay brings this up -- The difficulty of building community around commercial: The OpenSolaris example -- based on some posts he links to from Ted T'so' What Sun was trying to do with Open Solaris. I commented on both blogs and also tried to start a conversation on advocacy-discuss -- Corporate Open Source -- so we can discuss some of these bits here in our community. I also think we need to address some of these issues in the Advocacy discussion at the OpenSolaris Summit next week -- not the specifics of any given blog, obviously, but the larger issues of how we grow and how we get our story out there so it's considered along with everyone else's. I don't particularly care about spin and noise in this particular context, but rather, I'm interested in specific programs we can initiate in the Advocacy CG to actually help build a global community that thrives across language, cultural, and geographic barriers and one that is empowered to contribute back. Once we do that, much of the story will take care of itself. In other words, the work has to come first so the story resonates as true.

Friday Apr 04, 2008

Downloads and Attacks

Patrick clarifies. Great post.

Sunday Feb 17, 2008

A Chuckle?

I left a comment on Micheal Dolan's blog -- Emily Ratliff covers Roy Fielding’s Departure from OpenSolaris -- the other day, but it has not made it out of moderation yet. Or, the comment just didn't take. Not sure. I didn't see one of those warnings saying my comment is being moderated, but when I tried again it said I had already submitted that comment. But no comment. So, I gave up. I'll just post it here instead.

Hello, Michael.

It's sad that you get a "chuckle" about some of this stuff. Many people here are trying hard to make the OpenSolaris project work (under difficult circumstances sometimes), and they don't deserve your sarcasm.

The request-sponsor program you laugh at was never intended to scale as a general integration program. Everyone involved in OpenSolaris knows that. It was always designed as a temporary solution, but since we are clearly behind in  moving the main ON gate and some of the integration tools outside, the request-sponsor program has had to fill the void. And yes, it's quite backed up. Everyone knows that, too. Emily's quote you cite is somewhat misleading, though, because it assumes that the Linux and OpenSolaris processes are the same (or at least similar enough to compare). They are not. Linux is an open development community that has been open for a very long time. It started small and grew large in the open over many years. OpenSolaris, however, is still very much emerging and trying to open from the inside of a company. We started big (in terms of size of code base and number of engineers and processes, etc), and are trying to open in stages in a responsible way since Solaris is one of the core products of the company. Also, it has proved to be a complex engineering, legal, business, customer, marketing, and cultural task of moving such a large operation outside and teasing apart the development process from the productization process while we simultaneously build, ship, and support a product. Linux never had to do what we are doing, so the issues are extremely different. A better way to look at it would be to compare the opening of Solaris with, say, the (potential) opening of HP-UX and/or AIX if those systems are ever opened. I can only imagine that the issues would be pretty similar given the size and age of those code bases, the complexity of their development methodologies, and how important they are to their respective companies. But regardless, we are certainly far behind where we'd like to be at this point. If you'd like to follow the SCM migration project, you can check in with one of my colleagues here: http://blogs.sun.com/kupfer/entry/scm_migration_the_big_picture. Mike has some pointers in that blog that will take you to the project pages on opensolaris.org.

Also please keep in mind that the request-sponsor program is only one part of the OpenSolaris project, and it's only one way people are contributing (and it's only about code, whereas people contribute in non-code ways as well). And it largely represents integrations to the ON consolidation, not all other consolidations and development projects on the site. If you wanted to really compare OpenSolaris and Linux from an engineering perspective in terms of the flow of code being integrated into the kernel, you'd have to look inside Sun for that since the ON consolidation gate is not opened yet. Then the data points would be quite different, and the "teeth brushing" analogy may not hold up so well. But one really can't compare the two systems that way, of course, since our development process are still largely behind the firewall. That will change over time, though. Currently, we are more of an open source project, and we are slowly (very slowly) moving to an open development project as well. In fact, some consolidation gates are already outside, and there are already external contributors.

And there is no need to be "irked" about the user group example you cite, either. I left a comment on Emily's blog about this. There are no NDAs on OpenSolaris. The issue there was the building security procedures since the meeting was at a Sun site. Sometimes it's cumbersome holding community meetings at corporate facilities for just this reason. Many groups that are run by Sun employees deal with this ok now, but others choose other facilities, and other groups are led by non-Sun employees at universities or other companies. It's not a big deal, and it in no way reflects poorly on those people involved. If you feel we are "messed up" in our approach to building a community and feel you can help, we'd be more than happy for you to get involved. We are still learning and trying new things all the time. However, uninformed opinions expressed from the outside without any direct participation have relatively little value. So, I encourage you to subscribe to advocacy-discuss here http://mail.opensolaris.org/mailman/listinfo/advocacy-discuss since that is the Community Group that is home to the OpenSolaris User Groups. That's a good place to start since we are kicking around some ideas for UG community-building in two recent threads here http://opensolaris.org/jive/thread.jspa?threadID=51705&tstart=0 and here http://opensolaris.org/jive/thread.jspa?threadID=50069&tstart=0 so you may want to participate in those discussions.

