In a story posted on the New York Times titled "Is Sun Solaris on its deathbed?",
a rather one sided view of Linux vs Solaris is presented. The casual reader might be
inclined to agree that Solaris is in trouble, but if it is, what does that mean for
By and large, most open source projects exist to provide a free alternative to some
commercial product that you must pay for. Linux started out as a free Unix-like operating system when you had to buy Solaris, never mind whether or not it ran on a PC.
If you look at the length and bredth of open source software, it is incredibly hard to
find something that was done first there or where open source innovation led commercial
Lets analyse this for a bit. In the commercial sector, you need to come up with new ideas and new features to woo the customer into paying for something new or to convince the customer that your product is better than the other one.
In the open source space, many of the contributors work on something that they first
see in a commercial product - i.e. the Linux equivalent of Solaris' DTrace.
If Solaris hadn't of brought the world DTrace, would Linux?
If I stop and think about the flow of ideas between Linux and Solaris, it is hard to
see anything new that Linux is doing that OpenSolaris wants to follow.
The best that seems to happen is someone in Linux comes up with a better way of doing
X. If I expanded the set of operating systems to include AIX and HP-UX, there may
indeed be very very little innovation in Linux. And that should scare Linux.
And that leads me to the title of this blog entry: if Solaris and the other Unix-like operating systems die, who will Linux be left to copy? If Linux is thereafter left to innovate on its own (something that it hasn't seemed able to do
in 15 years of existence, so far), will it happen? Or will it simply flounder and stagnate because the real innovation that it has relied on to copy has disappeared?