Charting the Next 25 Years

I'm delighted to be able to welcome a new colleague who's starting with Sun today. He is starting a newly-defined role as Chief Operating Platforms Officer at Sun, and is responsible for building a new strategy to evolve both Sun's Solaris and GNU/Linux strategies. The appointment is at the same time both brilliant and controversial, but is the logical next step as far as I am concerned.

Sun bootstrapped the commercial Unix industry 25 years ago. Solaris offers both an unbeatable promise of binary compatibility, so that your current binaries are guaranteed to run on your Solaris system when you upgrade, every time, and an extraordinary level of innovation that has made ZFS, DTrace, SMF and Zones the talk (and envy) of the operating systems scene.

Meanwhile, the combination of the GNU operating system pioneered by Richard Stallman with the inclusive development delivered around the Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds has brought a new life and energy to the extended family tree of Unix. The popularity of GNU/Linux bears testament to the vision and skill Stallman and Torvalds exhibit.

And now there is OpenSolaris, bringing the potential to weave a new cloth from both the Solaris and the GNU heritage, albeit with both cultural and licensing challenges to overcome. Today my new colleague is here to perhaps guide the combination of the brilliance of Solaris and the pervasive and seductive character of GNU/Linux to start the next wave. Please welcome the founder of Debian GNU/Linux, chair of the Linux Standards Base and outgoing CTO of the Linux Foundation, Ian Murdock (click that link and read his own words). Welcome, Ian! It's going to be an interesting year!


Ian Murdoch couldn't keep a job or position with Debian. He couldn't keep a job with Prodigy. He couldn't keep a job with the FSG. He failed miserably with the Debian Common Core Consortium. He's a has been loser that has no relevance anymore. Good luck with yesterdays news.

Posted by bubba.gump on March 19, 2007 at 01:36 AM PDT #

@bubba.gump wow, that actually sounds like a fantastic resume to me! you'd be lucky to have that much experience in your career. Ian Murdock has been essential to the adoption of GNU/Linux and a core part of it's history. This move is most definitely a good move, Sun.

Posted by brent on March 19, 2007 at 01:46 AM PDT #


Posted by guest on March 19, 2007 at 03:01 AM PDT #

I actually have to agree with bubba.gump. The only good thing that Ian has done is give control of Debian to the people. All of his recent endeavors have really been flops especially the DCCC. If you followed the emails you would have found out rather quickly that his guy really doesn't understand what he is talking about. I just hope that Sun realizes this before he can do any harm to the company.

Posted by guest on March 19, 2007 at 03:14 AM PDT #

Cool, Mr. Murdoch should be a great asset to Sun.

Posted by brad on March 19, 2007 at 03:34 AM PDT #

This is fantastic news for Sun! Hopefully Ian's appointment will serve to improve Solaris package management which IMO is the last barrier to making Solaris as usable as Linux. Judging by the committee-based mindset of the Sun guys in the forums, this will be a monumental task, but I wish him all the best!

Posted by Shane Falco on March 19, 2007 at 04:11 AM PDT #

That's a good decision. Hopefully, both Sun and Linux will benefit all those F/OSS-friendly moves by Sun.

Posted by love calculator on March 19, 2007 at 05:47 AM PDT #

Hiring someone who basically has run three failed companies isnt' exactly signs of brilliance, Simon. Debian = failed distro - Ubuntu is now the clear leader in that category LSB = Failed Standards - Redhat hasn't signed on. Progeny = Failed company - I know of not ONE major customer using Progeny. This is potentially troublesome - last time around the Madhatters derailed Solaris x86, now you're hiring a Linux fanboy?. Sorry but Ian has contributed zero to Open Solaris or Solaris. Why the FSCK can't Sun promote some of the good people from within?. Right off the top: Rich Teer, Ben Rockwood, Chris Baker, Al Hopper have been doing yeomen's service to Sun and the commnity. Simply dumb move, Simon.

Posted by sw on March 19, 2007 at 06:22 AM PDT #

You stupid trolls.

Ubuntu is run by Canonical. It's a company with about 60 or 70 employees. Almost all of them probably engage in constant public relations campaign.

What exactly has Ubuntu contributed code-wise to the community?

