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Sun's Simon Phipps Answers ESR On Java 707

Posted by timothy
from the lots-of-air-moving dept.
comforteagle writes "Sun's Chief Technology Officer Simon Phipps has answered Eric Raymond's open letter calling on Sun to open source Java." In the quoted response, Phipps says (condensed) "I'd say this is 100 per cent rant... His simplistic accusations don't hold water... If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends, I'd hate to see how it treats its enemies... It's pretty difficult to respond to this. He's so out of touch."
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Sun's Simon Phipps Answers ESR On Java

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  • foresight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exekewtable (130076) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:18PM (#8319081)
    Shame they can't see the writing on the wall
    • by Yoda2 (522522) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:18PM (#8319089)
      Shame I can't see the article - /.ed already!
      • Re:foresight (Score:4, Informative)

        by Gherald (682277) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:25PM (#8319163) Journal
        Here's what I've gotten so far from doing a "view source" while the page is loading. Not sure if it's the whole article, but it's something:

        Sun has offered a frank response to the open letter from Eric S, Raymond, President, Open Source Initiative, in which he called on Sun to make its Java platform Open Source and described the company's Open Source strategy as 'spotty' and 'confused'.

        'I'd say this is 100 per cent rant,' Sun's Chief Technology Evangelist, Simon Phipps told us. 'His simplistic accusations don't hold water... If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends, I'd hate to see how it treats its enemies.'

        Raymond's first line of attack was to dispute whether CEO Scott McNealy's claim that 'the open-source model is our friend,' has any substance when at the same time Sun is filling the coffers of Linux litigator SCO through licensing deals and still keeps Java under 'tight control'.

        'It's pretty difficult to respond to this. He's so out of touch,' said Phipps. 'To even begin one must first address the error in his world view: He has taken quotes given by Scott McNealy to analysts and attacked them as if they were spoken to the Open Source community.

        (I was a bit leary of running this story initially, but have been able to confirm that it is legitimate through sources at Java.net [java.net] - Ed.)
      • by Losat (643653) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319238)
        And people wonder why slashdot posters never read the article before posting. We try; we want to; but we kill the poor article host.
    • Re:foresight (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:36PM (#8319323) Homepage Journal
      "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin."

      P.S. The lameness filter aborted this biblical quote in its proper form :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:45PM (#8319443)
      Sun, like many others, are just jumping on the OSS bandwagon. Anyone who believes that they are really behind the OSS movement is naive. At least MS isn't trying to hide who they really are. Sun would close the door and lock the key if they could; OSS for them, is a timely marketing campaign.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:18PM (#8319085)
    He's great on American Idol. I bet he really rips into ESR!
  • by twoslice (457793) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:18PM (#8319087)
    If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends, I'd hate to see how it treats its enemies... [sco.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How does the OSS community treat SCO? It rants and raves while SCO's stock price goes up. Meanwhile, it rants and raves at Sun while Sun's stock price goes down. Meanwhile it rants and raves at MS, whose stock price continues to go up.

      Were I not aware of the problems with mistakenly assuming causation where none exists, I'd say it is better to be an enemy than a friend.

      I am aware of that pitfall, though, so I will simply say that all the OSS community does is rant and rave - everything else is dependan
  • by Stradenko (160417) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:19PM (#8319092) Homepage
    An open letter from RMS [stallman.org] to clarify the situation and convince Mr. Phipps that the free software community loves him and that the open source community does not accurately represent our opinions.
    • Conversation! (Score:5, Informative)

      by simpl3x (238301) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:38PM (#8319348)
      Absolutely correct! With the recent mobile java win in China, Sun needs to recognize that perception is 90% of the battle, ad I would agree with ESR in general. Sun has a great technology which needs to be "perceived" as free as in beer AND speech. Certainly Sun has some points in terms of complexity, but the conversation needs to be opened, and it is. If Sun wants to have a conversation with the top people from open source, and the top people from Sun, to discuss the future of Java, this needs to happen now!

      The future of mobile (which will be most of computing in the future) technologies is Linux and Java, with much of the infrastructure available for companies such as Sun. .NET will otherwise become the standard, so stop arguing. Sit down and get everybody on the same page regardless of who is "right."
      • Re:Conversation! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jadavis (473492) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:59PM (#8320323)
        Agreed.

        However, the perception is that java is largely a free, open platform. And that perception is largely accurate.

        In the article the question is raised: why has nobody created a free java platform? One answer is that it's a deep platform and expensive to build and maintain. However, look at GNU/Linux and FreeBSD, which are even larger. So why no free java? Because it's already free enough for most people. Sun has reached a compromise (gasp!).

        Linux and FreeBSD are answers to something like windows or propretary UNIX, which aren't anywhere near a compromise in terms of freedom. So it was much more critical.

        Maybe it's good for Sun to open java more. It's definitely better for the community (and how could you argue otherwise?), but Sun needs to look out for itself to a degree. And don't think for a second that it's an "evil company" or something.

        If 10% of the people who want java open donated 10% of the increased usefulness of java being open to Sun, java would be bought into the public domain in no time. So, don't blame Sun.

        Perhaps what we need is a little organization. If someone started a fund to buy Java into the public domain, or buy sun engineers to maintain an open java implementation and standard, I'd donate. I don't even use java, but I figure it would benefit me indirectly enough to make it worthwhile. Of course, we need real organization, I want to either see java be open or my money again, one or the other.
        • by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:00PM (#8321995)
          "Japhar is the Hungry Programmers' Java VM. It has been built from the ground up without consulting Sun's sources.
          Japhar is released under the LGPL, which should make it much more attractive for companies interested in embedding an open source JVM in their proprietary/commercial products."

          "Kaffe is a clean room implementation of the Java virtual machine, plus the associated class libraries needed to provide a Java runtime environment. The Kaffe virtual machine is free software, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License."

          "The Classpath project aims to develop a free and portable implementation of the Java API (the classes in the Java package). The Classpath project does not have a complete implementation of the API yet but it is almost complete to version 1.2. Unfortunately, Classpath does not yet run with Kaffe - but we are working on it!"

          "The Classpathx project is developing free implementations of all the extention libraries in popular use. This is a large and varied list, from XML processing to voice and image manipulation."

          GCJ is a portable, optimizing, ahead-of-time compiler for the Java Programming Language. It can compile: * Java source code directly to native machine code, * Java source code to Java bytecode (class files), * and Java bytecode to native machine code. Compiled applications are linked with the GCJ runtime, libgcj, which provides the core class libraries, a garbage collector, and a bytecode interpreter. libgcj can dynamically load and interpret class files, resulting in mixed compiled/interpreted applications. Most of the APIs specified by "The Java Class Libraries" Second Edition and the "Java 2 Platform supplement" are supported, including collections, networking, reflection, and serialization. AWT is currently unsupported, but work to implement it is in progress.
  • by spankalee (598232) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:19PM (#8319098)
    I used to want Sun to open source Java, but they've actually been a pretty good steward and I quite like what they're doing with it. The Java Community Process seems to be working.
    • by dmeranda (120061) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:40PM (#8319362) Homepage
      Stewardship is an important issue, a very important one actually. But there are still those sticky semi-legal points which can't be completely ignored. In this respect RMS, and to a lesser extent ESR, both are our stewards of Free Software. Just because Sun may be doing a good job, doesn't mean that we can ignore the technicalities.

