Subject: Re: What should Sun do?
From: (David N. Welton)
Date: 01 Feb 2005 10:24:00 +0100

Tim O'Reilly <> writes:

> On Jan 31, 2005, at 12:52 PM, Laurent GUERBY wrote:

> > Sun main contribution to free software is Open Office, much more
> > significant than Mozilla and probably the biggest contribution
> > ever by a proprietary software company.

> Actually, is just the tip of the iceberg.  If I
> recall (albeit dimly), when Rishab Ghosh did analysis of the
> copyrights in a typical Linux distribution, about 5% of the code was
> copyright Sun -- a higher percentage than was copyright the FSF,
> btw.

So I suppose that brings us back to the initial question.  If they
have all this code out there, they are getting a terrible 'image'
return on their investment.  What do they need to do to turn that

I think it's a message problem, in part.  Redhat might not have all
that money, but they are pretty much 100% "on our side", whereas Sun
has put out very mixed messages.  In terms of a 'warm fuzzy feeling'
with the free software world, it would appear that people value the
moral support more than the financial or even code support, if the
money or code doesn't come with a strong endorsement of the ideas
behind it.

From the corporate point of view, the question they need to answer,
then, is "well, do these guys matter?".  Other companies get along
just fine without being the darlings of the free software crowd.

Oracle, for instance, makes their money off of a proprietary software
product.  They support Linux where it's strategic for them, and
otherwise, just get on with things.  They seem to have much less
love/hate surrounding them than Sun.  Perhaps that will change as the
free databases continue to grow up, but that's another email, another

David N. Welton

Apache, Linux, Tcl Consulting