Mr. Palmisano was also involved with another of IBM's cunning
strategic moves: its embrace of Linux, the free, open-source
operating system that is maintained by a vast collective of
programmers who collaborate online.
That which was once "fraught with potential hazards" is now seen as a
"cunning strategic move." Linux is now seen, from far away, as a smart
business strategy for a large, established technology company. The world
Something interesting has happened over the last six months or so. Many
people clearly expected Linux to disappear with much of the dotcom economy;
Microsoft explicitly compared Linux with dotcom business models. Many of
the dotcoms are long gone at this point, and people are beginning to notice
that Linux is not only still around, but it has gotten stronger. Linux
(and free software in general) were never just another dotcom fad of the
month. They not only have great value to offer; they are also well
insulated from the fortunes of any particular company that chooses to work
with them. Free software is now taken seriously, but we still have only
begun to see where it will go.
Sun wakes up. Many in the Linux community have wondered when Sun
would figure out that Linux isn't just going to go away. The company seems
to be opening its eyes at last; here's Sun's
press release on its new Linux strategy. Interestingly, this
announcement happened the week after LinuxWorld.
The points in the announcement are vague and interesting. The first of
those is that Sun "will ship a full implementation of the Linux operating
system." That looks very much as if Sun is getting into the distribution
business. We asked Sun's PR people what company was up to, only to be told
"we're not clarifying." We'll have to wait and see what really comes out.
A Sun distribution could be an interesting force in the market. Sun, of
course, has recently lost a number of high-profile customers to Linux in a
very public way. Perhaps the company feels that, if its customers are
going to switch to Linux, maybe they will be inclined toward a distribution
with the Sun brand. A path which makes it easy to stick with the same
vendor and to integrate Linux and Solaris systems might help Sun retain a
number of those customers.
It is a bit of a stretch to imagine Sun as a major Linux distributor,
however. There are many established players in that market whose support
of the system seems rather more wholehearted than Sun's.
Next, Sun will be expanding the Cobalt line of Linux appliances, and adding
a set of "low-end general purpose Linux/x86-based systems." In other
words, Sun is getting into the cheap, commodity Linux systems business that
has proved so difficult for a number of other vendors. The Sun name should
help, but it still is a hard business to be in. If Sun envisions extending
its Linux support to its higher-end SPARC systems, however, it might get
Finally, there is a vague promise to offer "key components" of Solaris to
the Linux community. Once again, the company refused to tell us just what
those components might be, or what sort of licensing would be used.
So we will have to wait and see what Sun really has in mind - it's mostly
words at the moment, and vague words at that. Sun played a large part in
the commercialization of Unix, and it may yet have a large role to play in
the Linux world as well. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Dave Whitinger joins LWN.net. We are pleased to announce that Dave
Whitinger, co-founder of Linux Today, has agreed to join the LWN staff.
His official title is "Director of Business Development," but he will be
handling a variety of tasks from arranging partnerships to posting content
on the site. Dave brings a wide variety of talents and a lot of ideas to
LWN.net; expect to see a great many improvements as he makes his presence
Inside this LWN.net weekly edition:
...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.
Multiple security problems with SNMP
Preemptible kernel patch merged; ALSA to be merged; How synchronous
should sync() be?
Sun Linux?; The return of Halloween & DragonLinux.
The jack Audio Connection Kit, Standalone ZODB 1.0, Aide 0.8 GNU
FDL 1.2 draft, GNOME 1.4.1rc1, GSview 4.2, new Gimps, Gnopher 0.2.
HP Issues Statement on Compaq Merger; E*TRADE Migrates to Linux;
IBM launches low-end eServer.
Counting security updates; system auditing.
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