      Compare this to other important commercial "stewardships", such as Postscript and PDF as managed by Adobe. Those "standards" are completely under the control of Adobe, but aside from some recent DMCA nonsense, they've been very good stewards from a technical perspective. I mean compare Postscript with HP's PCL...which one has served Open Source/Free Software better?

      But I think the Free Software community should hold higher standards of Freedom to language technologies like Java, whereas we may be willing to give a little more slack to data formats like PDF. But you know what, if Adobe stopped being good stewards then we'd be in trouble. Same for Java, only moreso. That's the threat ESR is trying to address.
      • by spen (26179) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:51PM (#8319530)
        I for one don't acknowledge ESR as being a 'steward' of Open Source. I think of him as a self appointed PR, not really for Open Source, but for himslef. He is trying to keep himself relevant (not that he is, or ever was) by trying to pick a fight that will only cause more harm than good.

        There are many self proclaimed ambassadors of Open Source who end up doing more damage than good. In the end I only acknowledge those who write more code than manifestos and open letters as being the true promoters of open source.

        ESR should shut up and pick up a copy of the Java standard, and then start coding with the other open source java projects if he really wants to help. If he wants to keep promoting himself as a self proclaimed emissary, at the expense of Java and Open Source, then he should probably keep doing what he's doing now.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:18PM (#8319865)

          I for one don't acknowledge ESR as being a 'steward' of Open Source. I think of him as a self appointed PR, not really for Open Source, but for himslef.

          He coined the phrase "Open Source". He convinced Netscape to open up Mozilla. He was the first person to document and publicise the open development model in any meaningful way. He's developed and contributed to many Open Source/Free Software projects. I'd say he's earned his high profile. He hasn't earned "stewardship" over Open Source, but I don't think he acts that way.

          Of course, you seem to be mixing up Free Software and Open Source. He doesn't speak for the Free Software movement at all.

          In the end I only acknowledge those who write more code than manifestos and open letters as being the true promoters of open source.

          He has developed and contributed to many Open Source projects.

          ESR should shut up and pick up a copy of the Java standard

          Java isn't a standard. It's a specification with multiple implementations. That's the whole point. C# has been submitted to ECMA for standardization, the same way C and C++ have been standardized.

          If he wants to keep promoting himself as a self proclaimed emissary, at the expense of Java and Open Source, then he should probably keep doing what he's doing now.

          Last time he asked a company to open up their source, we got Mozilla. I hope he does carry on with what he is doing.

          • by lokedhs (672255) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:54PM (#8320283)
            Java isn't a standard. It's a specification with multiple implementations. That's the whole point. C# has been submitted to ECMA for standardization, the same way C and C++ have been standardized.
            While youre words may be accurate, the meaning is very cunningly incorrect. Yes, C# the language has been submittedto ECMA. However, implementing the language is the easy bit. The hard part is implementing all these libraries that run on top of Java. The libraries is what make Java great and without them there would be no reason to use Java.

            Last I looked Microsoft hadn't submitted the class libraries to ECMA, so stop claiming they are for open standards. The whole C# submitted to ECMA thing was a huge publicity stunt, and apparently it worked.

    • by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:41PM (#8319384) Homepage Journal
      Open sourcing 'Java' is an issue of binaries. It's a misnomer in fact. Its not really Java that ESR is calling for to be open sourced. Its Sun's implementation of Java, their JVM. At least as far as I can tell that is what he is calling for.
    • by Lysol (11150) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:44PM (#8319427)
      Yah, honestly, I don't know how OS'ing Java would help.

      While the JCP isn't as loose as developing the Linux kernel and other OS projects, it still has contributions from the major industry players - who have a vested interest to see Java go forward, not back - as well as small companies and individuals.

      Proclaiming everything OS isn't necessairly the prize at the end of the day. If you look at M$'s efforts to ECMAize .NET and C#, it still doesn't hold off the threat of patent infingement for Mono and dotGnu. M$ can claim it's an open standard, but if the threat of litigation hangs over ones head, then it's probable safe to reason that developing a compatible version might not be a good thing to do.

      I love Free and Open Source software. In fact, I make a decent living working on projects that use it. And most, if not all, of my projects use Java as well. Personally, I don't think something like Java will gain any benefits from following the route ESR proposes. By setting the Java source code free will fragment it more than ever. And for an industry that needs to hold off M$ as much as possible, I think this would be a bad move.
      • by Ogerman (136333) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:51PM (#8320256)
        Personally, I don't think something like Java will gain any benefits from following the route ESR proposes. By setting the Java source code free will fragment it more than ever. And for an industry that needs to hold off M$ as much as possible, I think this would be a bad move.

        The benefit to Sun of GPL'ing their Java implementation would be expansion of their market influence. Right now, there aren't very many open source Java apps (comparitively speaking). This would change rapidly if a complete JVM/JDK could be included legally with every Linux/BSD distribution. Complete adoption of Java by the Open Source community would mean a sharp rise in the popularity of the language and this would help Sun tremendously.

        Keep in mind that if Sun GPL'ed their Java implementations, it would not mean a true loss of control. They would still own the Java and related trademarks. So even if somebody forked Sun's GPL code, it couldn't be called Java. And, in like manner, Sun would still control the specifications defining what "Java" is -- they would still have the right to certify what is and is not "Java". In reality, the situation would be no different than today, where 3rd parties are welcome to write their own Java implementations using the open specification.

        So in the end, both ESR and Phipps are each right on certain things. But Sun has no advantage in keeping their JVM/JDK sources under a license more restrictive than GPL. The other question perhaps, is whether something legally prevents Sun from changing the license -- 3rd party code, etc.
    • by brett_sinclair (673309) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:00PM (#8319618)
      Sure, Sun's been a pretty good steward. But that's not the point: java could be doing so much better as free software. A free java would have at least two big advantages:

      Sun has basically left some parts of the "standard java libraries" to rot. That applies to Swing in particular: no major changes here the last few years. One example: there is still no support for Cleartype or Xft, so fonts are looking pretty 1997-ish in Swing. And fonts are kind of a big deal in any gui-based app.

      But more importantly: free software is more dependable. If Sun should fold, no one knows what would happen to java. If Sun gets into serious financial difficulties, it might stop making the JDK available as a free download. Etc.

      That risk would disappear over night if java was free software.

      At the very least, the libraries should be opened up. It is fairly easy to create an open source VM (comparatively): java's virtual machine is fairly well specified.

