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Economist article on Sun's Linux Strategy

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

Sun Microsystems 133

DavidNWelton writes "The Economist has a well-written article about Sun's Jonathan Schwartz and his Linux strategy. It also mentions Microsoft, and the SCO lawsuit."

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FP!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034785)

w00t

Re:Gheydar "homing" in on Slashdot (-1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034793)

LINUX!!!

Re:FP!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034857)

You're not as |337 as you think. You posted that FP in the wrong place. Let yours hang out with the cool First Posts [slashdot.org] .

Don't moderate this above 1.
--
Timothy McVeigh's last words? "Remove ZOG! For White Justice!"

love my list (-1)

corniche (207397) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034909)

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rays of the rising sun D:\mp3\The annual II\disc one-pete tong\15- rays of the rising sun.mp3 #EXTINF:125,Reprazent - railing D:\mp3\roni size reprazent\railing.mp3 #EXTINF:221,Drop dead gorgeous -pop fiction mix D:\mp3\various-not really sorted\Drop dead gorgeous -pop fiction mix.mp3

Want easy mod points? (-1, Troll)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034796)

Just make an indirect reference to how SCO sucks!

Re:Want easy mod points? (0, Offtopic)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034817)

Indirect reference... is this like writing a Matrix: Reload spoiler and putting "SCO sucks" somewhere in the middle?

Re:Want easy mod points? (1)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034843)

*grumble* No...

It also mentions Microsoft, and the SCO lawsuit.
Need I say more?

moron decyphering economysts' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034797)

analacysts. gooed luck with that.

some simple advise: lookout bullow. the skIE is falling. hennIE pennIE.

the daze of the phonIE bullonly payper liesense stock markup FraUDs is dissolving into coolapps.

consult with yOUR creator.

New Strategy (2, Interesting)

sonetsst (598483) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034804)

I know this doesn't end Sun's use of linux in the market place, but why in god's name would they push solaris on the x86. Maybe it is just me, but when i can have crontab maintain servers why should i feel the need to switch to solaris?

Re:New Strategy (4, Interesting)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034828)

As I recall Churchill wasn't much of a lefty

If you run a heavily Sun-oriented tech shop, presumably it will be advantageous to run a single OS (well, Solaris/Sparc and Solaris/Intel) to running Solaris/Sparc and Linux/Intel; cautious companies might more easily justify purchasing Intel-based hardware if they don't have to put a new OS on it at the same time.

It is quite interesting that Oracle is to be made available on Solaris/Intel. If Sun could not keep up its CPU development - should UltraSparc IV be a dud, say - a jump to Intel (or more probably AMD64) would be easier if a customer and software base is already established.

Re:New Strategy (2, Interesting)

niola (74324) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034889)

Oracle previously had a port of 8i that ran on Solaris X86, but they discontinued it due to poor adoption.

If you have access to Oracle Metalink, check out Metalink document #149914.1 from May 2001.

--Jon

Re:New Strategy (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035708)

but they discontinued it due to poor adoption

Interesting, thanks. Now that Sun actually produces their own x86 servers, presumably they should have more staying power...

Re:New Strategy (1)

GC (19160) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034960)

If you run a heavily Sun-oriented tech shop, presumably it will be advantageous to run a single OS (well, Solaris/Sparc and Solaris/Intel) to running Solaris/Sparc and Linux/Intel; cautious companies might more easily justify purchasing Intel-based hardware if they don't have to put a new OS on it at the same time.

Linux/Sparc and Linux/Intel ?

Solaris is far more limiting to specific architectures than Linux is. In fact Solaris/Intel is a real dog, has always had limited hardware compatibility and Sun's Intel boxes are simply too expensive.

Re:New Strategy (2, Informative)

christophersaul (127003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035485)

Linux/Sparc might be an option for small web serving, email and other stuff using OS components, but otherwise what app are you running? Your campus clustered SAP installaton with DR site across the other side of the world supporting your entire business is unlikely to be running Linux/Sparc.

Have you actually checked the prices for Sun's Linux boxes?

Re:New Strategy (1)

GC (19160) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035698)

Have you actually checked the prices for Sun's Linux boxes?

You mean here [sun.com] ? $1,995 for a single-proc P III @ 1.4Ghz?

That's the entry price, as soon as you start looking at upgrades and systems with fault tolerant power supplies, RAID etc... then yes... they are expensive. $520 for a second processor!! (just a 1.4Ghz P-III).

Just go to www.pricewatch.com [pricewatch.com] and see what $1,995 can get you.

Re:New Strategy (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035724)

Solaris/Intel is a real dog, has always had limited hardware compatibility and Sun's Intel boxes are simply too expensive

Interesting, I have not seen any specific benchmark for Solaris/x86. How much of an underperformer is it? Presumably Sun now having their own x86 line means they would have to tune it up...

On the matter of price, since Sun is hardly likely to use custom components, surely one can create a Sun/x86 clone with the same components, thus guaranteeing hardware compatibility. Support cost might then go up since it's not an official Sun build, though.

AMD Opteron (5, Informative)

Winnipenguin (603571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035087)

FYI:

Sun likely to use AMD's Opteron chip
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
April 8, 2003, 3:47 PM PT
http://news.com.com/2100-1010-996060.html

Sun Microsystems will likely adopt the Opteron processor from Advanced Micro Devices as it extends into new branches of the server market.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Sun has been testing the forthcoming Opteron chip for servers in its labs, and has found interest for the chip among customers, said John Loiacono, vice president of Sun's operating platforms group. Although he couldn't commit to any definite product plans, Loiacono said that the chip, which comes out April 22, would probably end up in a Sun product.

"Can we commit to using Opteron today? No," Loiacono said. "Can we use it? Are we likely to use it? Yes."

The probable endorsement from Sun is one of the strongest yet for the upcoming chip. Although RackSaver and a host of second-tier manufacturers have come out with product plans, no large manufacturer has done so yet. AMD declined to comment.

Sun's guarded optimism for the chip is a good sign for AMD, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst for Mercury Research. Opteron is designed for servers running up to eight processors, and that market is still largely controlled by the small circle of multinational computer makers. These manufacturers, moreover, tend to be fairly conservative when it comes to new technology.

"If you can get a Sun or IBM interested, that is crucial," he said. Virtually all of the major manufacturers are testing Opteron, according to Jack Steeg, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Newisys, which is licensing designs for Opteron servers.

According to Sun executives speaking at the company's quarterly product update, Sun-branded servers containing so-called x86 chips from AMD or Intel will also occupy a more prominent place in the company's overall product line, which is currently dominated by servers running Sun's own UltraSparc chip.

"You will hear a lot about Solaris x86. There are over 1,000 applications on Solaris x86," said Sun CEO Scott McNealy, referring to the version of Sun's operating system that's tweaked to run on servers containing Intel and AMD chips.

Sun, in fact, will update its LX50 server, which is designed for x86 chips, in the very near future, company executives have said. Although Opteron comes out in two weeks, Loiacono cautioned against drawing too strong a connection between the Opteron release and the pending update to the LX50. The chip requires a completely new motherboard. Sun is also working on other AMD chips.

Change of heart
The fairly buoyant endorsement of technology from the PC world represents something of a change at Sun. The company has engaged in a heated battle for years with Intel, deriding the performance of servers based on Pentium chips and mocking, whenever possible, the sales of the Itanium processor.

A year ago, Sun deferred "productization" of a version of Solaris for Intel servers. Intel, for its part, has repeatedly noted how servers containing RISC-based chips, like Sun's UltraSparc, have become a smaller part of the overall server market.

The shift appears to derive from equal doses of opportunity and desperation.

On the opportunity side, Sun is positioning itself as a complete technology provider that will earn profits from sales of hardware, software and services.

