Suns Phipps: Novell Has a Big Problem

By: Lora Bentley

Last week in my "Not Just Linux" blog, I pointed to a Linux Foundation podcast in which Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian sharply criticized Sun Microsystems‘ open source strategy and questioned the viability of the Solaris operating system. Not surprisingly, Sun took issue with his statements, as is evidenced by Patrick Finch's blog post on the subject.

To get Sun's side, I talked to the company's chief open source officer, Simon Phipps, on Wednesday. He certainly didn't pull any punches. In response to Hovsepian’s suggestion that Sun’s open source strategy — balancing open source and commercial interests — isn’t right, Phipps says:

"Novell’s got a big problem.

What they’re doing is trying to sell open source software as if it was proprietary software. The comment that Mr. Hovsepian made seems to be projecting Novell’s malaise onto Sun, but we don’t have that malaise. We ship a completely free piece of software that anyone can download and use without any restrictions."

And as for the OpenSolaris community contract, Hovsepian suggested that developers who even look at the source code are somehow tainted so that they cannot go back and look at Linux. Phipps, of course, does not agree:

"That’s complete and utter rubbish. I don’t know where he’s getting it fromFree Web Content, but it’s so untrue as to almost be actionable… [T]his isn’t the first time Mr. Hovsepian has made an ill-informed and misleading attack on OpenSolaris. Maybe it’s that he hasn’t got anyone else to attack because Novell is such an unpopular company in the open source movement."

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