      The libraries are much harder to implement: the fine folks at GNU Classpath [gnu.org] are working hard to provide a free version of the library (which is used in gcj, kaffe, jikes rvm, etc.). But since large parts of the library are so poorly specified, they will always be lagging "official java" quite a bit.

      Free java! Or at least the libraries.
    • by ajagci (737734) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:54PM (#8321953)
      I used to want Sun to open source Java, but they've actually been a pretty good steward and I quite like what they're doing with it. The Java Community Process seems to be working.

      Working in what way? In the sense of producing a language that works for some people? Sure. But the same can be said for Microsoft and VisualBasic.

      The real problem is that the Java core is heavily covered by Sun intellectual property (restrictions on the specifications, patents, copyrights). That means that all this wonderful free work that the JCP puts in around the periphery ends up effectively contributing only to a Sun-controlled platform.
  • ESR is primiadonna (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:19PM (#8319099)
    has he done anything actually /useful/ other than fetchmail? why is fetchmail his only example in all of his writings? and saying that CatB is responsible for the Netscape decision is only slightly more vailid than saying that "The Manifesto of the Communist Party" was responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising.
    that said, "geeks with guns" is kind of cool. however, ESR is not cool. I piss on him and his "CatB"
    • by Captain Tenille (250795) <[moc.erehpsonatas] [ta] [ymerej]> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319235) Homepage
      Sure he's done useful stuff, like the "Sex Tips for Geeks" (has anyone actually ever used those) and remaking the Jargon File to update the hacker image to fit himself.

      OK, you're right. He's pretty useless. At least he likes Jaegermeister, I hear.

    • by SFEley (743605) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:32PM (#8319263) Homepage
      has he done anything actually /useful/ other than fetchmail?

      Yes. He's one of those helpful fairies that most open source programmers don't really believe in, but who sometimes sneak into their workshops at night to finish cobbling their shoes. These mythical creatures are sometimes called "documenters."

    • by EricWright (16803)
      He wrote the original guidebook for nethack. Yes, it's true... freaked me out when I first saw it, but here's the header from doc/Guidebook.txt of the nethack-3.4.3 package available at www.nethack.org:

      A Guide To The Mazes of Menace
      (Guidebook for NetHack)

      Eric S. Raymond
      (Extensively edited and expanded for 3.4)

    • by T-Ranger (10520) <jeffw@chebuctDEBIANo.ns.ca minus distro> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:42PM (#8319410) Homepage
      A few things actually, beyond Fetchmail.

      The Jargon Dictionary.
      Founding member of the OSI.
      A large number of HOWTOs

      Ok, no one huge earth shattering project. An while I cant find it now, in one of the Fetchmail history docs, he readily admits to being a better maintainer then coder.

      Even if he was a complete non-coder, The Jargon Dictionary alone would be enough for him to be 'one of the tribe', and worth listening too. But he has managed a not insignificant tool.

      But all of that is nothing compared to his work with OSI. Even before that, his non-technical guidance and writings were immensely helpful to the community. Netscape/Mozilla was one of (if not the) first example of closed source being let free. And its still one if the biggest examples.

      ESR may have a bit of a primiadonna attitude, but compared to RMS he is humble as they get.

      • by vondo (303621) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:52PM (#8319543)
        ESR may have a bit of a primiadonna attitude, but compared to RMS he is humble as they get.

        I don't agree. RMS (who I am no big fan of) certainly has strong and unrelenting views, but Raymond is much bigger into self-promotion than RMS is. Plus, as the original poster points out, RMS has done a lot more for the open (small caps) software movement than Raymond has, so I'm more inclined to cut him slack.

        Raymond seems as interested in getting his name in lights as helping "the cause."

      • by HisMother (413313) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:05PM (#8319666)
        > The Jargon Dictionary alone would be enough for him to be 'one of the tribe', and worth listening too. He's widely considered to have fucked up the Jargon File, mostly due to his huge ego and lack of respect for history.
    • by byronius (13757) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:49PM (#8319497)
      He also wrote bogofilter [sourceforge.net], a very useful bayesian filter.
    • by hikerhat (678157) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:24PM (#8319950)
      Don't be a wanker. And why do posts like yours - that are clearly false - always get a +5 interesting? Since when are blatant lies interesting? Besides fetchmail, ESR has contributed to the linux kernel, GNOME, python, nethack, EMACS, SourceForge, Texinfo, the PNG libraries your browser is using to render all those pretty pictures after the whole gif thing, and no doubt a lot more. He's written books, FAQs, documentation, etc. He gained the ear of executives in the computer industry. Go ahead and grep the files on any flavor of unix, commercial or free, and ESR is one of the few names that is almost guaranteed to come up.
    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:31PM (#8320034) Homepage Journal

      Fetchmail is the application that ESR is most well known for, but it's not the one that he has done the most work on. He simply used it as an example in CatB. Pick up any book on programming and you are likely to find examples. These examples are generally trivial, but the book wouldn't be the same without them. CatB was instrumental in explaining how Linux had become such a useful tool in so little time, fetchmail was simply a contrived example to prove the point.

      As for the rest of ESR's hacker credentials. Well the initials ESR show up quite a bit in the software that I tend to use. Huge portions of Emacs were done by him (at one point he was the single largest contributor besides RMS, I don't know if that is true today), ESR also has credits in Python, the Linux kernel and piles of other projects that lots of people use everyday (like Nethack or bogofilter).

      Here's [catb.org] a more comprehensive list of the ESR's work. Don't forget to click on the "projects" link for work that isn't classified as "software (termcap/terminfo database maintainer, for example, or the fact that he wrote the former Sunsite's Trove software). If you can honestly read that list of software and still come to the conclusion that ESR has done "nothing," then I would love to see your long list of Free Software accomplishments.

      Don't get me wrong. I don't always agree with ESR, but I at least know enough about him to know better than to dismiss his credentials as a hacker.

      Besides, on this ESR is right. Sun's Java desktop is indicative of the staggering amount of truly good stuff that is coming out of the Free Software community. Free Software hackers want to support Sun in its fight against Microsoft, but they aren't interested in using Sun's non-free Java language to do it. The funny part of Sun's Java Desktop is that there is essentially no Java involved. In fact, some of the same folks that wrote the Gnome desktop that comprises the bulk of Sun's Java desktop are right now working feverishly to finish off the first version of Mono, a .NET-alike for Linux. If Java was Free Software there would be a lot less incentive to do this, but Java isn't Free, and so the Mono hackers are cooking up a set of tools that can take its place for Free Software hackers.

      What's worse, it's not like Sun can honestly say that they don't want to Free Java for commercial reasons. Java is currently available as a free download. Sun doesn't really make any money from Java.

  • by slutdot (207042) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:20PM (#8319101)
    So is the website...
  • Mono (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdtanner (741053) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:21PM (#8319111) Homepage
    I know Mono is quite a young language (if you exclude the work done on c#) but I think that Sun should be wary.

