Sun and Open Source

Sun takes a lot of heat in the community. Some would say too much, others would say not enough. I find the situation fascinating, really… and think it’s a good look into the complex and sometimes antithetical nature of the Open Source ecosystem. I don’t think it’s disputable the Sun has done a ton for Open Source. They have deep roots in OSS and to this day contribute a ton of code and mindshare. They have strayed off the path a bit at times and I think part of the uneasiness has to do with their waffling opinion on Linux. To me, it seems like much of this is in the past, but reputations die hard. One thing that is not in the past, and is the current cause of some consternation, is that Sun likes to control projects more then some in the Open Source world are willing to tolerate. The did it with Java, OOo and now OpenSolaris. Roy Fielding recently stepped down from the OpenSolaris project due to this and I think he brings up some valid concerns. I also think much of the problem Sun has in this regard isn’t how they act, but is around their messaging. As Roy mentioned in his email, companies like MySQL were able to adopt products that are truly Open Source with a decision making structure that was mostly controlled within the company. Not many people gave MySQL heat about that, because they were quite up front and transparent about it. Sun is not always so. My next point, as you may have guessed, is that with the recent MySQL AB acquisition, Sun has the opportunely to study and learn from the culture that MySQL was able to create. While I still have some concerns, the more I think about the deal the more I think it made a ton of sense for Sun.

While on the topic of Sun and Open Source, it would be hard to not mention the dust kicked up recently by this post. I do have some commentary, but will save it for a future post. I will say now that I do have some concerns that Sun will be tempted to push MySQL on Solaris, but I don’t think Linux support of MySQL will suffer any time soon. If you’d like some background on the Linux and OpenSolaris issue, this is a great post for you.

–jeremy

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