Intel- or AMD-based servers from Sun will be outfitted with Solaris and a variety of server applications, McNealy said. Even if these typically less-expensive servers don't carry the same margins as Sun's UltraSparc boxes, they will serve as vehicles to sell Sun software.

The company is kicking off a Chinese menu-style licensing program called Orion to beef up software sales.

"They (Sun) are making a bigger commitment to supporting other platforms, and what is the best way to do that? By having Linux or x86 in-house," said Kevin Krewell, senior editor at the Microprocessor Report.

Additionally, the growth of the Linux operating system has made Intel- and AMD-based servers from Sun more palatable to some corporate buyers. In the past, these servers mostly came with Windows, making the Sun x86 boxes seem like oddities.

"All of the sudden it is OK to (put) something other than Windows" on these machines, said Mark Tolliver, executive vice president of marketing and strategy at Sun. "The physics of the whole Intel market has begun to shift."

Sun's decision to sell an Intel-based server, the LX50, under its own brand has also helped build momentum. "For some reason, it (putting the brand name on the product) adds more credibility," Tolliver said.

Sun is also holding negotiations with other PC makers on selling Intel/AMD-based servers running Solaris for x86. These discussions have occurred on a regular basis for years, but "the volume of conversations has stepped up a bit," Tolliver said.

Opportunity aside, Sun's move is also an outgrowth of necessity, according to IDC analyst Jean Bozman. Financial institutions and life sciences companies, two strong markets for Sun, already buy lots of Linux servers running Intel or AMD chips. Holding out would mean losing sales.

"It is pragmatic," Bozman said. "These guys are gobbling up (Linux servers) like there is no tomorrow." Still, Sun won't overtly exert itself in this regard. The company, for instance, will rely on Asian contract manufacturers to design and manufacture Sun's x86 boxes.

"We are not going to be in the x86 design business," Tolliver said.

Sun execs also continue to pan Intel's Itanium chip.

"I'd bet on Opteron before I'd bet on Itanium," McNealy said in an interview Monday.

Re:New Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034834)

Some corporates prefer Solaris to Linux. Especially if they have big multi-processor Solaris boxes, it's easier for them to administer only Solaris and not a mixture of operating systems. Sometimes they prefer the support they get with Solaris to that provided by some of the big Linux vendors. It's all about choice.

Re:New Strategy (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034841)

Having someone to blame is still the biggest reason solaris will make it on the x86 architecture, as well as integration into a solaris environment.
Microsoft clients don't talk well to solaris machines, and the solaris architecture is expensive, so it would only seem natural to make their OS run on commodity hardware.
Linux can fill the gap between x86 and Solaris, but it still can't fill the gap between opensource-friendly admins and beurocratic old-school management.

Re:New Strategy (2, Insightful)

christophersaul (127003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035507)

What about predictable release schedules, excellent service, bundled apps and good ISV support? (All right, forget about the last bit - for now at least).

There's also the advantage of having your techies 'fluent' on the same OS throughout the datacentre, with one partner to deal with when things go well... or go wrong.

Re:New Strategy (2, Insightful)

blewneon (675861) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035083)

Why? The same reson that Microsoft does, money and control. Once an OS is loaded on a system there is an amazing amount of control that a software publisher can leverage. Of course they will jock the numbers around to make linux look like a complete looser as far a maintence costs go. In truth it is extreamly difficult to calculate software maintenance costs because the numbers are just so darn close. What would a Solaris Admin cost as opposed to a Linux Admin? Also the question of support contracts can easily be greased by (Sun, Microsoft, IBM, fill in your favorite IT company). My answer to this question is to factor these items out of the equation and look strictly at the initial cost of the software and what the projected upgrade costs will be. But that's just me...

Re:New Strategy (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035140)

I am amazed that companies like sun and MS can actually push stuff like this. When you buy support for Solaris, you ultimatly can only get it from one company; Sun. Likewise, the same is true for Windows. These companies can (and do) charge outlandish $ for the support. With an OSS approach like BSD or Linux, then multiple companies compete to offer support. True competition is always good as it drives down prices and quality up. Partial competition leads to either low prices or ok qualtity, but rarely both. And finally, no competition, well, it speaks for itself.
I think that is is safe to assume that Linux is = to Sun on maintenence costs (most likely ==) and a great deal than MS.

Re:New Strategy (3, Informative)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035480)

With an OSS approach like BSD or Linux, then multiple companies compete to offer support.

Where, precisely, is the company that offers 24x7 support for Linux AND your hardware, with onsite options for both, globally, at a lot less than Sun's support price?

It's nice to talk theoretically about the things that might be, but most customers care about what is.

Two points.... (4, Insightful)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034807)

  • Solaris for Intel - that news is a few months old. Nothing to see here - though appearing in a business-oriented publication might indicate Sun's seriousness on the matter
  • SCO lawsuit - left unsaid is the possibility that Solaris itself would be targeted next, should SCO win or settle its IBM lawsuit. It's not only Sun's Linux strategy that is in question (Though both cases are equally questionable)

Your second point (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034819)

Solaris is in no danger whatsoever from the SCO lawsuit. Solaris is based on System V R4 and is licensed as such. Much has changed in Solaris since those days, but those changes belong to Sun.

Re:Your second point (4, Interesting)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034838)

Solaris is based on System V R4 and is licensed as such

So is AIX, but SCO is threatening to revoke their license (it remains to be seen whether that's legal or not) due to claims of technology transfer to Linux. Since Sun ships Linux solutions too it is conceivable that they might get entangled in the same way.

Granted, Sun does not have a high-profile involvement in Linux but the IBM case is most likely totally FUD anyway. If there turns out to be Microsoft involvement in it, then Sun is the obvious next target...

Re:Your second point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034858)

I have to doubt SCO's logic in going after IBM in court. IBM has enough cash to make this case last forever if it wants to. I think that SCO would be better off going after a company with fewer resources in order to set a legal precedent and then chase IBM.

Winning a court case doesn't prove that you're right, just that you've got more resources than the other guy.

Re:Your second point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034870)

SCO doesn't want to win. It wants to threaten IBM enough that it would be cheaper for IBM to buy SCO and therefore get att its IP rights, than to fight it in court. This might backfire on SCO and SCO may go bust, but my money's on IBM buying SCO out within 6 months.

Re:Your second point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034862)

I wouldn't worry too much about SCO. They'll be gone from the face of the earth before the year's out.

Re:Your second point (2, Funny)

mattdm (1931) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035082)


So is AIX, but SCO is threatening to revoke their license (it remains to be seen whether that's legal or not) due to claims of technology transfer to Linux. Since Sun ships Linux solutions too it is conceivable that they might get entangled in the same way.


As I understand it, Sun has a different kind of license than IBM, one for which they presumably paid a lot more money. I forget where I read this, but it was somewhere on the Internet so I think it was pretty credible. Doubly so now that I've posted it on Slashdot.

Re:Your second point (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035738)

Doubly so now that I've posted it on Slashdot

Cool. I shall post a journal entry that's self-referencing, that way my future pronouncements shall be infinitely credible :)

Re:Your second point (5, Interesting)

Miguel de Icaza (660439) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034839)

Sun is taking measures to provide source code under their community license, That doesn't matter quite as much as M$ releasing the Windos source because Sun doesn't deliberately hide their better APIs for internal use nor use deliberalely incompatible interfaces.Solaris is an open system, you don't -need- the source code. Sun has not, say, modified the way their CDE or NFS or DNS or X11 or POSIX implementation works to prevent other people's software from working with it, which a certain OTHER company has as a nasty history of ...

Sun has a history of being open with their stuff. The SPARC architecture is downloadable off the web, ferchrissakes, and there are many Sun clone vendors . Their hardware division actively works with other companies to help them port to SPARC, which was why everything and its brother ran on Sun machines in the early 90s. Their NFS protocol was documented and now used by pretty much everything. Sun machines can also use DNS and other non-Sun resolvers just as well as Sun's own NIS system.