    I moved from Java to Mono/c# recently and I don't think I'll be going back.

    Don't know what anyone else thinks?
    • Re:Mono (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:01PM (#8319629)
      I think that Java and C# both have their genesis in commercial aspirations, rather than technical. They both are, and will continue to grow more so, odd, kludgy and crufty languages that blow with whatever trend is now fasionable, wholely for the benefit of their companies.

      Personally I wouldn't hitch too many of my horses to either one of them.

      That is what I think.

      KFG
  • rings a bell. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jafac (1449) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:22PM (#8319127) Homepage
    ah, the old ad hominem attack.
    Is that all they're teaching folks in MBA school anymore? Don't respond to valid arguments and criticism; instead, discredit your detractors by branding them as "out of touch" or "communist" or a "tree hugger".

    I find it incredibly discouraging to know that everything I need to know about running a global billion dollar software company, I learned on the playground in kindergarten.
    • Re:rings a bell. . . (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319234) Homepage Journal
      ah, the old ad hominem attack.
      Is that all they're teaching folks in MBA school anymore? Don't respond to valid arguments and criticism; instead, discredit your detractors by branding them as "out of touch" or "communist" or a "tree hugger".


      It's actually a good response in situations where any response would be the wrong one. Sun could try to explain their reasoning, tell everyone about the SCSL, show all the contributions to Open Source they've made, and they'd still get skewered. At least this way, they have a fighting chance. Quite a few people agree with Sun's position and disagree with ESR. By using the ad hominem response, they're bolstering the opinions of those people and making their voices louder. Any other tack would have made their supporter's voices that much quieter.

      • by schon (31600) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:36PM (#8319327)
        It's actually a good response in situations where any response would be the wrong one.

        No, at most, he should have simply said "we have a fundamental disagreement in our philosophies" and left it at that.

        Insulting people who criticize you is never a "good" response.
      • Re:rings a bell. . . (Score:3, Informative)

        by jafac (1449)
        (yes, I admit I didn't read the whole article, because it was instantly slashdotted).

        Well, the response was still, a gross disservice to Sun's position. By descending to ESR's level, Phipps has left the arugment open - and there will continue to be whining and hand-wringing. Sure - no matter how good your argument is, there will always be folks who aren't convinced.

        But at least he could have tried some well-reasoned arguments like this post:
        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=97352& c id=8319 213
    • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:32PM (#8319255)
      "Is that all they're teaching folks in MBA school anymore? Don't respond to valid arguments and criticism; instead, discredit your detractors by branding them as "out of touch" or "communist" or a "tree hugger"."

      I'd explain it to you, but there's no way an out of touch communist tree hugger such as yourself would understand.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, as they also say in kindergarten, "he started it". Did you read ESR's letter? Full of the sophomoric bluster and name-calling that typifies his writing. "Sun is clueless", "Sun lost the war", blah blah blah. I for one am glad someone finally stood up to him with more than the usual standard corporate-PR blandishments.
    • by Mr. Piddle (567882) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:36PM (#8319325)

      Fallacy: You are assuming that ESR actually wrote valid arguments and criticism.

    • Oh, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sammy baby (14909) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:49PM (#8319506) Journal

      This isn't, strictly speaking, an ad hominem attack.

      "Ad hominem" refers to a form of logical fallacy where you attempt to discredit the person making an argument, instead of the argument they actually made. Had Phipps simply said, "ESR is a doo-doo head, and therefore his argument holds no water," it would be one thing.

      However, that's not what happened. Phipps spent some time pointing out specific problems with Raymond's analysis. They are (paraphrased, and without critical analysis):

      • Raymond takes McNealy's comments out of context.
      • Raymond fails to note important contributions made to open source by Sun
      • Raymond makes an ill-advised comparison between Perl and Java
      • Raymond misstates Sun's control over the Java programming language

      Regardless of your opinion of the merits of Phipp's analysis, it certainly rises above the level of "tree hugger," or "communist," two epithets which would be ridiculously applied to ESR, an avowed gun-nut and libertarian. In fact, other than referring to him as "out of touch," I don't see a single negative statement regarding Eric Raymond personally in the article.

      But hey, way to go with your sly anti-businessman attack. Because as everyone knows, MBAs are all simpletons and schoolyard bullies.

      • Re:Oh, please. (Score:4, Informative)

        by crush (19364) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:21PM (#8319900)

        Actually there are two possible types of ad hominem one of them is valid and the other is a fallacy.

        A valid ad hominem occurs when a protagonist has made a statement of the type "I am an X and therefore my experience allows me to state Y", to which the valid response is "You are a flawed X in some manner and therefore you can't state Y".

        An invalid ad hominem would occur if the respondent were to counter instead with "You are a flawed Z (where Z has no relationship to X at all) and therefore can't state Y".

        See this [ncl.ac.uk] link for a better description.

        There is an element of valid ad hominem in the response to ESR when it is said that ESR is "out of touch". The truth of this is arguable, but the form of the argument is a valid ad hominem.

  • Not representative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AsparagusChallenge (611475) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:22PM (#8319130)
    If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends...

    For the eleventh time: neither Eric nor any other single institution represents Open Source! This is the way Eric S. Raymond treats people, nothing more, nothing less.
    • by zapp (201236) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319236)
      Funny, this seems to be one of those double standards. People like ESR and Linus are praised and recognized as the fathers of OSS, heros among their kind, but as soon as they say something offensive you disown them.

      In life, whether personal, corporate, OSS, whatever, when you associate yourself with an organization, your actions reflect that organization to some degree. If ESR had said "these comments are solely my own and do not represent any organization I take part in", I could agree.

      STFU.
      • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrisonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:39PM (#8319360) Homepage Journal
        I think that people tend to view ESR and RMS in a different way than they view Linus. People in the community are aware of the contributions of all three, but also aware that ESR and RMS can come off as a bit nutty. I think this has been recognized from the start, so it isn't as much of a "double standard" as you claim.

        I can't remember a time when Linus has been "disowned" as you say. What has he done/said that is offensive?

      • by __past__ (542467)
        I have never seen ESR praised by anyone but himself, actually.

        Technically, he certainly is a "father of OSS", as he was one of those (together with Tim O'Reilly and others) who came up with, and implemented, the idea of avoiding the "freedom" rethoric to appeal to suits, and unfortunatly he even is the head of OSI, but I doubt that there are many people who both understand what he is saying and take him serious.

  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:22PM (#8319136) Journal
    Applet Loading...

    Applet Loading...

    Applet Loading...

    Applet Loading...

    "I'd say this is 100 per cent rant... His simplistic accusations don't hold water... If this is the way that Open Source treats its

    Warning:Simon Phipps has made an illegal operation. The application will be terminated.

