Linux Today Feature: IBM on 'Open Source' Solaris: Get Real!Jan 29, 2000, 02:27 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Wolley)
by John Wolley, Linux Today Silicon Valley correspondent
From a phone conversation with Miles Barel, IBM's program director for Unix marketing
SAN JOSE, California, January 28, 2000 - Several months after the first stories surfaced that Sun was planning to 'open up' Solaris 8, the details were finally announced this past Wednesday. Those details began leaking a week earlier, so reaction to Sun's move has been coming in steadily over the past week. There seems to be a fairly broad consensus that Sun is attempting to head off erosion of its server market share, from Windows 2000 at the high end and from Linux on the low end (CNET 1/00, ZDNet 1/00). Opinion as to the impact on Linux is divided, with Bruce Perens believing, "This will be a tremendous shot in the arm for Linux", and IBM calling it "an effort to distract the Linux community" (both quotes from Red Herring 1/00).
IBM is a Sun competitor that's going after Sun's market--high end, low end, and middle--with its RS6000 product line (Linux Today 9/99) and recently expanded support for Linux across its entire server product line (CNET 1/00, PC Week 1/00, Red Herring 1/00). We asked Miles Barel, IBM's program director for Unix marketing, to comment on the Sun's new licensing and pricing strategy for Solaris 8.
Sun's agenda is anything but open
Why?--the third-party code in Solaris that Sun has licensed but does not own. Sun may have gotten around this by negotiating agreements with the owners of those pieces of code, and that may be what has shaped the licensing terms that led Sun to avoid the use of the term 'open' in their big announcement (Red Herring 1/00)--the $75 'media charge' and the requirements that (a) changes made in the source must maintain compatibility with the 'standard' Solaris version and (b) can only be redistributed via an agreement with Sun that 'may involve royalties' (SRO 1/00).
In Barel's view, "open source is about the industry driving the development of industry standards". Elaborating on 'the industry', Barel indicated that he was using the term much the way that open source people use the term 'the open source community', or 'the Linux community', in the broadest sense: In addition to the open source developers, he's including users, commercial vendors, and anyone else who wants to actively participate.
What Sun is doing is more like riding on the popularity of the open source concept in order to promote what essentially remains its own proprietary, tightly controlled standard. Barel stressed that the Solaris source code is 'free', neither in the sense of 'free beer' nor in the sense of 'free code'.
IBM considered open sourcing AIX
Instead IBM chose to give AIX code to Linux
Where will IBM draw the line?
Sun, Linux, and IBM
IBM is firmly committed to Linux as a cornerstone of their internet and e-business strategy, reiterated Barel. "We believe that Linux is the future of the internet. The internet has been based on open technology. Linux is one of the core technologies that will drive the future evolution of the 'net." From IBM's perspective, "It's in everyone's interest to promote Linux."
BTW: AIX had the 'new' Solaris features 2-3 years
Related stories--Sun's Solaris 8 strategy:
IT-Analysis.com: Sun To Move Solaris Closer to Linux Model (Jan 28, 2000)
osOpinion: Is Sun Missing The Point? (Jan 28, 2000)
Red Herring: Solaris is "free," but not open (Jan 27, 2000)
SRO: Free Solaris?, There's got to be a catch. And there is. (Jan 27, 2000)
Linux Journal: Solaris Free-for-All (Jan 27, 2000)
InternetWeek: Sun To Offer Solaris, Source Code Free (Jan 26, 2000)
CNET News.com: Sun slashes Solaris prices, opens code in marketing move (Jan 26, 2000)
CNET News.com: Sun's revised Solaris defends against Linux, Windows 2000 (Jan 24, 2000)
ZDNet: Sun fights Linux, WinNT with 'free Solaris' (Jan 25, 2000)
Related stories--IBM supporting Linux, challenging