Monday Jan 17, 2005

Gosling on Solaris

You gotta love interviews with James Gosling. They are usually quite a trip. He just says what he thinks, that's all. Man, I wish I could do that instead of bouncing all over the place like I do. Anyway, in this Q&A -- Developer spotlight: James Gosling -- in Builder AU Gosling talks Java (of course), tools, IBM, software patents, Emacs and Richard Stallman (a must read), and the Solaris platform. Yes, Solaris. Check it out:

Q: At the moment you are using an Apple for day-to-day use. Can you see a day when you will be using Solaris on x86?

A: One of the problems with Solaris on x86 has been that support for laptops has been very thin. With Solaris 10 there is a lot of laptop support. I’m currently looking to get myself an x86 laptop but I want to get the right one because Apple notebooks are just physically better, they are mechanically more solid than most of the PC ones. I put too many files on my laptop to deal with something that is going to break and every PC laptop I’ve ever had is a piece of crap, technically speaking.

Can anyone recommend a good laptop for Gosling?

Anyway, I'm happy to see Gosling talking Solaris. I remember a few years ago when I used to do PR in the software organization. I got a call from Bob McMillan at Linux Magazine. He wanted to do a story on Gosling ... Java technology and Linux ... why isn't Sun doing more with Java on Linux. At the time I didn't know James, but I thought Bob's idea was a good one (I agreed with him totally, too), and also I wanted to work more with Linux Magazine since I was interested in open source. So I said, yah, let's do it. I'll try to get Gosling. Nice. How do I get Gosling? No clue. Well, lucky for me at the time he wasn't doing much PR (he goes through cycles), and no one in PR really had responsibility for him. You see, PR people are childishly possessive over their "spokespeople," so ordinarily this is enough to scare anyone away. But, no PR person was in sight as far as the eye could see, so I was golden. Ok, next problem, do I know anyone who knows Gosling to give him a heads up on this? No. Not really. So, I decided to just call him.

Ring ... ring ... ring. "Hello," he answered. Ok ... now what do I do? I was more than a little intimidated in case you haven't noticed. But I wanted this interview, so I just dove in. After he listened for a moment, he said he'd do it and that "we should be talking to these guys a lot more."  Cool. I took that as a sign. :) So, we're on our way. The next week we met the editors of Linux Magazine at some fancy restaurant in Palo Alto for a three hour dinner in our own private room. Really nice place, too, though I can't for the life of me remember the name. Here's the story, though. It all worked out pretty well, other than I got into a little trouble for talking to Linux Magazine -- you see PR at the time was nervous about open source issues. Go figure.

I did many interviews with Gosling after that while I was in PR, but this interview was especially substantiative. I realized that Java James was an amazing spokesperson for ... Solaris. Who knew? Certainly no one in PR, that's for sure. During the dinner, he spent at least an hour (I took detailed notes) talking about Solaris. I was fascinated. I mean he really dug deep into the system -- comparing it to Linux, to AIX, to Windows -- with relatively little concern about marketing and politics. Most of the Solaris stuff didn't didn't make it into the article (3 hours is a really long interview), but it was really wonderful to listen to.

By the way, there was no need for me to be intimidated. James is an extremely gentle and kind soul.



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