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McNealy: Microsoft needs Sun to beat IBM and Red Hat

It's business, not a conspiracy

The Red Terror

There should be little doubt that much of Sun's current push is a result of what it sees as weakness in the Linux market. Red Hat once appeared as the selfless leader of the open source community, fighting the big boys for the betterment of all. Linux zealots need to realize that this is no longer the case. Red Hat is a money-grubbing business just like Sun, Microsoft and IBM. It's out for blood - not peace and love.

While Linux has obvious benefits over Windows and Solaris in some instances, it does not have a company the size of Microsoft or Sun behind it from a pure operating system standpoint. Microsoft and Sun know they can attack Red Hat's limited resources and create doubts around its product and the company's support.

"We love Linux, we love community development and we love open source," McNealy told The Register in an interview. "We just don't like Red Hat."

When asked if Sun would possibly acquire SCO in a bid to gain open source goodwill, McNealy responded, "We think we are the good guys. Who has donated more code than us? IBM keeps donating end-of-life code - remnants of roadkill they've bought. We are open-sourcing Solaris. is one of the most important efforts on the planet. I would hardly argue that we need to go off and spend a big bag of money and do more for the community."

"I may sound defensive, but I don't feel defensive at all about our open source community development."

So why such a verbal beef with Red Hat?

"They are a competitor. They are a for-profit company that is trying to make money with a very proprietary strategy that locks out the rest the community."

You guys say that a lot. What specifically is proprietary?

"Well, they are proprietary when the apps are certified only to their environment. If it was truly write once, run anywhere, everyone would feel comfortable they could buy another operating system and run enterprise software. Customers can't do that."

How is that different to Sun certifying applications for Solaris?

"I didn't say that Solaris was a write once, run anywhere kind of environment. You do certify to Solaris and certify in the enterprise space."

"Look, that doesn't make Red Hat bad. It just makes them the enemy. It is not religious. It's economic. We charge $400 for Solaris one- to four-way servers; they charge $2,000. We have a faster IP stack than they do, we have containers, we will give you software indemnification; they won't."

"I can run Red Hat apps in a Solaris container. They can run Red Hat apps on a Red Hat kernel at way higher cost, way higher risk, with worse support and way less scalability."

"The one feature they had, which is a marketing feature, is they can claim they were open source. Well, we are going to take away that marketing check-in-the-box."

Why don't you indemnify Linux on the server instead of just the desktop?

"We have indemnified Linux apps running on the server. It's called Solaris."

"Am I going to indemnify a for profit company's IP. Am I going to indemnify Red Hat? That's a competitor. Am I doing to indemnify IBM? That's a competitor. I don't know where their code from, where they got it. I don't know how well they treat it."

"Why don't they all step in and take the Java hit (with Kodak) )?"

Not surprisingly, McNealy was up to his old tricks during the rest of the interview, bashing Microsoft software's virus and spam problems with relentless fury.

Is Sun more in bed with Microsoft than ever before? Maybe, but so what?

There simply isn't a conspiracy between Sun, Microsoft and SCO to kill Linux. There is a business plan to thwart Red Hat. This should not shock anyone. It should be expected.

Red Hat has warm, fuzzy feelings behind it, but it is not the open source community as a whole. It's a company every bit as aggressive as the next. Sun and Microsoft are trying to make this point painfully clear. They're not in love with each other as Red Hat's Michael Tiemann has suggested. They simply have a common enemy. ®

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