Dan Frye: An Open Letter to IBM’s Gutless Coward

Posted on August 18, 2006

Hello Mr Dan Frye,

My name is Ben Rockwood, I’m a member of the OpenSolaris community. Perhaps you’ve never heard of me because you’ve never actually looked at the OpenSolaris project, but thats understandable. Except, actually, it isn’t. You’ve been saying some things lately that are, as my wife noted this evening: “blatantly ignorant”. Indeed. You’re making the same mistake that Mr. Martin Fink of HP made, shooting your big fat mouth off without looking before doing so. Lets recap the popular comment of the week:

“Sun holds it all behind the firewall. The community sees nothing,” Dan Frye, the IBM vice president who runs the company’s Linux Technology Center, said Tuesday in an interview at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. “It’s a facade. There’s lots of marketing, but no community to speak of.”

Talking out your ass is bad for your health.

Sun doesn’t hold “it all behind the firewall”. The primary source tree is internal at this time, but thats because we haven’t finished bringing it outside yet. Doing this is a long process because all Sun engineers will be contributing to the external code repository in the future and thats a major change for everyone and that sort of massive change takes time. Notice I say “we”, although I don’t work for Sun, I’m a member of the community, and still I say we because I want this transition done right, not some rush job to shut up whining VP’s looking for attension like yourself. When we’re ready, we’ll have it open. In the meantime we get ample access to the source, we have setup up Subversion repositories in the short term, and no one has had problems staying up to date.

“The community sees nothing.” What? How on earth would you know that? Did you ask around? Did you explore? See nothing? We see everything. In fact, I’ll admit to you the one thing in the last 2 years that the community was unaware of, and that was an OpenSolaris dinner held by Tom Goguen of Sun for some choice customers. Short of that we’ve been involve in every single decision made and in many cases we drove things.

“There’s lots of marketing, but no community to speak of.” Ummm… Hi! I’m a member of the community. Look at my blog roll, there are a couple dozen more, visit PlanetSolaris.org for some more, view the dozens of mailing lists at OpenSolaris.org, join our IRC channel, #opensolaris, on FreeNode where we always have more than 150 people around the clock. We have a thriving community. Since day 1 we’ve had more community members that IBM has AIX customers. I’ll put our community against any others out there.

Solaris/SunOS has attracted a huge following over the last 20 years and that long standing community, a community that pre-dated OpenSolaris even, jumped on OpenSolaris from the start because we’re now embraced by Sun, an active part of the development of our beloved OS, and able to better organize ourselves that we did prior. While IBM snubs its customers and looks for new ways to bleed them, Sun is embracing its community of developers, admins, authors, enthusiasts, and on and on and on.

I’d also like to point something out… this “marketing” of which you speak. Have you bothered to take a look at it? Please visit the OpenSolaris-Marketing Community. We, the community, are part of the marketing group! We’re working hand-in-hand with wonderful people at Sun to get the job done, and so I’m glad that you believe our marketing is so effective… its this effective because REAL PEOPLE ARE BEHIND IT!!!

You know, Dan, I looked for you at LinuxWorld all day and couldn’t seem to find you! I asked around, talked with many of your yellow shirted IBM people, I left a note for you even. I even tried to find you after your talk but apparently it was so boring that you left early because the room was empty when I arrive prior to the 11:15 end of the session. All day apparently you around bashing folks but not talking with people at the show. Its a shame. If you just take the time to actually walk around the show floor you’d have seen the buzz in the .Org pavilion about OpenSolaris and seen us up close and personal. But I know how important you are as a big IBM VP guy, bringing yourself down to the developer area of the show would probly give you some type of cold or something. Better to stay on that cloud of yours.

So I’m really sorry I couldn’t have met you today Dan, I wanted so much to say hello. Thanks for being a gutless coward taking potshots at a project at which you expect no response. You know that Sun is trying to find a tactful way to respond to you guys, but I’ll just call you out for what you are, since I don’t answer to Sun. So go work on POWER, continue pushing Linux on the mainframe, and thanks for the work you’ve done on Xen, which is actually useful. But before you open your trap and start spewing FUD, do your homework so that little blogger guys like me can’t write such condicending open letters like this about you in the future.

Feel free to mail or call me so that I may help educate you in the future.

Ben Rockwood
benr (at) cuddletech.com
OpenSolaris Community Member