James Governor's Monkchips

Note to IBM and Sun: Why not collaborate on OSS, Get over it?

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So IBM forked OpenOffice, and now its using Roller for internal blogging, but gives no credit to Sun, and so runs an old version of the code. Another fork in progress? Surely credit where its due.

What Irving said – its all about collaboration. Isn’t it? If “the essence of open source is collaboration” why don’t you do some with Sun?

Open source is a mindset not just a set of licences. We’d all benefit if IBM and Sun started collaborating, and stopped sniping. A good start would be for IBM to contribute some resource to Solaris on POWER. Hey – if you can outperform AMD maybe Sun would consider a deal, now SPARC classic is under the cosh (just ask Sun kernel developers what their favoured platform is… i betcha AMD is the answer you get, forthcoming CMT work notwithstanding).

I know some customers would like to see Solaris on POWER – and Bladecenter is one obvious play.

I dont just want to ding IBM though. I am an equal opportunities rock chucker, a disloyal oppositionist. Sun – its time to start thinking about some kind of rapprochment with Eclipse. At least answer its calls. I am not recommending you give up on Netbeans. On the contrary Netbeans is good stuff. The Long Tail shows us that rich ecologies and niches are good places to be. Netbeans is potentially a cool situated software play, but Eclipse is all about frameworks and corporate IT discipline.

Eclipse will be a lifecycle platform in your customers’ shops whether you like or not, and you need to deal with that. Are you really going to ring fence yourself from Borland, CA, Macromedia, SAP, and WebSphere? Your cost of acquisition will be much higher than your competitors if you don’t have some solid Eclipse integration points. IBM can buy and integrate a small firm within days of closing a deal if, as is increasingly the case, the target built to Eclipse. Higher merger and acquisition costs in a consolidating industry – that’s bad news. And besides – Eclipse is no longer an IBM play, its an industry play.

Here are two great companies that are strong innovators. From the outside it is absurd that Sun can work with Microsoft but not with IBM. It’s a maturing industry isn’t it?


  1. We’re not forking Roller. An early version of Roller was picked up back in 2003 (before Sun hired Roller’s chief developer) and customized to support integration with a few of our internal systems (such as our common Intranet user ID and password mechanism and employee directory). We’re currently exploring various options for either moving up to the current version of Roller or to some other as-yet undetermined blogging platform.

  2. that is a very useful clarification. thanks very much James. I believe my point may still stand…

  3. I think it’s fair to give Dave Johnson credit for creating Roller. It’s also fair to give Sun credit for giving Dave a paycheck to allow him to focus on Roller full-time, just as IBM pays many employees to contribute to various Eclipse and Apache projects, Linux, etc.

    Another thing to consider is that Roller is on a path to Apache stewardship. This should result in a situation where Sun folks, IBM folks, and anyone else who wants to can collaborate on enhancing Dave’s creation.

  4. wow you guys really make open source analysis easy. who’s next for a clarification. Apache indeed…

  5. Well, there is still one unanswered question that you raised: “Why is there so much apparent animosity between Sun and IBM?”. I’m waiting for Stephen to untangle the threads for us in one of his excellent Q&As, just like he did with the Gluecode acquisition!

  6. i’m not sure i can unravel *that* one in a Q&A, alas. might be the longest post ever 😉

  7. And as much as it might amuse a few people to discover who did what and when, it serves no purpose and won’t get us anywhere “going forward, not back”…

    You are right though, we ought to give credit where we are using any software that was made freely available to us, even if its only via a link at the bottom of the page or some such. It’s a small price to pay.

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