Sun's new Chief Operating Platforms Officer
I read with interest today that Ian Murdock has joined Sun as Chief Operating Platforms Officer. Despite not being intimately involved with the Linux community, I thought I recognised his name. It turns out that Ian founded Debian and was at the Linux Foundation.
I wish him well in his new position, but some statements in his blog give me pause. For example, "... I’ll be advocating that Solaris needs to close the usability gap with Linux to be competitive...". Given that both Solaris and Linux use GNOME (and KDE et al), I'm not sure what Solaris needs to do to improve. (Apart from, I guess, more multimedia capability (e.g., playing DVDs) out of the box, which might be hard given the US' laws.)
Even more disquieting for me was this: "[A]s I believe Solaris needs to change in some ways, I also believe deeply in the importance of backward compatibility; and that even with Solaris front and center, I’m pretty strongly of the opinion that Linux needs to play a clearer role in the platform strategy." (emphasis added). I can't believe this. A few years ago Sun almost blew it by embracing Linux at the expense of Solaris x86, and it seems now that history might repeat itself.
Let me be clear: I've no problem with Sun ensuring that their products run on Linux and vice versa, but I strongly disagree with the notion that Sun needs to make Linux play a clearer role in their platform strategy. Sun has the best OS on the planet--Solaris--and there's no need for it to be distracted by Linux again. It's not for me to second guess Sun's executive managament, but if you ask me, someone with more of a Solaris bias should have been appointed to this position. And isn't Debian the Linux distro that refused to allow any CDDL licensed stuff in, on the grounds that the CDDL isn't "free" enough? Obviously one can't blame one person with the position of a community, but it just doesn't feel right.
That said, I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm not writing Ian off yet. I wish him all the best, but I doubt I'll be the only one watching what he does very closely...