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Sun Apologizes To Blackdown Team 120

LinuxGrrl write to us with a ComputerWorld.Com story regarding the recent hoopla of the Sun/Inprise JDK. Sun has apologized to the Blackdown team.
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Sun Apologizes To Blackdown Team

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sun is no better than Microsoft...and in many ways worse, because at least Microsoft doesn't try to PRETEND they are an open-source friendly company.

    Sun is simply yet another company (the worst offender, as far as I know of) trying to ride the open source bandwagon to big Wall $treet dollars without actually supporting the concepts of freedom.

  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @03:02AM (#1473343)
    When way the last time you heard of a major corporation apologizing publicly to a group of individuals for having bahaved in an entirely legal manner and without any threat of legal action?

    Um, how about last time a company did something that pissed off a group of customers and feared bad PR. Companies apologize left and right as soon as they have stepped on people and it gets out in the press. Apologies are cheap, especially when you are an organizationd devoid of dignity (like these companies are).

    Nothing interesting has happened here until we see evidence that Sun have changed their attitude.

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 1999 @05:34AM (#1473344)
    International Business Machines's backing of open source and free software only goes as far as they decide to support it. If they decide not to provide support (even in areas that they are *REQUIRED* to) then they won't. Here is a simple exercise to see what we should expect in the future from IBM:

    • Fetch the IBM unsupported ADSM client []
    • Uncompress and untar the package
    • Then run: strings dsmc | grep "C lib"
    • You should get some like follows:

      $ strings dsmc | grep "C lib" @(#) The Linux C library 5.4.32
    • Download the source code to the Linux C library and take note on how much of the code is covered by LGPL
    • Read the requirements for statically linking with LGPL material in the LGPL section 6
      • Notice that, unlike the SCSL which does not require any acknowledgement of Blackdown's work, that the LGPL requires "prominent notice" of the use of the library
      • Also, notice that by statically linking with the LGPL the distributor is required to provide a method in which the LGPL material can remain modifiable (an object files for relinking should be made available
    • Try locating any prominent notice of the use of the Linux C Library in the ADSM README file - not there?
    • Try locating any prominent notice of the use of the Linux C Library in the ADSM INSTALL file - nada?
    • Try locating any prominent notice in the ADSM start-up banner and you get:
    • $ ./dsmc ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager Command Line Backup Client Interface - Version 3, Release 1, Level 0.1 (C) Copyright IBM Corporation, 1990, 1997, All Rights Reserved.
    • Note that not only do they fail to acknowledge use of the Linux C library, they claim copyright on the material they aren't legally entitled to claim copyright on!
    • Try Contacting IBM/Tivoli [] about the availablity of the object files for relinking as required for statically linking with LGPL
      • Do they even acknowledge use of the Linux C library or do they just explain that no modifications to how they distribute can be made since the Linux client is not supported?
      • Do they acknowledge that lack of support is not a valid excuse to violate licensing/copyright of material?
    I personally am surprised at the turn-around time since the time that Sun was contacted that they decided (without any requirement from the license that they do so) acknowledged the work of Blackdown. IBM/Tivoli is REQUIRED by license to provide prominent notice and refuses to do so. While IBM has choosen to be kind on occation to the open source community with such works as Jikes, it is only because they choose to support such kindness. If IBM decides that they don't want to provide support in other areas of open source then they are prepaired to violate licensing conditions, violate copyright for redistibuting of material they don't have license to redistribute, declairing copyright on material they don't own and then demanding their actions are valid due to lack of support. IBM's "support" of open source has been like someone volinteering to teach an entire 3rd grade classroom and then when the school administration isn't looking forcing a third of the class to sit in the corner while insisting that the parents of the other two thirds talk about how great they are for volinteering to teach the class. Supporting open source shouldn't be a pick-and-choose game where you decide to unsupport following licensing conditions here but flex your PR for support over there. In my mind, IBM is far far worse than Sun has ever been. Jikes is just a cover-up for lack of supporting (or even acknowledging) open source. If IBM can justify violating LGPL while requiring we honor copyright/licening on their own products then they clearly don't take open source seriously. They understand that just because I don't support Lotus Notes doesn't give me right to redistribute the Lotus Notes server software and declair copyright on it. But they refuse to even acknowledge that copyright should work in favor of open source as well.

    By the way, IBM/Tivoli has been informed of the LGPL violation by both email and phone. They have not given any indication they plan to correct their actions.

  • Sun might apologize, but Blackdown or any other developers outside sun that might have contributed. are still not mentioned anywhere on their site (Early access site [] requires registration woth Java Developer Connection).
  • Well, I'd say that it's not going to help there profits very much if they entire Open Source/Free Software community loses all trust in them. It's not going to help them if anybody who likes Linux (many IT people) start distrusting them. That could certainly hurt sales, even hardware ones.
  • On the contrary, Sun's actions with regard to Blackdown were discussed months ago, and again about a month ago. The relationship has been decidedly one-way for a long time (since August '98) -- Blackdown submits fixes to Sun's broken reference implementation, Sun occasionally releases some PR which hypes their commitment to Linux, Sun applies Blackdown patches, lather, rinse, repeat.

    This is nothing new, and the reason that my companies (as in the companies I run) dropped Java a few months ago. Sun doesn't want a viable leading edge Linux platform. Linux Java (if Sun has its way) will always trail the Solaris/Win32 versions by at least a minor release.

    The wild card is the recent emergence of viable IBM JDK products. You will see Sun fight this on a legal and PR level and they will begin to change Java (a la Microsoft tactics) to keep IBM and others from using a standard Java unowned by Sun. This is also the reason why the ECMA standards submission was retracted.

    I hope those of you still counting on Sun for a good portable Java implementation enjoy yourselves.

  • Does anyone know how much effort it takes to port the JDK 2 to yet another free Unix flavor on yet another system?

    Surely FreeBSD shouldn't be that hard to do - how far would linux binary emulation go?
  • oh yeah, disclosure: I own a good bit of SUNW stock. ;-P

  • I'm not wanting to dis Mr. Schultz directly, but aren't we all sick of this nonsensical corporate double-speak?

