[conspire] Re: Sun's strategy to discredit Linux.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Oct 2 20:07:27 PDT 2004

Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at earthlink.net):

> Reading Jonathan's blog above, I would have to say that he is merely 
> engaged in marketing his company's products against two 
> competitors: Red Hat for software and IBM for hardware.

He is, but he's been shading the truth a bit too much for my taste. 
More below.

> I don't read JS as equating RH and Linux.

http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan/20040721 has Schwartz saying
there are many Linuxes but basically only one in the data centre (RHEL).
In that same entry, he made the claim that numerous of his employees
have echoed since then, and constitutes my major beef in the current

    Red Hat's figured that out. They've consistently raised price and
    tightened licensing to be the most restrictive I've seen in the open
    source world.

The claim is convenient to Sun's campaign, but entirely untrue -- and it
is a key untruth.  (Either Schwartz is aware of this, or desparately
needs better information on industry affairs.)  

I've done fairly careful analysis of the copyright, trademark, and
contractual encumbrances in RHEL.  Even though IANAL, to the best of my
ability to tell, _all_ of the software packages in RHEL are open source
or at least freely redistributable.  (Two non-software packages
containing image files are under some interlinked copyright and
trademark restrictions.)

http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan/20040910 is another of his
pieces that starts talking about Linux but then shifts in mid-sentence
to talking about Red Hat.

http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan/20040901 does the same thing.

http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan/20040818 does the same thing
again, plus repeating the untruth about RHEL licensing.  

A couple of other blog entries mention SUSE in passing (twice), and
Fedora is mentioned in passing once -- plus the August 1 entry mentions
SUSE at slightly greater length, but only to claim that IBM's boltering
of that distribution is an ineffective move because it's (allegedly) not
econmically practical to migrate substantial setups from RHEL to SUSE

I wasn't saying that he denies the existence of other Linux
distributions, just that the overall shape and direction of his rhetoric
is to convey the impression that RHEL is Solaris's only market-worthy
competitor, then denigrate RH through various means, and thereby dismiss
Linux _in its entirety_ in the minds of potential Sun customers.

In any event, what I described as Schwartz's / Sun's strategy isn't 
just _my_ observation; it's what CNet reporter George Colony claims
Schwartz outlined _directly to him_ during a September 2004 interview:

   Schwartz's comeback was, "You're wrong, and here's why." He then laid
   out the surprisingly simple and cohesive strategy that Sun will follow
   in pursuit of a recovery. Here it is, in a stripped-down form.

   Linux is like every other operating system; it's about the foibles,
   greed, mistakes and engineering prowess (or lack thereof_ of one
   vendor--in this case, Red Hat.  Step No. 1: Make the argument that 
   Linux equals Red Hat. Linux has become a social force, with all 
   of the free world supposedly cooperating to create an always 
   improving operating system that is forever cheaper and more 
   valuable than the old versions of Unix.

   Sun's view is that Linux is nothing more than Red Hat. The operating
   system is not about world peace and the charitable work of the
   world's great programmers. It's like every other operating system
   ever created: It's about the foibles, greed, mistakes and engineering
   prowess (or lack thereof) of one vendor--in this case, Red Hat.

   Step No. 2: Belittle Red Hat. By collapsing Linux into Red Hat, Sun
   now has a clear target. It can hammer away at a company, as opposed
   to waging the impossible task of fighting a social movement. And
   according to Sun, Red Hat is a very vulnerable target--a company with
   limited resources, engineering talent, world coverage and capabilities
   -- with potentially serious intellectual-property issues.

The sales talk aspect doesn't bother me.  (That we'll always have with us.)
Schwartz's acknowledged RH = Linux dodge is only moderately insulting of
our intelligence, and no worse than that.  It's the bogus claim about 
RHEL's contents being "proprietary" that bothers me -- because that's 
flat-out wrong, and Schwartz either already knows that or ought to.

> Rick has greater depth of knowledge on this topic than I do, but I 
> also have friends who are Sun employees, and I don't see them 
> "politely blowing their factual claims about Red Hat and Linux out 
> of the water at every turn" as Rick says above.

Actually, I was saying that *I* was politely blowing their (Sun
employees') public claims out of the water:  I've seen several apparently
taking their cues from Schwartz's erroneous claim about RHEL licensing
(or drinking from the same well).  When I challenge their claims on that
point, they uniformly change the subject rather than continuing.

> I think that Brian [Profitt] was trying to stir up some interest in
> his topic.

Yes, the man has always been a bit of a sensationalist.  But I think he
has a point, here.

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