Finally, when you say that you should have applied for a job at Sun to fix this "mess" that, too, is hurtful to the people working on the project, most of who are honorable people just trying to do a good job. We are a small and young community and we are doing our best given the circumstances in which we find ourselves. All projects in all industries in all regions experience rough patches in their life cycle. That is clearly the case with us in some areas. However, there is a great deal that is going extremely well on OpenSolaris, too, and we can't lost sight of that. That's what I keep telling people in the community, and many people agree and are willing to do the work necessary to improve things. And in terms of a job, you'd have to check with Sun HR on that. But you don't need a job at Sun to participate in OpenSolaris, though. Just jump in. But if you think you can "fix it myself" I'd humbly suggest that you will have to talk to many thousands of developers, many of who are Sun's top engineers, to earn consensus for your ideas. OpenSolaris has a distributed leadership model, so no one individual gets to run things. We certainly have a long way to go, though, so please feel free to contribute. All the lists are here http://mail.opensolaris.org/mailman/listinfo and that's the fastest way to talk directly with the kernel engineers.


Tuesday Oct 02, 2007

"It's Too Late! CIOs Don't Care Anymore"

The future of Unix Part 1: IBRS' view: Here's Kevin McIsaac of IBRS responding to a question about Sun's port of Solaris to x86/x64: "But too late! Linux has come along, Windows has come along and it runs really well on Intel. CIOs don't care anymore. There is a lot of great stuff about Solaris but guess what? The mainframes had a lot of that for twenty five years and I left the main frame to go to Solaris back in the eighties. I think organisations like Sun are kidding themselves. They should know from their historical roots that good enough trumps best and Linux and Windows are for most people, good enough!"

Again with the "it's too late" bit. I haven't seen this one crop up in a long time, though. And this time it comes with an exclamation point for extra special emphasis! My goodness. When people say it's too late for what we are doing (Solaris 10, OpenSolaris, new x86/x64 systems, new SPARC systems, etc) that only demonstrates that they are ripe for being disrupted. They are not paying attention. It's not too late. The timing is perfect.

Sunday Sep 23, 2007

Linus and Solaris Bugs

Seems Linus called Solaris a "buggy piece of crap" (here, here). Cool. But I'll listen to Casper, Joerg, Martin, and Richard instead.

Tuesday Sep 11, 2007

Deathmatch or Lovefest?

Noah Gift at O'Reilly has an interesting conversation going about OpenSolaris and GNU/Linux. Check it out:

Wednesday Sep 05, 2007

Headlines! Headlines! Headlines!

Solaris raring for a fight with Linux: "And we thought it was all about peace, love, and ... Solaris. But no, Sun is gearing up for one of the classic open source battles. We've had the various Linux distributions duking it out, and we've had MySQL versus PostgreSQL. Now we're getting Solaris versus Linux, and this is a fight that I believe may actually be worth having." -- Matt Asay

Interesting.

This "battle" tone is all over the web now. I'm not sure where it started, but it seemed to flame up last night around midnight. What I find interesting is that Matt uses the phrase "we're getting Solaris versus Linux" to point to an article titled "OpenSolaris will challenge Linux says Sun" which is actually an abridged article from the more aptly titled "Sun: Coders key to Solaris' rise" published last week.

I blogged about that original article because I loved the quote in there about the OpenSolaris Community. But the version that has people all worked up today is missing eight paragraphs of text from the original. Why? Read both of them and you'll see the clear difference in tone. And why all the wild headline changes, too? Even if you read the version Matt points to you'd be hard pressed to find anything in the article to substantiate the headline. I mean, really, this is silly. Sun's Ian Murdock and Marc Hamilton were talking about how the OpenSolaris community is growing, how the technology is improving, and some of the plans we are kicking around to improve things. That's pretty much it. So, where's the war here?

Oh, and also, the OpenSolaris community isn't taking the bait, which is very cool. This is now the second or third time recently where the community has utterly ignored media and/or blog flame fests. Heck, we've had enough of our own flames in the past, so perhaps we're moving on and just focusing on the job at hand -- building the OpenSolaris community organically and improving this technology openly.

Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

Andrew Morton on OpenSolaris: Part II

Following up from Part I.

More quotes are emerging from Andrew Morton's keynote at LinuxWorld in San Francisco -- Linux Kernel Maintainer: Get Involved!: "I think it's a great shame that OpenSolaris still exists," he continued. "I wish they had killed it. They've fragmented the non-windows os world and for no reason. There is no reason why they couldn't have gone to Linux."

Wild stuff, eh? You know, I've been saying that OpenSolaris is a successful project based on what we've accomplished so far. But at least for right now, we are still a work in progress and all this takes time. No need to rush. No need to shoot our mouths off. Just go about the business of building our community. Well, I can see now that we've actually come much further than I had thought. When the big guys start saying things like what Morton is saying about the little guys, that's a very clear sign that someone's not happy about what may happen in the future. Maybe the big guys aren't so big? Maybe the little guys aren't so little? Attacks like these are actually complements, and the OpenSolaris community should be proud. I certainly am. I remain disappointed that Microsoft hasn't slapped us around yet, but that day will come I feel certain. And I'm also disappointed that I've been so supportive of Linux inside Sun for so long. I feel embarrassed. Oh, well. Live and learn. Move on.

What's really cool, though, is that in these last two articles I learned that Intel is largest corporate contributor to the Linux kernel. That's really excellent since Intel is also getting involved in OpenSolaris.

Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

Andrew Morton on OpenSolaris

Linux kernel maintainer allays fears about forking: "Meanwhile, Morton did not put much stock in Sun's rival OpenSolaris project. 'From where I sit, I don't hear much about it. I don't see much evidence of people switching over,' or seriously considering OpenSolaris, said Morton. Sun should have moved off of Solaris and onto Linux, Morton said. 'They've fragmented the non-Windows operating system world and they continue to do so,' he said. But he acknowledged he did not see much chance of Sun moving away from Solaris." -- Andrew Morton

Oh, well. I guess not everyone has to love you, right? I wonder, though, why the jab now? Linus was critical of OpenSolaris recently, too. Anyway, I actually put a lot of stock in Linux -- especially Ubuntu because it's so open to non-technical users like me.

