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Sun's Simon Phipps Answers ESR On Java 707

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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  • I wouldnt mind... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by arock99 ( 612650 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:20PM (#8319106)
    I wouldnt mind seeing Java Open Sourced, perhaps it would finally convince some of those nay-sayers to switch to Java. Speed an issue...? Not anymore. Memory an issue? Not since 1.5, took a little while to get there but any language goes through learning
  • 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:I say yeah! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stradenko ( 160417 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:25PM (#8319162) Homepage
    Languages should be defined in an open and standard way. Let compilers and applications be proprietary. But keep in mind that proprietary extensions to the language ought to be shunned, as they will cause fragmentation.
  • 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.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:30PM (#8319227)
    Very interesting for them to say that when they are the same fuck tards financing SCO.

    We haven't forgotten, Simon. [newsfactor.com]
  • Re:rings a bell. . . (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.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.

  • 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 :)
  • 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 ;-).
  • Arrogance (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:39PM (#8319361)
    It's this type of arrogance from Sun that makes me want to spit everytime the issue of Java comes up.
  • 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 rbird76 ( 688731 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:46PM (#8319454)
    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 SCO to poke holes in the tires of Linux in order to preserve its Solaris business. Or somewhere in between.

    If Sun's actions in the case of SCO are the behavior of a friend of OS, then either Sun is utterly clueless or their definition of "friend" is nonstandard.
  • Re:Sun & Open Source (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JarekC ( 544383 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:46PM (#8319459)
    you can't even distribute the Sun JVM or JDK with a linux distro.

    What arey talking about? SuSE includes both Sun's JRE and Sun's JDK in their distro.

  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:47PM (#8319470) Journal
    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 and quit whining.
  • Re:Uh huh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ReaperOfSouls ( 523060 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:52PM (#8319541) Homepage
    Amen. If I had mod points you would have them...Solaris tools to this day are the largest heaping pile wrapped in a bow.
  • 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

  • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:00PM (#8319614) Homepage Journal
    You could always read the original article and understand that open sourcing "Java" is not about the language but Sun's implementation of it.

    I guess at this point since the whole of slashdot is getting it wrong due to the standard failure to RTFA, I'll just let it go...
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Ring a ding ding (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:10PM (#8319721)
    Ever notice how that's a more popular theory than practice? You think people's emperical data might just be painting a different picture?

    Besides ESR is hardly blameless. So Sun's CTO delivers unto him the wisdom of, "Dude. Still black. Keep it to yourself, you don't have much going for you besides reputation, and that's not what it might have been." Insulting? Maybe. True? Looks that way.
  • Re:Mono (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nickos ( 91443 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:17PM (#8319836)
    Stick to C++. It's not as fashionable, but is a far more powerful language, and it's not dominated by a corporation.

    C++ is a little harder to learn, but worth the effort. Javas write-once-run-anyware claim sounds great, but if you use standard libraries, C++ code can be recompiled for any platform for which a compiler exists (and g++ runs on more architectures then any JVM).

    During the dot-com-boom the industry was crying out for new programmers. Java was popular because it's easier to teach to novice progreammers. I can't see the appeal myself.
  • by Drey ( 1420 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:19PM (#8319876) Homepage
    The Jargon File wasn't originally his and many people consider what he did to it a corruption of the original. Here's an interesting site about ESR's contributions to it, Linux, etc.

  • 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...

  • Re:rings a bell. . . (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:28PM (#8319991)
    Sun Micro has a long-standing reputation of dishing out the flames. They continually talk smack about Microsoft and IBM and don't even pretend to be professional about it.

    If some prominent NetKook like Raymond comes after them some halfwit crap , they will reply in kind, just as they would respond to Microsoft. Expecting Sun to put on the kiddie gloves is ridiculous.
  • Re:Conversation! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @05:47PM (#8320205)
    It seems to me that the Linux/Open Source community has already chosen .net, it's sad really... There are much more complaints about Sun and Java than against .net and Microsoft on this site. I just can't figure it out.
  • by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:07PM (#8320395)
    The point I'm trying to make is that you should not compared with C# if you want examples pointing at how bad Sun is in this respect.

    You have to understand that standardising the syntax of the language means nothing. This is true for both Java and C#. The core syntax of the language is such a small part of the entire platform. You implied that Microsoft is somehow "better" than Sun because they standardised the syntax of the language.

