I had dinner with a good friend tonight from the open-source world, and we ended up having the same conversation I had with a few other friends from the open-source business community at lunch yesterday. The conversation began with Sun and ended with Ubuntu. In between, the two came together.
Why doesn't Sun see things this way?
We're not the only ones asking the question. Seeking Alpha is reporting that things are heating up between Sun and Canonical/Ubuntu, with Sun "preparing to certify more of its servers for Canonical's Ubuntu Linux." I hope so. I think it would be excellent for both parties.
Solaris is a fantastic operating system. I can appreciate why Sun and its employees cling to it - to the innovations they've made - so tightly. But so was NetWare before it. At some point technology takes a back seat to market momentum.
Ubuntu has that. Solaris? Not so much. That's just how the market goes.
Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation has called upon Sun to put its resources behind Linux. Solaris doesn't have the community that Linux has (though it possibly could have had it been open sourced). I'm sympathetic to this view.
I think Sun has far more to gain by embracing Linux and, in particular, Ubuntu, than it stands to lose. Sun can put its exceptional engineering team on innovating in and around Linux, building great hardware (and software) to go with it.
It wouldn't make much sense for Sun to do this with Novell or Red Hat. It has too much independence. But Sun does recognize the importance of momentum for it right now, and it wants the favor of open-source developers pulling its way. With MySQL and Ubuntu in its court, it's hard to see how it could possibly be less sexy in the market.
Well, except on Wall Street, which still expects the business to grow and be profitable. But I'm confident Jonathan and team are getting there.