    Does this sound like an apology to you? If you broke the cookie jar, and you told your mom that you had an apologetic stance towards the event, do you think she'd buy it?

    Corporations should be capable of saying, "Know what? We did a shitty thing, we admit it, and we'd like to publicly apologize to the people we've hurt."

    Guess that's only for televangelists and politicians, and even then, only after they've been caught.

    Feeling cynical,
  • have you compared the ibm jdk to blackdown's and sun's on linux? it's fast...

    talk about going for the more robust/stable implementation... combined with jikes, it may be an upset for sun!

  • MS owns non-voting stock equal to roughly 10% of the company; they bought the stock as part of a patent licensing deal.

    Since it is non-voting stock, and because MS and Inprise/Borland have traditionally been competitors, their influence isn't as large as it might seem it should be from the numbers alone.

    --Robert West
    Delphi R&D
  • This might be reduntant but I can't see the reason for why Sun would do such a thing. The Blackdown team is know for their outstanding work which is highly valuable for Sun. The long expertise aquired from porting Java 1.2 to Linux should be recognised by the managers at Sun. Don't they see that continuing cooporating with Blackdown is in their best interest.

    Maybe it was just a big slip. Someone mentioned that this was the final blow in a long line of problems. When people leave the team it's clearly an indication that something is terribly wrong. The problem is that Sun is a big company and those work slow, have long chains of command and the employees are given directives from PHB. Such a company are possibly less able to work smoothly with a small team like Blackdown. Maybe they should just hire the whole team.

    Then again I'm not an expert on these matters and a case like this have two sides. Negatively portraying big companies like Sun is always easy. Who knows - maybe it was a good short term business desicion .

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stock market investors are NOTHING like the people on slashdot. Guess what guys.. they're interested in PROFIT. 99% of the people out there aren't investing to get a warm fuzzy feeling in their heart when they buy Redhat stock. These people want returns on their investments by almost any means necessary. That's why buyouts and mergers and downsizings and high quarterly earnings mean their stock goes up. Just remember one thing, Yahoo's day is coming. The tech stocks will be decimated when people wake up one day and realize they are not receiving ANY returns on dividends from these companies. They don't make any profit! They only way to make money off tech stocks like these is to buy and sell them at a higher price. It has become a high stakes game of trading Pokemon cards.. only with thousands of dollars at stake and an entire industry that could collapse when this house of cards tumbles.
  • You see that is the problem with sun they are just like apple. They have good, yet overpriced hardware, and and closed system that requires there os to run on their computer (like apple). Its funny that both sun, and apple follow the old IBM model for computing.
    Give me linux, and the bsd brothers anyday (open, free, and net).
    At least I wont have to worry about my development tools being ripped apart. Java was such a cool technology and Sun had to go mess it up multiple times. Anyway....:(
  • The change happened a long time ago (when was the RS6000 introduced?). I will never forget going to a computer show and seeing the IBM folks in jeans and sneakers and all the Apple people in suits. I wondered what universe I'd woken up in that day.
  • by banky ( 9941 ) <.gregg. .at.> on Thursday December 09, 1999 @06:19AM (#1473373) Homepage Journal
    THINK! apparently is becoming fashionable at IBM again.

    I like what IBM is doing; they seem to be making the fewest mistakes of all the people jumping on the bandwagon, and sadly I think they are going somewhat unnoticed for it.

    In the end, though, I think IBM sees Linux and Open Source as a way to win against Microsoft. They lost in the OS/2 battle, when they played by Microsoft's rules. Now they get a chance to turn the tables, change the rules, and score big. They follow the "widget frosting" model of open-source: they make Big Iron, and as long as they have a full-featured OS, they sell boxes. By unifying their offerings from desktop, to small server, to big iron, they present a unified front, something MS and their 42 software offerings can't match. They develop loyalty in the community, so people start using their development tools, buying their hardware, and killing MS market share. They get tons of free advertising from Linux partisans, so their sales force can be more effectively utilized. Its a win on all fronts. All they have to do in return (to keep this win-win situation going) is behave. Open the tools, don't piss people off, and don't hoard.
  • I dont think IBM is the company that it used to be. IBM has fired most of those upper management suits that they used to have in the 80s. IBM in my opinion has trimmed alot of fat. They no longer hold that tyrannical software/hardware hold that is so popular with Apple, and Sun. Not to mention that they still do cool stuff (unlike Compaq and dell who just make money)..
    mey $0.02
  • I've just downloaded and installed JBuilder on my Debian [] Potato system (PII/400, 128Mb Ram.) My system has no KDE compliance as far as I am aware. The installer has gone off without a hitch, but the `free key' is a pain. Especially when Inprise's server seems to be dying under the load. Corporations will do anything for market info, won't they? The JDK1.2.2 package also claims a requirement for KDM, although AppletViewer works without any problems. Perhaps Sun are just erring on the side of caution with their requirements?
  • I do my development work here at IBM on my Linux laptop. The windows box they gave me is good for running Lotus Notes and that's it.

    I have a definite advantage over my team mates. My code moves very very easily from my Linux Java environment to the target AIX server. Theirs requires a few tweaks and other stupid things to move to the AIX box because it was written on a Windows machine.

    Furthermore, I can mount all the test data I need through NFS. My windows using comrades always need to make copies every time the test data gets updated. I waste little time because of that.

    IBM really likes Linux, and the managers are happy to let me use it.

  • Wowsers! I didn't know I was part of a "cover-up" -- I thought I was just an overworked programmer paid by IBM to work full-time on open-source!

    In any event, grep does produce the output you report. I will send a letter about this to management.

    By the way, I suspect the person who put this file together didn't appreciate the distinction between static and dynamic linking. We first got requests for Jikes for Linux in April '97, and I didn't fully appreciate the distinction then even after exchanging several e-mails with rms himself. I didn't reconsider this again until June '98 (after getting yet more requests, and some help from Nelson Minar at MIT). I spent a couple of weeks going over the GPL and exchanging (lots of) e-mail with one of our attorneys before obtaining permission to release Jikes in binary form for Linux (Jikes was the first binary for Linux released from Research, as it was later the first open-source program from Research).


