Reply to a reply on slashdot "Linux - Sunisms debunked"

There was a reply to a story on slashdot about the Solaris 10 launch that I felt I could supply some answers to. I'm not Scott or Jonathan, but I can certainly speak to some of what you ask.

Shoot your marketing department. (Score:5, Interesting)
by Soko (17987) Alter Relationship on Friday November 19, @01:26AM (#10862308)
(http://www.arstechnica.com/etc/linux/index.html)

At the end of the launch event Jonathan Schwartz made an impromptu speech; I didn't hear most of it, as I was too far away, but he did end his comments with something about Slashdotters. I ambled over to Schwartz and said, "If anyone here is going to get an article onto Slashdot, it's probably going to be me (since NewsForge and Slashdot are both part of OSTG). Tell me what you'd like Slashdot readers to know."

"Tell them that we're returning to our roots," Schwartz said, referring to the company's renewed focus on the Solaris operating environment.

"And we want developers back on our side. If there's more for us to do, we'll go do it," McNealy added. It was the first time all day that I felt that the two had broken character and simply told me what was on their minds.

As a long time Slashdotter who has had to use and deploy Solaris on occasion, let me tell Mr. McNealy and Mr. Scwartz what's on my mind about Sun. I know they'll be reading, so here goes:

First, cut the marketing BS. No press wars with Redhat, IBM or HP. No trumped up, spin laden press releases about Solaris 10. I don't even want to see a comaprison paper. Give me a technical white paper about what the OS can do and STFU - I then can see for myself whether Solaris 10 is a good or great OS. I can also then decide for myself if it's a good fit in my architecture. Most on Slashdot are technically adept - that's why we can run and support Linux or \*BSD without Redhat's help. It's the PHBs who require that kind of hand holding, not us. (Hey, I just invented a new comic book villian - Spin Laden, the Marketing Terrarist!)

The problem is that your's is only one of the opinions out there. We also have folks screaming for comparisons. What you also need to realise is that Sun is a for profit company. So is RedHat. Companies compete. Sometimes it looks ugly. On this particular issue, Jonathan has been misquoted so many times as equating Linux with RedHat. This is the case being put by those who are not reading all of what he is saying, or simply don't want to understand it. We most certainly do not equate the two. What we are getting at is that a lot of the commercial world do, and RedHat does very little to discourage this as it directly impacts their income (companies try to make money). Large shops want to have the third party vendors support their product on the platform that they deploy. Generally in the Linux world, the vendors qualify RedHat. As the RedHat execs joked about at the shareholders meeting, this qualification process can be expensive (up to around $4 million I think was quoted from memory), so it's not done for a lot of distributions.

I like the name Spin Laden :)

Open your dev process, as well as your code. I don't (necessarily) mean provide CVS access, I mean accept and credit quality patches to the code base. Open code would mean we can fix our own damned stuff when things in Solaris break and get our jobs done, while benefiting anyone else who has the same bug - we tend to like to share the fact we're smart enough to repair someone else's broken code. For large contributions, pay the contributor and pay him well.

This one I can say something I think you'll like. The development process is part of what is being opened up as a part of the open sourcing. It's also one of the issues being discussed in the pilot. I believe that one of the presentors mentioned that at the event, but don't recall who off the top of my head (probably Jonathan though).

Stay away from the rest of my systems unless I ask you in. No embedded Java in the OS, no Sun only core stuff (think Microsoft and Kerberos 5), just a big box of properly impelmented tools that I can use to make systems work, work well and work reliably. Your products will be sharing my network with other vendors, so play nice whenever you can. If that means re-writing some Solaris code to put into linux so it interoperates properly and GPLing it, so be it. That way I know that you're concerned about me and not just "maximizing value".

Sun's history is of playing nice with the other vendors. In fact we go out of our way to write to the open standards. I'd be interested in hearing you expand on this paragraph, as I'm not really clear on exactly what it is you are wanting us to do (seriously I am).

Contriubute to the industry. Some of us think RMS is a real looney, but we have the utmost respect him and his contributions. Mr. Gates, IMHO, does not contribute to the general cause or making my life easier unless there's a price tag, be it in dollars or having to shut out one of his colleagues - he calls them compeditors - from my architecture. Real contributions move the whole industry forward, and provide new opportunities for everyone to make a little $_CURRENCY, not just a select few.

In what way are we not contributing to the industry? We have a lot of folks working with projects like GNOME, X.Org, Mozilla, Open Office. We are the largest commercial contributor of code to the Open Source movement. We're opening the crown jewels (Solaris), what more would you have of us?

Censure that person who 'escorted' out the interviewer. We like plain talk. We know you have fiduciary responsibilities, and most of us try to take those into account, but trying to hide what you really want to say doesn't wash. If you hate linux or love it, say so, and say why - with no spin on the matter. Speaking of plain talk, you'll get some from us. We know you're the head of a big, powerful Corp., but you should be willing to learn from us. When it comes to putting the tech on the floor, we are your betters, not your underlings.

On the escorting out, I have to agree with you on. For goodness sake, the guy was talking with the COO of the company at the time. A little patience and tact surely would not have been too difficult.

We certainly are willing to learn from and listen to our users and customers. Part of the problem of speaking with no spin, is that it will still be read as if we are spinning, so that leaves us looking worse than we want to project. Folks get cynical of companies. If you want to read about what we are doing without the marketing spin, straight from the engineers, I can recommend blogs.sun.com.

I'd prefer to think that we are closer to equals when it comes to the tech stuff. We can all learn from each other. That's part of the reason we are open sourcing Solaris. It would be arrogant to say that we have all the best engineers and nobody outside could possibly contribute anything of worth. In reality, we have some damn good engineers, but there are also folks external with great ideas and skillsets.

Lastly, put your engineering department off limits to marketing personnel. OFF-LIMITS. Spin Laden should be shot on sight (by a Nerf gun, of course) if he dares tread where something cool is being made. No "That's a killer system, and we can leverage it to sell..." baloney please. I'm still loathe to implement AD because it's actually proprietary technology, even though it would make administrating my network a little easier.

When marketing doesn't talk to the engineers, we see things like ZFS being renamed to Dynamic File Service. I'd rather at least keep up some conversation with them. Like I said, if you want to see what we are talking about without the marketing spin, check out the engineers blogs.

Thanks for tuning in to my little rant. HAND.

Hey , if no-one rants, we don't find out about the concerns. I even had my own little rant the other day (read further down the blog if you're interested

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* - Solaris and Network Domain, Technical Support Centre


Alan is a kernel and performance engineer based in Australia who tends to have the nasty calls gravitate towards him

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