Tuesday May 01, 2007

More OpenSolaris and GPL

Interesting (though somewhat inaccurate in spots) article in BusinessWeek -- Sun Mulls Deeper Open-Source Dive. What's interesting about it is that no one in the article is actually saying we are "mulling a deeper open source drive" or anything of the sort. Should be an interesting time at JavaOne, though, with all the communities getting together at CommunityOne. I'll be there. And I'm sure there will be a lot of these sorts of articles between now and then, too. But I wonder ... do serious developers and customers and partners pay attention to stuff like this? I'm mixed. Some people tell me the media speculation is garbage and they ignore it, but others get quite animated about it. Who knows. I've never really seen it quantified, so I suppose it will remain a mystery.

Thursday Aug 17, 2006

More IBM on OpenSolaris

So, today was IBM on OpenSolaris day. Well, last nite and today. I commented yesterday on this as well. Here are some links to stuff I found resulting from IBM's comments:


By the way, the conclusion expressed in the "Open Battle Royal" link up there is wrong. I never hit back at IBM on AIX. The press has been asking IBM about that, not Sun. I'm sure Sun has poked IBM about AIX being closed in the past, but it doesn't seem to be part of this round of press articles. Personally, I'm on record saying that it's just fine that AIX is closed and that's IBM's business, not mine. I also applaud IBM's contributions to various open source communities, most notably Linux, Apache, and Eclipse. It's fine for vendors to compete, but that doesn't take away IBM's contributions to the broader open source effort.

I'm quoted in the Cnet article, which seemed to contain the most hostile comments of the bunch. Which is unfortunate in general since we are working hard on this project to open up all this stuff and build a community, and we are trying to take advice from all who participate. And IBM is certainly welcome to participate in our community. I'm not sure they are offering advice here, though:

According to Dan Frye:
  • "Sun holds it all behind the firewall. The community sees nothing."
  • "It's a facade. There's lots of marketing, but no community to speak of."
  • "They would push their design discussions out into the forums, so people can see what's going on."
  • "They have done nothing to build a community," with only 16 non-Sun people contributing code to the project in its first 11 months ... Linux, in comparison, had 10 times that number in the same period after it was launched by Linus Torvalds in 1991-- and that was with no Internet and no advertisements.
Charming.

All I can say that the opening of Solaris is still taking place. Don't you think it's unfair to judge it so harshly when we're only a year into it? I think we've been pretty open about telling people that this would take time. The opening of Solaris is itself a multi-step engineering and community development process, and the OpenSolaris community is very much part of that process. Anyway, I read through all of the articles and I came up with a few links that may help offer some information around IBM's assertions. I think I have them all covered to one extent or another, but people can argue with anything, I suppose. Here they are:


Now, do we have more to do? Yep. But are we well on our way? Absolutely. Does all that equal "a facade" as suggested? Absolutely not.

And finally, when Frye mischaracterizes our progress and then compares that to the Linux community you should know that we are not comparing ourselves to the Linux community. Heck, it's hard enough just keeping up with OpenSolaris let alone bringing in another system and community into the mix. I've said many times that the Linux community impresses me massively, and the OpenSolaris community can learn a great deal from them. Both technologies and both communities stand on their own.

Wednesday Aug 16, 2006

IBM Attacks OpenSolaris -- Again

Well, there they go again. IBM kicked OpenSolaris again -- IBM says Sun's open source strategy lacks support. This latest effort comes to us from LinuxWorld in San Francisco courtesy of Scott Handy, who also attacked OpenSolaris last year, and Dan Frye. Their statements about our community only represent their own ignorance because their rhetoric is so easily undermined. It's a shame, though, don't you think? IBM should be applauded for their efforts in the Apache, Linux, and Eclipse communities (and others, I'm sure), but I'm having a difficult time praising them since they seem so mean spirited toward OpenSolaris. We're not going away, guys. In fact, we're only getting bigger and stronger every day. But actually, from a community point of view, I think we've been somewhat humble this first year. We are trying to build a community that leads with technology, not spin. Maybe that's just my hope, but I think we've largely done a pretty good job of respecting others.

I don't know very many people at IBM, but I did have the opportunity to interact with some IBM engineers one time, and they were absolute professionals. Oh, well. What can I say. I commented on a previous attack from IBM's Ross Mauri last week. Most of that applies here as well. Just to keep the continuity going here ...

Saturday Aug 05, 2006

IBM's Ross Mauri

Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM's System p group, takes a shot at OpenSolaris in a Q&A interview with Cnet yesterday -- Newsmaker: Firing up IBM's Unix business. Jump to the very last question on page two for this little gem:

Do you ever consider open-sourcing AIX the way Sun is open-sourcing Solaris?
Mauri: No, we're not. I think that OpenSolaris is a little bit of a game Sun is playing to try to get good PR. But I don't think it's in the spirit of true open source.

We have been very happy to get directly involved and contribute to Linux and Apache and the Eclipse Foundation. We're not going to open-source AIX. It's best run on the current model, where we have the expertise. We enhance it. We work closely with our customers to listen to their requirements. But in the end, it's best that we control that source code.

Any substantiation for any of those references to OpenSolaris, Ross? I love the "in the spirit of true open source" bit, though. It's code for those afraid of being direct. Whatever.

This response fascinates me, though. Rhetorically, Ross has himself all boxed in here, which can easily happen when you're distracted by attacking others. Remember, competitive attacks are more difficult to pull off than most people realize. I've only met a few people who could deliver them effectively, too.