    PS: (Shameless plug). I'll be speaking on Jikes at the Bazaar next week, and also at the NYLUG meeting (in the IBM bldg. at 57th and Madison) Wednesday night. IBM is also sponsoring a reception at FAO Schwartz from 9-11PM Wed. night for Bazaar attendees.
  • yea why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free
  • Let us see if anyone is watching us - if we get caught, we apologise, else we win. Sooner or later they will get tired of watching

    i guess you have never worked for a large software company. it does not work that way. in the last two decades, i have never met a single software development manager who have ever uttered anything so stupid. if anything, many companies are overly cautious in this regard. they write their own instead of using free software.

    -- nous

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've never understood the attitude of the big software mills about crediting the guys at the lathes... as it were. It's nothing to do with control; Lucas and Spielberg keep pretty tight control of everything they do. Yet everyone down to the associate assistant deputy apprentice electrian's sister's blind date gets a credit.

    Yeah, it'd make the software a little bigger, but c'mon... gzip the credits and nobody'll notice 'em in 30 MB of install. I know it'd make me a happier little developer...

  • In the end, though, I think IBM sees Linux and Open Source as a way to win against Microsoft. They lost in the OS/2 battle, when they played by Microsoft's rules.

    I think the thing you miss is that IBM plays by a different set of rules all together. They lost the OS/2 battle because they saw it as a low-end threat to their high end profit centers. Time and a consulting business has proved to them that there is money to be made on the low end.

    Still, if you were to call IBM and ask for a 'ebusiness' solution, Linux wouldn't bubble up to the top of their list. They'd be more likely to do the following:

    1) Do you need (can you afford) a Mainframe?
    2) No? Do you need (can you afford) a high-end RS/6000?
    3) No? Do you need (can you afford) an AS/400?
    4) No? Do you need (can you afford) a low-end RS/6000?
    5) OK. So you want Windows NT consulting services and hardware?
    6) No? How about Linux consulting services and hardware?
    7) Oh, you want OS/2? Let me transfer you.

    The good news is that Linux is on the list, which means lots of support and ported products. (It also lets IBM drop it's less profitable low-end RS/6000 line. Linux is also good for 'services' like DNS and mail gateways to the big iron.)

    The bad news, with a big high-end company like IBM, Linux is never going to be seen as a 'strategic' platform like AS/400 is. If you want a hardware vendor that's 100% behind Linux, buy VA, not IBM.

    (AS/400, btw, has been growing far faster than Windows NT in recent years, and by IBM's account is more profitable than all of Sun Microsystems. They're not going to undercut that by pushing something like DB2 on Linux. They're not stupid.)
  • I think you guys are getting too specific -

    ANY company that occupies a near-monopoly position will attempt to hold it for as long as possible. This is because large companies are ruled by stock holders, the larger the company gets, the more outrageous the demands from stock holders get. In fact, there is no real "entity" of the company - just a board of directors who listen to share holders and a CEO (microsoft is an interesting exception since it's majority share holder is also its kinda-CEO).

    People say "That dang Microsoft! That damn IBM!" Any company that approaches their size will consistently attempt to enlarge their market penetration until... guess what? They are the market. Remember ALCAN?

    Both netscape and sun are run by intelligent, driven individuals and I know it in my water that they would do some of the same stuff MS does if they were in that market position. They wouldn't say, "Hey you know? Browser users should have choice. Let's not crush this new competitor like a bug." AOL/netscape is going to have some of the same battles in the coming years, I can tell.
  • I think Microsoft has heavily invested in it is MS in an indirect way.

    If MS made a java sdk or linux, it would give mcneally a chance to run around in circles clucking like a chicken again.
  • I just got a response from management. Could the AC who posted the original note please send me an e-mail address so I can put you in touch with the (quite senior) manager dealing with this? Otherwise I would expect a posting from management here sometime tomorrow a.m.

  • This looks like a classic "sorry I got caught" situation. This assumes intent. I think it's much more likely an "oops -- didn't even think of it" situation.
  • The limit of accidental action from a corporation is shipping a PC with the wrong amount of RAM. Anything this major is deliberate and premeditated.

    Sun Wrote the SCSL. The license specifically allows them to do this. Why? Because at the time they created it they had this sort of thing in mind.

    Any apology will therefore be insincere. Any attempt to pacify the Blackdown crew is just that. I don't trust any publickly traded corporation. Simply because the only thing keeping them out of the slave trade are a few old laws.

    Trust licenses that protect your interests. Nothing more or less matters. Verbal communication doesn't matter. Promises just stink.

    If Sun was sorry it would release the software under a free license and allow developers to own the work they do on it. Since they are not even considering that, we can assume they simply want to save face.

    Big deal.
  • I agree. It seems to me that Sun benefited from a lot of positive PR that came on the back of a general animosity to Microsoft. Sun seemed to be the "friendly" option. I don't think they actually did anything to deserve this, and so were lulled into the false sense that they must be somehow intuitively very good at PR, or that they were by definition a popular company.

    Their actions seem to demonstrate a complete lack of consideration for how the IT community at large and the specific user groups they really ought to value will react.

    They may be excellent at what they do, but I don't think they've ever been very good at public relations or image management. They're Ok at riding the crest of a positive wave of media attention, they frankly wallow in it, but they're no good at selling themselves when the friendly reporting isn't immediately forthcoming.

    I suppose what I'm driving at is that I disagree with the "evil empire" comparisons of Sun to Microsoft. I think they're just incompetent when it comes to selling themselves. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that's unforgivable in a large corporation.

  • by voop ( 33465 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @01:56AM (#1473397) in the old days, "Big Blue" were the bad, proprietary and closed ones while Sun was the "good" alternative (someone around here has a clever signature saying something like "I remember when Sun really was about open computing").

    Now, everybody is cheering at Big Blue and ranting over Sun being proprietary and closed....

