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Sun "Believes In IP" But Not In "IP Colonialism," Says Schwartz at Open Source Conference

Praises JBoss in San Francisco Keynote; "Free" Doesn't Mean "No Revenue" It Means "More Opportunity to Create Revenue," He Says

At the inaugural Open Source Business Conference, which opened today in San Francisco, Jonathan Schwartz has been giving a keynote. We bring here an early on-the-spot report, written by former JDJ editor-in-chief and LinuxWorld Magazine founding editor, Alan Williamson.

Jonathan Schwartz, President and COO of Sun Microsystems, today opened up the spring Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco. The OSBC is aimed at the business side of the open source ecosystem, with delegates ranging from a wide range of areas. It is fair to characterize this community as comprising "influencers" or decision makers, and it was to this audience profile that Schwartz pitched his keynote.

Schwartz opened up his discussion on standards by noting historical success stories, examples of where standards worked. For example the canal system in Victorian England with their standard widths and lock sizes, through to the railroad system in the US with its standard guage. By standardizing on a platform, more opportunity was created.

In the first of many swipes at Microsoft (who incidentally are co-sponsors of OSBC and will be speaking later on in the day), Schwartz highlighted a story of Thomas Edison who initially attempted to get his DC standard for electricity adopted instead of AC. He achieved this by illustrating how unsafe AC was by "frying dogs and farm animals" in the hope of promoting how safe DC was in comparison. Not much seems to have changed in this modern economy!

Open Source, as far Schwartz is concerned, is about lowering the barrier to entry and creating opportunity. Just as telcos are giving away their mobile phones, Schwartz sees a day where automobile manufacturers may give away cars to consumers to garner a whole new suite of chargeable services. Again, hammering home the point that free doesn't necessarily equate to "no revenue" but instead means "more opportunity to create revenue."

Hot on the heels of the Sun's announcement of OpenSolaris, Schwartz made countless references to this as being "single largest contribution to the open source world" any company had ever made. He continued to address the concerns he had heard in the marketplace that Sun was attempting to "steal away" customers from Linux, saying that on the contrary Sun believes there is more than just one community, that many communities exist and more are being generated; that a rising tide floats all boats.

By contrast it was interesting to hear Schwartz portray Sun as the all-embracing company. Contrary to many historical keynotes when Sun and JBoss were locked in battle, Schwartz made a number of references to JBoss as a shining example of open source in action, both in terms of its business model and how it has utilized the open standardization that Java has created.

On the subject of Java, Schwartz also addressed criticism of the alleged hypocrisy of Sun's message for not having released Java under GPL.

He answered this criticism by asserting that the licensing of Java was not the issue: Sun wants to keep Java from forking into different incompatible versions, thus depriving the many companies that rely on Java as a standard of their business opportunity.

Schwartz continued to discuss GPL, issuing a cautionary warning regarding the use of this particular license noting that Sun "believes in IP" but not in "IP colonialism." He talked about how licenses imply an obligation and one must be very careful to read the small print.

Finally Schwartz tailed off, talking about how a product should be adopted because it's better and not because it's free.

More Stories By Alan Williamson

Alan Williamson is widely recognized as an early expert on Cloud Computing, he is Co-Founder of aw2.0 Ltd, a software company specializing in deploying software solutions within Cloud networks. Alan is a Sun Java Champion and creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine). With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Alan likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW. Follow his blog, http://alan.blog-city.com/ or e-mail him at cloud(at)alanwilliamson.org.

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Most Recent Comments
Where's RMS 04/07/05 02:33:46 PM EDT

verbalistics commented on 6 April 2005:
"IP colonialism" is not a phrase that RMS is likely to let go lightly

Has he responded at all? Stallman?

openSol 04/06/05 11:56:00 AM EDT

I was there, and Schwartz said true economic growth will come "as people realize that the value is in the service, not in the product itself." I'm not a Sun shareholder, but he is ;-)

So I can see why he hopes he's right.

Record OS 04/06/05 11:00:37 AM EDT

For a complete list of Solaris 10 benchmark records, visit here (http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/benchmarks.xml)

metastatis 04/06/05 05:59:54 AM EDT

#blackhedd commented on 6 April 2005:
Java is now so big and so corporate that stability is far more valuable to its constituents than innovation.#

so should we switch to more agile languages at college or is this the future: has Java metastasized?