Stephen Shankland (the reporter) didn't ask Ross if Sun was playing PR games with OpenSolaris, and he didn't ask if OpenSolaris was "true" or not. The emphasis of the question was on AIX, not OpenSolaris. He asked if IBM had considered opening AIX like Sun had opened Solaris. Pretty clean question. Ok, you could argue that the question may presuppose that IBM should open AIX like Sun opened Solaris, but it's pretty subtle and easily ignored. But even leaving out OpenSolaris, it's a perfectly logical question to ask given IBM's investment in Linux and AIX.

Anyway, instead of answering the question by focusing on AIX development and IBM's customers and engineers, Ross uses the opportunity to first attack OpenSolaris by saying it's a "PR" move and a "game" and not "true" open source. Huge mistake. Now he has to go back to AIX and answer the substance of the question. But to be credible, everything he says should be consistent with the reasoning behind what he said while attacking OpenSolaris. This is where he drowns. In an effort to substantiate himself, Ross provides examples of communities that his company contributes to, which by itself is fine. However, juxtaposed against the untrue OpenSolaris,  we are led to believe that Linux, Apache, and Eclipse are the "true" open source. Perhaps. But people usually compare OpenSolaris with Linux, and I think that's what Ross intended here but decided to toss in Apache and Eclipse for good measure. Who knows. The trouble is that he actually undermines his own statement about OpenSolaris since all three communities he cites are licensed differently, and two of them don't fit with what Ross appears to mean by "true" open source. And if that's not what he means and Apache and Eclipse are also "true" open source, then OpenSolaris should also be described as "true" by that definition as well. I mean, is Mozilla "true" open source in Ross's opinion? I don't know. Maybe not.

The result is that Ross demonstrates his own lack of knowledge about OpenSolaris -- PR is actually not that involved, it's an engineering community from top to bottom, it's open source as specified by OSI (they don 't offer a "true" category as of yet), and we don't play games with the company's core technology. Sorry, Ross. You don't know what you are talking about, and this is a PR disaster for you. But delicious nonetheless.

Now, Ross is probably a smart guy. He probably runs a pretty large organization at IBM, and you can't do that without being smart. So, I can respect him for that. But even smart guys can sound foolish when they lack competitive rhetorical skills and get distracted by attacking others. None of this would have happened had Ross simply focused on IBM and AIX and ignored OpenSolaris. However, I do think he has to work on his AIX/Linux answer, though. Although IBM has consistently stated that its strategy with AIX is to keep development closed (which is a perfectly fine business decision), I think the reason Ross offers undermines his statements supporting the benefits of open source development. I mean, open source is supposedly good for Linux, Apache, and Eclipse, but it's simultaneously bad for AIX because the AIX code needs "control" by the "expertise" at IBM? I don't get that. And OpenSolaris? Well, that's so low it's a "game" not even worthy of being "true" so it's dismissed with contempt.

But maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Friday Jul 07, 2006

They Only Wanted Java?

I enjoy reading quotes by former Sun executives. I think I've seen these two quotes before, but they seem to pop up from time to time. And with Java opening, I bet we see a lot of extracurricular commentary this year. Should be great fun. Check these out ...

Then there's the debate over Java, the language used throughout the Web and corporate programming. "Java is the only thing people ever wanted them to open-source," says Peter Yared, a former Sun executive who's now heading up an open-source startup ActiveGrid. It's a question that several ex-Sun executives have scratched their heads over. Says former Sun executive and BEA Systems (BEAS) founder Bill Coleman, who now heads software startup Cassatt: "I personally think they should have done it years ago."

If that Yared quote up there accurately represents his real statement, Yared is totally wrong. More than a year before we opened Solaris, our team openly engaged hundreds of developers at customers, universities, and a variety of conferences around the world. People were pretty jazzed about a future with OpenSolaris. They offered valuable suggestions and expressed overwhelming support. Just so you know, Peter.

Monday Jun 19, 2006

"Much fanfare, but not much avail"

[Update & Correction: It was not Dave Rosenberg who made these statements below on which I'm commenting. It was Peter Yared. I guess I got confused by Dave's post. I thought he was summarizing and adding commentary to Peter's post. Apologies to Dave for the mistake.]

Dave Rosenberg writes about how he thinks open source has changed the business models of some big companies -- Big Company Behavior Patterns Around Open Source. This is how Sun is reacting -- according to Rosenberg, I mean:

We're Open, Too - Sun
"We're Open, Too" players open source their competing proprietary products long after a successful open source project has eclipsed their proprietary alternatives. Sun open sources their products in this way to much fanfare, but not much avail, examples include Solaris vs. Linux, NetBeans vs. Eclipse, SunONE Application Server vs. JBOSS, SPARC vs. x86, etc. This strategy is a stark contrast to the IBM "join the party" strategy, where IBM takes the best of their proprietary products and adds it to existing successful open source project like Linux.

Wrong on many fronts. Simon Phipps points out most of the errors in a comment to the original post. I couldn't find a permalink to comments in the blog, but you can easily find it off the main post. There are only two comments currently. Anyway, I wanted to point out a few other items ...

First ... we didn't release OpenSolaris "to much fanfare" as Rosenberg states. In fact, the truth is exactly the opposite, and anyone who knows anything about this project would know that. Last year we opened 10 million lines of code with one press release and a couple of hundred engineering blogs. That's it. There was no big advertising campaign or proclamations and all that crap. Instead, the engineers led the launch in absolutely every important way. And since then we've opened more code -- sixteen times -- with absolutely zero fanfare.

