And we thought it was all about peace, love, and...Solaris. But no, Sun is gearing up for one of the classic open source battles. We've had the various Linux distributions duking it out, and we've had MySQL versus PostgreSQL. Now we're getting Solaris versus Linux, and this is a fight that I believe may actually be worth having.
Why? Because it means more choice for customers, and not just any choice, but a choice between two exceptional operating systems, both completely open source.
Sun's strategy is becoming clearer with Solaris:
Sun is preparing to release OpenSolaris binaries early next year in a distribution code-named "Project Indiana" that will be similar to Linux distributions. The work, which is getting under way in the OpenSolaris community, is aimed at creating a single CD installation of the basic OS and desktop environment, giving developers the option to install additional software from network repositories.
Developers also will be able to create limited releases of the distribution targeted at attendees of a particular event.
The whole idea behind Indiana is to build more of a developer community around Solaris, [Ian] Murdock said. "How can we lower the barriers to programmers and run OpenSolaris as an ideal open-source operating system not originating from Sun?" he asked. Indiana will also enable faster release cycles, with a new version appearing every six months.
I don't know about you, but I find this exciting. I'm a big Red Hat fan, as most of you will know. I'm also increasingly a Sun fan, as I watch the company aggressively burn the boats to its past and open source its entire software portfolio. These moves by Sun will help both companies, even if neither will likely appreciate the competition on some days.
Ultimately, this open-source Darwinism means that only those prepared to compete hard - and with a robust, complete open-source portfolio of projects - will survive. This isn't a halfway battle. I don't think many hybrid strategies will survive.
Jonathan Schwartz gets it. He understands how to play this game and I believe his foresight is going to help to stave off Solaris' decline on Wall Street (and elsewhere), as customers who can get a robust, open-source operating system that just so happens to be what they've always run, only better, will opt to stay with it.
I suspect that this will push both Sun and Red Hat to start encroaching on Microsoft's turf sooner rather than later, which will prove interesting. Microsoft has a formidable array of technology to pricing to bring to this battle. It's not an easy competitor to knock out.
Fortunately, there will be one clear winner as these companies go head-to-head: the customer.