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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-09-27 Print this article Print

According to a report authored by George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, Sun is singling out Red Hat for attack as part of the companys "plan to avoid oblivion." The first step in that plan, according to Colony, is to "make the argument that Linux equals Red Hat." "By collapsing Linux into Red Hat," Colony wrote, "Sun now has a clear target. It can hammer away at a company as opposed to waging the impossible task of fighting a social movement. And according to Sun, Red Hat is a very vulnerable target—a company with limited resources, engineering talent, world coverage, and capabilities—with potentially serious IP issues."
While Schwartz has in the past taken pains in his blog to separate Red Hat from the Linux community, calling Red Hat a "proprietary distro," Castronovo conceded that "Red Hat is the de facto standard for Linux, even if it doesnt represent the social movement. The lions share of ISVs go to Red Hat." The entrenched position of Red Hat in the U.S. Linux software market led Sun to abandon its own distribution of Linux last year.
But Red Hat is increasingly taking on Sun head-on. In its most recent quarterly result, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said that much of Red Hat Enterprise Linuxs growth had come at Unixs expense, and Szulik sees this trend continuing. In particular, Szulik mentioned several Red Hat wins that came at the expense of Suns Solaris. Tiemanns rhetoric, however, goes far beyond boasting of corporate wins. In his interview with, Tiemann said Sun is attacking Red Hat because "Sun is desperately struggling to avoid its demise. We need a Dr. Kubler-Ross for the death and dying of high technology companies. Sun is going through the phase of anger. Theyve been through the phase of denial. I think bargaining is next." As for other open-source projects that Sun says its supporting. Tiemann says that while Sun keeps talking about "open-source Solaris … well, well believe it when we see it."

Click here to read about Suns plans to open-source Solaris. In the meantime, Tiemann added, if Sun were serious about open source, besides open-sourcing Java, "if they could write innovative features that could be used by Linux, that would be great."

When asked for a response, Suns Castronovo replied, "Were glad hes reading Jonathan Schwartzs blog, but were not going to respond to Mr. Tiemanns willful distortions."

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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