McNealy zings iPhone, laments the PC, claims Sun started open source

Sunday night McNealy gave the audience at Oracle OpenWorld several more McNealy-esque quips on his take of the tech world and Sun's role in it.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief

The media is going to miss Scott McNealy as the head of Sun Microsystems. The guy has always been a reliable source of great quotes about the state of the tech industry and zingers against Sun's competition. In what was very likely his last big speech as the leader of Sun Microsystems on Sunday night, McNealy gave the audience at Oracle OpenWorld several more McNealy-esque quips on his take of the tech world and Sun's role in it.

Oracle OpenWorld attendees pour into the main hall of Moscone North for the opening keynote from Sun's Scott McNealy and Oracle's Larry Ellison. Photo credit: Oracle

McNealy came on stage in a red sweater and joked that it was the only red sweater he could find in his closet, but that it wasn't perfect. "It's more like Oracle maroon," he cracked.

The most shocking remark that McNealy made in his 45-minute presentation was that Sun was the pioneer of open source software. He put open source software as number three on his list of Sun's top 10 tech innovations of all time. Before he made the claim, he admitted, "I'll sound a little like Al Gore here." Then McNealy said he thinks the assertion can easily be backed up. He pointed to the open source origins of BSD and the fact that "BSD + UNIX System 5 = Solaris."

However, for its first two decades, Sun was a very proprietary company. It's only been in the past five years, since its core hardware business started dwindling, that Sun embraced open source by opening up the source code of Solaris and buying MySQL.

To be fair, Sun has fully embraced open source in recent years. That's why McNealy finished his open source remarks by boasting, "We are the number one contributor to the open source community on the planet."

Still, claiming that Sun is one of the pioneers of open course is pretty spurious.

Here are some of the other significant quotes from McNealy's OpenWorld keynote:

  • "Friends don't let friends type on an iPhone ... especially since it doesn't run Java."
  • "I've messed with PCs and I've messed with thin clients and thin clients are way better. I just feel bad that the world is still messing with PCs."
  • "Technology has the shelf life a banana."
  • "We were eco before eco was cool."
  • "[Solaris is] the most scalable, reliable open source OS on the planet."
  • "I wish I had a nickle for every time someone said, 'Hey, you work for Sun Microsoft.'"
  • "Think about putting our R&D budget together with Oracle's R&D budget and you've got one of the great R&D opportunities of all time."
  • After Oracle CEO Larry Ellison attacked IBM and argued how Sun-Oracle sever configurations will run circles around IBM, McNealy came back on stage and said, "I think Larry's going to like his new toy."

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