Red Hat CEO Willing To Work With Sun Despite Tensions

Sun, Red Hat have mutual competitor, Szulik says

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Despite tensions between Sun Microsystems and some Linux vendors, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said his company is still willing to work with Sun on the open-source technology.

"I think we have always been talking to Sun over the last three and a half, four years," Szulik told CRN at a Linux event here on Oracle's campus this week. "I think there has been an expression similarly on their part."

Sun has drawn fire from the Linux community in recent months for an article by Sun Chief Competitive Officer Shahin Khan, posted on Sun's Web site in February, that attacked mainframe Linux.

Szulik said that while Khan's article may have angered the Linux community, Sun, Red Hat and other Linux vendors have a "mutual competitor" in Microsoft. He said that while while it is not currently clear what Sun's Linux strategy is, he thinks there is an opportunity for Red Hat and Sun to work together as Linux continues to gain popularity.

"We have always looked to try extend a relationship with Sun," said Szulik. "At the end of the day, one of the advantages of Linux is that it is the first operating system ever that runs on the smallest of devices and largest of devices. I think that's what some customers want, but [some are going to use Sun high-end servers and front those with Linux and Intel."

In a March letter to Khan, Alexander Tormasov, chief scientist for ISV SWsoft and a member of the team that develops networking code for the Linux kernel, accused Sun of promoting Linux strictly at the network edge in an attempt to salvage Solaris' position as the dominant operating system for high-end servers.

The letter, co-signed by Linux vendors Red Hat, SuSE, TurboLinux and Caldera, also said that Sun was putting a negative spin on mainframe Linux to stave off competition from IBM's z800 Linux mainframe.

Khan responded to Tormasov's letter with one of his own in late March, defending Sun's Linux position as a move to create open systems rather than proprietary network architecture, something that has been consistent with Sun's overall strategy from the company's inception.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy also has defended Sun's decision to support Linux, saying it is consistent with Sun's long-standing Unix strategy.

McNealy told CRN in late March that Linux and Solaris are ostensibly the same thing, since they both are forms of Unix. Sun's support of Linux simply means Sun now has another flavor of Unix in its portfolio, McNealy said.

Early last month, SWSoft's Tormasov responded to Khan again in a letter, accusing Sun of using its Linux strategy solely to sell more Solaris-based servers to bail the company out of its financial troubles. He also criticized Sun's entire product strategy as a plan to undermine Linux.

SWsoft, based in South San Francisco, and IBM have a pact to co-market SWsoft's server-virtualization software, Virtuozzo, on IBM's mainframe Linux operating system, said Alex Plant, SWsoft's senior marketing manager.

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