Early on, we intentionally understated the marketing, PR, and advertising on the project, and I've been a strong proponent of that strategy from the very beginning of the project. Not that we didn't want to get the word out -- far from it -- but more so because we wanted the project to gain credibility with OpenSolaris developers from the ground up, not from the top down with some billion dollar advertising campaign. We wanted to earn our credibility from the quality of our code and from the talents of our developers, not from the spin of our messages. Basically, we wanted to engage developers, not commentators. It's really that simple. Code comes first, not spin. Also, we were opening Solaris in stages, and we knew it would take time to not only release all the code and tools but to also build the community and the infrastructure for open development. That's all happening at the same time.

Now, however, the situation is changing. We have an enormous amount of code out there, the community is growing, and more infrastructure is in place. So I would expect -- and would support -- a stepped up marketing strategy that reflects our current position and direction. The engineering comes first, though. OpenSolaris is a developer program, not a marketing campaign.

Second ... the "but not much avail" comment is rude and dismisses the entire OpenSolaris community -- thousands of people working hard to build an innovative project we can all be proud of. An apology would be nice, don't you think?

Third ... Rosenberg says that we are opening our "competing proprietary products long after a successful open source project has eclipsed their proprietary alternatives." He then juxtaposes SPARC vs x86 as an example of this. Fascinating. I didn't know that OpenSPARC was in response to the previously open source x86 project. I must have missed that one.

Tuesday May 30, 2006

Correcting Cohen

Stuart Cohen, CEO of the Open Source Development Labs, wrote an editorial in BusinessWeek recently -- Sun's Big Open-Source Bet  -- that contained several inaccuracies about OpenSolaris. Stephen and Patrick responded to Cohen, but I thought I'd add my comments to correct Cohen as well.

First ...

Last year, Sun made its flagship operating system -- Solaris -- available as open source. Sort of. You see, Sun wrote its own open-source license. It's a license that many in the open-source community don't like, and with good reason. 

Wrong.

OpenSolaris is not "sort of" open source. It's open source as outlined by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) -- which was literally a core requirement for everyone on the project team before we even began opening the Solaris code. The license in question is the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). It was a new license last year, but Sun didn't go off in a corner and write it from scratch; instead, we modified an existing, already successful, already OSI-approved license -- the Mozilla Public License (MPL). The CDDL is not Sun's "own" open source license. Anyone can use it. It's a template license that can actually help consolidate many of the MPL derivatives that have developed over the years. Additionally, if "many in the open source community" don't like CDDL, as Cohen suggests, wouldn't it also logically follow that those same individuals have a problem with the MPL too? After all, the CDDL and the MPL are really very much alike (see redline diffs at the CDDL link above). Perhaps they do, but I generally don't hear very many people calling Mozilla's code "sort of" open source. Do you? Now, was the CDDL controversial with some in the open source community when it came out? Yes it was, but that's another issue altogether and has nothing to do with the fact that OpenSolaris is open source. For more on the license discussion from last year, you can see these links: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

Next ...

Unlike with Linux, all the rights to any changes to the source code for Solaris go back to Sun. So any developers contributing to Solaris are literally working for Sun for free.

Wrong.

If you change an existing CDDL file, your changes go back to the community -- not Sun. If you write a new file and license it under CDDL, it's community code -- not Sun's. If you write your own proprietary file and link that file to a community CDDL file, your proprietary file is yours -- not Sun's. CDDL code is shared in an open commons, which includes non-Sun developers mixing rather freely with Sun engineers. If people were "working for Sun for free" then how does the following list make any sense: SchilliX, Nexenta, BeleniX, marTux, the PowerPC port, the DTrace port to BSD, the ZFS port to FUSE/Linux and DragonFly BSD?

Next ...

In my experience, people will work for free when they see that work as contributing to the greater common good -- but not to the bottom line of a global computing vendor. This part of Sun's strategy escapes me.

Wrong.

That's not our strategy. I'm sure Sun's true strategy "escapes" Cohen, but that's only because he doesn't understand it. This is really just a rhetorical trap where a position is mischaracterized and then called into question. It's a common technique practiced for thousands of years and easily seen for what it is --  a unsubstantiated misrepresentation.

Next ...

Time will tell if Schwartz can build a viable software ecosystem and vibrant development community around this approach.

Wrong.

OpenSolaris is already a "vibrant development community" in its very first year, which is a huge accomplishment. We can demonstrate this quite clearly by contributions (code, documentation, scripts), open conversations that reach hundreds of thousands, thousands of participants, user groups, communities, projects, millions of lines of source code from multiple Solaris Consolidations, a published roadmap, non-Sun distributions, an open development process (draft), a published Charter, an open governance (draft, draft), and ports (DTrace, ZFS, PowerPC). And there is a lot of infrastructure coming that will help encourage even more community participation. I'd say that the OpenSolaris community has already built a fine foundation in its first year. Wouldn't you?

That's it.

Tags:

Thursday May 25, 2006

Alfred Chuang: OpenSolaris is Useless

So, I get up this morning for an early meeting (who the hell does 7 am meetings in California anyway?) and I was reading my newspaper (The Register) and I see this -- BEA takes JBoss and Sun to task on open source. I figured it was on Java, so I passed initially. But then couldn't resist the lure of that headline, so I peeked. In the fourth paragraph, I found this:

Picking on Sun's OpenSolaris program Chuang said: "Look at those who blindly open source. Solaris - two million lines of code. Useless."

