Debian Founder Finds Spot in Sun

Sun Microsystems on Monday named Ian Murdock — the founder of the Debian version of Linux — its new chief operating platforms officer in charge of working with Linux and the newly open source Solaris, according to a company blog.

Murdock, who has held various posts involving the open source operating system, said he’ll be advocating “that Solaris needs to close the usability gap with Linux to be competitive,” but that his role at Sun “won’t be limited to Solaris.”

“Even with Solaris front and center, I’m pretty strongly of the opinion that Linux needs to play a clearer role in the platform strategy,” Murdock wrote in his blog.

Defining Roles

Although Murdock remained cagey regarding any specific role he might undertake in his new position, Simon Phipps, the chief open source officer at Sun, was more detailed in a posting on his blog SunMink.

Murdock will be “responsible for building a new strategy to evolve both Sun’s Solaris and GNU/Linux strategies,” Phipps said.

Murdock will immediately leave his current role as chief technology officer of the Linux Foundation.

Mixed Feelings

In the past, Sun has had a mixed approach toward the Linux community, simultaneously disparaging the OS while trying to move closer toward it.

However, Sun has openly embraced open source in recent years, a likely result of a technology downturn hurting the formerly proprietary Solaris operating system and Sparc platform family.

“The last several years have been hard for Sun, but the corner has been turned,” Murdock wrote. “Now, I’m going to be a part of it.”

Sun Rising?

Despite making some very bold moves over the past year — including making Solaris available for free — Sun still faces some perception problems.

“Sun has suffered quiet a bit at the hands of Red Hat and Novell,” Yankee Group Senior Analyst Laura DiDio told LinuxInsider. “They have fallen on some tough times, but they still have great products.”

The fact that Sun hired someone from the “edgiest” of the open source outfits, such as Debian, will lend some “street cred” that might eventually lure others back into the Sun fold, DiDio added.

In addition, Sun has recently moved to install open source Linux OS’ and software applications on its systems, as well as ship non-Sun brands of processors in its servers and hardware.

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