On the other hand, there is this OTHER company who deliberately does not release documentation to outside developers, deliberately obfuscates how their stuff works, breaks other people's protocols or refuses to use them (can you completely replace NetBIOS name resolution with DNS ... I only wish. Can you replace the NTLM Domain crap?).

Re:Two points.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034842)

This is more than a few months old... even Solaris 7 (whose latest patch was released in 1999) has an Intel x86 version. Same with Solaris 8 and 9.

Re:Two points.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034849)

Sun is paid up:

SUN CONFIRMS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR ALL VERSIONS OF ITS UNIX OPERATING SYSTEMS
Solaris[tm], Solaris x86, Trusted Solaris and Sun Linux Platforms Unaffected by Today's UNIX-related IP Lawsuit

Santa Clara, Calif. -- March 7, 2003 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. today confirmed with its customers and partners that it has licensing rights to UNIX code, on which the Solaris[tm] Operating System is based for both SPARC and recently available x86 systems. In light of SCO's legal dispute with IBM over UNIX licensing rights, Sun announced it has absolutely no licensing issues with SCO today. Sun's previous licensing agreements give Sun complete UNIX IP rights in relation to Sun's operating systems. This makes the Solaris Operating System a safe choice for customers moving forward. With the Solaris multiplatform product line, customers can have a consistent Solaris environment from low-end x86 servers, up to hundreds of processors, in a SPARC mainframe-class system.

Sun confirms that:

As part of a series of licensing agreements, Sun acquired rights to make and ship derivative products based on the intellectual property in UNIX. This forms the foundation for the Solaris OS that ships today.
Sun's complete line of Solaris and Linux products -- including Solaris for the SPARC and x86 platforms, Trusted Solaris[tm], the industry's premier highly secure operating system, and Sun Linux -- are covered by Sun's portfolio of UNIX licensing agreements.
Solaris and Sun Linux represent safe choices for those companies that develop and deploy services based on UNIX systems.

Until SCO confirms it, (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034868)

I'm still not convinced.

With what Sun is trading at right now, some not-so-friendy FUD and baseless lawsuits could damage Sun quite rapidly.

Maybe that's why Microsoft licensed the SCO code. Naaah....

Re:Two points.... (1)

Winnipenguin (603571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034910)

Here is a link to the url: http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/2003-03/sunf lash.20030307.1.html Now go ahead and /. that Solaris Sparc box.

wrong (4, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034855)

the reason SCO can target IBM is b/c IBM was its partner in a "next generation unix" project called AIX 5L or, earlier, Project Monterrey. So IBM, unlike Sun, has engineers who work on Linux AND engineers who had access to SCO ip.

Re:wrong (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035757)

If SCO somehow wins it's IBM lawsuit (on a copyright ground, not just a trade-secret one), it will prove that all Linux kernels everywhere are in violation of it's IP. At minimum, that will force all commercial Linux systems to either pay SCO or be offline for a few weeks as new, non-infringing kernels are built and distributed.

Re:wrong (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035763)

So IBM, unlike Sun, has engineers who work on Linux AND engineers who had access to SCO ip

Bizarre that most articles on the lawsuit does not even mention Project Monterrey. Given IBM's compartmentalisation I wonder if the relevant groups have any significant communication between them... we shall see, as long as there is no settlement, really.

Re:Two points.... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035105)

Solaris can not be targeted. Back in the late 80's or early 90's, Sun bought the total rights to Unix. I forget how much money it was, but I seem to recall it was in the high 10's or low 100 millions. IBM never bought the same license. They pay yearly as I recall.

Re:Two points.... (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035747)

IBM never bought the same license. They pay yearly as I recall.

Bizarre, what is their claim of having a perpetual license about then?

Does IBM mean as long as we pay, we cannot be denied the license? Sounds rather weak to me.

Should IBM lose its license for AIX though, can they not just license it from Sun instead, if Sun indeed bought the total rights?

Re:Two points.... (2, Informative)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035414)

Given that Sun explicitly purchased rights to the Unix code base a very long time ago, Solaris is pretty much immune to SCO's claims. Since we have stoped shipping our own Linux as well, we're probably immune on that leg as well. I can't think of anyone in Sun who wants the SCO lawsuit to succeed, but we are pretty safe from them ourselves in any case.

hmm... (0, Flamebait)

Shutup Now (675851) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034813)

Im all for the free Linux usage... i just hope that this lawsuit against IBM dos'nt screw that up. As for microsoft... TO HELL WITH THEM!!

Article text (-1, Redundant)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034827)

The ponytail versus the penguin

Does Sun's Jonathan Schwartz have a better strategy than Microsoft's for surviving the threat of free software?

HOW can you compete with something given away free? That has been the question dogging big software firms, above all Microsoft, ever since free ("open-source") programs made it into the mainstream--notably Linux, which is now a serious rival to costly proprietary operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows. It has also been the chief headache for Jonathan Schwartz since Sun Microsystems put him in charge of its software business a year ago. Although there has long been speculation that Linux might one day kill Windows, Sun has always seemed a more plausible, and imminent, victim of free software. But the Silicon Valley firm is now fighting back: a new approach, the product of Mr Schwartz's labours, was unveiled on May 19th.

Aged 37 and pony-tailed, Mr Schwartz might easily be mistaken for a hacker, or even for one of the Young Turks who developed Linux just for the hell of it--though he also shares the aggression and feistiness for which his boss, Scott McNealy, is well known. He joined Sun in 1996 when it bought his software firm, Lighthouse Design. After that, he was the driving force behind the Liberty Alliance, an industry group developing a rival method to Microsoft Passport for securely and easily moving personal details around the internet. Seasoned observers of the industry are impressed by his grasp of the complicated beast that is software. But will even that be enough?

Ironically, for Sun, in contrast to Microsoft, Linux has been less a software than a hardware challenge. Yes, the program is free--but many firms use it mainly because it allows them to buy cheap servers powered by Intel chips rather than more expensive Sun boxes. Since Sun's flagship Solaris operating system and Linux are both a variant of Unix, an operating-system standard, many applications written for the former can be easily converted to run on the latter. The result is that Sun is rapidly losing market share to makers of Intel-based servers, mainly Dell.

At first, Sun dismissed this threat. Then it tried to embrace Linux--offering its own cheap Intel-based servers running the free operating system. (Mr McNealy even dressed up as a penguin, the Linux mascot, at Sun's 2002 analyst meeting.) Yet the new computers were poorly received. Potential customers doubted that Sun was really serious about Intel-based machines.
So what is Mr Schwartz's new strategy? In San Francisco this week, Sun unveiled two new low-priced servers based on Intel chips. It also revealed that Oracle had agreed to make its software work on these machines--adding to speculation that Oracle is about to buy Sun. But much more significant was a subtle but crucial shift in the firm's Linux strategy: as well as Linux, Sun will now also push an Intel-compatible version of Solaris.

Mr Schwartz may seem to want to have it both ways. But he is trying to capitalise on an important trend. Some software users have started to realise that even Linux is not as free as it appears: for instance, it has to be maintained and upgraded. "Linux is like a puppy--in the beginning it's great, but you also have to take care of it," says Mr Schwartz. He hopes that firms will opt for Solaris, because it requires less care.

Simply put, Mr Schwartz wants to give customers a choice. On the one hand, he will offer them an open-source solution, which lets them tinker and benefit from the collective brain power of volunteer developers. On the other, he will offer a proprietary option for customers worried about operational costs.

Contrast this with how Sun's arch rival is dealing with the Linux threat. Microsoft executives no longer call open source a "cancer" and a "destroyer of intellectual property", at least in public. But, if anything, the firm has become more aggressive in competing with Linux. Last week, Microsoft was reported to have set up a special fund to pay for deep discounts on sales of Windows, to stop governments switching to Linux. "Under NO circumstances lose against Linux," demanded an internal e-mail.

