Friday Jul 04, 2008

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of my former employer


cross-posting to http://patrickfinch.net

After 11 years at Sun, I hope you can forgive a little sentimentality as I write my last as a Sun employee. I've had a wonderful time here. In the week I joined Sun (SunExpress actually, which although it sounds like a budget travel agency, was in fact an inside sales division), the sales manager who hired me left. Unlike her, I am not making a leaving speech, but were I to, I would say the same thing: it's all about the people.

I've had the opportunity to work with amazing, and more importantly, really good people. Although we may no longer be co-workers, we will still be friends. And happily, we will still be colleagues: I am remaining in the world of free and open source software to work at Mozilla, marketing Firefox in Europe. That such an opportunity was available to me was certainly in part thanks to Sun's credibility in open source. This is the result of the efforts of hundreds, even thousands, of people at Sun, but of course much of the credit has to go to my boss, Sun's chief open source officer, Simon Phipps. Simon is a marvelous man, from whom I have learned a great deal, (but I suspect only a fraction of what he could teach me). I literally do not know how he does what he does, and I will miss him.

As for the new waters Sun is charting in open source, I am proud to have had a small part to play in it. And I believe that Sun's customers and shareholders will have reason to be pleased, even if the ride seems bumpy at times. I like to think that we've moved on from regarding Microsoft as 'evil'. They are no more evil than they are brilliant. It just happens that they've been the chief beneficiaries of the IT sector's natural susceptibility to monopolisation. But by the simple expedient of respecting the freedom of software's users, we have the potential to avoid both the monopolisation or the fragmentation of the network; to keep the network as an instrument of human empowerment and not one of control, and to accelerate the growth of shared wealth in the form of accumulated learning. I feel very lucky to be able to identify this outcome in my work, in both my old job and my new one.

In my interview to join Sun, the soon-to-leave manager innocently asked why it was that Sun had no customers (or at least, relatively few), in my hometown of Liverpool, which was at the time enduring a bout of post-industrial malaise. I didn't have a very good answer for her, but it's nice to reflect that these days, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture (whatever that means, exactly), in Eskilstuna, Sweden, where I now live, there seems to be a higher level of awareness of Liverpool FC than practically any other institution, and even the head of Sun's sales organisation is a scouser.

Finally, I turn to some advice that I got in my early days on the job, on getting my first account to manage. John, a senior colleague, took me to one side and said to me, "Patrick, this is important. Whatever you do, don't f\*\*\* it up." So, if you'd care to join me, I will transplant my blog to http://patrickfinch.net, where I will endeavour to keep following this sage counsel.


Wednesday Jul 02, 2008

Pedal-pup-propulsion, Novell style



Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, the puppy-kicking Novell community manager for OpenSUSE, has clearly been reading from the same press briefing as Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian.

At the Red Hat summit in Boston, pooch-punting Zonker (not being disrespectful, I understand Zonker prefers to be called "Zonker") revealed that he is "very disappointed" that Sun hasn't "bitten the bullet and participated in Linux". By which he means, presumably, the Linux kernel, as Sun certainly does participate in many projects which are upstream of Linux distributions; indeed, it's been recorded that Sun has more code in the average Debian distro (including the software in the repositories) than anyone else.

Beagle-booting Zonker's comments also seem to echo criticisms made of various popular Linux distros by employees of companies who produce less popular, green-themed Linux distros when they complain that the work is all downstream: "The work that's done for Solaris is done only for Solaris." Well, let's get two things clear:

1. a lot of the work funded by Sun on OpenSolaris finds its way into projects upstream from Linux, including X.org, GNOME and important applications
2. a lot of the work funded by Sun on OpenSolaris finds its way into other open and closed-source projects including, DTrace into Linux

Zonker, if you must kick that puppy, please remove your misinformation boots first.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Tuesday May 27, 2008

Ghost Writer



Seriously, is there a worse technology journalist than Sam Varghese? His column Open Sauce - A GNU Perspective (geddit?) is a train-wreck. He's very poorly informed, self-important (he considers that if he gives a product a poor review, it's "a major PR disaster"), but what's even worse: he simply can't write.

