Sun Visualizes World Domination

Opinion: Taking its cue from Linus Torvalds' goal of "total world domination" by Linux, Sun Microsystems works to pave a path away from its declining market share by focusing on the promising platform. But where are the details?

A few years back at the very first LinuxWorld conference in San Jose—back when they could fit LinuxWorld in the San Jose Convention Center, and girls in BSD Unix red devil costumes attempted to lure top-hatted Linux kernel hackers into temptation—Linus Torvalds joked about his goal for Linux being "total world domination."

It was funny because, well, it was partially true. Linux proceeded to eat the lunch of all of the established Unix vendors over the next few years, and made Microsoft ever so queasy.

Sun Microsystems apparently learned some lessons from Linus. Despite the fact that Scott McNealy said Monday that Sun has been doing open source forever, and that Bill Joy had in fact been doing open source when "Linus was in diapers," it took Linux to show Sun the path away from its declining market share. And that path is paved toward, well, total world domination.

Go ahead and laugh. But below all of the droning of numbers and speeds and feeds at Suns quarterly launch event Monday was a vision no less ambitious than what Torvalds joked about back in 1999.

Im still parsing the usable data from the two-and-a-half hours of Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz song-and-dance routines Monday.

There were very few surprises among the things that Sun announced as part of its Solaris 10 rollout. But the inflection of some of the announcements, as well as some of the things that didnt get announced, form an interesting picture of where Sun is going with this whole circus. And it looks vaguely like Ma Bell.

First, theres what Sun didnt announce. The most obvious thing that McNealy and Schwartz failed to mention was any further details on when and how Sun would open-source Solaris 10.

A passing mention was made that this was still in the works, but Sun apparently hasnt hammered out enough of the details of how its open-source community for Solaris, also known as Project Tonic, will operate.

Or it could be legal issues that are still in hang-fire. But considering that Solaris doesnt officially become commercially available until January, and that Sun held its big quarterly release party a little early this quarter, Id say theres probably going to be more news on that front before the end of the year.

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