Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Eric S. Raymond: SUN has 9 months to survive

Something that was talked about on JOS several times.

"At their present burn rate, they only have a year left"

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/34834.html

Karthik
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A great pity is it not?. McNealy's vision of GPL'ed products is good for customers and the industry on the whole. But a harebrained effort to retain Solaris is costing the company dear.

Time to acquire Red Hat, GPL solaris and take on MS head on?. Wonder if they have the money for it. Doubtful.

Karthik
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

> But a harebrained effort to retain Solaris is costing the company dear.

Modern Commercial UNIX are difficult to convert to GPL due to the massive amount of patents and out-sourced components used. Just look at Windows, it has tons of toys not made in-house at Microsoft. To convince all these patent/code-owner/stake holders to make an exception for Solaris so that it can be open sourced is pretty impossible. If you rip out all these things, it will either mean a thoroughly different Solaris OS that the current establishment (government, science, business) can't use or one that will cost money anyway (you get Solaris OS for Free--as in beer and speech, but you have to buy a "Power Pack" to get all these things again--for a fee). Either route could destroy Solaris OS and presents no useful business case.

The same can also be said for Java.

overweightnerd
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sun can only be saved now if they release all their source code base as free GPL'd software. there is no other hope for them.

Microsoft mut do the same if they hope to survive as well.

Danny Mayfield
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

>Sun can only be saved now if they release all their source
>code base as free GPL'd software. there is no other hope
>for them.


how would that save them?
Instead i'd say that this would be another nail in their coffin (though it might take another 20 years to nail it).l

Michael Moser
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Yes, no one said GPL would save them. Its their only hope of remaining alive. How the @#$%^ can they compete with their expensive solaris boxes when dell and ibm are selling linux boxes at a fraction of the price?

Karthik
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Open Sourcing Solaris?

Read this:

http://www.crn.com/sections/breakingnews/breakingnews.jhtml;?articleId=22102843

They're going to do it.

Janonymous
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

They can compete because their hardware is better.  Sun is like the Rolls Royce of computers.  Not everyone can buy one, but if you have one, you understand why they charge a premium.  Not everything that is cheaper is better.

Devin
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"Not everything that is cheaper is better. "

And not everything that is more expensive is useful. Sometimes cheap works just fine.

No
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

> Open Sourcing Solaris?
> They're going to do it.

Excellent news! Now there is hope for them. The only thing that remains to ensure their survival is they must next port Solaris to run on all commodity PC hardware, including top-floor driver support for all known add in cards and peripherals. this will reduce their costs of producing expensive customer hardware so they can focus on what they do best - innovation.

Danny Mayfield
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

> they can focus on what they do best - innovation.

They always paid their staff too much anyway. And with notebooks, who needs offices?

Mr Z
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sun employees don't even have their own desks.  When a company can't afford desks for each employee there are problems...

chris
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

What the hell is it with the Open Source zealots who seem to think that once a company opens its source it is somehow going to make billions of dollars?

Newsflash: All of the pure Linux companies are slowly dying.  They aren't making money.  Only Red Hat is turning a profit and their profit is miniscule.

IBM is an anomaly and the Open Source model only works for them because of the compliments system Joel one wrote extensively about.

Sun is fucked.  Good riddance.

Mr. Fancypants
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"IBM is an anomaly and the Open Source model only works for them because of the compliments system Joel one wrote extensively about."

In 20 years FOSS people will look back and realize IBM was profiting big time from the sweat of FOSS's brow.  There is no money in writing open source software.  The only money is in maintenance and configuration of the software.  Although the fact that it runs on unix aids in this revenue stream because unix makes everything harder than it should be, therefore people are more likely to need support.  Combine unix ease of use with FOSS's love of good quality documentation and you have yourself a revenue stream.  IBM Global Services, anyone?

gambler
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Danny, I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or trolling, but in case you're not...

Who would write a cheque to Sun, and for what?

Edward
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

IBM execs are laughing themselves silly at the stupid little dicks that run around spouting about open source. In ten years time, they will be offering pissy little jobs to "programmers" to do the "coding" so their consultants can earn six figure salaries.

Mr Z
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Well, I was the one that commented that Open Source hurts Sun more then it does Microsoft two years ago on this board (too much of a hurry to look for the post..)

As for the death of Sun, …in 1 year? That is just so plain silly as to it not being worth my time to respond. Is Sun hurting? Yes. Can they turn things around by down-sizing and pulling back to a profitable company? Sure, I see no reason why not!! (they certainly might wind up being only a shadow of what they are now..but you can’t write them off in one year!).

As for the comments about open source, and costs? Actually, it is very much true that if a company can use something that has a lower input cost, and DOES NOT include royalty rights. then they will do so.

My LinkSys router has a Linux kernel, and I do you actually think that LinkSys wants to use a OS that they have to pay to use? You think they going to choose windows CE to run their routine? Duh? You think they want to pay a small startup for this kind of software?

Motorola has been evaluating OS’s for their cell phones for some time. (boy oh boy. would I love to be the company that makes the OS for Motorola cell phones!) For a VERY VERY small royalty fee (say .50 cents),  you would be wealthy, and it would mean NOTHING at all to Motorola.

So, what do you think a huge company like Motorola did? Well, their new phones use a Linux kernel also! Why would they pay someone a few cents per phone, and allow someone to become rich?. After all, those CEO’s of those big companies like IBM and Motorola don’t want to cut their 35 million dollar bonuses down to 34 million, and allow some little software company to make that million dollars? Why would they do this when they don’t have to?

