Linux in Government: GNU/Linux Clears Procurement Hurdles

But when will we see real gains in information technology mindshare?

In the first quarter of 2004, sales of GNU/Linux servers increased 56.9% over the same period in 2003. That performance follows six consecutive quarters of double-digit growth for the free operating system, according to a report by IDC. Although Linux currently has the best growth rate of any operating system globally and has cleared major procurement hurdles for government entities, Linux gains remain limited compared to those of other government vendors.

In a recent article in internetnews.com, Sean Michael Kerner interviewed me with regard to gains made by Linux in government. His article focused on the decision by Munich and Bergen to deploy Linux. Here's what Sean wrote:

According to Tom Adelstein, Linux and open source consultant, the Munich decision is a failure in the Microsoft political machine. "It makes a similar statement about Microsoft, as does the EU's decision to fine Microsoft for anti-trust violations," Adelstein told internetnews.com. "The Munich voters represent a large body compared to cities in the U.S. This was more of a popularity contest than a technical decision. I would not call it a win for Linux as much as a defeat for Microsoft," he said.

Sean did not want to go where I wanted to lead him. He wrote a positive article that made the gains in Europe seem like Linux was winning the OS wars. That may provide plenty of excitement for readers, it's simply not the whole truth.

Linux usage in government and education in the United States remains small at best. Microsoft still owns an astounding 95% of the market. In spite of logic and reason, government decision makers cannot pull themselves away from Microsoft, even in the face of US government warnings.

Mindshare

Microsoft owns the mindshare of information technology in this country. After settling anti-trust suits with Sun Microsystems for somewhere around two billion dollars, people saw that as a win for Redmond. In the past couple of years, Microsoft has settled anti-trust and copyright infringement litigation at a dizzying rate, and people still shrug their shoulders as if to say, "It's okay, I'll just reboot again". That's the Microsoft two-step.

In the government and educational sectors, people easily can add up the cost savings. You don't need a rocket science pedigree to see the savings or the vast amount of software available to run schools and governments. Still, people shrug their shoulders and sign purchase orders for Microsoft products.

In a June 30th article in eWeek, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote:

The state of Mississippi has launched a Linux-based, mobile public safety system that links police, fire and emergency services to a single DB2 database. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announced the successful initial deployment of the public safety system, Mississippi ASP (Automated System Project)--a mobile data infrastructure that's based on IBM eServer hardware and IBM DB2 and Novell SuSE Linux software-at a press conference at the University of Southern Mississippi.

That sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, Linux plays a minor role in this project. The system is really based on Microsoft .NET technology, not Linux. The vast majority of the funds went to the purchase of products from InterAct Public Safety Systems. One of InterAct's core competencies is converting legacy Cobol system applications to .NET applications.

IBM did sell hardware to ASP and did deliver SuSE Enterprise Linux software, but that is not where the money went. You did not see Microsoft executives throwing a fit over the ASP project, because they know their solution dominates. Ultimately, the advocates at ASP and southern Mississippi will have an open-source project, but it's years away.

Microsoft has done such a grand job of owning the mindshare in the technology field, it even has Linux advocates attacking Sun Microsystems and Novell promoting .NET technology in the form of Ximian's Mono programming language. Okay, shrug and reboot--do the Microsoft two-step.

Hello?

Hard-Fought Battles for Linux in Government

On July 1, 2004, the Executive Office of the President of the United States issued a memorandum for Senior Procurement Executives and Chief Information Officers. The memorandum emphasizes the President's previous memorandum titled "Maximizing Use of SmartBuy and Avoiding Duplication of Agency Activities." In this latest memorandum, OMB 04-16, the President issued the following ground-breaking statements:

This reminder applies to acquisitions of all software, whether it is proprietary or Open Source Software. Open Source Software's source code is widely available so it may be used, copied, modified, and redistributed. It is licensed with certain common restrictions, which generally differ from proprietary software. Frequently, the licenses require users who distribute Open Source Software, whether in its original form or as modified, to make the source code widely available. Subsequent licenses usually include the terms of the original license, thereby requiring wide availability. These differences in licensing may affect the use, the security, and the total cost of ownership of the software and must be considered when an agency is planning a software acquisition.

Microsoft government advocates have fought the eventuality of this pronouncement. In the past, we had to fight the proprietary language in Requests for Proposals from all government entities, which kept open-source projects out of the procurement mechanism.