  • by donnz (135658) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:24PM (#8319153) Homepage Journal
    So should the world judge all proprietary software vendors by SCOs activities - that position seems a rather simplistic rant and doesn't hold water.

    If we are supposed to differentiate bewteen SCO and SUN (hard to do with names that share such commonality) can he not do us the favour of tarring a whole community with one broad brush.
    • An S is "such commonality"?

      Then how do you distinguish between Microsoft and IBM?
      Israel and Iraq? -- or Iran and Iran?
      Going back a few years, USA and USSR?

      There's only 26 letters in the English alphabet, and the most commonly used are RNSTLE (can a WheelWatcher verify this for me?) so some amount of overlap is to be expected...

      That SCO and SUN are sharing the same bed of fornication is proven by their debt instrument investment vis-a-vis "SCOSource License Agreement."

  • ESR is overrated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:24PM (#8319156)
    Why exactly does this man think he's the Voice of the open source movement? I'm an active contributor to three projects, and he doesn't have the respect of any of my friends and fellow coders from those projects - and his book is based on a flawed assumption and is far from enlightening (no, they did not build cathedrals that way).
  • I call bluff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FreemanPatrickHenry (317847) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:25PM (#8319157)
    If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends, I'd hate to see how it treats its enemies..

    Since when is Sun a friend of open source? They may be more "open sourcey" than, say, Microsoft, but I wouldn't call them friends. Maybe temporary allies.

    It's like IBM. I'm glad they're running pro-Linux ads. It's helpful. It's nice to see corporate support. But remember when IBM was the "bad guy?"

    My question is: what is a "friend" of open source? The GNU project is a friend of open source. Eric Raymond is a friend of open source (if an embarrassing one at times like these). Until I see more proof, I'm hesitant to call Sun any more a friend of Open Source than Microsoft a friend of IBM in the 80s.

    Bottom line: Raymond was off the cuff and out of line. He was (and rightly so) called for it. But I'll wait until I see more "friendship" from Sun before I jump ship.

    (And let the karma burn begin.)
    • Re:I call bluff (Score:5, Informative)

      by OYAHHH (322809) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:33PM (#8319278) Homepage
      Ever,

      Heard of OpenOffice/StarOffice? If you haven't I suggest you look it up. You might change you opinion of Sun's contributions to open-source software.
    • Then perhaps someone will explain being why Sun paid SCO $8M for a worthless SCO licence (along with Microsoft, themselves no friend of OS). Paying that money has essentially funded SCO's attempt to discredit and/or destroy OS (Linux) by charging users for "intellectual property" that SCO claims it owns. The money has funded the bottomless FUD/BS machine that is Darl McBride and cronies. Either Sun is a friend of open source and was extraordinarily naive or Sun was behaving as an enemy of OS in helping SC
    • Re:I call bluff (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:58PM (#8319605)
      Since when is Sun a friend of open source?

      Sun pays for NFS v4 port to Linux [sun.com].
      Sun supports Xemacs [xemacs.org].
      Sun donates internationalization code to X.org [computersadvisor.com].
      Sun buys StarOffice and donates the code to OpenOffice [openoffice.org].

      Sun support development and porting of TCL [base.com].
      Sun donates elliptic curve technology to openssl.org [zdnet.co.uk].

      Etc., etc., etc.

      Sun established open standards, such as: NIS, NFS, etc., etc.,...

      Sun is a much bigger friend to "open source" and *nix than just about any other corporation.

      So, are you trolling, or uninformed? Maybe just abusing a friend to open source?

    • Re:I call bluff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:05PM (#8319674) Homepage Journal
      Dude. It's software. There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. There are just different ways of doing things. Idealism isn't going to get my clients' work done any more efficiently, or make my code run faster, or make my interfaces more intuitive. Smart programmers will make those things happen -- and I'll use whatever product works best.

      And I'll remind you that there are TONS of great Open Source projects which utilize the ease and ubiquity of Java -- great utilities from Tomcat to Freenet. There's a number of great open source Java IDEs. Sun is a friend to open source because it is actively mixing closed source tools with open ones, filling in the gaps of each to the benefit of both.

      Your claim that Open Source doesn't need friends who actually MAKE MONEY off of what they're doing is foolish. Sun and IBM are paying some of their programmers to write Open Source code. How is that not "befriending" the community?

      I'll tell you. Sun and IBM don't have to befriend the community -- they're already members of it.
  • Article Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:27PM (#8319192)
    Sun fires back over Open Source Java accusations
    [PC Pro] 15:13

    Sun has offered a frank response to the open letter from Eric S, Raymond, President, Open Source Initiative, in which he called on Sun to make its Java platform Open Source and described the company's Open Source strategy as 'spotty' and 'confused'.

    'I'd say this is 100 per cent rant,' Sun's Chief Technology Evangelist, Simon Phipps told us. 'His simplistic accusations don't hold water... If this is the way that Open Source treats its friends, I'd hate to see how it treats its enemies.'

    Raymond's first line of attack was to dispute whether CEO Scott McNealy's claim that 'the open-source model is our friend,' has any substance when at the same time Sun is filling the coffers of Linux litigator SCO through licensing deals and still keeps Java under 'tight control'.

    'It's pretty difficult to respond to this. He's so out of touch,' said Phipps. 'To even begin one must first address the error in his world view: He has taken quotes given by Scott McNealy to analysts and attacked them as if they were spoken to the Open Source community.

    'In fact, Sun has contributed more to Open Source than anybody else bar Berkeley [University of California]. We understand Open Source better than anyone else. IBM is just wrapping itself in the flag, but it still behaves like an old-fashioned systems company. Sun is actually taking the risks. [Raymond] isn't well informed and is ignoring most of the stuff that Sun is doing. He completely ignores things like the Java Desktop, the Java Enterprise System running on Linux in its new servers. He's very selective about what he wants to write about.

    For the record, Raymond wrote: 'Sun's insistence on continuing tight control of the Java code has damaged Sun's long-term interests by throttling acceptance of the language in the open-source community, ceding the field (and probably the future) to scripting-language competitors like Python and Perl.'

    Phipps responded that Java is not a scripting language, so it is meaningless to make such a comparison.

    Raymond also wrote in his open letter: 'Sun's terms are so restrictive that Linux distributions cannot even include Java binaries for use as a browser plugin, let alone as a standalone development tool.' But Phipps responds that SUSE has managed to do so without any problems.

    Raymond also says that Sun faces the stark choice of control or ubiquity for Java. Phipps said: 'Java is already everywhere.'

    And as for control, Phipps maintains: 'Sun has no more control over Java than anyone else in the Java Community Process'. Besides, he said that since version 2.5 of the Java Development Process that was ratified some 18 months ago it has been possible for anyone to create an implementation of Java that complies with the Open Source requirements. And that includes Java 1.5 which will be out 'really soon' [an alpha was released two weeks ago].