So, yes, some of these royalty free systems do reduce cost by a few pennies, and it does mean that some startup that makes a cool OS for a phone don’t really have much of a chance against a free system…do they?

Of course, the guy who owned the patient for the shelves on the refrigerator door also could have made a lot money also. Instead of collecting .75 cents per door, he took $10,000 lump sum cash settlement from GE. Apparently even the company told this guy that he was being stupid, but that was many many years ago. I am sure today that GE would not even have pointed out that this is dumb idea on the patients holder idea.

On the other hand, when the concept and simple idea of putting a shelf on a refrigerator door was patented, we were living in much more simpler times then today. A great many inventors make their living of these types of royalty payments. Of course in modern times, this also occurred a lot in the software industry. However, a LOT of companies are now using open source to avoid royalty payments.

Anyway, I still would loved to own the patient on the idea of shelves on the refrigerator door, as I would have been a wealthy man. And, what do you care if your refrigerator would only cost .75 cents more?

I am not eager to get involved in debate about open source vs. commercial software, but there is an alarming increase in examples of systems that at one time could make a small startup software company a 1 million dollars or so.

I guess what is sad is often these amounts of money mean a lot to you or some small software company, but in general these small amounts mean absolute NOTHING to the company purchasing, or using the software.

But, I guess the 1 million dollars saved does help the shareholders…


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this not the same Eric Raymond who, back in the late nineties, predicted that Microsoft would have crumbled in face of the pure goodness that is open source by now?

Why does anyone listen to this guy.  I mean he's smart and all, but misinformed to the extent that he could be mistaken for Steve Jobs.  Sun definitely has some tough times ahead of it,  but I get the impression that this is just sour grapes over Sun's dismissal of Raymond's open letter concerning Java.  "I told them to do something, and they didn't do it--therefore, they are doomed.  So sayeth me!"

A.Coward
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Except that in the article he doesn't say that Sun has 9 months to live.

Andres
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sun would be in much better shape if the uber asshole CEO (or whatever title the hockey guy has these days) would quit ranting to the rest of the world about what they are doing wrong and instead get their own technology and cost structure in order.

The Intel chip family and Linux is absolutely taking them to the cleaners from a cost perspective.  Some of you lads might have forgotten that initially Sun was primarily a workstation vendor.  Hmm, what happened to that business?  Same thing that is going to happen to their server business - screwed by lower cost hardware and software solutions.

Opening their code up to GPL and all that is simply the gentleman's way of giving away stuff that no longer has value.  It is not a way to generate revenue or to save the company.

Sun if fucked - not unlike the infamous DEC VAX, and plenty of others in between.

Mitch & Murray (from Downtown)
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Do you generally believe that competing on price is an effective strategy for a company based on developing intellectual property?

Danny Mayfield
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"The Java economy is on fire!" declared Sun president and COO Jonathan Schwartz in a statement.

Seems like what's really on fire is Sun's remaining cash.

Socialist
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

>> Its their only hope of remaining alive. How the @#$%^ can they compete with their expensive solaris boxes when dell and ibm are selling linux boxes at a fraction of the price?

There is no reason to go open source if free or low cost software is the goal.  There is in fact no reason on earth to ever give away one's intellectual property while it still has some value.  It may be over priced, but the solution to that is a drastically lower cost structure and a different business model.  They should decide what their real added value is.  If it's great hardware, then they should swallow their pride, and sell a great workstation or server running winXP.  They have toyed with the idea before. 

Gunnar Skogsholm
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I'm an open-source proponent, but sometimes it's hard to be when so many other open-source "proponents" are making such idiotic comments.

"Sun has 9 months to survive."

That's not even what ESR said in the article.  He said at the present burn (expenditure?) rate, they won't be making any money in 9-12 months.  So they'll have to change before then.  (As painful as it is, it's less painful than dying.)

"[GPL'ing Solaris is] their only hope of remaining alive."

This is just crazy.  How can you pick out one possible road, and state unilaterally that it's the only way to live?

The people who are saying this now are probably the same people who were saying a few years ago: "IBM is dead.  Nobody wants mainframes now that they've got PCs."

IBM seems to be doing ok, and AIX is neither open-source nor dead.  Even Apple is doing ok, and Mac OS is neither open-source nor dead.  There are plenty of other software companies whose products are neither open-source nor dead, including operating systems (lots of embedded ones I can name).

No, Sun probably can't survive forever if they think Sparc workstations running Solaris are going to compete successfully with Dell's Windows PCs and MS Office.  That doesn't mean they're going out of business next spring.  That doesn't mean they have to GPL Solaris.

(In case it matters and you think I'm being anti-your-favorite-thing, I am not anti-Sun, anti-Solaris, anti-GPL, anti-Linux, anti-open-source, anti-ESR, or anti-Microsoft.  Well, maybe a little anti-Solaris.  ;-)

P.R.
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Solaris isn't really the point. Sun is a hardware company. They sell computing equipment to people who need more grunt and reliability than a top-end PC can provide. The downside is that said equipment costs significantly more than PC hardware.

I think Sun's two main problems are:

Do they have the bucks required to keep the SPARC CPU competitive with Intel over the next 5 years or so?

Will they be able to compete on price with vendors of similar class hardware (IBM, HP..)?

Snotmonster
Monday, July 05, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home