    One has to wonder...when will the things change again, and we will find ourselves cheering at Microsoft...? (It could happen, you know....)
  • by anthonyclark ( 17109 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @01:40AM (#1473398)
    It's interesting that there have been several mentions lately of IBM's support for Java on Linux. (and Linux in general...)
    It seems that while Sun makes a big noise about Linux and then catches flak for the SCSL, IBM quietly carries on supporting Linux and Java.
    However, my knowledge of IBM's real policies towards Linux are sketchy at best... Anyone care to tell us what licenses IBM are using? Has anyone had any good/bad experience with IBM and Linux?
  • While SUN is making those uncredible mistakes (withdrawal from standards process, theft of Blackdown's effort while denying credit), it seems odd to see that its stock is climbing without rest (today by 9%), and has done so for many months. Apparently stock market investors don't seem to be like us. My own reaction (if I had money to put in that sort of game) would have been to retaliately sell my SUN stocks.
  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @01:41AM (#1473400)
    why a company like Sun (which after all employs some pretty smart people coming from the free software (BSD) camp) makes such mistakes. Surely they have some people who understand the open source (GNU) mindset. So what do they do? They simply take someone elses work (Blackdown) and distribute it as theirs. While a legal move, this is something that anybody with half a brain could have predicted that it would cause some anger.

    While Sun might make good hardware and have a decent OS, their attitude/actions speak louder than words: they want to side with the OSS community but not pay the price. They want ultimate control of their technology. This of course is their right but they should not be surprised if the OSS community doesn't follow/believe them anymore. They've disappointed too many people too often ... interestingly enough, IBM (with it's monopolistic past) seems to get/accept the OSS mindset with a surprising agility. So it can be done. So why doesn't Sun get it? Maybe the real reason is that they're scared of Linux. Linux is improving at an incredible rate and already offers some benefits that Sun can't match (better user interface, nicer desktop, etc). How long until Linux is scalable enough that it starts invading Sun's territory of high-end servers? This probably is Sun's ultimate fear: they lost the desktop to Windows, they're under attack in the mid-tier (from Linux and NT) and Linux scalability seems to be improving rather fast. Despite all their claims, Linux (for them) is an enemy that threatens them (and radically devalues much of their software offering).

  • What coder really cares about such things? Yes
    we will all use the best jdk.. but is it really important who produces it? It's like dealing with ibm people.. sit around.. talk. worry about saving face and making good relationships.. Then never get anything done.

    Press releases that aren't related to stock, cool new apps, important tech decisions, or serious crises are just a waste of bandwidth.

    Sun, Your kungfu is old.. and now you must die!
  • by The Original Bobski ( 52567 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @01:59AM (#1473402) Homepage Journal

    It's kinda weak, but you can find it here [].
  • by etherised ( 72853 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @01:46AM (#1473403) Journal
    this looks ugly. according to the article it almost seems as if the blackdown team is all but disbanded. i never really stopped to think about it, but it must have been tough for the blackdown team to have to deal with sun's ways for so long, just to make the product available to us. i guess i just want to say THANK YOU BLACKDOWN for all the hard work you guys have put in over the years. perhaps sun will see the reaction in the linux community and get their act together -- or does it take a DOJ investigation to make big business see the light?
  • by teraflop user ( 58792 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @02:14AM (#1473404)
    The really interesting issue here is the way the free software community has impacted business model.

    When way the last time you heard of a major corporation apologizing publicly to a group of individuals for having bahaved in an entirely legal manner and without any threat of legal action?

    Sun may be wholly behind the ideals of free software, but they certainly seem to be aware that they are part of a community and have certain responsibilities as a result.

    It also says something about the power of public opinion on the internet.
  • In my opinion, the real problem is that we will soon grow tired of hearing this kind of stories and stop reacting. This is exactly the reasons why Corel and Sun are doing this:

    "Let us see if anyone is watching us - if we get caught, we apologise, else we win. Sooner or later they will get tired of watching."

    Imagine what will happen, when in 2 years Corel puts yet another stupid licence somewhere in their distribution? That's it: NOTHING, because we will all be so pissed off by corel that noone will even bother reacting anymore. What we need is a central linux (or more general "Free software") legal departement to fight them in the long term...

  • Sort it out, there's more in the world (and on /.) than just MS-bashing you know.
  • IMHO, Blackdown are up against big business deals where the suits make decisions and the PR people dust over the cracks later.

    Sun seem to have a very tight deal with Inprise - Noticed that JBuilder Enterprise is only available for Solaris? Yet it is 100% Java, so to get it working on Windows all you have to do is follow the /bin/sh install script mentally on your Win box. I know, I've done it. Yet Inprise are prepared to loose all the Windows JBuilder Enterprise customers for a few months by telling people that it is Solaris only. That means Sun and Inprise are deeply in bed.

    I wonder if deals like this will feature in a future DoJ vs Sun monopoly case? Granted Sun are not currently as badly behaved as MS, but that is only because they don't have the opportunity.
    I seem to recall McNally saying a few years ago something along the lines that he approved of Gates' business methods - he'd do the same thing given the option. Maybe I remember it wrong though.

    The bit that I don't understand is that Inprise are partly owned by Microsoft (IIRC). So how does that work?

  • Apparently stock market investors don't seem to be like us.

    Quite right. They're pushing web firms with no profits to unbelievable prices, so when you consider that Sun has consistently increased their profit margin, while at the same time making no (fiscal) mistakes, you can begin to understand why they love Sun. Investors hate suprises, and Sun has delivered them none.

    There are "moral" mutual finds, that don't invest in companies with "sins" on them. Maybe it's time to start an OSS moral fund, supporing companies that get it right?
  • Their stock split 2 for 1 yesterday. Usually a stock goes up significantly after a split because it is perceived as a "deal" at the lower price. The day after a split is sometimes the bad one, when investors correct the ephoria of the previous day. I'm betting any repercusions will be felt today, but I'm doubting it will move far.

    Let's face it SUN abandoning the standard is good news for investors. It means more short term profits for SUN. Investors like profits.