Well, if the quote is accurate, I have no clue what would prompt Chuang to attack OpenSolaris like this. Do you? I don't know anything about BEA, but most of what I've heard over the years has really been quite positive. Anyway, almost a year ago, we opened 10 million lines of code, not two million. Big difference. And for most of this year, we've been opening more code and entire Solaris consolidations pretty consistently. So the number of lines of code is actually much higher and will get even higher because we are still opening stuff. But that doesn't even matter. Sometimes things are big and sometimes they are small and that has nothing to do with value. So, because Chuang thinks we only opened two million lines, does that make us "useless" as he suggests? I'd encourage Chuang to sign up to opensolaris.org, join our mailing lists, and engage in an open -- and direct -- conversation with the OpenSolaris developers. They hold a slightly different opinion about OpenSolaris (as do our customers), and their numbers are growing. Oh, and the "blindly" bit? Actually, the opening of Solaris took years -- as it should have -- and we're not even done yet.

Tags:

Saturday Apr 22, 2006

Competitive Attacks

Since we launched almost a year ago, I've been amazed that OpenSolaris has not been attacked that much in the press by Sun's competitors. Before we launched, sure, we were attacked a lot, but since we opened our code -- and have been regularly releasing code ever since -- the engineers and developers have been doing the talking and that conversation has been based on work, not spin. And I think the results speak for themselves, don't you? Personally, I think this is extraordinary. People still take shots at Sun (hell, that's sport these days), but OpenSolaris doesn't seem to be a target -- which is great. I think we are slowly earning our credibility in an understated way as we just go about our business of opening more code, implementing an open development model, and building a community.

This experience has transformed my views of marketing, engineering, communications, media, community development, corporate competitive strategies, and executive communications -- all of which intersect occasionally and sometimes even overlap (which is sometimes good and sometimes bad) on any large project. Before this job I specialized in competitive PR, which means I attacked and responded a lot -- just like politicians twisting facts and verbally assaulting each other every day in the media with the support of legions of irrational partisans. But I also specialized in getting sick to my stomach when we were attacked by competitors and when I was directed to attack back. I used anger to fight back, and I fought very, very hard. I hated it. It did nothing but cause pain. And I felt that the so-called positive PR benefits were trivial and fleeting at best. Dumb choice of careers if you are not into that sort of thing, I realize, but that's long over now.

Well, I think I've finally detoxed because when I read this recent attack on OpenSolaris -- Open Solaris a source of contention -- I didn't get sick at all. I didn't get angry. I just laughed. True, I'm not in marketing anymore, so it's not my job to potentially respond to these sorts of things, but for a long time I felt the attacks deeply and responded to many of them. The truth is that the vast majority of attacks in the press are so unsophisticated and extreme that they are pretty easy to undermine. The mistake many companies make is to attack back so hard that they draw yet more competitive attacks in the press. And around they go. The best attacks, on the other hand, leave no fingerprints whatsoever. Those are the ones that can absolutely be devastating to an organization. However, this particular attack in question is, well, just embarrassing for the attacker. So that's why I laughed. I mean, read the article. How could you not laugh, right? Dennis, Ben, Stephen, James, and Stephen all dive into the specifics of why the attacker is so completely wrong. I can't really add any substance to their arguments, so there's not much for me to say about the article's itself. But what interests me even more is this -- what generated this attack? Why now? Did the attacker just decide to attack on the spot? Was he prompted? Was he set up? Was it planned by executive support staff or marketing and PR staff? Was an unknown third party involved and behind it? What result was expected?

I'd love to see the briefing document on this one. Wouldn't you?

Tags:

Saturday Sep 10, 2005

Tease Me

I'm not sure what to make of this one. I'm a tease and ignorant, I suppose.

Sunday Aug 07, 2005

Same Source, Opposite Conclusion

In his blog criticizing Sun, Dave Rosenberg points to an article by Dave Rosenberg as an example of something he says Sun is not doing -- which is using innovative to help build relationships with developer communities. Well, I read the article and I liked it. Some good tips in there. So, I'd like to point to the same article to demonstrate the opposite conclusion -- that as a corporation, Sun is actually doing some fine open source marketing and it's largely based on the open communications of our engineers. And since we are in the process of open sourcing new stuff all the time, we'll continually be building relationships with our developer communities just like we are doing now. Are we perfect? Hardly. But we are doing more than some people think, and there's more to come, too. What's happening at Sun is that marketing is starting to join the community and do its marketing from within the community. Many engineering groups have been there all along, but now our marketing colleagues are showing up, too, which is very encouraging.

Anyway, back to the article -- The voodoo of marketing an open source project. Here's the last paragraph:

In the end, it's the dialog that you have with your current and future user base that will drive the success of your project or product. The open source community thrives on the reciprocity between product developers and those who support the efforts. Having consistent, honest communication with your constituents is the first step to launching a marketing effort that will help catapult you to success.

Those "dialog" and "honest communications" references are most important, I believe. But -- and that's a very big but -- the communication has to be unfiltered and distributed, which is the opposite of traditional marketing. In other words ... engineers talking to engineers.

In our marketing, we already do much of what the article talks about (conferences, t-shirts, newsgroups, blogs, etc), but what's interesting is that our engineers have been doing these things for years -- directly engaging with the communities in which they participate. It's not traditional marketing, of course, it's simply the process of having a consistent, honest conversation with a peer across the firewall. So, we get this part totally and always have.

