[svlug] IBM and Sun

Alan DuBoff aland at softorchestra.com
Wed Apr 1 08:13:30 PST 2009

On Wed, 1 Apr 2009, Don Marti wrote:

> If that's all they were doing, why did they buy an
> option to acquire SCO stock?
>  http://news.cnet.com/2100-1016_3-1024633.html

I don't know Don, the one thing that stands out there is this 
comment, but I will be honest, I don't put very much weight in 
Shankland, read below.

"Although Sun has broader rights than do other Unix licensees 
such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, it doesn't have the right to 
release Unix source code or Sun modifications to it as 
open-source software, SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said."

> Someone at Sun did put some "intellectual property"
> FUD on the web site shortly after its SCOsource
> deal

BFD, that article is a bunch of he-said-she-said...yeah, we can 
believe Stephen Shankland, the same reporter that f#@$'d me over 
by mis-quoting me when I joined Sun (2003). In fact, it was 
because of Shankland that I never did another interview at Sun. 
He taught me how a reporter can turn a story how they want. That 
article doesn't hold very much weight to me.

> but didn't leave it up long.  Maybe management underestimated 
> how enthusiastic the customers would be about cheap shots at 
> Linux.  I did look for this stuff on archive.org, but it 
> wasn't up for long.

Maybe it's in that guys tarball, I don't know...

> So when Sun introduced Linux servers running Sun's own 
> LSB-compliant Linux distribution in 2002...

Well, let's put this all into context. Sun did actually plan to 
move into the Linux space, and in fact it was me and 5 others 
that went to meet with them after the January 8 brainfart, where 
they decided they were going to EOL (end of life) Solaris on 
x86. What they (Anil Gadre) said was, "can't you guys just run 
Linux on your x86 hardware?". So clearly they were planning to 
do that. The response was not very pretty, wasn't from me, but 
one of the others.

I presented a document on the advantages of Solaris on x86 
hardware, over Linux. I must have made my point. I still 
believe, Solaris has advantages in specific situations, as does 
Linux...they both have their place.

I know you probably won't believe this, but there are people at 
Sun that consider me to be the person that saved Solaris on x86. 
I give the engineers the credit, though.

Jan. 8, 2002 was their EOL announcement, Feb. 11, 2002 was the 
date which we met with them (they called us the secret-six, but 
I have always referred to us as the $#!T#E at D-six). I negotiated 
with Sun while I was out of work after the dot-bomb, that was 
after I worked on WebVan for a year, VA Linux Systems for a year 
and a half, and about a year and a half at Kerbango/3Com. 3Com 
laid the entire Kerbango team off, you know the story there...

And BTW, DeWitt was an outsider (Cobalt). And funny you quote 
Anil Gadre, because I believe it was him that tried to kill 
Solaris on x86. Yes, even though he dismissed rumors of a 
transition away from Solaris, I don't believe it, to this day. I 
think it was him, but there is no proof that I know of, yet I am 
confident that I know it was him.

> Big companies don't make decisions.  People make decisions. 
> As we saw from the Larry McVoy paper, there have clearly been 
> supporters of Free Software who get it from a business POV 
> inside Sun for a long time.  There are also apparently people 
> who don't get it, and they get to steer some of the company's 
> public actions too.

You think McVoy's was the only paper on open source at Sun? If 
so, think again, there was a lot of folks that believed in open 
source software, and many papers had been written on it. The 
best was by Rob Gingell.

In fact, tons of Sun engineer have worked on open source over 
the years, and they did it on Solaris before Linux was even 
developed. After all, SunOS was developed from open source to 
begin with, you might remember that Bill Joy had a stake in BSD.

Sun has also released more source to open source than any other 

Sun is a great company, and I have no ties to them, but it was a 
great place to work. Truly one of the best places I have worked 
in my career. It wasn't the management, it was the engineers 
that made it so great. They have also produced some of the best 
in the industry.


Alan DuBoff - Software Orchestration

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