Monday, March 19, 2007

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 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...

12 Comments:

At 19/3/07 21:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really can't understand Sun. Why the fuck can't they hire folks like you for such an important position. I don't know why Sun has such Linux penis envy - when really they should be having MacOSX envy!.

Rich I hear you and I say this guy is no good for our community.

 
At 19/3/07 23:57, Blogger Dick said...

I took the linux comments to mean better support for Linux on the Galaxy servers, maybe Niagaras.

I agree it's hard not to think there might be a G*L angle here, especially given the fanaticism of some in the Debian project, but Ian seems relatively sane in that respect:

http://ianmurdock.com/?p=278

 
At 20/3/07 00:31, Anonymous vnull said...

Maybe by usability he means /bin/bash as default shell with PS1 and PS2 set ? ;)

 
At 20/3/07 09:39, Blogger Rich Teer said...

Ye flipping gods, vnull, I hope not! If you want to use bash, by all means go ahead. Just don't force it on the rest of us...

PS1 and PS2 are configurable, so just set them to what you want in .profile and be done with it. Whatever they're set to out of the box won't be right for somebody, so they might as well leav it as is. [And yes, I do change my PS1 and PS2! :-)]

 
At 20/3/07 09:40, Blogger Rich Teer said...

To the anonymous commentator: if Sun offered this position to me, I would have seriously considered it! I hope Jonathan is watching. :-)

 
At 20/3/07 10:58, Blogger Marc said...

For usability, I think he means better package management and configuration tools, and people are already working on improving this so no revolution.

Debian did not refuse all CDDL software, only mutant mixes of CDDL and GPL. Ian is not a license nut at all, he actually was in favor of nexenta, you should really read more of his blog.

 
At 20/3/07 14:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if Sun offered this position to me, I would have seriously considered it! I hope Jonathan is watching. :-)


This is the thanks the community gets from Sun!. This is the gratitude we get for sticking with Solaris through thick and thin!. Hiring a Linux guy with 0 Solaris experience and his credentials are:

1) been run out from Debian - a religious organization which took offense to Firefox's name because of its license!

2) running LSB - that so far has no followers. The only standards there are - RHAT and Ubuntu.

3) abandoned Progeny that has no customers and burned through VC money.

 
At 20/3/07 15:02, Blogger Rich Teer said...

Point taken, Marc, but I still have reservations...

 
At 21/3/07 00:01, Anonymous vnull said...

Ok Rich, I'm not going to enforce anyone to use /bin/bash ;), but you must agree with me that on sun-color/x86 console several things are badly broken by default - like pgup & pgdown in less which simply doesn't work. Such behaviour from such good OS as Solaris is simply irritating...

 
At 21/3/07 09:09, Blogger Rich Teer said...

Actually, I can't agree (or disagree) with vnull's assertions about the x86 console, for the simple reason that I very rarely use it!

Most of my interactive stuff is done when I'm logged into CDE (or GNOME sometimes), and my terminal of choice there is dtterm, where Page Up/Down work as expected. I simply don't use the (text) console enough for it to be an issue.

 
At 21/3/07 10:00, Anonymous vnull said...

Rich, but You could say that virtual consoles on VGA are not needed... Fortunately AFAIK they are developed as a seperate project in OpenSolaris - this is usability for me. Sometimes VC helps much ( imagine x86 server without LOM when every network connection failed during some disaster recovery procedure ) - you don't have to play with job control, you can just login say 5 times and just switch ( alt+fN anyone?) .

More: package managment in Solaris is just bad ( look for Debian as an example of good package managment - it's an admin point of view ).

And I think that adding features doesn't mean breaking backward compatibility. Look at this damn /bin/bash ;) - suppose that I would like to use it. Why Sun doesn't drop simple /etc/bash.bashrc ( read-only by bash ) with some PS1 set to login@host cwd? Does it break compatiblity ? - Sureley not.

Even if Sun is breaking stuff - it seems pretty reasonable ( IPMP rearchitecture, SunTrunking integreted and administered via dladm and so on ).

Don't get me wrong - i enjoy Solaris very much, it's an great OS - but it also has some flaws ( like Linux - but Linux probabbly has more ;) ).

 
At 26/3/07 17:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich,

I talk to a lot of developers who have tried Solaris x86 and don't find it "user friendly" at all. They find Linux to be very user friendly because of tools like apt-get & yum.

I was really excited when I read Ian Murdock was coming on board.

1) Wouldn't it be great if one day upgrading a Solaris build is as easy as running 'apt-get'? Sorry - smpatch doesn't compare and won't upgrade you between updates (update 1 to update 2 etc..).

2) If Ian can get the Solaris OE to be more "newbie friendly" than that helps us win in a big way.

Frankly - I'm a long time Solaris user who is very optimistic about this.

 

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