Feeds

Sun: MS truce clears way to open source Solaris

If that's selling out, we want to sell out more often

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

LinuxWorld A senior Sun Microsystems strategist today defended Sun's decision to make peace with Microsoft in April as being beneficial to the open source community. Simon Phipps, chief technology evangelist at Sun, said that any suggestion that Sun had 'sold out' to Redmond in settling a range of patent and anti-trust disputes was well wide of the mark.

In settling its long-running lawsuits, Sun was able to push ahead with plans to open source its Solaris operating system, a move its lawyers previously warned might undermine its legal claims, according to Phipps.

"Sun's lawsuit more was destructive than settling because our lawyers said we couldn't talk about open sourcing Solaris. If getting $2bn through settling a lawsuit with Microsoft is 'selling out' then we'd want to sell out more often," Phipps told delegates today at the LinuxWorld conference in London.

Making peace with Microsoft after such a long and bitter war of words still doesn't come easy to Sun execs. Having abandoned (or at least calling a temporary truce) in the "air war" with Microsoft over ideas, Sun is refocusing its efforts towards a ground war with direct competitors, backed by a new line in rhetoric.

Sun loves open source

Phipps said that Sun's agreement with Microsoft might be criticised in some quarters - but it had "not sold out as much as competitors". IBM has 3,650 staff in IBM Global Services and its hardware operations "devoted to Windows success". Meanwhile Red Hat recommends Windows on the desktop, Phipps says. And there's more. He whipped out a photograph showing that HP was using Windows Server to run its stall at LinuxWorld. Heresy!

Sun execs are fond of saying they are second behind only Berkeley as the leading contributor of open source code on the planet. Phipps cites OpenOffice.org and the Sun Java Desktop as example of the vendor's support of the open source movement. "Sun doesn't hate open source, even though we've done ourselves no favours through some of Scott McNealy's comments in the past," he told delegates.

Phipps delivered a warning that developers should be prepared to fight for the future of open source. After been ignored and laughed at by detractors "we're at the fighting stage in the development of open source," he said. He compared open source developers to trade guilds, and warned they could be exploited by vendors who would "take code and not give it back", or use open source technology to build brands rather than thinking of the community. "Open source is all about communities. Up until the point a product is supported it's just a hollow gesture by a corporation to thrown code over wall," he said.

Patently absurd

Phipps also warned of the risk that forthcoming European patent legislation could pose to innovation in open source development and elsewhere in the IT industry. Phipps is lobbying European politicians on behalf of Sun in opposition to the introduction of US-style patent laws in Europe. He wants more people to take the issue with their MEPs. "If we can fix things in Europe it will put reverse pressure on the US. If nothing is done, bad laws will come in by the end of the year," he said.

The development of open source challenges existing business models but, contrary to what detractors may say, it offers numerous opportunities to generate income. "We need to get away from the traditional model that the only way to make money is to charge for intellectual property rights," said Phipps. "In open source, software experts are compensated for the value they create for their customers and the commons [community] from which they draw is enriched in the process. It's a return to the way markets have worked historically." ®

Related stories

Red Hat opens losing propaganda offensive against Sun
Sun settles with MS for $2bn (ish)
Why Sun threw in the towel in Mankind vs. Microsoft
McNealy: Microsoft needs Sun to beat IBM and Red Hat
EU software patents directive delayed - again
Free software guru speaks on patents
Open source prepares to kiss EU patent ass goodbye

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Time to move away from Windows 7 ... whoa, whoa, who said anything about Windows 8?
Start migrating now to avoid another XPocalypse – Gartner
You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference
The piss always taking is he. Bastard the.
HANA has SAP cuddling up to 'smaller partners'
Wanted: algorithm wranglers, not systems giants
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.