Tuesday, May 06, 2008

OpenSolaris is here to stay

I've never gotten angrier after reading a blog post like I did after read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols' post "OpenSolaris Arrives just to Die". The crux of sjvn's argument is:
Still, all that said, I think OpenSolaris could survive, and possibly even thrive, if it wasn’t for one sad, simple fact. Sun may not have the IP (intellectual property) rights to open-source Solaris in the first place....

In the recently concluded Novell/SCO trail, however, Novell’s attorney’s focused a great deal on the Sun’s deal with SCO. You don’t need to read between the lines to see that Novell may be having second-thoughts about letting Sun’s assertion that it had the rights to open-source Novell’s Unix code in OpenSolaris....
There's further 'facts' sjvn pulls out to back up his argument that Sun is in serious trouble because it really didn't have the right to open source its version of Unix in OpenSolaris. And that Sun it going to be beholden to Novell, and that Novell might just revoke whatever agreement that Sun signed with the SCO Group in order to open source Solaris.


Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is serving up a heaping pile of FUD aimed right at Sun and OpenSolaris. I have no idea what his agenda might be, but if I were to make a wild guess I'd have to say it's based in part on jealousy and sour grapes he tends to share with the Linux community. Part of it I can understand. Sun under Scott McNealy was no friend of Linux, and that's a fact. But McNealy left in April 2006, replaced by Jonathan Schwartz. And before he left it should be noted that Sun opened up the code base to Solaris back in June 2005. That'll be three years next month. And now Novell opens its mouth on the stand and hints that it has a problem with this? Novell should have and would have discovered this long before now, and should have certainly made some initial comments long before the trial. Especially given that the ruling that Novell, not tSCOg, controlled the Unix copyrights was handed down in August 2007.

Considering how Novell professed at the time that that they had no plans to sue anyone over Unix, you have to wonder how they'll square that position with the current comments coming out of the SCO vs. Novell trial that just finished. They can't have it both ways. Especially when it looks like the only reason they might consider revoking Sun's agreement is as a blunt anti-competitive business weapon against a formidable competitor. You know, behaving like Microsoft.

And why should Novell care if Unix via Solaris is open sourced? Wasn't that what Ransom Love and Caldera wanted to do when they purchased the Unix business from old SCO back in 2001? Ransom was quoted in a later article as saying that "we wanted to open-source all of Unixs code, but we quickly found that even though we owned it, it was, and still is, full of other companies copyrights." I wonder if a lot of those copyrights were Sun's? And that seems to run counter to Novell's "we own it all" claims in spite of the court's findings. Just exactly what could Novell do if they decided to do anything?

If Novell is stupid enough to go after Sun and to try and shut down OpenSolaris, then I predict that Novell will be hit with a backlash that'll make the current community anger to over their Microsoft agreements look insignificant by comparison.

The community needs diversity. Up to this point it's been achieved, and rather poorly, by the creation of various distributions, some of them just forks with various tweaks to scratch some peculiar itch. The community needs Unix in the form of OpenSolaris because it is truly unique. It's Real Unix. It isn't beholden to the current zealous cabal responsible for writing the Linux kernel, which frankly I find comforting. OpenSolaris in its current form is limited primarily by its lack of drivers for what Linus once called "strange hardware". But everything else is right there, and frankly, there is enough decent hardware support to really be a viable economic threat to all the Unix majors, including Redhat. And that's what puts fear into everybody's belly who sells Linux.

And that's why I now wonder if sjvn hasn't gleefully stepped into the same role that Dan Lyons and Rob Enderle have held for so long, the Paided [sic] Shill. Except this time, instead of shilling on behalf of tSCOg against Linux the way Dan and Rob did, sjvn is shilling on behalf of the Linux majors against Sun and OpenSolaris.


  1. Hi,
    Could you explain how Novell is threatening Sun by their comments during the SCO trial? I may be wrong, but this is how I see it. There is no conflict between Novell stating on one hand, "We have no plans to sue anyone over Unix IP," and on the other hand telling the court, "SCO had no right to make these licenses." Novell, to win it's case, needs to make and prove this assertion-- correct? But that doesn't necessarily mean they are planing to go after Novell or anyone else in contradiction of their previous statement. But perhaps you have been following the trial more closely than I have and have heard something that I have not.

  2. hasbeard,

    I am in violent agreement with you. Your question is far better asked of sjvn. He seems intent on spreading this particular bit of FUD. I'm just quoting and venting.


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