    And how many investors care that SUN was a bad guy and exercised their legal rights to "steal" someone else's work. This "theft" benefits their product line and increases their profits. Again, investors like profits.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I don't trust any publicly traded corporation" Including RedHat?
  • Agreed. I might be wrong, but it seems that in the past the FSF legal department only makes a big deal with something like Emacs or GCC needs to be defended. Seems that they either don't care or are not able to defend GPL violations of other free software besides their own?? Maybe it's not their fault... but we really need a fund for the legal costs of defending GPL, etc., and to do something when some bungling corporation decides "inadvertantly" to step on a piece of GPL'd software.

  • Whether or not this IBM program is an LGPL violation, I can't see what the big deal is. Oh, no! Someone statically linked a Linux executable against the Linux C library. Horrors! Do you really think that they're hoarding some secret modification they've made to libc? Even if they did provide libc sources, would anybody have bothered to diff them to see if they've done something magical to printf()?

    I think that nit-picking any trivial (mis)use of free software encourages the fear and uncertainty that some PHB's still have toward using anything they don't pay $$$$ for. It would be better to save the legal analyses for cases which are truly meaningful.

  • I very much hope the Blackdown team will keep developing. Remember that we won't see anything but Linux x86 from Sun for the free OS's... The request for enhancements at that asks for FreeBSD should now be the top request (#1 was a Linux JDK), but I very much doubt it will be implemented. The Sun guys probably know that the OSS community is able to make a lot of noise and make lots of people create a JDC login and vote for that RFE, and they may have seen the Slashdot call to do exactly this some time ago (November?).

    Does anyone know how much effort it takes to port the JDK 2 to yet another free Unix flavor on yet another system?
  • also, the actions of a few should not be seen as representative of the entire company, any more than the postings of a few excited newbies on these sorts of discussions should be seen as the general attitude of "open source people."

    But that's exactly it - when you distribute a press release with "Sun Microsystems, Inc" on the letterhead, it is a representation of the entire company. Postings on /. or elsewhere don't represent the entire Linux community, because there is no legal association which defines the entire Linux community. But Sun is a legal entity and they should be prepared to take the criticism for any actions that they as a company make. It's not like some crazy guy in engineering started printing press releases on the office copier and Sun didn't know about it - the actions that Sun has taken reflect poorly on the entire company.

  • I like what IBM is doing; they seem to be making the fewest mistakes of all the people jumping on the bandwagon, and sadly I think they are going somewhat unnoticed for it.

    I'm not an IBM employee, so this is just the perspective of one interested outsider watching the goings-on, but...

    I think the main reason IBM's moves are going unnoticed is because they're being awfully quiet about it. They don't want that kind of attention. At least, not yet.

    My impression is that they're still "gearing up". They have a lot they want to do, and unlike some other companies, they don't want to generate a bunch of hype while they still don't have the products ready (e.g. how long between when you heard about HotSpot and when you actually saw HotSpot). Certain companies (like Sun) have a reputation for selling more hype than product. IBM would rather gain the opposite reputation. My prediction: expect IBM to continue to go unnoticed until they're good and ready. Then expect a hugh splash. When this mammoth cannonballs into the pool, the whole world's going to get wet...


  • I was going to mention that you forgot Barksdale, but he's crawled in a hole since quitting. More proof that God answers my prayers.
  • Yeah, offtopic. Or is it? It seems that now that the mighty Microsoft has taken the big DOJ fall, that every half-cocked half-brained engineer needs a new target, and Sun is it. That less-than-informed bashing (yes BASHING) that goes on here I find disruptive and mean spirited. God, there are a lot of angry and juvenile people that are willing to spout off at the drop of a hat. I'm getting really sick of it.

    Do I, as a software engineer, want to hang out in this forum anymore? I don't know. Even filtering out all 0s isn't working. I'm sure glad that the people I work with every day aren't this bitchy.

    Several comments above just really got to me. The baseball bat post was one, the person stating that the apology was just to save face was another. What the heck??!! They apologized, man -- in pretty darn quickly too! What more can you ask? Mistakes happen, it's human nature. Oh, that's right -- because Sun won't give away all of it's software for free, it makes them a bad company.

    Open source is a good thing, I think we all agree on that. But it doesn't give us license to fuck over anyone and everyone that doesn't buy into it. (sorry for the language). It's worse than being unprofessional -- it can and is actively hurting good companies. I work with Sun hardware day in and day out, and my customers (you know, the ones that pay the bills) are extremely happy that the servers never crash. But the constant bashing is unfairly affecting the reputation of a pretty good company.

    Believe me, my head is not buried in the sand. Sun's a big company, and is clearly looking out for it's interests first. It's just that I'm sick of people spouting calling Sun evil because Sun doesn't subscribe to this one person's open-source philosophy.

    So there, I've said my peace. It will mostly fall on deaf ears, I'm sure, but at least I said it.

  • IBM is ok in my book. They put out TechExplorer which allows me to put my LaTeX/TeX documents on the web without having to resort to a gazillion jpg files (latex2html) or even worse, having to learn that mathbbl stuff (just what I need. Yet another language to learn).

    They certainly didn't have to support Linux, I'm sure it doesn't net them much $$$ when you include development costs. Yet they seem to be aggresively developing it.

    IMHO, this is another piece of evidence that IBM is friendly to Linux.

  • Here [] is an email from Kevin telling how the Sun applogy wasn't enough. Its a real shame.

  • But Sun is a legal entity and they should be prepared to take the criticism for any actions that they as a company make.

    So it has, and apologized. the point has to do with the idiotic commentary regarding sun's evil intentions. Criticism should work with facts, not fiction.

    It's not like some crazy guy in engineering started printing press releases on the office copier and Sun didn't know about it

    engineering understands the value of open software, and would not do something so stupid. alas, not all of sun gets to review press releases before hand to catch this kind of slipups.

    -- nous

  • What's the problem with generating profits while giving credit to contributors where credit is due? I don't understand.


