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Simon Phipps Has No Idea How Badly Sun ”Screwed Up“

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, SCO, UNIX at 3:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sun and SCO: truth revealed years later

A couple of days ago, Simon Phipps from Sun Microsystems said that the company ”screwed up“ when it comes to open source. Dana Blankenhorn opines that Sun is still screwing up. Here is the core of his argument.

But he isolates the “screw-up” to 2001-2002, when Sun was still a proprietary company. This is like a candidate for re-election blaming the problems he faces on a predecessor from the other party.

The fact is Sun is still screwing up. Offering open source licenses for key products is not all there is to an open source strategy. Transparency, community, and some ceding of authority are also required.

Sun not only screwed up in 2001-2002. Sun is still no friend of Linux. Moreover, based on this latest bomb from Groklaw, it was willing to let SCO continue its attacks on Linux, just like Microsoft, which even helped fund the suit. If true, shame on Sun.

We learn two primary things from Jones’ testimony: first, what a cynical role Sun played in the SCO saga, and second, that all the time SCO was calling on the world, the courts, the Congress — nay heaven itself, if I may say so — to sympathize with it over the ruination of its Most Holy Intellectual Property by it being improperly open sourced into Linux, not that it turned out to be true, it had already secretly given Sun the right to open source it in OpenSolaris. Remember all that falderol about SCO being contractually unable to show us the code, much as it so desired to do so, because of being bound to confidentiality requirements? What a farce. SCO had already secretly given Sun the right to open source Solaris, with all the UNIX System V you can eat right in there.

The simple fact is, I gather from Jones’ testimony, Sun could have prevented the harm SCO sought to cause by simply telling us what rights it had negotiated and received from SCO prior to SCO launching its assault on Linux. Yet it remained silent. When I consider all folks were put through, all the unnecessary litigation, and all the fear and the threats and the harmful smears, including of me at the hands of SCO and all the dark little helper dwarves in SCO’s workshop, I feel an intense indignation like a tsunami toward Sun for remaining silent.

Speaking of Sun, which may be too easy a target, what’s up with IBM? Glyn Moody wonders

So, for the sake of your shareholders and of the stakeholders in the open source ecosystem, I say: come on, IBM, pull your socks up and get stuck in again. Please go back to leading in this field, as you did a decade ago, rather than lagging as you seem to be today.

IBM is focused on Linux as a powerful tool and enabler, but it’s quite indifferent when it comes to Free software. It’s truly a step backwards.

Amiga UNIX

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A Single Comment

  1. Michael said,

    June 25, 2008 at 9:58 pm


    All of these companies are still proprietary software companies. They all want the same thing, and work basically the same way to get it. As much as they make out otherwise, they all want to be Microsoft themselves.

    I’m sure IBM has a particularly long memory of being buggerised by MS, and Sun still can’t understand why all their great technology never takes off like the MS rubbish does (or the Apple fluff for that matter). (Hint: marketing, Sun are a tech company, Apple and MS are marketing companies.)

    And Sun has no reason, logically or commercially, to ‘like’ linux – it’s a direct competitor to their primary software product and it has cost them real money. Why should they like linux? Even say, Redhat and Suse (before being bought by Novell) although they slept in the same bed, did not ‘like’ each other – and nor should they, they are competitors.

    They are all commercial enterprises (proprietary or otherwise), and their goal is always to beat the competition, however they can, whomever they are.

    Remember, sun’s deal was mostly about making solaris free software. Solaris is a direct competitor to linux, free or proprietary. Even if they could (and they probably could not – contract details are always commercial in confidence surely), why should they help linux? Sure it looks bad to some of the hairys, and it takes a bit of shine off their (quite substantial – compare them to IBM for example) free software efforts, but they have no moral obligation to help the competition. And it probably would’ve just got lost in the fud anyway – another press release with no more weight than the last one.

    The real story is what is going to happen when Novell wins its case against SCO?

    It will be very interesting to see what they do with Sun and Solaris and their ‘worthless’ scosource license. Is Novell going to go down the route of ‘We own Unix(tm), pay us more, or else!’ and replace SCO’s shenanigans with their own? Sun cannot put the genie back in the bottle, free Solaris is already out there – if the scosource license is meaningless (and wildly undervalued anyway – see how Novell are pre-positioning their claims in the case against sco), does it mean a huge payout to Novell? And is Novell going to treat MS and Sun in the same manner, or has their MS deal already cleared the air between them?

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