Sun, IBM Should Quit Open-Source Posturing

Opinion: Sun has brought the debate over who is "more open source" down to the playground level, and both companies could do better at it, Linux & Open Source Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes.

"Fight! Fight! Fight!" Remember that call from grade school, when two kids started fighting with each other over some stupid thing or the other?

I do, and Im reminded of it as I read about how Sun CEO Scott "Scotty" McNealy called out IBM CEO Sam "Sammy" Palmisano for not being open source enough and—I swear Im not making this up—for having "Java envy."

Oh please. Boys! Stop fighting with each other right now, or Ill take you to the principals office.

First, Scotty, shut up already with such comments as, "Stop writing open letters to the No. 1 donator of open technology in the world." Youre not, and no one who doesnt draw a Sun paycheck thinks that you are.

Open means open source, not just open standards, and Suns open-source record is checkered, to say the least.

Yes, its great that youre open-sourcing Looking Glass and Java Desktop components JDNC (JDesktop Network Components) and JDIC (JDesktop Integration Components).

Now, stop playing games and open-source something significant like, say, Java or Solaris. Yes, I know youre thinking about open-sourcing Java, and youre hinting all over the place that youll be open-sourcing Solaris real soon now. Enough is enough! Get off the stick and open-source Solaris anyway.

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If you still doubt the validity of open source, and we know you do, look at the evidence of your own products. You abandon your Linux server appliance line, Cobalt, but you open-source it on the way out, and what happens? More people actually start using it again.

Do you get it? A dead product line comes back to life, and the only explanation is that its been open-sourced. Can a company thats seen years of declining business ignore this lesson? I think not.

And while were at it, Sun, stop with the "1984"-style Newspeak stuff. Red Hat is twice the open-source company you are or are ever likely to be. Proprietary does not equal Red Hat Enterprise Linux to anyone except your new best friend, Microsoft.

Next Page: IBM, for its part, is a bit too patent-happy.