Enterprise Unix Roundup: Decoding Sun's OS Plans

By Brian Proffitt (Send Email)
Posted Apr 16, 2008


Brian Proffitt
Wondering which operating system Sun is going to place it bets on? Linux? Solaris? Hey, how about both?

If you've been wondering which operating system Sun Microsystems is going to place its bets on, you can stop now. Go do something more constructive because as far as I'm concerned, the answer is crystal-clear: When faced with a choice between Solaris and Linux, Sun will always choose ... both.

Apparently this notion hasn't quite sunk into everyone's noggin yet because last week during his address to the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, former MySQL CEO now Sun Senior VP Marten Mickos was asked what is Sun's commitment to the L in LAMP, according to an InformationWeek report by Charles Babcock.

Now, to be fair, this is has been a source of genuine concern for many people in the open source community, and not just since Sun started the process of acquiring MySQL. I myself was heard to mutter "uh oh" when Sun first started making noises about open sourcing the Solaris operating system lo, those many moons ago.

Enterprise Unix Roundup

In fact, even the Linux Foundation, the hosts of last week's Summit in Austin, Texas, raised some questions about Sun's commitment to Linux. In February, Amanda McPherson authored a sharp-witted entry on the LF's blog, questioning then-recent comments from CEO Jonathan Schwartz where Schwartz said:

MySQL brings another key set of developers, the users of the integrated open source LAMP stack ... LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP or Perl. The 'L' doesn't have to be taken literally ... Sun can and will substitute Solaris for Linux in the stack.

So, you can see where the questions tossed at Mickos last week originatred.

Here's what's bugging me. While I think Sun has every intention of inserting Solaris into every stack it can, I don't think this precludes it distributing and even supporting Linux as well. To boil it down: I am not sure why Solaris and Linux must be mutually exclusive at Sun.

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While Sun seems to be morphing from a hardware company that sells some software to a software company that sells some hardware, I still fundamentally believe hardware will always be part of its revenue model. And as long as that remains the case, there's simply no good reason for it to completely exclude Linux in favor of Solaris.

Yes, Sun will make and sell SAMP stacks. (Other possible acronyms: oSAMP, SPAM.) There will also be LAMP stacks. If supporting Linux gets to be too expensive, maybe Sun will take a page from Oracle's book and just lift Red Hat Linux, re-brand it, and support that instead.

Customer demand for Linux is too high for Sun to ignore. Unless it can make Solaris more desirable than Linux, Sun will happily keep selling both to all comers.

Meanwhile, did anyone notice that the time for the general availability release of OpenSolaris 2008.05 (aka Project Indiana) has come and gone? It was supposed to come out in March. Well, the staff at Phoronix and offers a pretty good breakdown of what these delays will mean to the overall schedule.

Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb's Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.

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