Restless in Redmond
Microsoft has also, indirectly, aided a lawsuit that could hurt Linux. On May 19th, it said that it had licensed the rights to Unix technologies from SCO Group, a small software firm. Earlier this year, SCO sued IBM, which has made a big commitment to Linux, seeking damages of at least $1 billion for allegedly sharing its Unix intellectual property with the Linux community. SCO also sent a letter to 1,500 of the world's largest firms, saying that they could be liable for their use of Linux. The lawsuit had seemed to be a ham-fisted attempt by SCO to get itself bought, or bought off, by Big Blue. But the deal with Microsoft lends credence to SCO's claims and helps it financially to press them. If the case (in which, ironically, SCO is represented by David Boies, who led the antitrust action against Microsoft) drags on, it is likely to discourage a growing number of firms from using Linux
So which approach is more promising? It is unlikely that discounts and spreading "fear, uncertainty and doubt" (or FUD in geek-speak) will stop Linux--as long as customers see it as a viable alternative to Windows. Yet with its $46 billion in cash and its near monopoly on desktop PCs, where Linux has made little headway, Microsoft seems safe, however daft its Linux strategy. (Assuming that trustbusters let the firm follow it--the discounts may violate antitrust law, in Europe if not in America.)

Conversely, Sun may not have the time to see whether its way of dealing with Linux works, at least for itself. Such is the perceived threat of commoditisation to its franchise that it is increasingly seen as a possible takeover target, with Cisco and IBM, as well as Oracle, mentioned as possible buyers.

Whatever Sun's fate, Mr Schwartz is probably right that the software industry will not be taken over by free programs, as some geeks would like. The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free.

This was a well-written article? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034830)


Huh? Did I miss something?

Since when did meandering blather, gibberish, and recycled blurbs make for good writing?

The only "news" in the article is the author's fantasy of a hypothetical Sun buy-out by Oracle or Cisco [neither of whom is doing all that great themselves].

Re:This was a well-written article? (1)

Hero Zzyzzx (525153) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034911)

Since when did meandering blather, gibberish, and recycled blurbs make for good writing?

When it comes from the Economist, of course.

Re:This was a well-written article? (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035046)

When it comes from the Economist, of course.
It may be restating what has been obvious, but the writers are competent enough that the exact phrasing does matter. (Not as much as with Greenspan, but the idea is the same;)

An interesting quote at the end.
"The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free."
You can solve yesterday's problems on tomorrow's computers quite cheaply. You can run yourself out of business that way too. The new stuff allows you to tackle problems you couldn't before. If your competitors do and you don't, bye bye. Sun's value lies in places where the cheap stuff doesn't have places. And it's not as simple as hardware/software prices/support. There's some critical stuff that cannot and does not show up in the specs, and it's not cheap.

Re:This was a well-written article? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035287)

And it's not as simple as hardware/software prices/support. There's some critical stuff that cannot and does not show up in the specs, and it's not cheap.
I agree. Perhaps, after all Linux can not seem to run very top-end systems [top500.org] . Worse yet, you will [ibm.com] not find [oracle.com] it in the enterprise systems [zdnet.co.uk] As to the Desktop [gnome.org] , Well skip that as well [kde.org]

You can solve yesterday's problems on tomorrow's computers quite cheaply.
Same thing here as well (with out the sarcasm). Tomorrow's problems are being solved on todays computers [linuxhardware.org] due to their low cost [beowulf.org] . Otherwise, we would be waiting till the costs of the computers were less than the costs of the problem.

Re:This was a well-written article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6035496)

"An interesting quote at the end." ...

In today's world, I couldn't agree more. But, the places where cheap stuff (to use the author's term) do not exist will become even a smaller place over time. Open source OSes such as Linux will mature in variant forms and take over critical applications to a great extent where proprietary OSes currently rule. But I say that with the disclaimer of "if enough interest is maintained" which it seems to have at the moment.

Unlike the author, I believe hardware/software price/support is and will be an important factor. I don't see how one can solve customer's critical applications alone without good service/support in either camps. You can't have one without the other if you want to be successful.

The guy works for Sun for crying out loud -- what else to you expect him to say? ;)

Sun on Linux (1)

GQuon (643387) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034835)

Let's hope the switch from Solaris to Linux doesn't give the Sun any problems in the transition phase.
I'll call this Linux project a success if solar flare activity doesn't increase, and uptime isn't affected.
The Linux-bashing trolls are allready saying that the Sun will be having uptime problems within the end of the week. I think they are just jelaous.

I doubt this'll work (1)

andrew_j_w (630799) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034847)

I fail to see how this will save Sun, when was the last to you read an article say how Solaris was better than it's competitors? When was the last time you read an article about Solaris for that matter!

Also why would anyone buy an Intel-based server from Sun, a relative newcomer to the market, when you could choose someone who specializes in them, and isn't trying to flog a competing product at the same time?

Andrew

Re:I doubt this'll work (2, Insightful)

Gerry Gleason (609985) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035173)

I don't know about this saving Sun or not, but there is nothing weak or behind in any way about Solaris. Solaris has been a rock-solid server and workstation OS for a long time, and it is a lot more mature than Linux, so you probably don't hear as much about it these days. Solaris/x86 probably hasn't gotten as much attention from Sun, although I can't really comment on this variant from personal experience.

On the hardware side, Sun's hardware engineering and field support are far superior to most PC systems, so the only reason they might trail in a head to head competition is price. Again, no personal experience with Sun x86 platforms, but as long as they don't fall far below their quality on the SPARC platform, I would have no problem recommending these systems, particularly if cost isn't the highest rating element.

That said, I think it is pretty ironic that Sun is probably suffering the most right now from the rise of Linux (and Dell is probably the benneficiary of this movement). They have been the most "Open" of the Open Systems vendors (not to be confused with Open Source). On the other hand, they probably will survive all of this and emerge as a leaner, meaner competitor and deliver even better system solutions at even better prices. Personally, I think they are making a mistake by not fully embracing Linux, but they have a lot of people and resources working on Solaris, so it is hard to change. They may be forced to by economics, though.

Re:I doubt this'll work (2, Insightful)

magellan (33560) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035909)

Newcomer to the market? Sun buys its 2-way Intel servers from the same manufacturer that many vendors buy their 2-way Intel servers from, and that manufacturer is not new to the market.

Furthermore, most Intel servers use either Intel motherboards or Broadcom motherboards. So if vendor B is buying 2-way Xeon boxes based on Intel motherboards from an Asian assembler that puts a blue plastic shell on the motherboard, and vendor B is doing the same thing, albeit with the Asian assembler using a black plastic shell, and both vendors outsource their hardware support to the same company that specializes in low-end Intel server support, and both vendors provide Red Hat but outsource their software support to Red Hat, what is the difference, or what is the relavance of how long the the vendor has been in the market?

Your statement makes about as much sense as if Sun had switched from Seagate to Hitachi hard drives in its systems, and you said Sun is a newcomer to the Hitachi hard drive market.