_Nothing_ except maybe a handfull of bug fix patches, if that. Their only unique product is Launchpad and it's totally closed source and not realy that nice to use.

Keep in mind that I don't dislike Ubuntu and whole heartedly recommend it to new users.

Ubuntu _is_ Debian. Every release is pretty much a snapshot of Debian Unstable. They take Debian Unstable, update Gnome, change the Init, and shovel a bunch of questionable-at-best patches into their kernel.

For the stuff they don't change the consider it 'unsupported' and shove all those Debian-originated packages into Universe and Multiverse repositories.

You know why Ubuntu is so easy to use? Because the shitload of work Gnome developers do. And distro-wise the Fedora folks put a lot more work into improving it then Ubuntu.

Then the massive work of things like and the kernel developers and KDE developers and all other things.

Those are the ones that deserve the credit for making a great OS. Not Ubuntu.

And Debian deserves the credit for churning out high quality software packages in a supported and very very massive scale.

What Ubuntu deserves credit for, which Debian could never accomplish, is creating a user-friendly default install and then creating a more-or-less friendly environment for new Linux users.

That is a huge accomplishment and they are the only ones that have been able to realy pull it off well.

But saying Ubuntu 'beat' Debian is just stupid.

Why don't you say that Ubuntu is kicking Linus Torvald's ass for creating a better Linux kernel?

That's almost the exact same thing as what your saying. It's just stupid and it doesn't make any sense at all. So stop it.

Progeny is also a successfully company.

DCCC was a very good idea, but it was torpedoed when Ubuntu intentially broke compatability with Debian and all Debian-based distributions such as Mephis or Linspire.

Ubuntu coming out and saying they are for compatability and LSB and this and that is a joke. They intentially broke compatability and now you have incompatable and badly made \*.deb packages all over the place that never existed before Ubuntu did what they did.

Posted by nate on March 19, 2007 at 07:03 AM PDT #

[Trackback] Ian Murdock (the ‘ian’ in Debian) is now the Chief Operating Platforms Officer at Sun. I couldn’t say it any better than this comment already on the above blog posting : Hi...

Posted by Phasor Burn on March 19, 2007 at 07:26 AM PDT #

For What It is Worth: I get sick when I read of individuals that appoint themselves keepers of Linux history. I have enough gray in my hair to say, that Ian Murdock is a class act and a hard one to follow. He will improve conditions for Sun or Whom Ever! Also if you can not get a copy of Debian and get the same results as Ubuntu, or any fork for that matter. We have a enormous amount of docs all over the net. Debian keeps the commitment to be available to all types of computer users. They maintain use for low and high end users. The widest Linux foundation to date is under the control of Debian. I just thank Debian for the hard work by all and this most certainly includes Ian Murdock. Do you want new eye candy? Do you want stability? Do you want to do an individual act just to please you own needs? THEN YOU JUST GET DEBIAN AND WORK IT!

Posted by Ken Hughes on March 19, 2007 at 01:39 PM PDT #

That just proves that Solaris is dying, just like Debian is dying. Oh wait, hopefully Debian's dead now.
Good riddance, Ian.
And good luck, Sun.

Posted by gle on March 19, 2007 at 05:25 PM PDT #

Whoa. Tough room here! -ian

Posted by Ian Murdock on March 19, 2007 at 08:59 PM PDT #

Ian: We had over 3000 Digg-ers and 1000 LinuxToday readers through here yesterday, so a few anonymous trolls are to be expected...

Posted by Simon Phipps on March 19, 2007 at 11:23 PM PDT #

Goes with territory (as I'm sure you're well experienced too). In any event, I'm fairly confident in my accomplishments--sure, not everything I've done has been successful, but the only way to avoid failure is to never try, and where's the fun in that? -ian

Posted by Ian Murdock on March 20, 2007 at 12:02 AM PDT #

Speaking of digg, a link from the discussion to redmonk is surprisingly interesting and insightful:

"Q: What do you see as the primary risks to the hire?
A: They’re two sides to the same coin: Ian meets significant internal resistance and is unable to effect necessary change, or Ian meets resistance and chooses to boomerang out of Sun. [...] In short, the question to me will be can Ian win over or persuade the old school factions within Sun?"

