Business Week reports that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz is preparing to announce that Sun's Solaris operating system will soon be available under the GPL.
With the decision on GPL Java already made, it's clear that, in poker parlance, Schwartz is going "all-in" on the open source concept.
Schwartz first hinted at this in January, while announcing an alliance with Intel in the hardware market
Business Week paints this as the risky move of a CEO beleaguered by a fallng stock price and poor hardware sales. The implication is that open source, too, is on the line.
What's killing Sun, if it's dieing, is Moore's Second Law. As chips get exponentially more complex, they also get exponentially more expensive to design and build. Competition is being squeezed out of the chip sector as these costs rise. Even AMD is in trouble.
This makes it impossible to differentiate on hardware.
On the software side the question is not, will an open source Solaris save Sun, but can even a free Solaris compete with Linux in the enterprise?
While there is no Moore's Law of Software, I do believe there is a version of Moore's Second Law. As software becomes more complex, its need for programming support grows, and over time this cuts the number of possible choices we can have.
This makes it impossible to differentiate on software.
We seem to be down to two operating systems, Windows and Linux. Windows leads on the desktop, Linux in the enterprise. Jonathan Schwartz is seeking to find a place for Sun in this new world, but failure won't mean the gamble wasn't necessary, just that the gamble didn't work.