JS vs RMS 04/06/05 05:39:30 AM EDT

While the GPL is being modernized, Richard Stallman insists that the core principles won't change; he's not going to budge. Schartz and the GPL have been on a collision course for years now.

BohKnower 04/06/05 02:46:40 AM EDT

Sun is right to make sure tha every jvm is compliant with every bytecode. Write once, runs everywhere need to be preserved by all cost.

alucinor 04/06/05 02:44:54 AM EDT

The only fork Sun would fear would be IBM's fork of Java. There would be enterprises that would adopt that, even if it was no longer called "Java".

blackhedd 04/06/05 02:40:02 AM EDT

Java is now so big and so corporate that stability is far more valuable to its constituents than innovation.

It will be the development system of choice for corporate development for another decade, providing jobs for all the new and soon-to-be CS graduates who aren't taught anything else.

Baki 04/06/05 02:23:40 AM EDT

||| He answered this criticism by asserting that the licensing of Java was not the issue: Sun wants to keep Java from forking into different incompatible versions, |||

Others might argue that the same forking might happen to PHP, perl etc. However, do not forget that MSFT actually has tried to fork an incompatible version of Java, they never tried such a thing with other 'cross-platform' language.

Why? Because Java is the only real threat. Java's real importance is in 'enterprise' development; many large companies have been developing in Java for the last 3-5 years, the importance of Java in such environments dwarfs any other development platform, except maybe for cobol. Thus Java remains the most likely target for sabotage actions, and needs to be protected vehemently.

Especially now that Java is in direct competition with .NET, further sabotage actions are not unlikely. .NET is just as protected, if not more (also protected by patents probably). For Java at least the spec is open: anyone may make an alternative implementation. For .NET there is no open formal spec at all, and alternative implementations have an unclear legal status.

Libervis 04/06/05 02:15:53 AM EDT

Free Software vs. Open Source, GPL v2 vs. GPL v3, Java in OpenOffice.org or not - clearly, even those that "presumably" "see" the light are still "recovering" from the dark.

Sun is entering the light (however that sounds ;), but rather plays its own game. You couldn't even make out if it's really a proprietary company or an "open source" one (despite their claims). Given its misty strategies it is still unsure if we should call it a Free (as in *freedom*) Software company either.

But wait, this is just in. We have just got an unofficial news that Sun is making JRE Free Software by releasing it under LGPL. We better confirm it before the celebration and wiping the "Java in OpenOffice.org drama" from the "issues" book begin. Indeed, if not for OpenSolaris and their funny schemed CDDL license, we would surely respect Sun for freeing JRE (at least JRE) since so many Free Software projects are based or dependant on it (including OpenOffice.org). Sun, you better make it official soon and your contributions to our computing freedoms will be acknowledged!

verbalistics 04/06/05 02:06:22 AM EDT

"IP colonialism" is not a phrase that RMS is likely to let go lightly, he's been known before to send in rebuttals to Sun/J. Schwartz at linuxworld.com - and he's no slugabout with words either!!

sfKeynote 04/06/05 01:37:46 AM EDT

This was cool what he said here: 'Free software does not imply that you no longer believe in IP - it means you no longer believe in charging for IP upon its delivery' - he is darned good with words, Jonathan Schwartz.

sloganeering 04/06/05 01:34:35 AM EDT

Sun wasn't the dot in dot-com, why should we believe Schwartz's new slogan, that 'The network is *your* computer' [my emphasis]. The open source tide may be rising, but Sun's boat still isn't. OpenSolaris is too little too late.

mindstrm 04/05/05 05:33:46 PM EDT

anyone got an example of some wonderful solaris feature than linux doesn't have?

Press watcher 04/05/05 05:07:17 PM EDT

Anyone notice that JPMorgan's Investment Bank Technology team yesterday chose Solaris 10, now described - in preference to java? - as "Sun's flagship operating system."

skeptik 04/05/05 04:52:35 PM EDT

What kind of reception did Mr Schwartz get from this audience of so-called "influencers"? Did he influence the influencers, or did the hypocrisy charge linger despite his speech?