Sun vs IBM
Sun Microsystems recently made the claim that they are more “open source” than IBM and that they are infact the number one contributers. This has all come about because IBM, and many others, have called for Sun to open source Java. Personally I don’t care if Sun opens Java or not. There are pros and cons for either situation. What it comes down to in my opinion is who has done more to advance Linux in general.
Ever since IBM announced that it was going to start a push towards Linux and would be investing over 1 Billion dollars in Linux over a years time IBM has been rolling with Linux full steam ahead. Sun, on the other hand, has always seemed to have a love/hate relationship with Linux. I have rarely heard the same policy on Linux twice from any Sun rep yet. The media has also always been quick to point out that such contrasting statements and actions make it appear as if Sun has no real dircection or roadmap.
It takes a lot more than just code to help advance Linux. IBM has also done a tremendous amount of work to bring Linux to the mainstream. How many Linux commercials have you seen on prime time television or in major print publications about Linux from Sun. I personally can’t think of any, but from IBM we have had the Eminem-look-a-like commercials, the guys playing basketball, the peace-love-linux ads, and probably others I am leaving out as there have been many.
IBM has also done a tremendous amount of work on the Linux kernel itself. They have also published a large amount of information through its developerWorks site. Everything from steps to migrating from Windows NT to Linux to programming tutorials and other informational articles.
IBM offers Linux accross almost all of its hardware platforms, Sun only offers Linux in a few key situations. IBM also offers a broad array of Linux and Linux related services.
Lets also look at how the two companies have reacted to the whole SCO issue. I may be mistaken but it has almost seemed as if, espeically early on, that they supported SCO? It is probably an unfar comparision seeing that it is IBM being sued by SCO and not Sun, but many other companies and individuals have acted completely different to the situation. Sun has done little to help Linux’s case with SCO.
On Sun’s side you can also point out that Sun has put in a lot of work and money into Gnome usability. The Gnome project has benefited greatly by this research and work. This benefits Linux by letting it get into areas, such a many government sectors that require certian accesability features to be available.
Sun has also made quite a few news worthy deals with its Java Desktop System. This greatly benefits one of my personal interests in Linux, the desktop! IBM has yet to come out with any desktop intiatives available to the public. Though it has said that it is transitioning many, if not most, of its internal desktops to Linux.
So back to who has contributed more code to the open source community. I have no doubt that Sun probably has actually contributed more in terms of lines of code but I think it would be interesting to see if we can get some sort of side by side comparison. In the end though I don’t think lines of code matters. The real question is who has benefited Linux and the OSS community the most. Who has helped advance Linux the most. In my opinion it has to be IBM!