When I read Dana’s post about leaving Jonathan & Sun alone, I couldn’t help but side with Dana. But then I read Amanda McPherson (Marketing director at the Linux Foundation) original post and now I’m torn. Then I read comments on Amanda’s blog from Sun employees, and I’m even more confused. (BTW, I urge you to read Amanda’s post…she makes some great points).

The core of this discussion boils down to whether it is “okay” for Sun to compete against Linux with OpenSolaris. I have written in the past that I believe it is perfectly valid for Sun, or any company to compete with Linux or any OSS project/product. I am a fan of competition. I believe it helps all parties raise their game.

How is the OpenSolaris vs. Linux discussion different from MuleSource vs. WSO2, JBoss App Server vs. Apache Geronimo or JasperSoft vs. Pentaho, etc?

In the past, Mike Dolan (a fellow IBMer) commented that the issue isn’t whether Sun should compete, but why they don’t collaborate:

“Instead of “competition”, think about what could happen if Sun worked proactively and in a contributory manner to help fight “Bug #1”? (See Ubuntu bug database…). If Sun’s so relevant and its technologies are so great, why waste time fighting a community that consists of HP, IBM, Dell, Oracle, SAP, Cisco, Google, BEA, and thousands of others? Why not join in that community and provide your value-add? In my opinion, competing for OS lock-in is “so 90’s” (as my youngest sister would say)…”

I can’t argue with Mike from a pure “OSS religion” standpoint. But, regardless of what Sun wants us to believe, pragmatism is behind their OpenSolaris vs. Linux strategy more than “OSS religion”. Few vendors would be able to walk away from the significant revenue that Solaris drives to Sun. And remember, Linux grew largely at the expense of Unix (Solaris was the #1 Unix OS vendor). It’s a tough position for Sun to be in…..especially since they want OSS to spell SUN.

Personally, I encourage Sun to continue competing against Linux. Let the market decide.