Last week just the OpenSolaris contingent of Sun's participation at OSCON topped more than 15 people -- including the entire OpenSolaris CAB -- to participate in several sessions. Heck, we even sent the prez. Other Sun software groups were there, too, so I have no clue what the total was, but it was a lot from just one company. And although I was at home with a three month old, I heard things went pretty well in Portland. It's important to note that the vast majority of presenters from the OpenSolaris project at OSCON were engineers. Again, it's the engineers that are driving these conversations, not marketeers and executives.

This dynamic has been going on long before . Many of Sun's core kernel developers have been participating on Solaris community public mail lists (alt.solaris.x86, comp.unix.solaris, solarisx86) for years, as well as contributing to various open source communities. And the Solaris engineers have been blogging on blogs.sun.com for more than a year now, well before OpenSolaris went live. When we launched OpenSolaris, we launched with 150 engineers leading the way in their blogs -- talking about the code directly with the OpenSolaris community. Totally unfiltered. We skipped the press release and just, well, opened the site. PR did brief some reporters under NDA (I was strongly against this), but much of the traditional marketing and PR tactics were simply not used in favor of directly engaging the community. OpenSolaris is a developer program, and we wanted our marketing to reflect that. As launches go, I'd say it was a pretty innovative move. These open communications with the community will only increase as the project grows. Currently, we have 24 communities that are chatting away on 46 discussion lists, and when we implement a comprehensive governance and co-development model with projects the interaction will increase further still. All of this is the foundation of good open source marketing. All of it. We have a long way to go, true, but we are already ahead of many of our critics who don't realize how much Sun has changed.

I'm sure the guys at NetBeans, Java, java.net, Jini, OpenOffice.org, Jxta, GlassFish, Grid, Looking Glass, and the other developer communities in which we participate would agree with me. They are, after all, doing pretty much the same thing at their conferences and in their blogs and discussion lists -- collaborating on code and talking directly and honestly with their peers within their communities. Pretty much what's outlined in Dave's article, don't you think?

Thursday Jun 09, 2005

Two Quotes Today

Two interesting quotes from Scott today -- one funny and one probably taken a bit out of context. Both appear in this article -- Open source "is free like a puppy is free" says Sun boss in ZDNet UK. Here's the first one:

Commenting on Sun's $4.1bn (£2.4bn) acquisition of tape-specialist StorageTek last week, McNealy hit back at analysts who claimed that the move wasn't decisive enough to improve the company's flat performance.

"People say, "Tape is kind of boring". Well, I say go in and tell your customer that you have lost their back-up tapes and you'll see excitement pretty quickly," he said.

Ok, just a funny quote but with a serious message. Seems like Scott. I can her him saying it. Seems clear, too. But further down in the article comes another quote that I bet was taken out of context. Here's that one:

Next on the hit list was open source, with McNealy attacking the widely held view that the Linux operating system is cheap compared with Sun's own Solaris OS or Microsoft's Windows, or even free. "Open source is free like a puppy is free," he quipped, hinting at long-term costs and hassles, and occasional clean-up jobs. This is despite the fact that Sun recently began releasing Solaris under an open source licence.

I seriously doubt that open source is on McNealy's so-called "hit list." Scott is spending millions on , and his engineering teams are out there building the OpenSolaris community and have been doing so for some time now. So why would open source be on his so-called hit list? Makes no sense. Also, the OpenSolaris community will be an open source community, which is stated directly in the last sentence of the paragraph. If open source were on Scott's so-called hit list, I doubt I'd have a job, too. So, I don't get the "attack" characterization up front before McNealy's quote, nor do I get the last sentence in the paragraph written to emphasize a point that wasn't really supported in the first place. Also, if you take out the "despite" in there the sentence takes on an entirely different tone. Of course, taking out "hit list" and "attacking" and "scathing" further alters the story, too, don't you think?

So, what's wrong with McNealy's actual quote? He's simply pointing out that from his perspective as CEO open source is not free. He's right. It takes a strong commitment and significant engineering resources to build and run an open source development project to provide all that "free" code. Most customers who then consume that free code do so through some vendor providing services to support or implement systems based on the code. Isn't that what Red Hat does? And IBM? And Novell? Sun? Or, if customers have the skills on staff, they do the work themselves. But it all costs something, doesn't it? Nothing is free in that equation except the access to the source code, which helps enable a community of developers who have the specialized skills to work on the code.

I don't find anything wrong with McNealy's 9 word quote. However, I do question the 64 words of commentary characterizing the quote. Don't you?

UPDATE: 6/9/05: I see that Cnet reprinted the ZDNet story but under the headline, "McNealy touts 'excitement' of backup tape." Pretty much the same story with the same writer but this version has some small changes. For instance, this one says, "Also on the quip list ... " instead of "Next on the hit list ... " Why the edit? There were a couple more edits as well. Then the story crops up yet again on Silicon.com under yet a third headline, though this one is just ridiculous -- Sun boss scorches rivals and open source. Scorches? Well, I guess the headline did its job -- I read the story. It's great media PR, no question. But after I read the story and found no substantiation for the headline so I lost respect for Silicon.com. Simple.

Tuesday May 24, 2005

Attack of the Rabid, Brain Dead Pit Bull

So, while I was away with the baby recently it seems I came up in a couple of, ah, conversations about OpenSolaris. Sometimes on this project I have to stop and look over my shoulder just to make sure Rod Serling isn't back there narrating my life.