In May 2004, Oracle helped Red Hat achieve its Common Criteria certification. Version 3 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux was certified to meet Evaluation Assurance Level 2 (EAL2) of the Common Criteria certification, which means it can be deployed in government and in the DoD. It also means Red Hat and Oracle can sell into security sensitive markets, such as federal insurance banks, stock brokerage firms and other government contractors.

In January 2004, less than a year after achieving Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) 2 for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, SuSE earned (EAL) 3, the next level of certification. Atsec Information Security GmbH, along with IBM, assisted SuSE with the certification process. This was the first major accomplishment for Enterprise Linux.

Common Criteria provides standards for security for mission-critical software. Certification costs millions of dollars and provides a seal of approval recognized by government agencies and enterprise IT professionals. Countries that recognize the Common Criteria include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Japan.

If one takes those wins alone, you can understand why GNU/Linux sales have increased in double-digit figures for approximately two years running. IBM, HP and Oracle have done a good job of promoting GNU/Linux through their partnerships with Red Hat and/or SuSE. The IBM Linux Competency Center has a great number of open-source projects of which few people are aware.

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EAL Certification

Anonymous's picture

EAL2 is enough to get a foot in the door, but it takes EAL3 to be certified for classified processing. What is worse, in the US, if the Common Criteria is not met under US contract then the US government still cannot use it for Classified Computing!! Common Criteria is a standard the US only half lives up to.

Re: Linux in Government: GNU/Linux Clears Procurement Hurdles

smkerner's picture

Thanks again for your comments in piece Tom and for mentioning the interview here.
It's not so much that I didn't want to go where you were trying to lead - i do have an end reference to Calgary's decision to go to Linux for servers but not desktops - more that the focus was on gains that Linux is making with governments, small though they may be as you rightly point out. It's definately an uphill battle, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Live Free & Prosper.

(open+star) office has 20%?

Anonymous's picture

"Additionally, Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice.org and StarOffice products have achieved approximately a 20% market share in the office productivity market. " - cool! now would you mind telling me where you got this numer?

Re: (open+star) office has 20%?

Anonymous's picture

I concur. 20% seems extraordinarily high. Most people I meet have never even _heard_ of StarOffice, let alone use it. Did you get this from some sort of survey or just estimate?

Re: (open+star) office has 20%?

Anonymous's picture

I don't know where you are at, but I'd guess the US or thereabouts. That's where I'm at, and it's true that nobody's using Open Office. But the article specifically stated it was popular in Asia and elsewhere overseas. Now I have no idea what the Chinese or others are running, but it whouldn't surprize (sp?) me (exspecially given the Chinese government's statements backing Linux and other Open Source software) that it's popular enough to make up 20% global marketshare. In the third world, I've heard that Open Source has really taken off. Besides, do you really know what's running on the desktops of major businesses in your area? (You might, you might not. I, for one, don't. I'd guess they're running *XP, but I've really no clue.)

Re: Linux in Government: GNU/Linux Clears Procurement Hurdles

Anonymous's picture

It would be helpful, before posting high praise for a product that achieved EAL2 and aspires to EAL3, to read the definition of the security relavancy of those ratings from the Common Criteria folks themselves. Serious security begins at EAL5 and that is a level, by its own definition, that Linux and other contributory effort products will find well nigh impossible.

Each level is an order of magnitude more difficult, more expensive and more time consuming to achieve. More expensive in that someone must fund the Evaluation Lab to do the work. Time consuming because of the documentation and thousands of security tests that must be written.

And such an Evaluation, only applies to the specific code analyzed. Change/improve the code and the Evaluation is meaningless. Distribute the code in an unsecure manner and the Evaluation is meaningless.

And, to make things more complex, the hardware must be included in the evaluation so the hardware platform must be controlled just like the software. Change the motherboard and your Evaluation is void. Change the CPU speed and your Evaluation can be meaningless.

So freeze the software with no changes allowed for several years while the docs and tests are written. Come up with the Millions to pay for the evaluation. And watch while the software becomes obsolete and the hardware becomes End-of-Life (unavailable). And then see if you can achieve a high EAL level...

It goes against the agility and quick improvement approach that Linux development features.

It is a huge undertaking. About 10 people full time for 3 years. And it has to be done over and over again as each new Revision comes out.

Re: Linux in Government: GNU/Linux Clears Procurement Hurdles

Anonymous's picture

Funny. You might follow your own advice and read the article. Where's the praise? The guy said it wasn't enough.

