Sun Exec Blasts IBM for Linux ...

... strategy, saying, "IBM has been using Linus [Torvalds] like a tool and exploiting the open-source community." Those fightin' words come from Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president for Sun's software group. He doesn't think IBM's Linux sales have been kind to CIOs, either. "They've been spreading IP [intellectual property] radiation" to companies that get their Linux from IBM because of Big Blue's contract problems with SCO Group. Sun, he hastened to add, has crossed all its t's and dotted all its i's with SCO just in case the Unix/Linux legal claims have merit.

  • IBM was on the minds of many at Sun's eighth JavaOne Conference in San Francisco, and not just because it had two booths on the show floor. Rumors flew daily from Moscone Center North to South, where the gathering of 15,000 or so Java devotees was held, that IBM "needed to buy Sun to save Java," as one breathless rumormonger put it. But Sun's vice president for its operating platforms group dismissed that notion with a laugh. "IBM can't afford us," guffawed John Loiacono. "We have five-and-a-half billion dollars in the bank. IBM doesn't have $5 billion." True. But, hey, interest rates are pretty low. Maybe IBM could take out a second mortgage on its digs in Armonk, N.Y.
  • If you're a rabid Solaris user, these verbal jousts can be fun. But more fun might be an early look at Solaris 10. Real early. Like a year to a year and a half before it's released. Word is that Sun is developing a program called Express that will give users a hands-on experience with its Unix system well before the beta release.
  • Schwartz, Loiacono and other Sun execs also enjoyed knocking Microsoft for its "failure" in the handset market. By the end of the year, Schwartz claims, Java will be installed on more than 350 million cell phones, BlackBerries and other similar devices, while Windows "won't even be there." What makes Java appealing to IT on handsets, says Ernie Cormier, vice president at Nextel Communications Inc., is that "you can control the entire UI [user interface]." He envisions IT deploying Java handsets to sales forces, field technicians and other road warriors instead of laptops, "reducing your dependence on PCs." Cormier says Nextel is committed to Java and by the end of the year will ship some new devices that have IT in mind.
  • These expanding Java environments will need many new programmers. And Sun execs pledged to raise the number from the currently claimed 3 million to the wished-for 10 million. Where will they come from? According to David Litwack, senior vice president at Novell Inc., they'll have to be recruited from the ranks of business developers. You know, the kind who whip out Visual Basic scripts or complex Excel spreadsheets. "We need to raise the level of abstraction for the bulk of what's done in J2EE," he says. John Fowler, Sun's chief technology officer for software, agrees. "J2EE needs simpler expressions to take advantage of precoded functions," he says. That's not exactly a snappy marketing slogan, but it's exactly what Novell will be doing this fall when it ships its Extend 5.0 suite for those developers who may not want to delve into the devilish details of Java code to accomplish their work.
  • Hewlett-Packard wants to attract Java coders, too, especially to its OpenView application. But HP thinks they sleep too much, so it will soon send out invitations to developers for its first HP Bazaar Camp USA. The three-day, all-day, all-night coding carnival has already run seven times in Europe and Asia, but the execs behind it believe it's time for you, too, to jack yourself up on caffeine and prove you can program till the sun comes up. Sleeping bags, massages and laptops will be doled out to those lucky few who qualify for the Sept. 16-18 event. Check out for all of the bizarre details.

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