Saturday, March 31, 2007

Assorted Thoughts

I'm really tired at the end of a day coding and fixing css and playing with routing tables to get passive ftp working...

But I've also been thinking and now feel like writing it down for you folks.

James: The maintainers and Innovators. I think the CIOs that throw a pile of money at a problem (via large projects) are the worse of the Maintainers: they utterly lack the ability to see that a small team with high quality hardware, high quality leadership, and FREEDOM (say it like Scott Wallace as he rallied the Scottish rabble against Longshank's Northern Army), can far exceed the capabilities of a large, slow-moving SOA-enabled, IBM-designed and Cognizant/Perot System-implemeted system.

Oh well, their loss.

On Ian joining Sun and working to align Solaris toward Debian: That's the very best thing that could have happened to Open Solaris. Of course, it's going to have to get a lot better very fast, because it's got about 9 months before Apple takes over as Microsoft Vista dies the dreaded death. Actually, scratch that. Ubuntu will do it, because Dell with ship Kubuntu machines by summer, and then it's over. I mean Kubuntu with KDE 4.0, and Beryl. The Mac OSX will be playing catchup. Vista will still die the death. By year's end, Vista will have been a failure, and MSFT will be at $17/share.

For Google: keep going, but please make youtube better. It's still crap, unwatchable at times.

For Jim Grisanzio: Sun is starting to make a few too many mistakes with Solaris. Unfortunately, the people at my office still don't get that Solaris is FOSS. In a meeting last week I said Solaris 10 was open source and free in production, and my manager stared at me, then ignored me, as if I had just announced the Pope was my uncle. It didn't even register with him, at all.

I can't believe it.


Gman said...

I'd be really interested to know the type of mistakes you perceive Sun to be making. Not that I think Sun is perfect, but just useful to know so we can change that.

Christopher said...


I'm not getting paid by Sun to help them (not even free HW) so don't expect an in-depth analysis.

I'll just give you this: "Those who fail to understand Debian are doomed to reimplement it. Poorly."

They are at a crossroad. Executives have seen this for a while now. It's going to start being painfully obvious to everyone else in the coming weeks.

FLOSS with GPL>=2 and project completely managed outside of Sun as Linux's live-in girlfriend, or living with parents with 10PM curfew and going to a respectable college to try to land a good position at a fortune 500.

Either way the current beaus will be dumped.

And a lot of them selfishly don't want Solaris to mature, because they fear losing influence over her comings and goings.

I'll stop the analogy here.

Other mistakes? Thinking that Open Source development will cost less. It does not. It costs more. Because the software ends up being much better. You get what you pay for.

The Solaris Teams are woefully underfunded for where Solaris could go in the next year, and other players with Real Money won't invest in it unless OpenSolaris is entirely out of Sun's house.
Either Sun finds a couple billion dollars and very wisely uses it to boost the development of OpenSolaris, or Sun lets OpenSolaris loose to go get her own sugar daddy.

Imagine the headlines:

June 1, 2007: Sun releases OpenSolaris as GPL2, with no binary dependencies. Funds OpenSolaris Foundation as an independent non-profit organization with $5 million endowment.

June 17, 2007: IBM announces $1 billion investment in OpenSolaris over the next fiscal year.

June 24, 2007: Google announces 300,000 new servers will run Open Solaris, vows to invests $2.8 billion over the next three years helping the OpenSolaris Foundation.

July 1, 2007: Linus Torvalds announces: Linux and OpenSolaris can learn from each other, merge at some point.

July 10, 2007: Dell will ship OpenSolaris pre-installed on laptops with KDE4.0 and Beryl starting August 1.

July 18, 2007: US Department of Transportation, will purchase 140,000 Dell computers running OpenSolaris over the next three years, replacing Windows XP machines.

August 1 2007: IBM announces OpenSolaris support for its System Z mainframes, citing increased interest among its banking, healthcare and government customers.

Now, and here's the sad part. It's going to take Jonathan stomping his foot down a couple of times for either of these options to happen.

And he might be tempted to go the "we'll invest money and control it" route. Ultimately this will fail. It has failed all the other unices. Sun does not have the resources to pull it off. No single company does.

On the other hand, a lot of people are going to absolutely freak out because then Microsoft, IBM, HP, and a whole bunch of others, could then fork Solaris into their own malformed little whipping boy and do all sorts of unnatural things with it, to the horror of its current chaperones.

That won't happen, of course, but that's the fear.

There is another fear out there, too: that current Solaris customers will freak out and dump it and go... Yeah, right, where the heck are they going to go? To Linux? To Aix? To HP-UX? To Windows 2003? I doubt any of these are options... Besides, some are dumping Solaris now... Hum. Dumping's not the right word. I would say not using Solaris for newer systems.

Now, there is another mistake that Sun made a long time ago and is now paying for in a million sharp little icy ways: there aren't enough skilled Solaris admins out there to meet existing demand, much less possible demand.

That's probably going to be the deal-breaker in the next year.

And unfortunately, it's going to mean that Solaris adoption will not meet expectation.

This time next year, a lot of money will have been spent, and a lot of virtual tears shed, and Solaris will still be a fringe OS.

And if you think this is all new, go look at the comments that I left more than a year ago.

It's going to get a lot messier very soon.

David Comay said...

Christopher, interesting observations as usual.

I'm curious what you think Sun should do though with respect to making it clear that Solaris is FOSS (at least, Nevada and beyond are?) Are you saying that nothing less than relicensing it under GPLv2 will do the trick?

With respect to the cost, you may be surprised but many/most of us in Solaris engineering know that open source development doesn't cost less. That's one of the reasons folks are working hard on pushing the remaining pieces of infrastructure outside the firewall so that the community can fully engage.

Jim Grisanzio said...

Hey ... I thought I left a comment here last nite, but I guess it didn't go through. Oh, well. Sorry. All I wanted to say is that I certainly realize that many people don't know we are open yet. I get it all the time, actually. I don't really view it as a problem anymore so much as an opportunity to engage people. There's no other choice, actually. :) Also, we've been open for almost two years now, so I think you'll see us start to kick it up a bit. Some of us wanted to keep it a bit low key until we got most of out stuff out there, but I think Sun is going to start pressing the issue more. The OpenSolaris Starter Kit was a pretty good initial indication of that. More coming ...

Jim Grisanzio said...

By the way ... I recently installed Ubuntu on one of my laptops. It works quite nicely, no question about it. :) I'm trying to get to know some of the more successful communities out there, too, so I can learn from them.

Christopher said...

@David, will post on that.

@Jim, the OpenSolaris story needs a car chase or a sex scene or something "Exciting" right about now.

Ubuntu is nice, indeed. But for me, to be honest, Debian stable is sweet. Uptime in hundreds of days, perfectly functioning system: no worries.

Gman said...

OpenSolaris now actually has a platform to build a community from. I expect having a ratified constitution and newly formed board will help with that. As I've mentioned elsewhere, there may never be another phenomenon quite like the Linux kernel - communities don't build over night, and certainly don't form around mature code where the boundaries to entry are still high. All on our agenda, it's going to take some time. The one thing that's interesting about Ubuntu is that they've done relatively little engineering work - 90% of it has been pulling together existing work around the various communities. I do believe that is something that Sun and Solaris needs to start doing.