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

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 11 21:37:18 PDT 2004

On Friday 08 October 2004 12:50, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at earthlink.net):
> > > Please see:  "Fear of Forking" on
> > > http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Licensing_and_Law for background on
> > > the proprietary Unix wars of bygone years.
> >
> > Thanks for your thoughtful reply!  Particularly the fear of
> > forking link.  It was all very informative!
> Thanks for taking my answer in the spirit intended.  

Yeah, it was thoughtful.  I probably am going to have sit down an 
look at that reply a couple of times over a period of a couple of 
months in order to digest it, because it was thorough.  

> I hope I 
> didn't sound too harried, because (actually) I was pretty harried
> when I wrote that -- but for reasons completely unrelated to your
> posts.  (Sadly, today's turning out to be pretty darned hectic,
> too, but I wanted to acknowledge your post.)

Thank you!

> I'm sorry that isn't very profound, but, hey's Tim's essay wasn't
> either.  ;->

Well, maybe it's a case of the emperor's new clothes, but I was 
impressed.  Tim O'Reilly gave that same talk as a keynote speech at 
OSBC 2004 to a packed audience of about 800 people who applauded 
wildly after his talk, and so maybe it really was good.  When I see 
a roomful of true geeks and suits applauding Tim for this speech, I 
am influenced.  But maybe as you say, it is just a case of 
following the tribal elders.

But in this case, I think that the tribal elders are actually 
correct.  I liked Tim's essay because I wouldn't have thought of 
Google as "delivering software".  Rather, I would have just thought 
of it as a service that happens to run on computers powered by gnu 
linux.  But I think that Tim has an interesting argument.  To a 
simple end user like me, it all comes down to where you get your 
work done.  In a sense, I see Google as offering you some time on 
their computer in exchange for your attention.  You see their ads, 
or whatever, and they let you use their computer for a brief split 
second or two.  

When I look at the common threads of what Amazon and Google and Ian 
Murdock's (and Garth Dickey's) Progeny company are doing, it seems 
to me that they are offering integrated architectures (stuff they 
designed or built) which is wrapped around modular open source 
stuff they did not design or build.  Here is one of the places I am 
getting that idea from.  It's from the book "Seeing What's Next" by 
Clayton Christensen, Scott Anthony, and Eric Roth:

“Conservation of integration holds that, when an interdependent 
system architecture is necessary to optimize performance at a stage 
of value added that is not good enough, the architecture of the 
product or service at the adjacent stage of value added must be 
modular and conformable in order to optimize the performance of 
what is not good enough.  In simple terms, modular stuff must 
surround integrated stuff to optimize the integrated stuff.”  Page 
19, published in 2004 by Havard Business School Press.  

So for example, Christensen's team says that the Linux kernel is a 
perfect example of innovating in ways that wouldn't work with 

"Consider the difference between Microsoft Windows and the Linux 
operating system.  Windows is a highly integrated, interdependent 
operating system.  To optimize the operating system, applications 
developers must conform their products to meet Microsoft's 
interface requirements.  Efforts to try to modify Windows to 
improve individual applications would be disastrous; any individual 
change would have literally thousands of unanticipated consequences 
and operating system problems.  Linux works the other way, because 
its goal is to enable optimized applications.  The Linux operating 
system itself is modular.  As long as you follow the rules, you can 
modify it to optimize the performance of an application."  Seeing 
What's Next, p. 20.

So what I thought that Ian Murdock and Tim O'Reilly are talking 
about is the stuff that people are wrapping around Linux, as 
Christensen says about above.  Progeny, for example, is optimizing 
the stuff around the gnu linux OS so that their individual 
customers can use linux for the unique tasks that their businesses 
demand.  So in my mind, that is a "proprietary" adaptation of an 
open source tool.  

However, maybe we really are just saying the same thing, not sure.

So to try to put it in more simple English:  Progeny "owns" the new 
stuff that they create to make Linux work better.  They "own" it 
because they can sell it and people will buy it.  But the mere fact 
that they can "own" it and sell does not make it any less "open 
source", at least in my mind.  

The reason that all of this is important to me is that I am somehow 
going to try to boil it down to present it to a broad (geek and 
non-geek) PBS-type audience, and I want to be able to stay true to 
the topic and at the same time make it interesting enough for a 
documentary movie format.  (I'm talking about the Digital Tipping 
Point film, of course.)

We are getting near the end of filming, and we are going to start 
editing soon, hopefully, so I need to get this stuff right.    

> I'm sorry that isn't very profound

You're selling yourself short.   ;-)   

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