This is the open-minded individual who insists on writing "(sic)" when quoting americanised direct speech. This is the wordsmith who crafts nonsense like Bruce Perens made what would be a move with huge repercussions, and the brainless Stormy by name, not by nature (on Stormy Peters of OpenLogic). I could go on. And indeed, I have.

Anyway, I'm revisiting Mr Varghese's column after reading his review of OpenSolaris. I will admit that I was waiting for this one, fully expecting it to be littered with factual errors and what we might kindly describe as failures of intellectual curiosity. And I wasn't disappointed. His opening salvo:


One still has to go through a requester/sponsor arrangement to submit a patch to the OpenSolaris project. (By contrast, the Ubuntu Linux distribution started by Canonical is now a little more than three-and-a-half years old - and there is no need to detail what it has achieved).


We all admire Ubuntu, and no one is going to deny it has done a fantastic job in both gaining admirers within the Linux community and, crucially, growing the popularity of Linux with people who might otherwise have not used it. But still, (and ignoring the massive differences in starting points for these projects) the truth of Mr Varghese's statement really depends on who you are. There are, after all, non-Sun committers to OpenSolaris. Sure, we want more, but I challenge Mr Varghese to put back a patch to Ubuntu without a sponsor. One will always have to go through a request/sponsor arrangement unless one has committer status.

Mr Varghese then demonstrates his ability to work the Google machine, regurgitating criticism of OpenSolaris (much legitimate - we're not claiming perfection here) from IBM employees, and then his inability to RTFM by complaining that he can't find OpenOffice.org. But then he unleashes his final barb,


But the licence is what jars the most. It pops up in all its glorious detail right at the start of proceedings, the Community Development and Distribution Licence. It isn't compatible with the General Public Licence, an indicator, again, that Sun is still in two minds - should we (really) give it away or should we still continue to be control freaks?


Like many people, I have a lot of respect for the GPL, but let's be clear: only the GPL is compatible with the GPL. And the CDDL is an open source license by any - any - reasonable definition, and certainly the one to which Mr Varghese appears to subscribe. Does he even read his own column? So when he writes:


There are two Sun components that would be of interest to Linux developers if they were licensed under terms that made them portable - the ZFS filesystem and DTrace. But by the time Sun decides on whether it will open source these two, it may be time for me to bid goodbye to this world.


Let's hope not, as that would date Mr Varghese's demise as January or December 2005. Happily, DTrace and ZFS are both now available on Solaris, Mac OS X and BSD - DTrace is even available on QNX. But should Mr Varghese read this (although the evidence is that he reads very little, at least, until he has decided what his opinion is), "open source" does not equate to GPL compatibility. If it did, why would we even have the Open Source Definition? We would just have the GPL.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Monday May 26, 2008

The Inadvertently Interesting Matt Asay




I've just been enjoying the vociferous complaints on the Register's semi-informed podcast Open Season by celebrity blogger Matt Asay about his "innocuous suggestion" (read: simplistic and ill-advised comment) that non-paying users are detrimental to open source. You can read it here, but before you click, you might want to consider the author's own opinion of his writing ("I almost fell asleep typing it, it's so bland.").

Mr Asay shifts his ground between the first piece and the follow up, here. But essentially, he says this: "free riders" (which he holds to be non-paying, non-coding users of open source software) are a problem for commercial open source companies because they may encourage other paying users not to pay. Or, as Mr Asay puts it, "Why should you be the only sucker paying for what everyone else is using for free, and quite comfortably?".

Now, it seems plausible that there is a situation for which Mr Asay's proposition makes sense: perhaps even his own business. But it's worth bearing in mind that if your customer does not know what they are paying you for, perhaps they are, indeed, a "sucker". Perhaps you have sold them something they don't need. Surely a better strategy is to have paying customers who know and value what they're paying for: be it support, indemnity, warranty, training, etc. There is seldom a free-rider problem with products that have a cost per marginal unit produced.