  • We're training IBM teams just as fast as we can on open source rules and guidelines, including the obligations of the various licenses. Obviously, we have more work to do here. It is absolutely our intent that when we work with the open source community, we work within the ethos, both in spirit and in detail. Like everyone else, we will on occasion make mistakes. When we do, we will fix them. We're looking into the ADSM situation right now. If we've made a mistake here, we will fix it and we will follow up on /. with additional info as soon as we have it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. By the way, ADSM was one of IBM's first offerings on Linux and was built when we were quite new at this (not an excuse, just a tidbit).

    Daniel Frye
    Program Director, Open Source & Linux
    IBM Linux Technology Center
  • Even internally in the Sun Netscape Alliance, known as iPlanet, we didn't know about this other JDK for Linux.

    We developed and tested the iPlanet Web Server, Enterprise Edition 4.1 [], formerly known as Netscape Enterprise Server, with Blackdown's JDK for servlet/JSP support. The product supports pluggable JVM so you can try using IBM's JDK for Linux (when they release 1.2 for Linux, that is), or the new Sun/Inprise JDK 1.2.2 . But we don't know how well they will work. Blackdown is the way to go for now.

  • Interesting apology :)

    (It's currently a 404 error)

    Feel free to moderate me down, I just had a good laugh at that... Kinda weak indeed...
  • by briggers ( 32641 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @02:22AM (#1473437) Homepage
    To me, it seems that a certain section of the Linux community has been far too hasty in condemning Sun for what is really a PR glitch. This is the history of Java on Linux: earlier this year (or late 98?), Sun license the Java 2 sources to the Blackdown team (with some fanfare). A few months later and it the Blackdown port is not going so well - whether this is the result of insufficient info from Sun, who knows? Inprise want to port JBuilder to Linux, but can't do it without a decent JVM, so they approach Sun and decide to do their own port.

    Months later and no sign of a release from Blackdown. Sun and Inprise decide to make the Inprise JDK 'official'. Just as they are about to release, Blackdown come out with their own release candidates. This is not some big conspiracy, just appalling communcation problems between Blackdown and Sun.

    There still seem to be many people under the impression that Sun have simply repackaged the Blackdown port; this is *not* the case, as anyone who has actually *tried* either port will find out. A guy from the Inprise team has been very active on the Java Linux mailing list trying to point out that they (quite legally) used a few Blackdown diffs, but apart from that it is an independent effort.

    Maybe it was a bit lame of Sun not to acknowledge Blackdown in their press releases, but do they really want to be associated with things like Blackdown's v1.2 prereleases? I'm not sledging Blackdown's work (in fact their 1.2.2 port is superior to Sun's), but they have managed to give Java on Linux a bad reputation in the past.

    We have to come to terms with the fact that Linux cannot survive as an enterprise platform without a decent JDK. Java is more than buggy Netscape applets and a slow JVM; when it's implemented well, it's a great solution for both server-side and client-side applications. Both the new Sun and Blackdown releases go a long way to fulfilling that gap; and isn't it better to have a choice as well?

  • But it's probably not the programmers who write the press releases. So I would guess that the information about Blackdown was either ignored by the PR guys (who probably don't understand what this means, so they can't even be blamed), or was not made available to them in the first place (which might have been the fault of some manager in-between).
    It's bad for Sun (and especially the Blackdown guys - I would be pissed off as well if I was in their position), but it might just have been a misunderstanding or caused by a lack of knowledge.
    I sure hope they (Blackdown) continue their excellent work - without them, I would have to use Windows ...
  • "Sun©-We put the 'whatthefsck?' in DotCom."
    Have you ever tried to navigate their website?
    Time yourself in finding the boot disk for Sol7.
    No cheating.

    Scott McNealy is the worlds biggest crybaby(well..either he or Larry Ellison). Both deserve to be crippled with baseball bats for their 'we are good, MS is bad' stances.
    Both simply want to, as a poster in another thread recently wrote, 'Get the king removed, so they can have his chair'...

    And, the sheer arrogance of their new Solaris motto-"Solaris 8 - The .com OS"
    ugh...MAKE ME PUKE!

    /disjointed rant
  • I remember when Apple sued Microsoft in 1989; students and programmers alike took to the streets and held demonstrations in support of Microsoft's freedom (to inovate) to provide a GUI for the open PC platform as an alternative to the evil and closed Apple Macintosh. Although I wasn't a student back then, I remember watching students at the University of Oslo on national TV.

    This was the reason The League for Programming Freedom (LPF) was started.

    The heroes and villains change all the time, it is up to us to keep a clear focus and protect our freedom.

  • What we need is a
    central linux (or more general "Free software") legal departement to fight them in the long term...

    Brilliant...I believe FSF is more than willing to do that - provided, of course, that you hand over the copyrights (or whatever the legal term is) over your SW to FSF (imho, that's a fair claim if one wants their services. Lawyers cost money, ya' kno').

    Something like that is although rather difficult on projects such as Linux - no one person can hand over the "copyrights" of Linux. Both in the broader term of "Linux distributions" as well as narrowly about the kernel. Linus explicitly writes in the file "COPYING" (with the kernel):

    " Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
    Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the Linux
    kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it. "

    But the issue is of interrest: what good is OpenSource, GPL etc. unless there is some way of defending it (and unless that it actually is defended)...?

  • Yes, I think Sun will become more predatory and MS will become less so.

    Companies seem to become protective when they think of themselves as being technology companies rather service companies or manufacturers.

    Microsoft is strongly assocciated with Windows. Therefore it acts strongly to defend and promote windows technology. Sun is not strongly assocciated with Unix - unix is a technology that Sun is interested in, but that Sun does not own particularly - thus with Solaris we see a good deal of openess and sanity, and little pressure.

    But Java is Sun's Windows. And Sun is starting to behave with Java just as MS did with DOS. When you think 'Java' you think 'Sun' even though as a language spec it is theoretically available from many places. Same with the old dos - you thought 'DOS' and thought 'Microsoft' evne though IBM, Corel and so on were in the game.