Re: Linux in Government: GNU/Linux Clears Procurement Hurdles

Anonymous's picture

The guy has a point. When you see the list of CC software, no one appears to have the high levels. It's hard to achieve and maintain.

Attacking Sun makes no sense?

Anonymous's picture

Maybe in your little world, or the little world of Sun fanboys. Facts are facts. Sun provided approximately 50% of the funding for SCO to pay their legal team (here's some fud that the funding provided to Sun:

Solaris is "indemnified" and runs no risk of being slammed with copyright suits like the SCO Group's against IBM Corp., McNealy said. That's got to mean something, he said, to "large enterprises and media companies who can't afford to scoff at copyrights."

Would SCO be pressing this lawsuit, if the suits, and the lawyers, didn't have income coming in from their actions from day one? This may be a gamble for SCO the corporation, but it is no gamble for the suits behind SCO. Darl, Darl's brother, Boies, and others have been getting paid, regardless of whether SCO wins or not. They have the cash in their pockets, and can walk away, now, earlier, or later, and not have lost a dime. In the meantime, thanks to a stock repurchase plan, Darl can keep the stock price at the $5 level or higher for the necessary number of days, so that money managers managing other people's money can continue to own SCO, and wash each others' backs at the same time. As RBC or Baystar have already admitted, they do business with Microsoft, and putting some pocket change into SCO would make Microsoft happy.

Sun provided substantial funding for SCO to press forward their lawsuits. End of story.

As for Sun's marvelous contribuitions to the open source community, bull. Star was around before Sun had anything to do with it. And Sun would not have done anything with Star, if they hadn't already been losing market share to WIntel solutions. Star provided a possible path for Sun to take on Microsoft, and WIntel solutions, long term, looking back to Sun's long term outlook some years ago. As the damage increased, one strategy among many (including funding SCO, and later, kissing Steve Ballmer on stage during the Sun-Microsoft settlement announcement, enabling Sun to join forces with Microsoft against the Linux juggernaut), was to release Star to open source. More programmers mean faster development, an office suite that isn't Microsoft Office means an office suite that can run on SOLARIS, and not just Linux.

Sun's contribution of OpenOffice to the FOSS community is hollow. The only thing that drove that action is for Sun to have a Solaris answer to Microsoft, not a Linux answer. And in case you still have trouble understanding this, I'll end this post with Scott's and own words, during approximately the same time frame, of where they believed Sun would be in the current OS wars.

Sun CEO: Linux is for 'hobbyists,' not enterprise.

Schwartz, however, sees the fad of Linux wearing off in big businesses:

"There will be a transition back to Solaris," he said.

This is a typical stance for a Sun employee. While the rest of the non-Microsoft world champions Linux as the OS of the future, Sun continues to try and protect the Solaris franchise. And it's Solaris x86 that is meant to help the franchise grow.

John Loiacono, Sun's operating systems chief, told us that he is hiring in the Solaris x86 unit and trying to repair relationships with large OEMs.

... I emailed Sun about this, but got no response. So I decided to check instead with Miguel de Icaza. He founded the GNOME project and is a co-founder of Ximian, the GNOME-based desktop and apps company which now belongs to Novell.

Miguel minced no words about it. He said, "It is just branding. Its basically Gnome, and they bundle the Java runtime, so you can write apps with Java. Thats all."

He added that it's "worse than Microsoft's dot net branding," and jokingly suggested that Sun might next start calling the Linux kernel "Solaris."

Intentionally or not, the branding misleads people. It did me. As de Icaza noted, "a side effect is that people will get the impression that 'Java works just fine for desktop apps'. Little they will know that there is no Java at all."

Sun has cautioned the press that the CDs of the Sun Java Desktop distributed at Sun World recently were not even beta level. Maybe that goes for the name as well.

Another ac post's opinion on Sun, not mine:

I don't see why I should worry particularly about Sun or Sun going out of business. I find their behavior and attitude towards the open source community reprehensible. I mean things like shipping a proprietary version of Gnome under their own name, trying to kill X11, trying to take advantage of SCO's claims to drum up business, and pretending that Java is free and open when it is actually one of the most legally encumbered platforms around.

Technologically, Sun hasn't exactly been innovative either. Java is a cheap imitation of Smalltalk, Taligent, NeXTStep, and similar efforts; it is as if the last 20 years haven't happened. Their processors are behind, and their operating system is showing its age.

I used to be a big Sun user and proponent, but at this point, it would make no difference to me if they disappeared tomorrow.

And more

Pragmatic and rational? The world according to Sun came to an end two years ago. Now, according to anyone writing about Sun, they have to redefine their business model, or they will perish. Sun themselves admitted that they have "sold" their "Java" desktop to China (making them the "number one Linux distribution"), for basically nothing. Good for them. According to everything I've read to date, their current business model appears to be: give them GNU/Linux if they demand it, try to sell them Solaris, make Java Desktop transitional so that we can bring them back to the Solaris fold if they go with GNU/Linux for now, and embrace AMD Opteron. AMD Opteron may be their only winning move. As long as they hold on to their Solaris pipe dream, they are doomed. And if they admit defeat, and fully embrace GNU/Linux, they become an also-ran.

Sun had their glory days. As other tech companies have in the past, they will fade away. The momentum, and the mind share is behind GNU/Linux. Microsoft knows this, IBM knows this, Oracle knows this, the developers know this, and the FOSS community knows this. Sun knows this also, but apparently they think they can pull a rabbit out of a hat.

For funding SCO, for talking trash on GNU/Linux, for rebranding GNU/Linux as Java, for joining forces with Microsoft against GNU/Linux, for all their attacks concealed by non-disclosure clauses, for all their patent attacks, they deserve everything coming to them.

Pragmatic and rational? You need to wake up, otherwise you are one of the sheep in a business world of wolves.

Re: Attacking Sun makes no sense?

Anonymous's picture

Maybe in my little world?

Such a statement implies a comparison: My world versus your world. I can see you're skilled in the art of making be-littling statements. But, how you can compare our worlds without knowing me, seems a bit prejudiced and certainly assumes much. We can put that aside for a moment, I will answer you because that's what writers do.

You make a one sided argument against Sun and most of it is mud-slinging. How do you know that the thngs you wrote are accurate? How do you know that Sun set out to enable SCO?

I worked at some level with Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, SCO, Sun, Xandros, IBM, HP and Corel to mention a few. I know the people pretty well. I doubt that Sun set out to help SCO in their pursuit of litigation. If they did anything, it was to follow Sun's long term pattern of protecting their customers. I wrote an article on Linux indemnification for O'Reilly and went into that thoroughy. I gave the nod to Novell for taking care of their customers.

I know that Sun has done more than any other proprietary company to help Linux and Open Source Software. I also know their intentions and how their people behave. You have the wrong target in your sites.

McNeally has always been the most generous person in the Valley and he always gets the raw end of the deal. I know what that's like because in my career I have seven startups to my credit. I could have been greedy and taken all the money every time I sold one, but I shared. My friends say I'm too generous and people screw me around because I have a generous nature and I keep forgivng people.

I think Scott has the same affliction. He's too good to people and he winds up finding loyalty a very rare commodity.

This article wasn't really about Sun or Scott. They're getting the same media bias as the rest of Microsoft's targets. Plus, he has to contend with IBM and HP. So, the media treats him like he's a jerk. I've seen the misquotes happen. It's a bit much to have members of the Linux community attack him too.

I know the history of UNIX and Linux as well as anyone - technically and from a time line. We wouldn't even have Linux or the Free Software Foundation if Scott and his pals hadn't started Sun. When it became obvious that Microsoft was planning to kill UNIX, AT&T went to Scott and put together a deal to save UNIX. Why? Because Scott was the only one who could have done it.

So, if you look at things in a rational way, Sun didn't hurt anyone, they helped people. They have never been mean spirited. But, people have kicked Sun when the company has been down. I know what's that's like. You have to have tough skin to get back up and keep trying to make it back.

Sun will never be the same company, but they will survive and reinvent themselves in spite of the crowd's ill teatment.

It was only a matter of time for Sun to confirm...

Anonymous's picture

...exactly what I've been saying. They've confirmed it themselves by telling their plans for attacking Linux to an analyst.

Sun isn't the benevolent little do-gooder that you make them out to be. And because they themselves don't understand Linux from what I see of their plans, they are as doomed as is Microsoft.

I told you so. Now here it is, straight from the analyst:

Sun Microsystems seeks to avoid oblivion by pursuing a simple but powerful strategy.

Its plan? Attack Red Hat, use control over the operating system and the platform to disrupt competitors' pricing and business models, out-engineer everybody in the x86 space and use an alliance with Microsoft to fight a common enemy: IBM.

Last week in California, I visited two Sun bigwigs: Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer, and Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive. When Schwartz asked me, "What do you think of Sun?" I gave him an honest answer. "Sun risks becoming the data general of the decade. The company could easily slide toward becoming a 'zombie' -- a lot of cash but no life, staggering and lurching with a fading heartbeat at each step," I said.