2-way x86 servers are commodities. The only significant companies innovating on these are Intel, AMD, and Broadcom. Not the companies that acutually sell them.

dont moan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034851)

hey kiss me i kiss you kiss me i kiss you i know about you i talk about you
i've been waiting for you in everybody wants to know you wrapped up in moon
river then beyond the blinds and the new white sliding into the city tunnel
beneath the feet of the people in the city roamin' roamin' roamin' in the
city crossway boy crossway boy downtown waterfront boy in the shadows of the
she's on the phone again she's on the phone again she's calling from America
she's calling from america she's searchin'(?) she's moshing and the girls
are diving and the girls are up to something animal boything up on the roof
again boything to be down there there's every kind of act make it down to
the Delaware(?) an up in your head moaner moaner moaner moaner rudy get the
get the get the get the night the city loves you city loves a boyfriend long
walks with a boyfriend city loves a boyfriend friends walking with the
boyfriend and the nights with the boyfriend and the city loves you loves you
loves you loves everyone everyone is smiling the smiling is pushing it
around pushing it around like the shadows of evolution in the dark super
boys where time is all and where time is everything where time is started(?)
time to earth earth wind and fire and the sun in your hair black metal walls
are falling im the hunger i'm metal i'm stainless i'm milk in your plastic
i'm left alone in a full moon with the only thing i can do is lie awake on
the floor at night the doors are i can't awake i can't awake ah ah ah ah the
water into you(?) to me constantly constantly without without without
without again without again your telephone number through a glass of water
the door between is opened(?) the silence is different love love love love
walks with the boyfriend the city loves the boyfriend friends walking
friends walking with the boyfriend the city loves the boyfriend everybody
loves the boyfriend you left me alone you left me alone with a full moon
full moon full moon full moon full moon boys boys boys down on the
waterfront.

Do we need another company doing the same thing? (4, Insightful)

jezzgoodwin (675518) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034864)

A friend of mine recently bought a server from Dell. The main thing he was looking at was the hardware side of things as he wanted to install the OS from the ground up. Dell offered the best hardware and support for the price and also they do price matching so he got quite a few things cheaper than expected.

Surely Sun can't exactly sell the hardware for any cheaper than it can already be bought for, so what's the advantage of choosing them over a company like Dell?

Unless of course they bring the power of Solaris to x86 and do it nicely? It's just the same thing from someone else.

Re:Do we need another company doing the same thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034875)

Sun can have its engineers design the server and have them built in the same factories as Dull. They can sell it for the same price (or $50 less).

Oh you now want an operating system to run an application on that foot warmer? Dull will be happy to RESELL a Microsoft or Red Hat Enterprise OS for a few $K. Sun has Solaris x86 with 0 COGS to them.

Re:Do we need another company doing the same thing (1)

Winnipenguin (603571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035156)

Actually, Sun has publicly stated that they will outsource the design as well as the manufacture.

x86 hardware (same price as the competition) + Solaris x86 (free to Sun)+ Sun Service + Sun ONE software stack (free to Sun) + ISV ports (Developers! Developers! Developers!) = not priceless but I'll buy 'em.

Re:Do we need another company doing the same thing (4, Informative)

max cohen (163682) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034940)

Dell offered the best hardware and support for the price and also they do price matching so he got quite a few things cheaper than expected.

Maybe the best price/performance hardware support, but their Linux software support leaves a lot to be desired (even at the Gold contract level). We bought several Dell PE2650 servers running Linux and I'm finding that the Dell support techs just don't have enough real world experience with Linux to make Dell into a big Unix player (yet). I'm told Dell is working on correcting that as I type this, but until they do Dell won't be as much of an option for those of us who run Unix shops and know what quality support comes from Sun. Anyone can read a manual--including me--when I call Dell (or Sun or HP), I want to talk to someone who knows more than that.

Surely Sun can't exactly sell the hardware for any cheaper than it can already be bought for, so what's the advantage of choosing them over a company like Dell?

Why not? Think Dell does anything Sun can't do in designing an x86 system? I don't. Sun engineers design the server, then Sun contracts with some of the same manufacturers other x86 vendors use to have them built. It's not as difficult as it may seem. One of the great assests of building x86 systems is the off the shelf nature of the components. That reduces the learning curve considerably when compared to designing everything yourself for a system that isn't as widely used, i.e. sparc.

I welcome Sun's effort to ship better Linux servers. When you consider how much Sun knows about Unix, it's great to have that expertise spilling into the Linux world.

Linux a Puppy? (4, Insightful)

attobyte (20206) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034881)

Linux is not a puppy. I ran Redhat 6.2 for my firewall until just like a month ago. Linux doesn't have to be upgraded and tendered to. Maybe for exploits but Solaris has those too.

Atto

Re:Linux a Puppy? (4, Funny)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035069)

I don't know. Ever since I put together my last Linux box it keeps peeing all over the carpet.

Argh, there it is again! BAD LINUX, BAD!

Maybe it just happens with Mandrake distributions. I understand some consider them younger, more immature. Although I would keep an eye on that RedHat box, they can lose control as they get older.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some cleaning up to do...

Re:Linux a Puppy? (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035780)

And during that time, did you upgrade the kernel from 2.2.18 to patch the ptrace root exploit [www.sfu.ca] ?

Re:Linux a Puppy? (1)

lamontg (121211) | more than 10 years ago | (#6036263)

Linux is not a puppy. I ran Redhat 6.2 for my firewall until just like a month ago. Linux doesn't have to be upgraded and tendered to. Maybe for exploits but Solaris has those too.

Try running 1000+ Linux boxes with hundreds of different workloads and configurations (something more difficult than just stamping out a 100 identical machines in a beowulf cluster). Come back to me and tell me that Linux is better than commercial unixes for management in the enterprise.

Your experience with RedHat 6.2 on your single firewall box does not scale. It does need to be upgraded and tendered to. I would kill just for a stable kernel which could run NFS, would not panic in the VM or FS code under pressure, and wouldn't freak out under database workloads. The 2.4 kernel series is getting closer, but they keep on fixing one thing (e.g. NFS in 2.4.20 is pretty solid) and breaking something else (e.g. VM oopses are back in 2.4.20).

MS gives credence to SCO? (4, Interesting)

Schreck (137216) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034891)


Microsoft has also, indirectly, aided a lawsuit that could hurt Linux. On May 19th, it said that it had licensed the rights to Unix technologies from SCO Group, a small software firm. Earlier this year, SCO sued IBM, which has made a big commitment to Linux, seeking damages of at least $1 billion ... The lawsuit had seemed to be a ham-fisted attempt by SCO to get itself bought, or bought off, by Big Blue. But the deal with Microsoft lends credence to SCO's claims and helps it financially to press them.


How does Microsoft licensing SCO technologies give SCO's lawsuit any credence. Everyone knows MS will do anything it can to hurt Linux. Is there really someone out there going "Hmm, Microsoft licensed SCO's technology, ergo, SCO has a valid case." I just have a hard time believing that.

Re:MS gives credence to SCO? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034989)

No, but a poor case backed up by $46 billion and a crackerjack legal team can tie the case up in court long enough to scare potential adoptors away.

Re:MS gives credence to SCO? (2, Insightful)

Bodrius (191265) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035056)

Everyone knows MS will do anything it can to hurt Linux.

No, not everyone "knows" that.

Everyone knows MS will do anything it can to hurt Linux.

Yes, there are plenty of people who will have that reaction.

For many of them, the word "Linux" does not convey something familiar that they can grasp, just a mixture of promises of free software and threatening images of dirty hippies taking over their MIS department.

For some of them, it's not even that. It's something they have read in some magazine or other and is as irrelevant to them as many other "IT-related hypes" they haven't really jumped into: Java, web services, XML, etc.

For a lot of them, Microsoft is an expensive business partners that, in their strange and costly ways, give them the solutions they know and need to keep their business running. They may not like the price, but they don't exactly hate the company or spell it as M$, or even distrust them. For them, Microsoft works.

There are people inside and outside the IT industry that don't read Slashdot, you know?

There are people who don't follow news related to Linux with the zeal of advocacy.

Many of them have the money and the position to make decisions and even force them over the rest of the technical crew. Even when they are the wrong decisions.

Remove the names and cultural baggage from the picture and you might see why the FUD works: big company X with expensive lawyers is sued by smaller, failing company S over IP. other big company Y and potential target, also with expensive lawyers, licenses the IP "before they get sued".