    Now, Sun wants it to stay that way. And that's why they are getting agressive.

    IBM don't make much fuss about technology these days. It used to me 'computer' == 'IBM' but those days are gone. Even IBM's technologies(db2, AS/400, lotus) are not strongly assocciated with them. IBM are more of a service company now - they provide end to end solutions for all sorts of things. IBM are never going to try to own apache or own Linux, because they have moved on from the 'lets invent a cool technology and flog it for everything we can get' mentality.

    Sun are in a tight spot. The hardware is good, but still expensive and under threat from IA64, Merced and friends. Solaris is good, but it's under threat from Linux, OS X, even NT. Sun didn't have much else until it created Java and bought Netscape.

    Now, we can all see how protective Sun are getting over Java, and I can tell you that if you talk to them about Netscape stuff, they are just as bullish and aggressive about it. You think "Web" and you think "Netscape" - and Sun is trying to buy into that assocciation.

  • Sort of a corollary to your statement...

    I think another problem with the mainstreaming of linux is that the '2nd Generation' of Linux users (if Corel, IBM and other companies have there way) are going to be the average, everyday computer user.

    It's great that Linux is becoming more and more popular, but it also dilutes the hacker contingent. If Linux utterly replaced Windows and was running on 90% of all desktops, 80-90% of people using it probably won't care about the GPL and FSF (at least not on the deep jyhad level that we see now). How many typical corporate or home users are going to be miffed that you have to be 18 to download Corel Linux. It will seem like a minor deal. Instead of most of the linux community rising up and shouting at companies who aren't playing nice, it will be a small fringe group.

    My big fear of linux popularity is that geek/hacker faction will be marginalized in there own OS!

    Or maybe I'm just grim and pessimistic this morning...

  • by Frank Sullivan ( 2391 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @04:41AM (#1473445) Homepage
    Thanks for all the hard work you've put into making Linux a viable Java platform. You've made a real difference.

    I realize that, as individuals and as a group, you may no longer want to work with Sun. But i do hope that as a group, you will hang together, and find some other way to focus your considerable talents and energies on Linux/Java. Perhaps working with IBM (under better license terms this time)? Or the Kaffe project?

    I won't be terribly upset if Sun's betrayal (despite their apology) means the end of Blackdown's relationship with Sun. I will be a lot more upset if it means the death of Blackdown.

    Maybe that's just the price you pay for the chains that you refuse.
  • fame.. fortune.. a jedi wants not these things.
  • Funny one that. Way back in 1989 or 1990, I was a student. I saw people in the Computer Science department wearing badges showing the Apple logo surrounded by the words "Keep your lawyers away from my computers". The big corporation everyone treated as the obviously incorrigably evil bastards was IBM. We also knew DOS was a steaming pile, but didn't care. We had UNIX, the way and the truth, with Sequent and Sun boxes falling out of our ears. This was at Edinburgh, Scotland. There was no Internet, only JANET, except for the gateway down at Imperial College in London, England. Wanted to talk to a computer? You needed to 14 digit number and type it into a PAD. Cue Yorkshireman sketch, "You were lucky! We... Kids today don'y know they're born". But I digress...

    The point is, we failed to realise what Microsoft would grow into. Sun has grasped a significant amount of the new generation of students with Java, since its a nice and simple enough language for people to be taught how to program. I now make my living writing in Java, its nice and scales well enough for real world programs. I'd read the beta specification, the one with the bugs, in October 1993, just as I was passing from University into wage slavery. Having gained this, Sun has the potential to turn into an organisation as obviously incorrigbly evil as IBM was, and Miciosoft is now.

    I appreciate the work of the Blackdown team, since I use Debian GNU/Linux at work, and would probably have to suffer Windows hell to carry on writing code in a language I mostly enjoy. As has been noted on Slashdot in the recent few days, its has its drawbacks. Stupid primitive types instead of programmer defined value types, and lacking parametric polymorphism being a couple of them. I'm less fussed about multiple inheritance, and think that the interface mechanism is a good alternative. It would be an even better alternative if not all of the methods had to be abstract. Of course, such non-abstract methods would only get to use other methods, including the ones left abstract, in the interfaces they extend.

    I'm also totally into Free Software, not Open Source, standing up there with RMS on ths one. The Blackdown team agreed to give up their freedom when they agreed to Sun's condition to keep the Java source closed. They should have known what they were doing when they made that agreement. I can't bring myself to feel sorry for them. If they were to take their freedom back, and release the Java source without the consent of Sun, I would support them, and feel sorry for them when Sun's lawyers went for their pound of flesh.

  • you know, a company like sun does have its share of doofuses, mostly in business suits. the technologists within the company are livid about this screw up. sun does not need to take anyone else's work. but it is trying to work with the open-source community, and that takes some getting used to, especially for the non-technologists.

    remember, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    also, the actions of a few should not be seen as representative of the entire company, any more than the postings of a few excited newbies on these sorts of discussions should be seen as the general attitude of "open source people."

    regarding IBM: it seems to me that it needs all the help it can get in the OS arena, just like SGI and perhaps others to follow. They are not scared, they are desparate, and it is easier to hug an appearent winner than to keep trying...

    -- nous

  • You can run Linux on Sun hardware. A few people do, but most people want to take advantage of the benefits that Solaris gives you when run on the hardware. (64 bit, scalable to 64 processors... etc).

    As for the price of the hardware, it is actually competitively priced. It can do a lot of things that the cheap Intel computers can NEVER do, due to the hardware design.
  • by arn@lesto ( 107672 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @05:24AM (#1473452) Homepage

    Why do slashdot people get surprised at the behavior of a large company like Sun?

    McNealy/Joy understand that they work for the shareholders and need to keep the share price climbing. Which means controlling profit, it's not about being nice or playing fair.

    The majority of Sun's profit comes from hardware sales, so anything that threatens that is the primary internal focus.

    Sun software has always been seen as a tool to drive hardware sales. Their internal accounting virtually ignores the cost of developing or maintaining it. They hit it lucky with NSF and have been looking for another "standard" with which to win hardware sales - Java is their current golden child. They'll play with any standards body that acknowledges Sun as the authority, and hence will be the place to go for the best implementation (right or wrong).