Here's a post from Slashdot and my comments in bold red (thought I didn't correct the original typos):

\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\* Post Starts Here \*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*

People just can't stand Sun's endless stream of BS (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, @06:27AM (#12450385)

What are these people complaining about? (We're tired of getting attacked.) I mean, it was Sun's very own Jim Grisanzio (What ... no link?) who set the tone here. (How`s that? I've responded, not attacked. Please cite your evidence to the contrary.) For month (No. I've been responding to attacks on Solaris for over a year now.) he is attacking every critical statement (Oh, no ... I've missed hundreds of attacks on Solaris, but I've been trying my best to keep up.) about Sun's OpenSolaris release like a brain-dead pitbull with rabies (appologies to all pitbulls) (Ouch. Now that hurt. Great quote, though. I'm saving it.).

And JG is not even funny or imaginative (I'm not trying to be ... are you?). He is just playing the same old record: "People who complain are stupid.", (I never said that. Any evidence to the contrary?) "People who ask for details are brain dead and don't get it". (Nope. I never said that one either.) "OpenSolaris will be released real soon now". (Well, it will.)

OpenSolaris is indeed vapourware (Yes, from your perspective; no from ours. It's a draw.) with an GPL incompatible license. (I thought it was the other way around.) And Sun is working very hard to piss of even more programmers. (Even more? Even more than what?)

It is high time for Sun to put up or shut up. (Totally agree.) That propaganda dog-and-pony show is going on many potential developer's nerves. (Like who?)

\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*

And then there's this comment at ZDNet (could it be the same guy?):

Fullname:   Anonymous
Location:   -
Occupation:   -
Comments:

Well, the thing is, the baby is still not born. (Partially correct.) But Sun did already throw one birth party after the other (More than that, actually.), colleced the presents (positive press) (and massive attacks) and expects everyone to praise the unseen baby's beauty. (No. We're just telling our customers and developers what we're doing, that's all. It really is that simple.)

The birth is almost six month overdue, (Oh, goodness no, it's much longer than that.) and of course people start to ask the obvious questions: Why does it take so long, (You wouldn't want to know, believe me.) and is the lady really pregnant?

Sun's reaction to these questions, especially that of the community manager JG is not adequiate. (Correct. I've been pushing for a much more aggressive response to the attacks, a faster release cycle, and zero marketing.) Blindly declaring all critics as being stupid (I never said that.), "not geting it", (Yep. I say that sometimes to those who blindly attack Solaris and deny that the Solaris community even exists.) leechers (I don't know what that means.), or trolls (Not a word I generally use.) works only so fare. The reaction of the open source comunity (Which open source community?) is predictable. This is not a community that swallows marketing bull. Instead, the statement "put up or shut up" is exactly the right one. (Correct. And we are. We have a license, we published a road map, we announced a Community Advisory board, we released DTrace, more to come.)

It is hight time for Sun to stop the propaganda and "show us the code" (another cl\*\*\*\*ic request of the FOSS community). Many have tried to join the FOSS community with all talk and no code. (Correct. We've got 10 million lines of Solaris code coming ... not to mention all the other projects we have out there.) The trolls are the ones who can't show code, not the ones who ask to see it. (Is that all you are doing? Just asking to see the code?)

\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\* Post Ends Here \*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*

Fun stuff, eh? So, these comments came from a Slashdot conversation -- Sun Developers Refute OpenSolaris Vaporware Claims -- and a ZDNet article -- OpenSolaris developers defend their baby.  For more of this you can see Dan, Dennis, Alan, Jason, and Bill. And they have a bunch of links as well.

I know, I know ... people told me not to respond to this, but I couldn't help it. Bullies never like it when you fight back and defend yourself. But, sorry. I do.

Thursday May 19, 2005

"The juiciest market in the world"

Ok, so I've been back to work for a few days. I'm still a bit numb and need a lot more sleep, but I'm slowly starting to catch up and get my new dad legs. I'll probably blog some stuff I missed over the past month for safe keeping right here. In between diaper changes, of course.

So what welcomes we back? IBM and Red Hat. Charming. Over the last couple of days I see the duo has teamed up in a well coordinated public relations campaign to go after Solaris (again) -- IBM and Red Hat Chase the Solaris Base Some More:

Red Hat has enlisted the aid of IBM to go after the juiciest market in the world: the vast installed base of Solaris servers that were deployed in 2000 and early 2001.

"The juiciest market in the world." Love it.

Look, everyone's gunning for Solaris -- which, of course, demonstrates the viability and longevity of the system itself, the talent of the engineers who developed it, and the value of the Solaris market. Those systems sold way back in 2000 are probably humming right along with Solaris 8 or 9, but a lot has changed in five years around here and I bet IBM and Red Hat have noticed. There's more to come, too, guys. And soon. Perhaps that's what's behind all the fuss? Probably. It's going to be an interesting couple of months out there, don't you think?

Also, IBM and Red Hat have to hit Sun hard on this issue. The timing for them is perfect -- Solaris 10 just recently shipped and OpenSolaris is not available yet (though DTrace certainly is). But time is rapidly running out, too. Sun's screw up with x86 is now looking pretty old, and the company has more than made up for it with S10, OpenSolaris, Opteron, and those new Andy Bechtelsheim boxes in the works. So, the new business model, product set, and developer programs are starting to come together. Just imagine the consequences for IBM and Red Hat when Sun re-engages "the juiciest market in the world" with an entirely new story for the installed base, while simultaneously moving aggressively into new markets with new offerings? This wasn't supposed to happen. Sun was supposed to be dead (several times over) by now, remember? Sorry, guys. It's a new day.

Oh, and while I've been catching up on my reading this week, I tripped over this article: Up and Running on Solaris 10. Read it along with all the PR on IBM and Red Hat for a little balance. May the best system win.
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