    MS is actuallly worse than Sun because they are sneaky. You aren't even allowed to re-implement the MS libraries. Well, they have said that it's mostly OK, but they can pull out various patent lawsuits (patent infrigement?) at a moments notice if a free implementation becomes too good.

    Java, on the other hand, is safe to re-implement. Of course, you'll have to play catchup with Sun for every new version, but you can always join the JCP and get a say in what is added to the language. Exactly how do you do that with .net?

  • Re:What writing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:38PM (#8320688) Homepage
    Well first of all, how is their current Java license making them money? It's free (as in beer) for commercial use.
  • by thepseudogenie ( 752975 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:50PM (#8320816)
    After seeing the first Slashdot story announcing the letter (and reading the letter) I decided to send an email to ol' ESR. Check it out:

    I sent:


    If you really want your letter to be taken seriously by Sun, you must change the section about stock price:

    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. Open source is hardly a zero-revenue model; ask Red Hat, which had a share price over triple Sun's when I just checked.

    Do you think Sun will take business advice from somebody that doesn't understand something as fundamental as stock price? I beg you - please change this. Talk about market cap, earnings, whatever - stock price is completely irrelevant. Sun could set their share price at $1000000 tomorrow if they wanted to (well, not tomorrow - the market is closed. :) ).

    Just replace the last sentance with:

    Open source is hardly a zero-revenue model; ask Red Hat, which had earnings last quarter. Sun, on the other hand, lost money.

    Thanks again for writing this letter - we're all with you.


    And he replied:

    No it isn't irrelevant. Sun cannot "set" a share prise; the market does that, and it reflects investor expectations of future earnings per share.


    And to that I replied:

    Just FYI - a company can set the share price to whatever they want by doing a split or reverse split. I would recommend focusing on the fact that RedHat has been profitable for the past 5 quarters, while Sun has either lost money or broken even for the past 5. Growth might be something to mention as well.

    I don't want to get into a whole big thing here; we're on the same side - i agree with you 100%!

    Again, thanks for writing the letter - I hope it gets some results!


    Didn't get a response to that last one. He's just one of those typical computer guys that talks out of his ass. You know the type - they won't admit that there's something that they don't know. When will those people learn?! Admitting ignorance is the first step to knowledge, and in turn, wisdom.

    Hopefully this episode will teach him a thing or two.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @06:54PM (#8320857)
    He convinced Netscape to open up Mozilla.

    ESR basically fed Netscape a huge line of bullshit about how hundreds of Open Source coders would magically appear and how Navigator would improve so rapidly that Microsoft could never keep up. None of that happened.

    Don't get me wrong, the end result is good, but there's not going to be another Netscape which listens ESR.
  • by Khaed ( 544779 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:42PM (#8321853)
    Even ESR doesn't claim to have coined the phrase: "I did not coin the term "open source"; I only popularized it. It was coined by my friend Christine Peterson of the Foresight Institute. While it's true that I more or less ran the brainstorming session and fortunately had enough of a clue to recognize a winner when it popped up, the creative leap was all hers."

    It's the November 14th entry [ibiblio.org].
  • by macshit ( 157376 ) <.snogglethorpe. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:36PM (#8322938) Homepage
    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)

    No, it's completely off-base to say `Huge portions of Emacs were done by him.' ESR is at best a minor contributor to emacs; his biggest contribution was probably the GUD (Grand Unified Debugger) mode. You can see for yourself, all the ChangeLog entries are still there.

    ESR is not stupid, and he does know how to program, but he doesn't seem to have ever done anything truly significant (especially compared to fellow `FOSS leaders' like RMS and Linus). Obviously that's true of most people, but in ESR's case it's particularly striking because he tends to be in the public eye so much.
  • java == perl/python? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jonnystiph ( 192687 ) on Thursday February 19, 2004 @04:48AM (#8324548) Homepage
    I am usually a fan of Eric Raymonds comments, they are in my expierence well founded and thought out. However, since when are perl/python comparable to java. I use perl for sys admin work in place of hideous (IMO) shell scripts, even if Java was free (beer/speech), I could never see myself using it in place of perl. Can someone explain to me where Eric is coming from on this one.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry