Sun and Linux – Friends or Foe

I’ve received an email recently, that really makes me wonder what attitude Sun really has towards Linux, as it was very negative about Linux. The email was sent by Stacey Meston, the Account Marketing Executive for Sun.

Sun have certainly given a lot to Open Source in the past. We wouldn’t have if Sun hadn’t opened up some of the Star Office code. The Java programming language provides a way of creating applications that can run on Linux, although problems with the license model used have held this back from what it could have achieved. Then we have the fairly recent announcement that Sun is to support Ubuntu Linux Server on their hardware.

It seams that Sun hasn’t really committed to Linux, but is much more in favour of it’s Solaris operating system, even to the point where they circulate FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about Linux to try and promote Solaris. Something you’d expect from some other software companies, but not something you want to see from a supposedly “Linux Friendly” company.

The email they sent is not their original words, but is a quote from computerworld Article on Google testing Sun’s OpenSolaris. The article isn’t actually anti-Linux in at all. It’s certainly putting Solaris Express in good light, but not in the detriment of Linux. The bit that Sun have added – in bold, highlighted at the top of the email – is:
“Once you’ve watched a bunch of your commercially-supported Linux servers crash every third day, you stop worrying that you can’t officially call Sun for support,” Hoffman said. “Some of our servers haven’t been rebooted since we installed Solaris Express on them many months ago. They just sit there and make money.”

The thing that sells software is promoting it’s strengths, not tying to slag of the competition. Even more so when the “competition” is actually something that is an important part of your own product line.

I’ve used various *NIX operating systems in my time, and I’ve written guides to AIX, Solaris and Linux.

Out of the different UNIX operating systems my least favourite was Solaris. AIX had is advantages with the Logical Volume Manager and the SMIT configuration tool, Linux has good functionality and is easy to install most open source applications, whereas Solaris just appeared outdated, and charged extra for many of the features included in the other variants. This may have improved recently, and may be better now that Sun have created an open source version of Solaris, but personally my favourite is Linux, and I wouldn’t want to go back to using Solaris unless I had to.

My belief is that Sun is going to shoot itself in the foot if it’s not careful, my concern is that they may damage the reputation of Linux and Unix in general, while they are at it.