Subject: Re: free software business anyone?
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 12:17:25 -0800 (PST)

       > The popularity of GNU/Linux as server OS has forced HP, IBM, Sun, et
       > al. to begin offering it to their customers.

       With IBM, at least, popularity of GNU/Linux (and free software in general)  
       didn't force them to do anything.  They aren't grudgingly offering it like
       Dell or Sun -- it's an integrated part of their strategy.  

I'm using "force" in a purely economic sense.  At a personal,
emotional level, I'd guess you're right: people at IBM wouldn't be so
effective at deploying GNU/Linux if everyone there hated the idea.

The force was that a small initial exploration of GNU/Linux products
led to impressive sales in previously sagging markets.  They committed
more strongly to the idea; sales and 3rd party apps soared
correspondingly.  The force is that server customers have learned
their own reasons to ask for GNU/Linux (not least because of IBM's
marketing).  It looks from the press releases like customers are
asking Sun to play now, too, perhaps simply by switching loyalties to

My impression is that big IT sees a truly commodity, truly portable OS
with lots of options for its evolution and really, really likes the
idea.  After the proprietary unix piss fights of the 80s and 90s,
that's hardly a surprise.

	  There's much more to it than just a bunch of customers
	  saying 'I want Linux' -- IBM is actively creating demand for
	  Linux, because it can advance some of their long-term
	  strategic goals.

Right, IBM has been and today still is amazingly proactive in bringing
the idea to big IT.

	They're using it to erode Sun's UNIX stronghold

And Sun is responding, which was predictable.  In the long run, those
two and some others wind up competing on HW, services, app channels,
customer relations.  A little bit, sure, on whose particular
distribution or portability layer for the platform works best on their
particular hardware, but ultimately that's a minor point.  (Sun, and
IBM if I recall correctly, are also both pusing compatability layers:
run the old proprietary unix but have GNU/Linux compatability too.
That extends protection of the stronghold's for a few more years.)

	erode Microsoft's stronghold on x86

and that's the deeper reason why IBM, Sun, et al. are broken out of
the mode of arms-length-cooperation-to-keep-unix-fragmented and moved
into a mode of arms-length-cooperation-to-keep-unix-standard.

	and as a unified operating system across their ENTIRE computer product

Right.  Not "operating system" ultimately, but "operating system