As for Mr Asay's shrill complaints, he hints that it is destructive behaviour and counter to the interests of open source to disagree with him. Well, maybe. But, open source, even "commercial open source" is a broad church of motivation and business models, and it's very hard to speak for everything in the domain (never mind non-commercial open source). Much less if you're falling asleep while writing.

So, for one thing, the term 'free riders' is a pejorative one to my ears, and implies over-consumption and/or problems in production (and frequently implies that a public good ought to be communally produced). While I doubt that Mr Asay meant to be rude about people who use open source software without paying for it, by using a term which has come from a very precise vocabulary (even if it is more commonly used these days), it might seem as if he did.

Further, Mr Asay's comments are only applicable to projects which monetize directly. Mozilla Firefox does not charge for usage, nor does it exist on donations (although I am sure they are welcome). He appears to miss many elements of the bigger picture: that a large and growing market share leads to its own opportunities. And by regarding "contribution" only in terms of money or code (which he later expands to other activities), Mr Asay misses the point that a large user base makes it easier to grow a user base, by making your software both more accessible, and more attractive to others to develop. He seems to think that non-paying/coding users only offer the benefits that a) they are at least not paying your competitor and b) they provide an "emotional safety net who want to buy with the herd". Charming.

Free access to software can drive growth. It can allow businesses to add capabilities which they would not otherwise have explored. In other words, they wouldn't have paid money to anyone. What's more, rather than having an emotional value, a large "non-contributing" user base can have a genuine economic value.

Mr Asay claims that his argument was entirely uncontroversial, restating it to, "we need to find ways to get more code or cash from communities". Given the rampant success of open source, it's dubious that it needs to do much differently, but all the same, we know what he means. I'd prefer to restate it this way: to build a business in open source, usage of the software must translate into some economic benefit for the producer.

If indeed, Mr Asay had made this highly intuitive point, his indignation at people disagreeing with him would be understandable. But by his own admission, he was sloppy in making this point, and didn't really make any others. And so, those who hold that increasing the benefit for a producer of software does not in all cases mean having a higher proportion of users to pay for access to that software could only disagree with him.

Cheer up Matt, at least they read your blog.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Tuesday Apr 01, 2008

Last time I checked



Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, ("ill considered" - Redmonk), not content with the murkiness of his own company's patent arrangements with Microsoft (the two companies laughably "agreed to disagree"  on whether or not their November 2006 agreement was an ackowledgement that Novell was infringing Microsoft patents), has decided to throw some mud in the general direction of OpenSolaris.


"Rather than focusing on Microsoft, Zemlin pointed Hovsepian to Sun and Open Solaris, where his comments were unusually pointed.

"I believe OpenSolaris has had about 60,000 downloads last time I looked," he said. "When you look at Linux downloads just last year [there were] over two million of just SUSE.” Hovsepian also attacked the OpenSolaris license directly.

"I would suggest to the customers and to the community, be careful. The way they’ve written their contract as soon as you look at it, you can’t go back and look at Linux.

"It’s a very dangerous contract from my perspective for someone who wants to work on Linux."


Attacking the license?  Well, any old fule knows that only GPL'd code is compatible with GPL'd code.  But presumably, Mr Hovsepian is scaremongering that those who work with OpenSolaris code have been exposed to patented methods and may face encumbrances if they want to put back to another code base.  Is that what he's getting at?  (Incidentally, his criticism remind me more of Microsoft's covenant not to sue open source developers who use Microsoft-patented methods for "non-commercial" use than anything else.  Now that's dangerous.)


Anyway, last time I checked, Sun is pretty clear on software patent policy.  You can read about it from
Mike Dillon (General Counsel), Simon Phipps and again here (Chief Open Source Officer and, ahem, my boss), Greg Papadopoulos (CTO) and Jonathan Schwartz and again here (CEO).


Secondly, Ron Hovsepian's reported figure on OpenSolaris downloads wasn't too clear.  Did he mean source code?  Or binary distributions?  When did he last check?  And who did he check with?  Of course, since Sun opened the Solaris source code, there have been millions of downloads of Solaris 10, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of downloads of Solaris Express, and I don't know how many downloads of source code, but I would put it in the tens or hundreds of thousands (I tried to calculate this, but gave up - you have the full tarball, and specific consolidations...hits per file, data transferred per file...it gets messy and I couldn't generate a figure I could stand behind).  We've also had tens of thousands of downloads of the developer preview of the binary distribution coming out later in the year.  Which isn't bad for an operating system that hasn't been launched yet.


Ron Hovsepian



Ron, left, not right

But enough about us.  Last time I checked, Microsoft's intepretation of Novell's patent licensing agreement was,
"If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes," -Steve Ballmer
More on this in the latest episode of the Register's Open Season podcast (27:20 minutes in) -this is not necessarily historical issue.

Now this isn't Mr Hovsepian's first ill-informed and misleading attack on OpenSolaris, but I don't think that's it's really our fault.  Simply put, he has a shortage of targets.  I mean, who else is he going to attack?  Given his position, he can't very well attack another Linux distro, and he's hardly going to attack Microsoft.  Apple?  For successfully porting of OpenSolaris technology into their operating system (without licensing any patents, we might point out)?  Doesn't really work, does it?



Open source needs better leadership that this.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer


Monday Jan 21, 2008

Only trust a flamboyant braggart




Make sure you don't miss the insight of industry insider John Dvorak's coverage of the Sun-MySQL deal. He isn't falling for the clueless mainstream line that this deal actually makes any sense for the parties involved. Uh-uh.


So what if
"Sun has busted right into the vibrant gut of the Linux market by grabbing the M. Red Hat can sit on the box. Sun will go ahead and own your data layer though, thank you very much."

So what if
"In addition, Sun gets the attention of thousands of developers, including many of those P[Perl, php, Python] folks."


"This deal stinks from top to bottom", explains Mr Dvorak. "I'm close to being convinced that Oracle wanted to buy MySQL to kill the product, but knew that it couldn't pull off the stunt itself. It would be too obvious, especially to European Union regulators. So it sent in a stooge to do the job."


This isn't any old embarrassing pile of speculation hastily cobbled together by a self-promoting hack who needs a contrary opinion to maintain his profile. Mr Dvorak's track record on explaining the ins-and-outs of Silicon Valley is second to none. What's the secret being Google's great success?

"Working both harder and smarter...That's all there is to it; the rest is smoke and mirrors."

Ah, but if it's really so simple, how come no one else is doing what Google is doing? Mr Dvorak saw that one coming:

"Right now, nobody wants to do that." Now you know.


So, why is the deal taking place at all? Regular Dvorak readers will know all about that: it's the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act. The high cost of regulation is forcing companies to remain private and therefore they become attractive acquisition targets. And the charming Mr Dvorak is the man to expose this fact for two reasons. He's brave and he's certainly not overpaid:

I'm not sure if the reticence to openly carp is because of [the executive class'] generally inflated salaries that would make them look like whining divas or if it is a simple lack of courage. Probably both.

Mr Dvorak's inescapable conclusion: if you want to eliminate deals that "stink", regulate less.


Any sceptics who still might think that this deal will work out well for Sun, for MySQL and for MySQL customers and MySQL users will have the last vestiges of doubt blown away by the knowledge that the price Sun paid for MySQL was especially unfair, being simultaneously too high:

"Sun cannot actually afford to spend a $1 billion on a company producing a mere $60 million in revenue and working outside its core competencies."

and too low:

"and there should have been a publicized bidding war resulting in a much higher price than $1 billion."

Any student of economics knows that pricing imperfections result from a lack of information. So, who's to blame? The diplomatic Mr Dvorak reluctantly points out,

"Part of this silence stems directly from the fact that MySQL is a Swedish company, and heaven forbid the Swedes announce their intentions or do anything that would appear flamboyant or be interpreted as (gasp) bragging! "


A traditional Swedish lack of flamboyance

Swedes don't brag, see. Although this may come as news to Norwegians and Danes who recently learned that Stockholm anointed itself "capital of Scandinavia". For all that, Mr Dvorak is correct. Swedes don't boast. So as a non-Swede living here, let me note, that Sweden has been rated as

the world's most democratic country; the best country for women (take that any way you want); performing the best on climate protection performance; the 3rd biggest exporter of music (and easily biggest per capita); the best at helping foreigners integrate; the world's leading nation brand; the world's biggest investor in R&D per capita. So, why no bragging? Well, perhaps because Sweden has the world's best behaved children.


Another piece of Mr Dvorak's that caught my eye was this one about media consolidation on the internet:

"The only papers or news organizations that can expect to survive will be those with lots of original content available only at their individual sites."

Well, with content this original, I'm sure we can expect to enjoy Mr Dvorak's writing on Marketwatch for a long time to come.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Friday Nov 23, 2007

In-ger-land


So, England will not be competing in next summer's European Championships. Frankly, I'm glad. I enjoy watching football, but not England. It isn't the inability of multi-millionaires to play a simple game in a coherent manner that puts me off, irritating as it is. It's the behaviour of the people that watch.

When people watch the club they support, they do just that: support. As a rule, they are predisposed to be nice to their own players and with an expectation that supporters of the other team will be equally partisan. But when people demonstrate their "passion" for the national team, it's far too frequently with an abusive tone, with the indignation of unmet and unrealistic expectations, and with a lack of basic decency that other countries' supporters are able to show.

Here in Sweden, most gardens have a flagpole from which the Swedish flag flies on special occasions. In England, if someone flies the cross of St George in their garden, it tends to mark them out as strange. We have difficulty expressing our nationality. Is it because we're ashamed of it, or secretly too proud, or so self aware as to be both? I'm not sure. But when the England team plays, the expression of national identity is nothing other than boorish and offensive, witness the routine booing of other countries' national anthems.

Much navel-gazing and public thought will be given to how to get these lavishly rewarded footballers to perform at something approaching the level their status would imply. But I think there's a more pressing issue: where do these polyester-clad outpourings of chauvinism and anger come from, and how can we make them stop?


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer.

Thursday Aug 30, 2007

Just because it worked, it doesn't mean we did it



So is standardisation a game or a process? I ask this after reading Jason Matusow's staggering act of disingenuity about Microsoft's apparent offering of incentives and ready-formed opinions to partners (mostly Swedish IT resellers) for them to join the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and vote in favour of accepting Microsoft's not uncontroversial Office Open XML specification\*.

After Computer Sweden broke this news, Microsoft helpfully clarified that they didn't actually do anything wrong because they, er, realised what they were doing was wrong. And so 18 Microsoft Gold Partners joined SIS and voted to approve Microsoft Open Office XML last Monday, in spite of these incentives being retracted. Mr Matusow says that incentives were only offered to two partners in the first place, the quote in Computer Sweden said it was "a few" (”ett fåtal”).

infinitives, hairs...whatever

Mr Matusow wants to be clear - the incentives were retracted, and any other lobbying was not actually against any rules, and therefore fair game:

"It is critical to note that the addition of voting members at that time was completely within the rules of the national standards body.
...While there are many arguments to be had over the relative merits of this rule…it is a rule nonetheless.
...The process and vote at SIS were not affected."


Well, we do rather have to take his word for it, but either way, it would be only be "critical" if all you are actually interested in is the formal approval of a respected international standards body - or "playing to win". If you were seeking to make a good standard (i.e. submitting to the process), wouldn't it be critical to note that the 6 months of work that SIS delegates did examining the specification will not now see the light of day because of addition of so many parties to the vote at the very last moment?


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

\* we're told it was a "zealous" employee. For an idea of just what a zealous employee might look like, click here.

Monday Aug 27, 2007

Mr Serious

Last week it was suggested that I had made a somewhat frivolous criticism of Steven J Vaughan Nichols' journalism.



Not guilty.

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer


Friday Aug 24, 2007

Olympic-sized criticism



I saw an interview with a branding consultant discussing the unloved London Olympics logo recently.



He laughably claimed that the question is not, "Do I like the logo?", but rather, "Is it suggestive of an innovative experience?". He said that it met this criteria. It communicates a great deal. His bizarre conclusion was that being unusual and ostensibly unattractive does not a bad logo make. Unsurprisingly, this freak was lambasted as a pseud in Private Eye.

Of course, he was totally right. London's ugly Olympic logo is memorable, distinctive and speaks of an organisation which is thinking differently. It is an unusual, unattractive and a \*good\* logo.

My wife, (who is a marketing manager) once observed that marketing (and especially branding) is the one discipline which everyone believes they can do better than the department charged with doing it. Marketing is not, as they say, rocket science. Equally, it isn't entirely intuitive. And so I observe that much of the discussion about the Sun changing its trading symbol from SUNW to JAVA fails to engage with the reasons behind the decision.

My perspective? Around 2004, Steven Milunovich, a Merrill Lynch analyst, wrote a very report on Sun, in which he labelled the company's technology "irrelevant". I was astonished to see how influential this was. A very old friend of mine (actually, my oldest) works in the City of London, while knowing little of Sun's technology, quoted this one adjective back to me in his assessment of Sun's prospects.

Happily, Merrill Lynch seem a little less gloomy about Sun these days. But what of my friend? Well, he owns a "convergence device" and he uses the internet. He's a lot less likely to accept that a stock is "irrelevant" if he closely associates it with a technology platform that he is using several times a day. And perceptions do, it seems, count.

Elsewhere, I read that if you look at the London Olympic logo long enough, you can see a character from a popular animated series performing a lewd act.

That's some logo.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Tuesday Aug 21, 2007

Say no to instant replays


I'm cross-posting this, having written it on the Guardian's (rather good) football blog as RightOnBrother.

Listening the Guardian's also rather good Football Weekly podcast (which is incidentally now bi-weekly), one of the senior journalists, Sean Ingle, spoke of the "inevitability" of the use of instant replay evidence in football. Calling it a "no brainer", and saying that he does not understand opposition to to the idea. This, of course, in the wake of Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Chelsea which saw referee Rob Styles awarded a bizarre penalty to Chelsea.

I'm a staunch opponent of the introduction of video replays into football. A good example of just why was last October Great Britain played New Zealand in a rugby league international. Almost all of the tries were referred to the video ref. This is by no means uncommon. The option of the video umpire undermines the authority of the referee, who will be castigated for failing to use it. So, almost every try is referred to the video referee.

Not that the video referee is infallible: watch again that rugby league international to see that on a majority of occasions two veteran commentators (Jonathan Davies and Ray French, are both former players, one with refereeing experience) disagree with the decision of the 4th official.


You're the video ref. Goal or no goal?

What's more, the experience of a live football match would be diminished by the instant replay. It is not simply that lengthy pauses in the action would slow the game down, but that the very defining moment of a game - a score - is nullified. Seeing "Goal", or "No goal" eventually appear on a video screen is a very poor second to seeing the net bulge, or a finger-tip save.

And if the effect of a goal is cathartic for the spectators, it is doubly so for the players. Having to pause for a matter of several minutes before a goal is given will reduce the shifts in confidence and momentum which see games change hands. Would Liverpool's famous 6-minute assault on AC Milan in 2005 have been possible with a video umpire present? Lengthy breaks in play are what defending teams crave to kill revivals off.

I don't blame Sean Ingle for considering this to be a "no-brainer". I was ambivalent about video referring until it totally ruined my enjoyment of rugby league, a sport with discrete passages of play. Football, with its contiguous play, lends itself even less to video refereeing. How far back in a passage of play would one go in determining whether a goal was legitimate? Or would only certain laws be enforced by technology? Wouldn't any line be arbitrary, and just as unsatisfactory?

Anyone who thinks that it is inevitable that we should have instant replays should consider just how rubbish video refereeing actually would be. Television is important enough already, and, as Liverpool have proved so well in their first two games of the season, these things do even themselves out: Liverpool beat Aston Villa the weekend before by scoring from a highly dubious free kick.


p.s. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Monday Aug 13, 2007

Journalist, read thyself



Self-styled Cyber Cynic Steven J Vaughan-Nichols published this piece suggesting that recent developments in the IBM-SCO case may compromise the OpenSolaris project.

