Enterprise Unix Roundup � Sun's Quest for What Sticks

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted Apr 29, 2004


Main     In Other News     Linux Distro Test Drive     Security Roundup     Tips of the Trade
Sun claims Red Hat has stuck a 'proprietary' fork in the Linux kernel. With Red Hat reaching end of life, we test drive two new Linux distros: SUSE 9.1 and the latest from the Fedora project. We also note two support options for Red Hat 9 users left in the lurch.

Hand it to Jonathan "Quotable" Schwartz: When the newly minted Sun Chief Operating Officer (COO) decides it's time to get quotable, he goes for it:

"There is a fork in the Linux world: Red Hat and the others," Schwartz recently asserted, "Red Hat has pretty much forked the distribution. This has given Red Hat tremendous gains for now, but ultimately it's an impediment in the growth of Linux."

We're not sure we're speaking his crazy moon language when we try to parse what he means by "the distribution," considering, if anything, at least a few of Red Hat's competitors got their start forking Red Hat's hard work in the distribution business. But if we take it to mean "the Linux kernel," then Mr. Schwartz is being both inflammatory and late to the game: SUSE and Mandrake have already tried to take that dog hunting, only to met with resounding snickers and cries of "sour grapes," as well as a gentle put-down from Linux project lead Linus Torvalds, who felt compelled to issue a similar chiding to Sun.

Sun's had its own reasons for not thinking too highly of Red Hat. Red Hat, after all, handed Sun its hat when Sun was still pushing its own Linux distro (the last time — not the mass-market version currently selling at WalMart), so perhaps the real issue is that Red Hat has a stable of kernel experts and clear leadership in the Linux market, not to mention it also provides the very product Solaris x86 doesn't need to fight in the narrow confines of the Unix market. How much does Solaris not need to fight Red Hat's distribution? Apparently enough to be discounted to death in the hopes of buying a second life for the long-neglected product on which the company's chances for a second life down at the commodity end hang.

How bad is it? One of our colleagues walked away from a recent sit-down with Sun remarking that it seems as if, "the company is desperately throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks."

Even, apparently the occasional baseless charge of proprietary forking.

In Other News

» Perhaps emboldened by SCO's recent woes, Autozone (former SCO customer and current SCO litigation target) is asking that its case with SCO be put on hold pending the outcome of all of SCO's other litigation. If it thinks the noise BayStar has been making about pulling its money back from SCO is a sign that perhaps the firm's oxygen is about to run out, we think the company is sadly mistaken. BayStar clearly sees SCO's primary value as what people refer to as an "IP company," which is a polite way of saying "a company that litigates first and laughs at your objections about prior art and barratry later." In other words, numerous lawsuits are the one thing for which SCO's biggest investor doesn't mind paying.

» HP rolled out a new RISC-based workstation this week. The c8000 can handle one or two 900 MHz or 1 GHz PA-8800 RISC processors, HP's zx1 chipset, up to four internal hard drives, and 16 GB of RAM.

» More "Apple now does enterprise Unix" info this week, as ServerWatch highlights one notable Xserve RAID deployment.

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