That is my question exactly. Like I said above, the Sun guys over on seem so fearful of change and progress (especially in terms of package long has the Community CD stuff dragged on?) that I wonder if Ian will be able to make any headway.

Posted by Shane Falco on March 20, 2007 at 12:02 AM PDT #

The trolls can say whatever they want, but in my estimation, the hire of Ian Murdock as head of Operating Platforms at Sun is tremendous news. As a member and observer of the Open Source and Linux communities, there's nobody better for the task to try to bring the best of both worlds -- the scalability, reliability and Solaris and the free wheeling Linux and Open Source community -- together. That being said I hope that Sun is smart enough to give him latitude and the actual power to make important decisions -- some of which will require breaking some eggs in Sun's corporate culture and any remaining "not invented here" philosophy. Jason Perlow Sr. Contributing Editor Linux Magazine

Posted by Jason Perlow on March 20, 2007 at 01:21 AM PDT #

How can Sun appoint a guy who basically decided that all proprietary software was evil!. Debian DSFG is a religious organization - you want Solaris to be Debinified, go right ahead. I don't want to fight debian style politics that come as baggage with Ian's appointment.

We'll all jump off Solaris x86 Express and find something else that gives us hope.

You didn't have to hire Ian for changing .pkgs to .debs (it's freaking open source). You should have hired Mark Shuttleworth - now there's a man with vision and hope all of us in the SOlaris community could get behind. If you wanted FSF's blessings why not hire RMS himself?

Too bad you constant Linux envy is going to kill you. Apple and Microsoft don't have Linux envy and they are prospering and innovating. Sun, you could have been a contenda! When your stock reaches $3 again, I hope you all remember where you read it first!

Posted by guest on March 20, 2007 at 01:44 AM PDT #

This is \*the\* Debian/Sun tie I've been anticipating. With the momentum behind Ubuntu resting on the foundation that is Debian, it is fitting that Sun chose this direction. Ubuntu would not be the success that it is if not for the 10 years of Debian development providing a user experience relatively free from the well-known package management nightmares that can be found elsewhere. Ubuntu, OpenSuSE, Fedora, all are increasingly popular, primarily because of their user (Graphical) user experience. Solaris is lacking in this department. Closing this gap is crucial, as is keeping in step with the trends in package management, if any Solaris products are expected to gain or retain respect in the battle for Enterprise Acceptance. Solaris has something not even Ubuntu has (though they are trying). \*REAL\* corporate support. If Ian can successfully pair Sun's reputation for providing stellar support, offering efficient and powerful workstation and server hardware with the Debian project's proven history of providing a robust and flexible operating system product, we can expect a new era for Sun. Something I've been waiting for.. P.S. For all the package management issue-takers, take a look at pkg-get to see what a non-issue apt is..

Posted by itomato on March 20, 2007 at 02:06 AM PDT #

As a Linux/Solaris administrator, I look forward to some long overdue convergence around the userland. First Java open sourced, now it's time for Solaris to follow that lead.
It's not that they are completely different os's, it's just the little things. You just can't grab code off the Internet and build it on Solaris without a lot of work and tweaking. After several downloads from SunFreeware or Blastwave, custom make files, environment variable gymnastics, then _maybe_ the thing will build and run.
If the GNU libraries and tools could be default on Solaris, then you could run everything just like on Linux. These tools are truly free and enterprise class, why not use them? Sysadmins are having to install this stuff themselves in /usr/local/ ghettos anyway. Who wouldn't want to use:
ls --color, openssh, openldap, ar,
grep -r, tar -z, sshfs, the newest gnome, etc?!

Posted by bingotailspin on March 20, 2007 at 05:42 AM PDT #

If you want GNU libraries and tools on Solaris, just go and use them. Solaris will continue to ship libraries and tools that are standards compliant and backwards compatible. Sun's previous dalliance with Linux cost them very dear, and they're only just recovering with the impressive desktop in OpenSolaris. I sincerely hope they don't make any attempt to jump into bed with the Linux crowd again, they might as well write IBM a blank cheque.

Posted by guest on March 20, 2007 at 10:20 AM PDT #

Post a Comment:
Comments are closed for this entry.

Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


« April 2014