Schwartz's comeback was, "You're wrong, and here's why." He then laid out the surprisingly simple and cohesive strategy that Sun will follow in pursuit of a recovery. Here it is, in a stripped-down form.

Step No. 1: Make the argument that Linux equals Red Hat. Linux has become a social force, with all of the free world supposedly cooperating to create an always improving operating system that is forever cheaper and more valuable than the old versions of Unix.

Sun's view is that Linux is nothing more than Red Hat. The operating system is not about world peace and the charitable work of the world's great programmers. It's like every other operating system ever created: It's about the foibles, greed, mistakes and engineering prowess (or lack thereof) of one vendor -- in this case, Red Hat.

Step No. 2: Belittle Red Hat. By collapsing Linux into Red Hat, Sun now has a clear target. It can hammer away at a company, as opposed to waging the impossible task of fighting a social movement. And according to Sun, Red Hat is a very vulnerable target -- a company with limited resources, engineering talent, world coverage and capabilities -- with potentially serious intellectual-property issues.

When Sun visits billion-dollar companies, it uses an effective line of attack: "You're going to entrust the future of your company to what vendor? A little software player with no proven abilities in the enterprise business? Are you out of your mind?"

Step No. 3: Contrast Sun with Red Hat. Sun has been a trusted, pragmatic partner with its customers for decades. It is going to return to those customers and clearly contrast its long-term relationship with newcomer Red Hat. The company is doing this now with its old Wall Street customers.

Step No. 4: Play up the OS-plus-platform advantage. Sun is playing a very old game here, but it will play it hard. The company is saying that you cannot be a legitimate, long-term player without controlling and harmonising the operating system and the platform. You must have control over both to offer easy and cost-effective solutions for your customer.

Hewlett-Packard is letting HP-UX die in favour of Red Hat and Windows; IBM is introducing Power systems that don't run AIX; and Dell never had an operating system.

Sun makes the claim that it will be the only vendor with a strong platform -- Sparc at the high end, x86 at the low end -- that also has a strong operating system to offer with Solaris at the high and low ends.

Step No. 5: Disrupt the market with a new pricing model. Sun wants its server pricing to mirror mobile phone pricing. When you buy a cell phone, you do two things: One, buy the operating system and the phone together; and two, subscribe to mobile services for monthly fees.

Sun is pricing the server the same way -- get the server for a very low price or potentially no price, and pay for the maintenance and applications (the value imparted) on a subscription basis. Sun believes that this new pricing model will only be possible for a vendor that sells and integrates the operating system and the platform. It can cross-subsidise between the two.

Step No. 6: Feature customer choice. Sun has dropped all of its stridency around Unix -- it is offering choice at the high end and at the low end. It is offering not only Solaris but also Linux and Windows for the operating system. And it is finally offering x86 via the Opteron chip from Advanced Micro Devices.

Step No. 7: Feature engineering. Sun is playing an old game here, too: "My tech is better than yours." It is saying that it will out-engineer not only at the operating-system level with Solaris but also on the hardware front. It is claiming that the new generation of Sparc will have vastly lower power consumption than Itanium and Power while featuring faster throughput and superior multithreading.

On the x86 front, Sun is saying that Opteron -- AMD's answer to Intel's Itanium -- is superior to what Intel has to offer and that, through its long-term engineering experience, it is going to produce x86 products superior to those of Dell, HP and IBM. Sun claims that engineering remains a distinctive competence of the company -- a battleground where it can hammer the competition, especially the low- or no-R&D companies like Dell.

Step No. 8: Feature the Microsoft-Sun deal. The money flowing from Microsoft to Sun will help. But more importantly, watch for Microsoft and Sun to concoct some tough frontal attacks on IBM, their avowed common enemy.

Sun is completely innocent...not!

Anonymous's picture

I know that Sun has done more than any other proprietary company to help Linux and Open Source Software. I also know their intentions and how their people behave. You have the wrong target in your sites.

Yeah, real saviours of Linux:

SCO put the tech world on notice in early 2003 that it was setting up tollbooths on all roads leading to Linux. By hiring David Boies, it sent out a clear message that it would enforce its claim to owning parts of the otherwise free software. SCO was able to afford the legal heavyweight after Sun bought a broad Unix license, thereby stocking the company's near-empty coffers.

How about nominating Sun for a Linux Journal award? I'm sure there are other Sun fanboys (other than yourself) that still believe Sun is the angel of Linux and Open Source, and would second the nomination and vote in favor of the angels.

Sun shows its true Linux colors...for the blind

Anonymous's picture

How do you know that Sun set out to enable SCO?

...lot's of hot air...

I know that Sun has done more than any other proprietary company to help Linux and Open Source Software. I also know their intentions and how their people behave. You have the wrong target in your sites.

Two and a half years after its chief executive donned the suit of Linux's penguin mascot on an exhibition stage, Sun seems to have fallen out of love with the open-source operating system.

Last week the firm detailed plans to focus attention largely on its own Solaris operating system for server lines, on a range of hardware platforms including Sparc, AMD Opteron, x86 and, potentially, Itanium and Power chips.

Although Sun continues to offer Red Hat and Suse Linux on systems, the firm said it is convinced Solaris can undercut Linux on price and outpace it on performance. Linux's virtues as the lowest-cost operating system that can be distributed by multiple vendors have gone, it argued.

My sights are dead on. You, apparently, can't hit the side of a barn.

Sun: White Knight? Or fud master?

Anonymous's picture

Interesting how you can make Sun out to be a white knight, when they paid 13 million to SCO, badly needed funds by SCO, for the ability to say, buy from us, we're protected, with Linux you have liability exposure.

Facts are facts

Anonymous's picture

How do you know that Sun set out to enable SCO?

Most of your arguments would hold up better had you left this out. Did you miss the multi-million licensing deal that Sun signed and paid SCO last year? As far as what I remember, it was over $10 million, perhaps about $15 million. That's not insignificant. That's close to half the funding for SCO last year. And since they made less than $20,000 in their SCO/Linux whatever they call it licensing, and the rest of their income is bringing in less than $10 million a year iirc, Sun is close to being a half partner when it comes to funding.

Did you miss the part about Sun providing the approximately $15 million? Because I can't understand how you justify your position, that Sun is not a significant, or major, or however you want to characterize it, supporter of SCO's attack on GNU/Linux. I really can't think of any other reason why you wouldn't know this, other than to either been on safari some where where you don't get internet access and don't get any newspapers with international business or technology news, or dare I say (so it won't be mischaracterized as an attack) in a coma?

Isn't it in SCO's 10-Q and annual submissions to the SEC, that the contract with Sun, along with the Microsoft licensing, are the two major sources of revenue for SCO last year? Hasn't this been more than adequately covered in court documents and SEC submissions that have also been posted to Groklaw?

Is this a type of revisionism history that Sun fans and supporters use to justify their view of Sun? Because otherwise, I'm not really understanding how someone would fail to make the connection between paying SCO close to 50% of their revenue for a whole year, and SCO's ability to attack GNU/Linux. Maybe someone can enlighten me on how this is not supporting SCO's course of actions in the last 12-18 months? How else would this be characterized?

Maybe my observations were wrong, and Sun providing SCO with approximately $15 million in revenue last year was a good thing? Someone, please enlighten me.

So, if you look at things in a rational way,

I normally do, but I'm having trouble with what's outlined above.

Sun didn't hurt anyone, they helped people.

Perhaps you are right, and I am wrong. As soon as someone can enlighten me on how Sun providing SCO with approximately $15 million in funding last year is a good thing, perhaps I'll see things your way. You could be entirely right, and I could be entirely wrong.

They have never been mean spirited.

What does this have to do with anything? First of all, anyone running a company that has been shaken down by Sun's patent portfolio litigation threats would beg to differ. For Sun to take on Microsoft, HP, Fujitsu, and other major players, they would have to have a patent portfolio to cross license with them, to stay in the game. And as smaller players have found out, patent litigation is an effective hammer to hold over their heads. So whether they have been mean spirited or not, I'd get some opinions from smaller players that have been squeezed by Sun before making such a blanket statement. And if I'm not wrong on Sun's funding of SCO, then perhaps some others that have been subpoened by SCO (thanks in large part to Sun's funding of SCO), or Sun during one of Sun's other court cases, would differ with your opinion on whether Sun is mean-spirited or not. Whether they are mean-spirited or not, again, has no bearing on whether they provided necessary funding for SCO to pursue their case against GNU/Linux.

We wouldn't even have Linux or the Free Software Foundation if Scott and his pals hadn't started Sun.

What an arrogant statement! Whether the FSF foundation would be around or not, or what stage of development or standing it would be in, can be debated among the slashdot crowd. As to Linux not being around if it weren't for Sun, I'd like to see you post that statement as part of an article on slashdot. I'd love to read the posts in reaction to such a statement.

Linux is around because of the GPL. And it is where it is today, because of the GPL. Comparisons between where BSD is today, and Linux is today, can be easily made. A similar comparison can be made as to where MySQL is, compared to Postgres, if you compare their licenses.

Is Linux in the exact position it is in today due entirely to the GPL? Of course not. But it is the major factor. Otherwise, FreeBSD would be enjoying the spotlight and growth and buzz that GNU/Linux is currently enjoying. And a lot of other factors came into play, to put Linux, and GNU, into their respective positions in the market. I'm sure, and others would be better informed, to point out, that Sun contributed to the position of GNU/Linux today. But to suggest that Sun didn't try to kill, didn't try to slow down, didn't try to talk down, GNU/Linux, to boost Solaris instead, is laughable, and destroys any credibility in your arguments that you might otherwise have.

I don't make my living in the technology field. And I use GNU/Linux, and Windows. I don't use Solaris. I do use OpenOffice, on both Windows and GNU/Linux. But one of my strengths (imho), is being able to see things clearly. I see clearly, as many others have, what Sun has attempted to do to GNU/Linux, and with GNU/Linux, to better Sun's position in the market. From what I've seen of your original story, and your post above, either your judgement, or your view of Sun is clouded. Whether that is intentional on your part, or not, or just from your working with either Sun or its products (if I understand what you are saying) has clouded your judgement or view of Sun and its actions in the last 18 months, and earlier, that's not for me to answer, that's for yourself to answer.

A few seconds of searching, and I stand corrected by a few hundred thousand dollars. Here, we see that Sun paid SCO approximately $13.3 million last year, and received warrants to purchase 200,000 shares of SCO, at $1.83 per share. iirc, SCO was over $21 a share sometime last year after the warrants were issued, making Sun's warrants worth about $4 million. Had they been exercised (if they weren't), that would make Sun a substantial owner of SCO, so Sun had, when they cut the deal, a substantial stake in seeing SCO succeed. And this doesn't even count the stake Sun had in attempting to ensure success with Solaris and other products against GNU/Linux.

Sun and SCO signed their deal (where Sun provided SCO with $13.3 million dollars, and the warrants) in February ('03), and SCO sued IBM in March ('03).

But with the confirmation of the Sun deal, it is now clear the Sun-SCO agreement preceded the Microsoft-SCO licensing agreement by three months.

So it appears, that other than Sun (and the declining revenue from licensing that iirc is even less than the Sun licensing deal), there was no other funding necessary to sue IBM. From what I remembered, Microsoft was the other half of the equation that enabled SCO to attack IBM, start the lawsuits, send out the letters to the 1,500 companies threatening them, and at the same time burn all their other sources (business customers) of income. So I was wrong, and SCO didn't need Microsoft, Sun provided enough funding on their own, for SCO to attack IBM and slander GNU/Linux and amplify their fud against GNU/Linux at the same time. So in finishing this post, I see that Sun is even more directly responsible for the SCO attacks, then from when I started this post.

As I stated earlier, perhaps I'm wrong, and many other people's views of Sun and their hand in the SCO fiasco is wrong, and you are right. Now's your chance to set me straight. I don't want to continue using GNU/Linux if my view of the situation is incorrect, please correct me.

Re: Attacking Sun makes no sense?

Anonymous's picture

Yep. Attacking Sun is stupid and in a court of law, everything you said is hearsay.

Re: Attacking Sun makes no sense?

Anonymous's picture

The little world belongs to the AC who wrote this (sic) comment, an angry regurgitation of biased media tripe and a world view committed to circular reasoning. It's a personal attack on someone who probably doesn't care about your flame and who has a broad perspective of the IT market.

Your post was full of emotion and therefore lacks the pragmatic reasoning called for in the article.

Congratulations, you proved the author's point.

Why IBM recommends Windows XP

dmarti's picture

Co-op marketing is where a supplier reimburses one of its dealers for ads that mention its product. The copy in hardware ads saying "[VENDOR] recommends WIndows XP for business" is part of the Microsoft co-op marketing program -- it's kind of like the Intel Inside logo that Intel uses for its co-op marketing, except they apparently insist on the "recommends" language.

It's kind of silly to see a CIO-oriented IBM ad bragging on Linux, then an IBM ThinkPad ad "recommending" Microsoft in the same magazine, but co-op marketing is the reason.

Some people speculate that co-op marketing is a sneaky loophole in the 1997 consent decree. Yes, Microsoft has to abide by restrictions in Windows licensing -- but the decree puts no restrictions on co-op marketing money, so the effective price can be different from vendor to vendor depending on if the vendor's marketing toes the line. Microsoft can also use co-op marketing money to disincentivize conduct that the consent decree doesn't allow them to prohibit in the license itself.

The threat of losing co-op marketing money from Microsoft may be a powerful disincentive toward doing LInux laptops.

Slotting fees are another way

Anonymous's picture

You also need to understand what slotting fees are, and payment for shelf space. It isn't just co-op marketing.

Slotting fees, payments found to be legal according to attorneys general in various states, are fees paid by manufacturers to retailers, for shelf space, floor space, etc. While it is illegal to demand exclusivity (ie, don't buy from that competitor), it isn't illegal to buy all the available shelf space in a retail outlet for a particular line. It's how one brand of cola shuts out another brand at supermarket chains, and it's how many retail chains put the screws to manufacturers under most circumstances. From info I've come across, Procter and Gamble are the only manufacturers, due to their size and product scope, who have escaped (things may have changed in the last few years, my info is a little old) paying slotting fees. Virtually all other manufacturers in the food/supermarket supply business pay slotting fees to retail chains.

What are slotting fees? Very simple. A retail supermarket chain that a manufacturer depends on for distributing his product, gets a phone call, requesting a meeting, and at that meeting, the supermarket chain says, your product isn't selling as well as it used to, or your product isn't selling as well as this other competitor, etc., and we either have to take it out, or you need to reimburse us for the shelf space. A figure is then put forward, and either the manufacturer agrees, or they are out.

A certain pretzel company that I'm aware of, some years ago, paid $1,000 per foot, or $1,500 per store, to a twenty store chain, in cash, as a slotting fee. Another manufacturer, one who invented a pre-cooked pizza that didn't need refrigeration, paid a slotting fee, and was still thrown out two weeks later for slow sales. A lightbulb distributor (not even the manufacturer) also paid.

A company that sells mixes for liquor started this "slotting fee payment" bonanza, for helping in their marketing war against a competitor. They are a company that sells their non-alcoholic mixes in supermarkets, and also sell liquor. I'll leave it to the reader to figure out who they are. There was an article on them and the practice of slotting fees, in the New York Times, in the mid to late 1980's.

If you google the term slotting fees, you may come up with a controversy over the issue and lettuce. That story, if still available, has some background on slotting fees. Co-op marketing is another place, as pointed out by Mr. Marti, where Microsoft can get around the consent decree. Supermarkets have been known to shaked down manufacturers with co-op fees as well. Usually, the larger manufacturers already have a co-op program where they pay for advertising. But the smaller manufacturers are shaken down with this also. "We're running a flyer this week, and we are featuring your product. This is the fee for putting the product in the flyer. Also, what sale are you going to be running while the product is in the flyer?". And then the overbuying begins, and when the sale is over, the supermarket has the product purchased at the lower price, but selling at the higher price.

There are many ways to skin a cat when it comes to co-op monies. But co-op monies are not the only way. Slotting fees are another way, and these cash payments are considered legal, and not considered payoffs, or blackmail, or any type of crime, regardless of whether a consent decree exists or not.

Re: Why IBM recommends Windows XP

Anonymous's picture

That's not the whole truth. IBM ThinkPads have very special hardware installed. And Linux doesn't support it to the extent Windows XP does. For example, the ACPI Suspend to RAM/disk functions are critical for ThinkPad Notebooks. And if you search the web for ACPI support, then you will find articles that say you may have to switch to text mode in order to properly use these functions. Of course, I'd pretty much like IBM to improve Linux' ThinkPad support, but even the Intel WLAN drivers are far from getting a 1.0 version number.

Re: Why IBM recommends Windows XP

Anonymous's picture

What Don said WAS the whole truth.
IBM has a couple of engineers to write drivers. Have you ever looked at their Linux Competency Center?
The group managing Thinkpads can have whatever they want. And at one time installed Caldera on thinkpads - that caldera now the SCO group.
Who would say Linux doesn't have drivers for Thinkpads? Could it be mindshare? Maybe the author has a point.
In 1999, some IBM engineers recompiled Lotus stuff written for AIX on Linux with the 2.035 kernel and it worked better on Linux than AIX. Ask yourself why IBM doesn't bring their porductivity suite to the market for Linux?

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