Most interpretations that don't imply Y is minimizing risk depend on a preconceived idea of what Y is like, what their strategy is and what their methods are. The bias is justified by a knowledge of the history of Y, of companies that interacted with it, and in no small amount by personal, political and technical judgement.

This is all good and nice, more than enough to understand there are more complex factors and motivations behind a Microsoft decision on the matter. But it would not be easy to convince someone to risk their business on that judgement over a half-hour discussion (before their eyes glaze over) unless you're preaching to the choir.

Re:MS gives credence to SCO? (1)

skillet-thief (622320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035508)

How does Microsoft licensing SCO technologies give SCO's lawsuit any credence.

Whether it gives SCO any credence or not, it does give them a check to cash, which could help them in their lawsuit.

ESR asking for your help in defeating SCO (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 10 years ago | (#6036186)

Little off topic, but this coud make a huge dent in SCO's Case (if any).

Head over to ESR's No Secrets" [catb.org] home page, if you ever had access to UNIX source code that was not under NDA or NDA not enforced.

Quote:

I want to know if you have ever had read access to proprietary Unix source code (not just binaries and documentation) under circumstances where either no non-disclosure agreement was required or whatever non-disclosure agreement you had was not enforced.

Well, it's easy... (1)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034900)

It's easy to claim your software is cheaper to operate when almost every school and goverment on earth that has a machine is running windows on it. People then buy what their kids suggest; windows machines, and everyone learns it. Along comes linux and in order to use it you've got to retrain your workforce to use it, and retrain anyone coming in to use it. Once Linux gets into schools, desktops, college tech classes etc and is widespread, then we will see demand for people who know it grow and this situation change quite a bit.

The only reason microsoft is screwed if that happens is that they are doing nothing to innovate or make their software better. On the contrary, they are selling windows at a huge profit to loose millions on other things like the x-box. The reason they don't compete with linux, as an example, on the ability to patch security issues, is becuase it would literally cost them too much to be loosing money on other things. They can, contrary to popular belief, innovate; they have the money to pay for the innovation, but they don't. Case in point, Windows hasn't seen a better version since NT4. Win2k was the more user friendly version of nt4 and WinXP is basically a reskinned Win2k with a few new features added. I doubt in 2005 when longhorn is release it'll be much different than windows xp.

Right now microsoft is being caught at an odd point; they are trying to take over the console market and failing miserably, they are trying to push into developers, they have passport which probably isn't making a bunch of moolah at the moment, the crashing stock market took a bite out of them, and all sorts of BS. They can either pull out of some of their investments, put together a solid OS and market it, or they can continue to peddle BS and I think if they continue to peddle Windows without innovating it, they'll be left behind.

....as some geeks would like (4, Insightful)

md17 (68506) | more than 10 years ago | (#6034935)


Whatever Sun's fate, Mr Schwartz is probably right that the software industry will not be taken over by free programs, as some geeks would like. The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free.

Does the author of this article actually understand anything about software or economics? It seems to me that any consumer in the world should want "free programs" as opposed to those you have to pay for. Even if we assumed that all that silly FUD about Linux having a higher TCO than Windows or Solaris, were true; wouldn't consumers still desire that Linux (and the rest of open soruce) progresses to a point of of lower TCO? And shouldn't that be a lot more viable for open source than a software product which locks you into a big company that just wants more of your money, not less? Anyways, open source is winning and will win more because it can innovate faster and for less. It is not just "great for innovation", it costs less, and costs (TCO) keep going down.

Furthermore... (3, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035127)

IT's not about "Free shit".

Will proprietary software with real value still have commercial value? HEll yes, always.

Will proprietary software that does the same thing as free software have value? No, why should it?

Why should we be paying anyone money for something people are willing to do for free. Simple as that.

Look at.. Vmware. Good product. Solid. Makes money. Then we have FreeMware. Not so good. Not even close, really. VMWare definately has *value*, and lots of it.

Now, if VMWare sits on their product and does nothing but fix bugs, that situation won't last. Eventually, freemware, or someone else, might catch up, or surpass it. But all VMWare has to do is keep innovating and developing, and they can keep selling their great product.

The same goes for everything.... we all don't like windows because, hell, the only reasons we really use it are because we are forced to by software compatability... we don't see it as anyhing that adds real value.. only artificial value.

Free software will continue to set a baseline standard for software, which you have to beat significantly in order to actually sell software. That's where things are going. ANd that's a GOOD way for things to be. Nobody is saying focused, commercial programming efforts can't pay off bigtime.. they absolutely can.. butnot if you are going to make snakeoil.

Re:Furthermore... (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035515)

The same goes for everything.... we all don't like windows because, hell, the only reasons we really use it are because we are forced to by software compatability... we don't see it as anyhing that adds real value.. only artificial value.


So, the only reason you use Windows is to accomplish tasks with software which runs on Windows. Hrm. That whole 'accomplishing tasks' and 'getting stuff done' thing doesn't have 'value'? Only 'artificial value'??

Re:Furthermore... (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035811)

Basically, yes.

Windows is a network effect. In general, people need to run Microsoft Windows(tm) to run Microsoft Word(tm) to view files others have sent them from Microsoft Word(tm).

The intrinsic advantages of Microsoft Word(tm) over competing word processors are small, except in the field of compatibility with itself (which by definition would be hard for anything else to match). Yet that is the feature by which most buying decisions are made.

The "network effect" was introduced in Metcalfe's Law. However, it referenced hardware. Check "Gate's Corrolary" for the extension of the network effect to software.

Gimme a break. (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035988)

Yes, obviously GETTING STUFF DONE is important, and real.
I never said someone was dumb for using windows when the software they need only works on windows.

My point is that we have many options for an oprating system.. and in and of itself, Windows does not add any value over what we can get for free. The only reason it has value is because of applications that only work in windows.

Re:Furthermore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6036169)

Look at.. Vmware. Good product.

Not supported on FreeBSD. So, its a worthless product as far as I'm concerned.

Re:....as some geeks would like (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035433)

It is not just "great for innovation", it costs less, and costs (TCO) keep going down.

And Jon Schwartz has made it clear that he doesn't believe that, over time, the Linux TCO is going lower than the Solaris TCO. Whether he's right or not remains to be seen of course, but he's entitled to his opinion. You posting yours in bold face on Slashdot doesn't make you any more of an authority.

Could that Schwarts guy be a bigger Jew? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034995)

Look at the guy. [economist.com]

Totaly offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6034998)

But why is the matrix logo still at the top of the main www.slashdot.org site

"Questionable Claim" (4, Interesting)

po8 (187055) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035018)

Whatever Sun's fate, Mr Schwartz is probably right that the software industry will not be taken over by free programs, as some geeks would like. The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free.

"Questionable claim to be free"? Let's leave aside "free/Free" for a moment, as the author seems to indicate the former. (Let's also leave aside the grammatical correctness of the sentence, which looks more like it belongs in a /. article than in The Economist. :-)

Instead, let's ask what this "questionable claim" actually is. Hmm, does open source software have a purchase price? Not really: by definition, it costs $0. How about technical support, is that free? Why, for most open source it is: extensive online help, rapid bugfixes, etc. I know, are any and all costs related to its use zero? Why no, they are not---you still have to pay to field the software and maintain it.

If you told the author of this article you were giving him a free car, with a free warranty for parts and a substantial discount on labor, apparently his response would be "Oh yeah? What about gas?". Sheesh.

Although, the article was pretty well-written otherwise :-).