    Marketing/Legal own the product internally, the programmers are just there to keep the customers happy by lowering bug counts and providing technical support for any "standards" work. Programmers and technical staff have no say in the content or timing of press releases.

    Working with the OSS teams may be "politically correct" for now but it's right at the bottom of Sun's primary goals and will be ditched as soon as they see that it does help the profit figures.

    I worked for Sun as a programmer for four years until I could not take seeing good software products getting lost to marketing/legal and sales noise. There are many really great software people at Sun but the noise levels are too high to expect rational behavior from the company.

    Sorry to break the bad news - Sun is driven by profit not by doing the right things.


  • This looks like a classic "sorry I got caught" situation. Sun designed their "Community Source License" specifically to allow them to do this sort of thing. The only strange thing would be if they didn't actual do what their license said they planned to do all along. Had there not been a firestorm of protest about this, but only a few polite email, I highly doubt Sun would apologize. And if you read the article, they didn't sound too apologetic.

    On the other hand, insisting that all software developers be credited in announcements of commerical releases is really just an attempt to institutionalize the "obnoxious advertising clause" from the BSD license. In fact, that original BSD license with the advertising clause is the only free software license I know of that insists on giving credit to the original authors. The FreeBSD license, the GPL, and others do not. As a general rule, perhaps giving some credit to the original developers is appropriate in certain instances, but making this an iron-clad rule would make marketing free software very difficult indeed.

    Just a reminder, the Sun Community Source License is not a free software license. Please do not use it.
  • I might be wrong, but it seems that in the past the FSF legal department only makes a big deal with something like Emacs or GCC needs to be defended.

    IANAL, but in order to sue for copyright violation, you need to own the copyright. This is the major part of the reason why the FSF asks for copyright assignments.

    You can retain the copyright and release under the GPL, but in that case you have to defend your copyright.


  • If you have a question about a specific product, then contacting the product group is the correct first step. But as was learned here, no system is perfect ;-) In general, open source questions or comments can be posted at our open source site at and they will get to me or someone else on the IBM open source core team (yes, there is such a beast).

    Or you can write me directly at

    We're very interested in every aspect of working with the open source community and although it may not be as evident as everyone would like, we already are in a number of areas. What we haven't earned yet, based on our short time in the field, is the right to make a big deal about it.

    Daniel Frye
    Program Director, Open Source & Linux
    IBM Linux Technology Center
  • Ya know... I heard one time, that the service, work and products a company makes actually effects the stock price, and NOT the other way around! Really.... I'm serious. My friend told me.

    These knuckleheads in the stock market actually think this way. Red Hat (Marc and Bob) are doing great because they are now worth billions. Sorry but they are just worth billions because some people are greedy. Last year they didn't even brake even! (neither did most "dot coms" so what!) Red Hat is doing great because they understand Free software and a market that could take advantage of it.

    As a matter of fact the morons think that a company with the symbol PERL is the company responsible for the perl language. The good thing is that many greedy traders will fund some great software in the next year.
  • by Mithrandir ( 3459 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @02:43AM (#1473457) Homepage
    I know quite a few members of the Java team at Sun and can assure you that it is not their doing. One guy I personally know very well has a 10+ year history of OSS work before joining them. The developers understand what is going on and so do their immediate managers.

    The problem is the higher ups in Marketing/Legal. They don't care. Despite the bitching and screaming by Sun's own development teams, it is not their fault. I'm lucky enough to be privy to some of the internals there and it is certainly not pretty the shit fights about the SCSL and this sort of thing. You can guarantee that Sun's developers would have been jumping down the Legal/PR's throats before even the general community did.

  • Blackdown has received more publicity than they ever would have if Sun had mentioned them in the first place. Some people are hearing about them for the first time, or are hearing names of Blackdown individuals for the first time.
    Don't count these guys out. They'll likely move ahead, and if not - they'll surely be successful whatever they do.
  • Just a few little words in Sun's initial press release could have stopped all this bad feeling.

    Until the big coparations realise that the majority of people who code for GNU/linux do so for the thrill of seeing their work being used by others and getting credit/respect for their abilities as programmers.

    As numerous people have pointed out, the BlackDown team don't have a problem with Sun releasing their code as Sun's own, after all they agreed to the SCSL, but they do want to get recognition for the hours/weeks/months/years they put into getting a usable Java implementation under GNU/Linux.

    I guess we should all start saying thanks to people who have spent their own time coding something that we use.

  • ....but they certainly seem to be aware that they are part of a community and have certain responsibilities as a result.

    First the legal department creates the SCSL which allowed them to do what they did (claim other people's work is their own), now the marketing department is getting in on the act by handing out apologies, keeping it on the frontpage of SlashDot.

    Now if only the programming department would get into action and make Java faster instead of bloatier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 1999 @02:59AM (#1473461)

    Note: I currently work for IBM. I don't think I'm biased, but you may keep that in mind when reading this comment.

    From what I have seen, IBM tentatively embraced Linux from both a hardware and a software standpoint roughly one year ago, and their embrace has only gotten stronger since. Up until that point there were Linux 'niches' in IBM, but it never saw the widespread acceptance that it enjoys right now. It all began with the Apache/WebSphere open source deal and seemed to snowball from there.

    As far as hardware is concerned, I know of several groups in my area whose sole job is to test Linux on various hardware platforms. That began with the Netfinity servers, but has quickly spread to many of the other platform types.

    On the software front... I currently support a group of 400+ developers that primarily work in Java, VA C++, and VA Generator. Right now they're gearing up to port all kinds of apps to Linux, and are hiring Linux support techs for their own internal support. These folks were involved in the Apache/WebSphere deal. (Wish you could have seen their IP Law department when all of that happened! Very interesting.)

    All indications (to me) are that IBM's relationship with Linux is only going to get stronger in the future. I've never seen the slightest deviation from that path in the past year, and I hope it will continue.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk