"Bold" as in "bald-faced"

Now, I wonder what's is appearing the the IBM executives' briefings these days that Big Blue execs suddenly have the need to be so disparaging about Sun's open source efforts? Jim picked up the first trickle of this at the start of the month, since when the floodgates have opened.

Dan Frye, IBM's VP of Linux Technology described OpenSolaris as "a facade" with "lots of marketing". Well, speaking as one of the people working on marketing OpenSolaris, that's very kind of you Dan, but modesty forbids me for taking credit for all the community-driven distros, bugs logged, code contributed, projects started, community discussions, and ports by other communities of OpenSolaris technology. Anyway, it seems that Mr Frye concluded that OpenSolaris is "not a competitive threat" to IBM, and therefore naturally spends his (presumably valuable) time being disparaging about it.

Well that's Handy

And there's more: "We're going to be as bold about open source as we are about Linux," says Scott Handy, VP of Linux and open source at IBM. My goodness. Just how bold? We can ask Ross Mauri, general manager of System P business at IBM who two weeks ago told us,

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.

If you think about it, that is sort of bold, but not quite what I'd imagined. However, Mr Handy agrees as the IBM VP of open source says there is no point open sourcing AIX, nor PowerPC, (the way Sun has done with Solaris and UltraSPARC). The fear of forking and a previously undiagnosed lack of "room" (his word, not mine) are to blame for this.

What is going on? Why the need to sling mud at Sun's open source efforts? Why, as Rick Ross wrote at Javalobby, would IBM want to engage a public pissing contest in this way at this time, just as Sun finally makes long-awaited moves towards open sourcing Java?

Why indeed? Perhaps as part of a wider strategy to try to discredit Sun's efforts in promoting fairly-governed, fairly-licensed open source communities, to try and foment disquiet about the governance that Sun will be putting in place around open source Java? That would be very old IBM. And although I do get a certain thrill from looking at grainy footage of moon landings, grassy knolls and prinstine Pentagon lawns, that was a conspiracy theory too far for me.

And then I read Mike Milinkovich's blog, in which the clairvoyant Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation stands by his "we're all doomed" speech (he did call it a "prognostication" after all) from JavaONE. It seems that Mr Milinkovich's tea leaves have revealed to him that Sun will use the CDDL, that governance will be "all-Sun" and that "people will hate [Sun] for it".

He also adds, somewhat coquettishly,

I hope Rich Green hasn't forgotten my email address, as I have to admit that I find Eclipse's conspicuous absence from their lists of examplars to be somewhat disheartening.

I think that Sun has been very open about how to engage the opening of Java. Just in case you missed it, have a peek here. But more alarming to me are his assertions that people will "hate" Sun for using the CDDL, and his characterisation of the nascent OpenSolaris governance model. The soothsaying executive director has confused the (Sun minorty) advisory board with the governance model they have set about creating: Simon Phipps sets about correcting this on the blog itself.

Anyway, the Jeremiah of Java leaves himself plenty of room to find fault later on (his vague predictions could be construed to cover copyright, governance, licensing, contributor agreements etc. etc.), and I won't be too surprised to read an "I told you so" or two in a few months. It worked for Nostradamus after all.

Anyway, my favourite comment is from someone by the name of MJS, identifying the double-speak in all this. As he puts it:

And don't get me started on the "why don't you come join the eclipse-community?"-thread. If Eclipse had wanted Sun to join them you wouldn't have selected such an offensive (to Sun, at least) name in the first place.

Well quite. IBM and the Eclipse Foundation both make great contributions to the worlds of open source and Java. Idea: why not talk about those instead?

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


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