    'We don't have an axe to grind with Eric, and we don't have any hostility to what he is supporting. But I don't believe there are any barriers to making Java Open Source,' he said.

    'The question he should really be asking is why has no-one else offered to create an Open Source version of Java. Maybe because it's on the 'too hard' list. Sun would support an Open Source version of Java, but it need a lot of money and time to do so. You can't just flick a switch. Right now Sun has higher priorities in the form of Java 1.5,' he said.

    Questions of who makes Java Open Source aside, there is a strong demand that it be implemented. When we interviewed Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, last month we asked what the most pressing needs are for the GNU operating system (of which Linux is the kernel), he said: 'We need a free complete Java platform.'

    Matt Whipp
    • Re:Article Text (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ultrabot (200914) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:37PM (#8319337)
      He has taken quotes given by Scott McNealy to analysts and attacked them as if they were spoken to the Open Source community.

      I have some trouble understanding this statement. Does Scott lie to lawyers, or us?

      My god, should we only read and consider statements that are directly addressed to us? Should we be spoon-fed by statements that are tailored to what we want to hear (not talking about slashdot here, of course ;-).
  • by Trigun (685027) <evil@e[ ]empire.ath.cx ['vil' in gap]> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:27PM (#8319193)
    And in other news, Simon Phillips wins the "Understatement of the year" award, also known as the "GNU/Understatement of the year" award
  • by Rotten (8785) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:28PM (#8319212) Journal
    Ok, this time Sun is Ev!L because is not open sourcing a product they own..

    Dude, asking a little more is good, asking too much is instantly very bad... companies who like the open source model would easily scare if a preacher starts asking them to open source every product they own.

    I still don't see the point of a open source java...sorry, you can write open source code for it...that's good for me.
  • by clandaith (187570) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:28PM (#8319213) Homepage
    Jonathan Schwartz came to the Utah Java Users Group [ujug.org] in January (We got him out here with free tickets to the Sundance Film Festival.). He asked if people felt that Java should be open sourced. About half the audience raised their hands, myself included.

    He said that it wouldn't happen because Sun didn't want to see multiple versions of Java out there. If MS went and changed some things in Sun's Java and then started to bundle their version of Java with Windows, who knows what will happen.

    We will start to see different versions of Java. People will start to think that the MS version of Java is the actual "real" Java and get mad when someone writes a Java program using Sun's version of Java.

    Then, MS will be able to start to dictate what goes in Java, or they will just stop following Sun's vison of Java and go on their own merry way.

    He gave more reasons and it convinced me that it really wasn't that great of an idea to open source Java.
    • But if it were GPLed, Sun could reincorporate those changes or include an "MS Java" compatibility layer at little programming cost.

      So he's right, an Open Source (note caps) license might fork Java. However, if it were released as Free Software (note caps), it would not be forked in a meaningful way.

      Look at Linux, and look at BSD. I'm not saying one is better than the other. I'm just saying that one license style lends itself to forking and the other does not. If Sun prefers no forking they can use the GPL
  • Rant? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nonmaskable (452595) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:29PM (#8319216)
    Notice how Phillips takes the cheap shot ("rant") in order to play to ESR's current unpopularity with the slashdot crowd? He doesn't try to refute the issues ESR raises.

    I guess it's hard to be coherent when your company doesn't really know where it stands wrt open source.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:56PM (#8319578)
      Notice how Phillips takes the cheap shot ("rant") in order to play to ESR's current unpopularity with the slashdot crowd? He doesn't try to refute the issues ESR raises.

      He did in the non-excerpted version. He mainly says that making a full OSS version of Java would be expensive, and doing this for free isn't a workable business model. He also says that ESR is wrong about Java being closed, citing the community development aspect of it. He also mentioned a lot of other OSS friendly things they've done, and pointed out that ESR's attacks were very narrowly focused and ignored things that didn't jive with the conclusions he wanted to draw.

      I think Sun didn't need to take those cheap shots, but he did mention a number of other things as well. Basically what it comes down to, I think, is that they need to make money because they're a company and they haven't figured out how to reconcile that with dreams of a free Java. And it's hard to find fault with that.

      I guess it's hard to be coherent when your company doesn't really know where it stands wrt open source.

      I'd like to see that substantiated. First, they're a company, not a non-profit OSS charity like GNU. They have to make money, first and foremost. Second, other than turning over their code to the general public, what do they do that's not OSS friendly? Hell, turning over OpenOffice and developing a linux desktop sound like pretty good support to me.

      It's hard to think of any big company who is more OSS-friendly than Sun. I think that's why he was so pissed - they've bent over backwards for the OSS community, and they got blindsided by someone who supposedly is one of the community's pillars.

  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:29PM (#8319218)
    I think programmers who have truely contributed to open source should be the only ones with real saying about the direction of open source.

    What really really worries me is just the number of non technical people pushing this thing around... executives, lawyers, managment, marketers... this list goes on.
  • Sun on IBM (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aardpig (622459) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:29PM (#8319221)

    IBM is just wrapping itself in the flag, but it still behaves like an old-fashioned systems company. Sun is actually taking the risks

    Of course, it all suddenly becomes clear! Sun are taking all the risks, by investing so much time and effort in Linux development. That's why SCO are suing them, rather than those Johnny-come-latelys at IBM.

    Wait a moment....

    • Re:Sun on IBM (Score:4, Insightful)

      by __past__ (542467) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:02PM (#8319639)
      Personally, I think having NFS, NIS, PAM, Gnome, OpenOffice, DocBook, freedesktop.org etc. developed or supported by Sun is worth more than them being sued by SCO, but that is just my personal opinion. I just wonder, do I have to deinstall KDE and Qt? Trolltech wasn't sued either.
    • Re:Sun on IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LeoDV (653216) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:26PM (#8319968) Journal
      I realise you're being humorous, but Phipps does make excellent points. Yes, I'll defend the clean-cut suit against the moustachioed idiotarian.

      First off, the only reason SCO are suing IBM isn't because of the relevance of their contribution to the OSS community, but simply because they're bigger and they're a household name -> more publicity.

      But Phipps is right : IBM's long term strategy is basically to switch from "big iron" to becoming an IT consulting firm. Linux is a big part of that strategy, so they're advocating Open Source all over the place to get support from the community. But fundamentally they still do behave like an old-fashioned company, no matter how much you and I may love their ads.

      But more to the point, I wholeheartedly agree with Phipps. ESR/RMS et al have pretty much become OSS ideologues who see everything as black and white. Open Source means Utopia, absolute freedom, great code and happiness for the people. Closed Source means totalitarian control by blood-sucking suits, kludgy software and the death of dozens of cute, cute kitties.

      This is why he proclaims that Sun must choose between ubiquity or control for Java -- when they already made that choice! No other development platform became so predominant so quickly! And why was that? Because the runtime was always free and good tools were cheap or free. Sure, they were free as in beer, not "free as in speech", but Sun did give up control, and now they did get the ubiquity in return. But ESR can't see that distinction, that blurry area of grey, because all is black and white for the President of the Open Source Initiative.