To be clear, I think that people like Steven J Vaughan-Nichols do an important job. There are times when self-conscious cynicism should be one's guiding light (as anyone who has recently wasted three hours of their weekend trying to get rid of a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson can tell you). Moreover, I can't comment upon the legal merits of his argument, being under-qualified (i.e. not qualified at all), not authorised and generally lacking the requisite ambition. But I can comment on the article itself.

To wit:

"Sun's Jonathan Schwartz -- then Sun VP of software and today Sun's president and CEO -- said in 2003 that Sun had bought "rights equivalent to ownership" to Unix.

SCO agreed. In 2005, SCO CEO Darl McBride said that SCO had no problem with Sun open-sourcing Unix code in what would become OpenSolaris."


As I read this, Mr J Vaughan-Nichols seems to be implying that Sun believes it bought the rights necessary to open source Solaris from SCO.

However, clicking on the link he provides that quotes Jonathan Schwartz, one quickly realises that Mr Schwartz appears to assert rights equivalent to ownership to Unix based upon Sun's agreement with AT&T in 1992. Which is not the impression I got from Mr Vaughan-Nichols' piece. With that in mind, the article may, perhaps, seem rather less Slashdottable.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer


Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

Something must be done



Disparaging? Possibly. Disingenuous? Never in a million years.

Linux kernel maintainer Andrew Morton, reports ZDNet, was rather dismissive of OpenSolaris at LinuxWorld yesterday, inviting all to rally behind the cause of, er, monocultures.

Well, we don't expect Mr Morton to trumpet the great advances that OpenSolaris has made (which, not unreasonably, many in the GNU/Linux community are unaware of), and indeed, leading figures in the Linux community have in the past made even gloomier prognostications for Solaris.

But Mr Morton is right on the money (in the parlance of our times) with this comment:

It’s a great shame that OpenSolaris still exists...They should have killed it...They've fragmented the non-Windows operating system world and they continue to do so

Quite right. And let it not end there. Surely Sun might be further castigated for the UltraSPARC T2, which is continuing to fragment the non-Intel processor world. And it's a great shame that the Opera browser still exists, for they are continuing to fragment the non-Internet Explorer world. And let us not forget Gmail, which has fragmented the non-Hotmail world. And I really think it's time that O'Reilly pulled the plug on OSCON, fracturing, as it is, the non-LinuxWorld world.

Mr Morton also goes on to say that SystemTap will eventually have all the capabilities of DTrace. For reasons why that may not prove to be the case, you can have a look at Adam Leventhal's recent postings here and here.


ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer


Thursday Jul 26, 2007

If you only vote in one online poll today about who will win the Premier League next season



make it this one.


Thursday Jun 14, 2007

Three Anniversaries



There are three anniversaries I'll be celebrating this week. First, it's 10 years since I joined Sun. My first job? Cold-calling customers who had stopped calling Sun. Yes, I was a tele-marketeer, and I can tell you, it is tough and thankless work. And so, whenever I get a tele-marketeer on the line at home, I try to be as sympathetic as posible while I tell them to get stuffed. Anyway, that was 1997 and I had just arrived in the Netherlands. I was looking for work and grateful for the opportunity, just as I'm grateful now that I could transfer with my family over to Sweden.

The second anniversary this week? OpenSolaris. It's 2 years today since it was launched on a suspecting public. As a user, I think the experience of an OpenSolaris distribution on the desktop is coming on in leaps and bounds. And although I don't want to dwell on the negative, I was pleased to hear Linus Torvalds talk about OpenSolaris this week, even if I don't especially like, or agree with everything he says. I think that contrasting his comments this week with those from February 2005 shows the relevance and success of OpenSolaris.

Let's hope he and Jonathan can have dinner soon.

Which brings me to my third anniversary: on the 21st, our daughter Emma turns one. There is a concept in philosophy called "qualia", such as yellowness, or the taste of coffee, the properties of the senses which seem irreducible and can only be described by themselves. I'd say that being a parent is similar: the feeling of parenthood can only be described, I am sure, by being a parent. I don't think that you know love, or fear, until you have a child.




ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer


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