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Open source boss quits Sun Oracle

Simon Phipps rides out of Ellison town

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Sun Microsystems' veteran Simon Phipps quit his chief open source officer post at the Oracle-owned company yesterday.

Phipps, who had worked at Sun for nearly a decade, confirmed his decision to walk in a blog post on Monday.

His resignation marks the latest in a long line of big guns at Sun who have left the firm following Oracle's $7bn acquisition, which finally got regulatory approval in January this year.

Chief among those casualties was Jonathan Schwartz, who quit his CEO job at Sun in early February, signing off with a peculiar haiku via his Twitter account.

Phipps took an arguably more Sun-like approach by announcing his departure from the now Oracle-owned pack through his own blog, in which he said that Sun had "achieved some amazing things".

He reckoned the company had helped get "important software in the computer industry released under Free licenses that guarantee software freedom for people who rely on them, regardless of who owns the copyrights. Unix, Java, key elements of Linux, the SPARC chip and much more have been liberated."

Phipps said Sun had played a role in the Open Document Format standardisation fight, thereby offering up competition of sorts in the Microsoft-dominated productivity software market.

Sun is, according to Phipps, also responsible for the annoying proliferation of business bloggers on the intertubes.

"[We] kick-started the corporate blogging revolution at Blogs.Sun.Com, so that at any time you could have checked there have been around 1,200 Sun employees sharing their enthusiasms with maximum trust and minimum oversight," he said.

"In the process we created policies that have enabled many other companies to start the same journey and gave employees ownership of their work."

But it wasn't all street parties, jelly and ice cream at the firm. Phipps listed his disappointments too.

"I’m sad that Apache did not get the TCK license they requested. I’m sad that we didn’t get the code for some of those projects permanently outside the Sun firewall. I’m sad we never got to a place where co-developers become a priority for various product teams," he reflected before digging his elbow into Oracle exec ribs.

"And I’m sad that, despite the success of the open source software businesses, it still wasn’t enough to rescue Sun in the end." ®

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