Is there a lower TCO than free? (1)

Winnipenguin (603571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035062)

There is a price to complexity, even with free software:

http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/2003-02/su nf lash.20030226.4.html

SUN'S PROJECT ORION REDEFINES THE ECONOMICS AND DELIVERY OF ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE
Radically Aligned Software Development, Delivery Strategy and Business Model Help Drive Complexity Down, Cost Out

SANTA CLARA, Calif., -- February 26, 2003 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc., today previewed its response to customers' need for greater simplicity, predictability and affordability of enterprise computing environments with a new product and business strategy, code named Project Orion. Based on two decades of releasing world-class enterprise software, Project Orion will dramatically simplify the acquisition, deployment and operation for all of Sun's award-winning enterprise infrastructure software. With Project Orion, Sun converges the company's software offerings into a predictable, scheduled quarterly release of an integrated software system distributed on Solaris, Solaris for x86 and Linux.

Project Orion leverages Sun's proven competency in developing and releasing large-scale systems software, best demonstrated by its multi-platform Solaris operating system. The effort will align the integration, testing and release of all of the company's software products and pricing models, thereby helping customers to easily deploy either a fully pre-integrated software system, or selected components of the system with dramatically less expense and complexity. This alignment process frees IT organizations from having to staff similar release or distribution teams within their enterprises; driving software system lifecycle cost out of IT operations, yielding expense savings, availability, uptime and predictability. Project Orion also allows customers to select best-of-breed components from Sun's partners if they so choose.

"Project Orion changes the way Sun does business so our customers can profit more from the way they do business," said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of Software, Sun Microsystems. "We've heard consistently that CIOs are tired of handling the integration role for the operating environment. They want us to engineer the complexity out, drive standards and interoperability, and get the costs down. We're leading the industry in delivering the most affordable, complete and interoperable operating environment, on multiple platforms, and at prices that bring carrier-grade scale and industry-open standards to all customers, large and small."

"The integrated approach of Project Orion is a step in the right direction by Sun to reduce the complexity of our computing environment," said Kim Ross, CIO, Nielsen Media Research.

Project Orion comprises three industry leading breakthroughs:

A Systematic Approach--the methodology to design, develop, and deliver software using "software-train" releases to define a set of stringent criteria that all software components must satisfy before the integrated system will ship. This capability has been developed over 20 years of releasing Solaris.

A Software System--the open and integrated software portfolio of all of Sun's enterprise infrastructure software where everything seamlessly works together, and consistently exercises a set of common components, architectures, and technologies. This redefines the meaning of operating systems and middleware to create the first real Web services delivery platform.

Business Strategy--a simplified acquisition, more affordable and predictable business model that applies to the enterprise infrastructure software from Sun. Customers can still purchase individual software components, or the entire software system with one single uniform pricing model. The result is a completely integrated operating environment that is immediately available to use and grow at the customer's convenience.
The spectrum of software included in Project Orion will span Solaris and Linux at the core with a common Java runtime environment that integrates web services infrastructure technologies, such as application servers and portals; Microsoft-interoperable email and communications; Liberty-enabled directory and identity; Grid engine, streaming media, storage management, availability monitoring technologies, and clustering.

"This is definitely the right direction; Sun has a track record of shipping a high-quality Solaris OS," said Gary Horn, Manager, Network Services, Advocate Health Care. "If Sun delivers on Project Orion, Advocate Health Care will see a real benefit that will allow us to simplify our own design complexity and process."

"Sun has taken another step in the right direction with Project Orion," said Curt Smith, General Manager, Managed Information Systems, SaskTel. "Consistent, regular delivery of Sun's enterprise infrastructure software will help SaskTel deliver reliable, innovative, easy-to-use services to our customers."

Re:"Questionable Claim" (3, Insightful)

snarkh (118018) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035182)



If you told the author of this article you were giving him a free car, with a free warranty for parts and a substantial discount on labor, apparently his response would be "Oh yeah? What about gas?". Sheesh.


It might seem different if you have to hire a chauffeur, though.

The pain of Solaris (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035040)

The worst pain about Solaris I found was that it comes with nearly no preinstalled software. Oh, yes, it has the GUI, it has the web browser and several demo movies, a huge documentation database and a lot of other stuff I completely don't need. It lacks the basic stuff though. Say, I want to install some software. I try to open the website with HotJava, manage to get to the downloads, but on my poor connection I can't grab it - the download breaks and doesn't resume. Nothing wget wouldn't handle... So I quickly grab wget .rpm and the source, just in case. Luckily, small enough so I could download it. Ok... rpm -i wget*. Ooops, no rpm, that's rather obvious. I quickly look for rpm and after a good while find rpm.tgz lying next to rpm.rpm. I download after several retries and get to notice there's no gzip! Okay, I download gzip.tar. I untar it (luckily tar works) and see it's a source. But there's no compiler in the system. I grab a binary of GCC and notice bastard is available either as .rpm or as .gz. At this point I start getting mad: -Can't install gzip - requires gcc or rpm. -Can't install rpm - requires gzip or rpm. -Can't install gcc - requires gzip or rpm. I grab Linux install and get a full system, with perl, php, webserver, all client and server software I'd ever desire and everything I'd ever want. Upgrading and maintaining it will be less of a hell than installing Solaris from scratch, with poor internet connection and no binaries from older Solaris installs. I just feel envious about some guys that have one CD full of free Solaris binaries, starting with uncompressed, ready to use statically linked gzip and gcc, instead of 6 CDs of demos, 2 of docs and 4 of patches.

Re:The pain of Solaris (1)

Winnipenguin (603571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035178)

Which version of gcc on that Linux install? ... Oh never mind...

Re:The pain of Solaris (1)

blrptrpl (79090) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035196)

I wonder if you've used a version of Solaris newer than, what, 2.5? 2.6? Gzip has shipped with Solaris since version 7 (2.7), Sun has Netscape packages on its website, and they provide builds of Mozilla on Mozilla's downloads page. Solaris 9 ships with both Netscape and a number of Gnu/OSS utilies (e.g. - tar, grep, bzip2....) And, if you can't find something you need in the default install, you could follow the link on Sun's site to www.sunfreeware.com. Or, and I know this one is difficult, you could just install a package from the CD of OSS software that Sun provides.

Re:The pain of Solaris (1)

rockiams (12481) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035221)

www.sunfreeware.com has prebuilt packages to get you going quickly. Since you are obviously new to Solaris, stay away from rpm and learn Solaris pkg first.

Re:The pain of Solaris (2, Informative)

jtharpla (531787) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035238)

Since Solaris 8, Sun has shipped Netscape as the default browser, not HotJava

All your fun happy binaries are available at http://www.sunfreeware.com [sunfreeware.com]

And Sun now ships a Software Companion CD with most common GNU tools and GUI installer.

Finally, Solaris 9 now includes /usr/sfw, which also has many of the GNU tools.

For all that, it still takes me about 30 min-1 hour of work to get a Solaris system to the same nice command-line environment as Linux (ksh or bash, color ls, gtar, and vim 6)

Re:The pain of Solaris (1)

jukkavr6 (600905) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035331)

It's obvious you've never heard of www.sunfreeware.com, cuz if you had, you would have downloaded the gzip + wget binaries and you would have been off to the races. Plus, why are you using rpm on solaris ? That just sounds like "A Bad Idea (tm)"

Re:The pain of Solaris (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035517)

I did, I tried to visit it and get all I needed. The problem is that I couldn't even load the main page, connection to that site really sucked at that time.
And what if I didn't have ANY internet connection and installed Solaris for a standalone LAN server?

Anyway, the story ended when a guy who had more experience with Solaris came, installed everything that was needed from his own CD, configured it, charged us a 5-digit sum and left poorer but happy, with a well configured box. (Linux didn't last...)

Free as in? (3, Insightful)

madsatod (535808) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035053)

The Economist article said:
The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free."
Anyone else annoyed with the writers confusion on free software/gratis software throughout the article. Well guess it's viewpoint of the Economist. No wonder they interpret free as "free (as in beer)".

Sun is Java (4, Interesting)

yog (19073) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035065)

Sun is no longer a workstation or server company; they are the Java company. They are getting a lot of their business from Java these days--selling packages, selling Sun University courses, JavaOne, etc.