      Every company that wants to be successful selling a platform must make the obcious-yet-ballsy choice to give up control for the sake of ubiquity, and Sun have made that choice, and it has profited everyone -- them, the developers and the users. ESR just can't understand that there can be freedom and beauty outside of the Brave New Open Source World. I recognize his great skills as a programmer, writer and thinker, but his ideological tendancies just get the better of him and make him spin out of control into ideological rants that don't make sense in the real world.

      Let me just finish by throwing something he wrote in the Jargon File [catb.org] back at him, on the Weaknesses of the Hacker Personality [catb.org] : "Because of their passionate embrace of (what they consider to be) the Right Thing, hackers can be unfortunately intolerant and bigoted on technical issues, in marked contrast to their general spirit of camaraderie and tolerance of alternative viewpoints otherwise."
  • by gral (697468) <kscarr73.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319225) Homepage
    What is the problem? There is already implementations of Java that are OpenSource. All the specs are open, and allow for this.

    Just because Sun doesn't want to open up their code itself doesn't mean that Java can't be open source.

    Mono/C# are interesting, but I want to see C# in a couple years when Microsoft is looking for more ways to make money. All it will take is a little twist and Mono/C# will be a different implementation of C# than MS version. At that point, which one would be "Correct".

    Microsoft tried this with Java. They failed because Java is held by Sun. Multiple OS's are what Sun wants for Java. They could have made a Java that ONLY worked on Solaris, but they didn't.

    Again, I ask, what is the problem?

    P.S. I am not a Sun Employee, I am an Open Source volunteer for OpenOffice.org.
  • by cbowland (205263) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:31PM (#8319242)
    [pcpro.co.uk]
    Sun fires back over Open Source Java accusations
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:33PM (#8319267) Homepage Journal
    Haven't had a chance to read the response, but I definetly agree with the quotes in the summary. ESR's letter is no way to write to *anybody*, and this is the CEO of Sun you're talking about...not Daryll or somebody from SCO.

    The following quotes of his just make him sound unprofessional and mannerless more than anything else:

    But the casual equation between "open source" and "zero revenue" suggests that on another level you don't really know what you're talking about.

    This was totally uncalled for, I can think of a million better ways to phrase it.



    Matters aren't helped by the fact that Sun appears, with Microsoft, to be one of the two companies doing most to stuff SCO's war chest for its attack on Linux.

    I don't see any concrete proof that Sun is *indeed* behind the fiaSCO. You don't go about making false/unfounded accusations against people, just because you read it on Slashdot.

  • Uh huh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:35PM (#8319307) Homepage
    'In fact, Sun has contributed more to Open Source than anybody else bar Berkeley.'

    I think he's right there. The high performance and ease of use of Sun's C Compiler did more to promote GCC than anything those GNU folks ever did. Their tireless efforts to provide an unusable toolkit and utilities throughout the lifecycle of SunOS and Solaris only proves their support for open source alternatives.
    • Re:Uh huh. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ReaperOfSouls (523060)
      Amen. If I had mod points you would have them...Solaris tools to this day are the largest heaping pile wrapped in a bow.
  • Sun & Open Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by barcodez (580516) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:37PM (#8319333)
    I have just returned from Sun's two day Tech. Day in London. They were keen to push that they were working closely with Open Source. They pointed out that they were doing things such as JDS (Sun's Linux distro for the desktop - it's pretty much just Suse atm), NetBeans (an open source IDE they support and use within Sun One Studio) and so forth.

    Now you can't deny they are using Open Source, but I was finding hard to see how they were contributing. Here are some ideas:

    (1.) Increased awareness - nah: they are FUDing things as their own work
    (2.) Contributing IP - I can't find demonstrable, significant Sun IP that has been changed to be licensed on an OSS approved license (I maybe wrong).
    (3.) Giving Java to the community - noooo, you can't even distribute the Sun JVM or JDK with a linux distro.

    I think Sun want to do the right thing - I think they think they are doing the right thing - they clearly have a way to go.

    Here's an example.

    JSF (Java Server Faces)

    This is a MVC based framework used in presentation tiers in Java (mostly web based).

    Now what Sun did was hire the project lead from Jakarta's Structs to write the spec and an implementation of JSF.

    JSF is a direct competitor to Structs! If a Jakarta was a company this would be an incredible agressive tactic. Hire the project lead and get him/her to develop a new more featureful version of his old product.
    • by RodgerDodger (575834) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:00PM (#8319622)

      Now what Sun did was hire the project lead from Jakarta's Structs to write the spec and an implementation of JSF.

      JSF is a direct competitor to Structs! If a Jakarta was a company this would be an incredible agressive tactic. Hire the project lead and get him/her to develop a new more featureful version of his old product.


      Let's revisit that again: they approached the lead developer of the dominant MVC web framework for Java. They said "there's this JSR to standardise MVC web frameworks, at an integration API level, so that components written for one can work with the others. Want to head it up?"

      Let's think. Benefits of helping:
      • Get to define an industry spec, and be personally identified with it.
      • Get a heads up in modifying Struts to comply



      • whereas the benefits of not helping include seeing someone else getting that chance (with their own framework).

        In any case, Sun nearly always approach the market leader in this case. Look at who writes the EJB specs, for example: there's representatives from every major EJB vendor ('cept JBoss). That is, after all, the point: the Sun specs mandate how compliant software interacts with other compliant software. It kind of helps to get agreement.
    • by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:03PM (#8319646) Homepage
      You forgot this [openoffice.org] little program...

      Considering that OpenOffice IS a pretty major piece of IP, that Sun DID dual license under their community license AND the GPL, I'd say they're not guilty of the issue on #2.
  • I thought Sun.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by herrvinny (698679) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:43PM (#8319419)
    ...was pretty good about Java. I've been writing in Java for a long time now, and I like it a lot.

    The only gripe I have is that a lot of systems don't have the newer Java 2 VM (it's been out for a few years now, people, update your VM already). A lot of people are still operating with the older standard, so I have to keep the older JDK 1.1.8 development kit around. Sun, if you're reading, launch an ad blitz, educate the nontechnical to visit java.com and grab an updated VM. And make sure you hit some of the "neglected" computer users too, such as school districts. Perhaps press a few million CDs with the Java VM and offer to mail them for free, or reduced postage?

    The Java of today is much better than the perceptions of many developers. Java is decently fast, the Swing packages offer a lot of flexibility, i/o support is terrific, etc.