Undoubtedly, the server business continues to pay some of the bills, but this business model is in doubt; IBM can out-compete them at the high end and LinTel is eating their lunch at the low end and, increasingly, in the mid-range. They really need to reinvent themselves as an enterprise solution provider rather than a hardware provider that (for some reason) invented Java.

I think Sun should merge or form a strategic alliance with WebLogic and position themselves as a total server, middleware and web services provider with their state of the art technology. They have a huge advantage in that everyone but Microsoft supports and promotes Java, including Sun's fiercest competitors. They have tremendous domain expertise; a lot of the people who developed Java, J2EE and so forth are still working at Sun.

Alternatively, perhaps IBM should buy JavaSoft and let the rest of Sun die a quick and merciful death. IBM's stake in Java is so huge now that it's hard to imagine they are not considering this option.

Just some thoughts on a Sunday morning....

Re:Sun is Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6035445)

Have you any idea how many Java courses you'd have to sell to make the equivalent of selling just a v480 with 3 years' warranty upgrade?

Hardware, services and software are what makes Sun money, in that order.

The server business model is definitely not in doubt and there are plenty of people who'd argue whether IBM can outcompete at the high end - that's a ludicrously bland statement. Oracle 8i doesn't even run in 64 bit mode on AIX 5* for god's sake - what does that tell a customer about to make a strategic investment in an architecture to run their core business apps? The leading vendor, Oracle, doesn't even bother porting their key application to 64bit AIX, so you might as well buy an Intel machine. IBM's Power 4 benchmarketing drivel is also easy to see through. As for the lowend, if you mean the small machines that keep smaller companies running, Sun have never really competed there. Where Linux is appearing, they've got Linux boxes for those small deployments.

Sun have alliances with BEA - look at Sun.com. They also have their own app server, which they push aggresively.

Re:Sun is Java (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035449)

What are you smoking? Sun makes most of its money from hardware sales, not Java.

Re:Sun is Java (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035921)

What are you smoking? Sun makes most of its money from hardware sales, not Java.

Same thing. Java is a hardware hog, to be frank.

Re:Sun is Java (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035771)

Sun is no longer a workstation or server company; they are the Java company. They are getting a lot of their business from Java these days--selling packages, selling Sun University courses, JavaOne, etc.

Do you have any evidence that they are actually making money on this stuff? I tend to think that Java is more of a publicity stunt for them. I'd be surprised if "packages, Sun University, JavaOne, etc." produce profits much less profits that cover the development R&D costs of Java. CNET says:

" There's just one problem: For all its hype and popularity, Java has made more money in direct software sales for competitors than for the company that invented it. "

" This is the paradox of Java: The very openness that made the technology popular also made it possible for competitors to profit from Java at Sun's expense."

'For years, Sun has refused to quantify the financial value of Java, but some details illuminate just how important it is to the company's server hardware, the powerful networked machines that handle chores such as stock trades or online catalog sales. "Java is a key factor in 90 percent of sales," Sueltz said, estimating that 98 percent of Sun servers used by customers run Java software.'

Undoubtedly, the server business continues to pay some of the bills,

Or maybe it pays all of the bills. There is little money in SunOne software licensing and essentially no money in conferences, training etc. Java sells hardware. That's why Sun does it. Not because it is a viable business unit in and of itself.

Since when was this case an economists' concern? (4, Interesting)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035077)

Since suprisingly recently. The fact that the SCO/Linux case features on the Economist radar can only be good news. Not so long ago this article wouldn't even have feature in their "in other news" section.

And they're happy to tow the geek line that SCO's case has little real merit calling it a "ham-fisted attempt by SCO to get itself bought".

WTF: its questionable claim to be free??? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6035163)

You call this "well written"??? The author completely misses the point in at least a few instances. For example, just look at the final sentence of the article:


The main attraction of open source, as he says, is the fact that it is "great for innovation", not its questionable claim to be free.


So the author doesn't understand what "free" means in this context. The perpetual confusion of free as in beer and free as in liberty. Most open source software may not be gratis but it is not at all questionable that it is "software libre".

Re:WTF: its questionable claim to be free??? (1)

christophersaul (127003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035543)

The distinction the author's making is quite subtle, which might be why so many people aren't getting it here.

The premise is that Linux/Open Source advocates vociferously claim that Linux is both free as in beer and free is in 'libre', whilst the truth is always somewhat less straightforward. It might cost nothing, but has cost implications to run and maintain. The source might be 'free', but you have to buy 'real' apps to do a lot of useful stuff (Oracle for example). You may have the source, but frankly don't care - you don't insist on the blueprints for your car when you buy it... And so on and on and on.

They forgot about BRAINS! (1)

Tiger Smile (78220) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035359)


Seems that Sun, like others, thinks that Linux is not free due to upgrade and maintaince costs. This might be true, except you can use your existing employes. Since they have those neat brains they can learn. Linux is documented.

Combine brains, documentation, and larning, wow.

PS: This all depends on a company making an investment in their employes. It's a big "IF"

-- James Dornan

Re:They forgot about BRAINS! (1)

magellan (33560) | more than 10 years ago | (#6035934)

If a company is providing its own operating system support, it is now an operating system support company.

If a company is modifying the Linux kernel to fit its particular needs, it is now a Linux distributor.

People cost money. Somebody hacking the Linux kernel for Acme Manufacturing is the same as a Linux Kernel hacker for Red Hat. So the cost is still there.

Many companies do not want to be Linux distributors or Linux support companies. They will use a standard distribution such as Red Hat or Suse, tune it too their needs, and have somebody else handle the trouble ticket.

Like a puppy? (1)

Ogerman (136333) | more than 10 years ago | (#6036022)

Mr Schwartz may seem to want to have it both ways. But he is trying to capitalise on an important trend. Some software users have started to realise that even Linux is not as free as it appears: for instance, it has to be maintained and upgraded. "Linux is like a puppy--in the beginning it's great, but you also have to take care of it," says Mr Schwartz. He hopes that firms will opt for Solaris, because it requires less care.

That's pretty laughable to anyone who has ever maintained Linux boxes.. well, most *nixes for that matter. I wonder whether Mr. Schwartz has used any Linux distros since oh.. Slackware 3?
Hmm... "apt-get dist-upgrade" Wow! The sweat is really flying from my forehead now! (:

Sun needs to realize that it simply does not make sense to compete with Free Software when their own proprietary stuff offers little or no benefit. It's a waste of their resources to keep maintaining Solaris. In short, Sun is a company that must innovate or die.

I realize I'll be stoned for this, but he's right. (1)

Desmoden (221564) | more than 10 years ago | (#6036311)

To a certain degree. I've running Solaris for about 8 years and linux for about 6. At my company now we run a full linux frontend with a solaris backend. Not a lot of servers, but about 500 linux boxes.

I don't like to talk about it, but it's a huge pain the ass. We're constantly replacing hardware. I'm constantly training people on how linux does things. When it works it's fine, but much of the documentation available is not the greatest. Many writeups are old, features left out. We have to do a lot to the OS for security reasons as well. Financial Institutions get nervous when you mention linux. The problem with a OS you can heavily modify, is you end up doing it. All the time.

My point is there is a lot of care and feeding. Now personally I enjoy it, but that is me. With the amount of time I spend keeping my linux boxes happy and up to date, I have to really question if it makes business sense. My management said "Ya linux, it's free!" I said "Ya linux it's cool and fun". But now I'm the one spending all the extra hours trying to track down bugs and hack things to get them working. Spinning my own kernels, creating new rpms. Sure it's great flexability, but I end up putting in a lot of hours. So many more than on my solaris boxes.

So yes linux is great, but when you figure out my hourly rate, much of your savings gets eaten up.
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