    Just one last plea: PLEASE, SUN, stop labeling everything you sell Java. You're diluting the brand.
  • by ChiralSoftware (743411) <info@chiralsoftware.net> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:56PM (#8319573) Homepage
    I imagine the big one is patents. All large companies like Sun have cross-licensing agreements with all the other large companies in the areas they work in. All of these companies have hundred or thousands of patents, and they all know that fighting over patents in court is not the way they want to spend their resources, so they cross-license. Sun's lawyers have probably said (correctly) that some aspects of Java may be protected by some of these patents. There is a lot of innovative computer science going on in Java: virtual machines, JIT compilers, the HotSpot optimizer, and many others. By licensing something under the GPL, the licensor also grants royalty-free patent use, which Sun can't necessarily do because of cross licensing. So it's a mess. I believe the same issue affected BeOS.

    Similar issues apply to copyrights. I assume there are portions of the Java implementation which are copyrighted from other companies which have licensed to Sun, but do you think these agreements are compatible with Sun putting something out under GPL or BSD? I wouldn't think so.

    All of this is a bummer, to put it one way. I can think of some awesome projects to do with Java. How about a TRUE Java Desktop, where we take just enough of the Linux kernel to boot, and rewrite most of the system (device drivers and all) in Java and run the JVM essentially on the "bare metal" with all the apps in Java? That would be awesome, but impossible unless the JVM is Open Source.

    Ah, and this brings me to MONO, a project which is a tragedy because it is walking into a big trap called "patents".

    The right thing to do is to put the effort into gcj and Kaffe [kaffe.org] to bring them up to commercial usability. I really think it is time to abandon C/C++ for writing apps. We could debate this all day long (ok, on /., we could debate it until the heat death of the Universe) but the fact is that C++ is a pain to work in and lacks the safety features of Java. I would love to see Open Source development shift to Java. I am scared of Open Source development shifting to MONO/C# because I know that it's a trap.

    -------
    Create a WAP [chiralsoftware.net] server

  • Dumbest quote ever (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot@NosPAm.jgc.org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:57PM (#8319591) Homepage Journal
    > Open source is hardly a zero-revenue model; ask
    > Red Hat, which had a share price over triple Sun's
    > when I just checked.

    Yes, and the last time I checked Sun had a market cap. of $19.2B and RedHat had a market cap of $3.2B. The actual share price is irrelevant in this discussion. Sun is 6 times the size of RedHat on market cap.

    In addition look at their balance sheets. Sun has assets worth $12B, RedHat has $440M. So Sun has assets worth 27 times RedHat's.

    So how does the fact that the Sun share price is lower than RedHat's figure into this?

    John.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:57PM (#8319592) Homepage
    Phipps is right, but so is Raymond.

    Java's major consumer right now is large-scale contractors. Particularly government contractors. You know, the folks who care about CMM3 and similar such stuff. Those folks couldn't care less about open source or closed source. The only thing that worries them about Java is sun's stock price -- an indicator that Sun may not be around much longer.

    If Sun is missing the boat with those consumers, they're doing so in their failure to charge enough money for Java's use. These organizations have big budgets and could afford to pay Sun for Java if Sun could figure out how to ask.

    On the other hand, ESR is right too. Windows is an aberration in the history of computing in the sense that just about nothing else has ever become and stayed ubiquitous when the company that started it held the reins too tightly. Even Windows didn't hold the reins tightly on its rise to ubiquity -- DOS was widely pirated by computer vendors without retribution and Windows leveraged that existing monopoly on its rise.

    Sun has a choice to make with Java: They can keep 99% of a small market or they can keep 20%-30% of a market that's 10 times larger or more. They seem to have chosen the former, and their stock price reflects this.

    I have to disagree with ESR on one point, though: The key problem with Java is not that it isn't open source. They key problem is that the presence of the runtime environment is not transparent to the user.

    If you're using a C program or a visual basic program or a fortran program or a just about any other kind of program, you don't know it and don't care. The program installed itself when you clicked on the install file or when you told the package manager to go get it. End of story.

    If you're running a Java program, you know it. You know it, because you had to go through Sun's specific Java installer, and read and agree to a massive click-through license. You had to do that even if the Java program came with a JRE.

    If Sun wants Java to become ubiquitous, they will have to give up the click-through license on the JRE and also give up control of the installer for the JRE. No other language's runtime libraries require such a ridiculous thing, and none should.

  • by jg21 (677801) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:01PM (#8319627)
    Javalobby's Rick Ross doesn't agree with ESR, but he doesn't agree with Sun either, saying that "No Sun Is An Island" [sys-con.com] and urging Sun to take much more initiative in helping create what Ross calls "a cooperative industry alliance for Java platform marketing." Well worth reading.
  • Have some respect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Linus Sixpack (709619) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:09PM (#8319707) Journal
    They wrote the code, they license it as they want.

    'Outing' Sun in public letters is pretty rude. Some may say its warranted, some may agree with ESR but I have a healthy dose of respect for Sun and I'm willing to give them some slack on a request to 'give us your copyrights because I think its a good idea'(paraphrase).

    I actually think he deserves a fair treatment for responding at all. Having an 'official version' can be good for interroperability. An open source Java might be split and hijacked by Redmond. If Sun has not been the best stewards in my mind they certainly have not been the worst.

  • by edw (10555) <edw@poseur.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:21PM (#8319901) Homepage
    From ESR's original letter:

    "Sun's insistence on continuing tight control of the Java code has damaged Sun's long-term interests by throttling acceptance of the language in the open-source community, ceding the field (and probably the future) to scripting-language competitors like Python and Perl."

    ESR's theory that Python and Perl have more users than they deserve due to Java's merely gratis license is insulting to the people who work hard to make Python and Perl as good as they are.

    Regards,
    Ed
  • by AlXtreme (223728) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:25PM (#8319964) Homepage Journal
    When a few months ago we found out Sun had distributed tons of JDS evaluation cd's which use Morphix in combination with SuSE, our small community was quite stunned: nowhere did they mention us, or contact us about using our project on such a large scale. We hadn't anticipated it at all.

    After a few days in which we were quite alarmed, Sun's technical director sent me an email to apologize and said he would fix the matter. Within no time, we got reports of being mentioned on the back of the cd covers and their website, and they sent us an evaluation cd. Our project was even mentioned in an article about JDS in the Guardian. There hasn't been much contact since, but it's good to see how quick they react.

    Frankly, I didn't even think they gave a damn, but it seems that despite their size they are trying to do The Right Thing(tm). It's a pity ESR had to open his mouth like he did. They are willing to listen, but at least say something intelligent...

  • by czei (121516) <michael&czeiszperger,org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:49PM (#8320231) Homepage
    All the arguments I've read in favor of having Sun make Java "open source" never mention the difference between a specification and an implementation. As a former Sun employee, I can tell you the corporate strategy was to make all specifications public, and allow integration and competition by having each competitor do a separate implementation. This worked well with networking standards, but has run afoul of the open source crowd.


    If Java was defined by its source rather than the specification MS or any other company would put out their own versions, and cross-platform compatibility would be destroyed in an instant. As it is anyone is free to do their own implementation of Java and open source it. Why not ask IBM to open source their JVM?

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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