Ian Of Debian Will Sun Himself

    March 19, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Ian Murdock of the Debian project will move into the world of Solaris as he joins Sun Microsystems as Chief Operating Platforms Officer.

Sun’s newest executive revealed a little information about his mission at the company. Murdock will be responsible for building a new strategy to evolve both Sun’s Solaris and GNU/Linux, but it does mean he will be leaving the Linux Foundation; Sun is a Foundation member, so he’ll still be in touch.

Geeks of a certain age likely recall a time when three Linux distributions received the bulk of the attention. There was Slackware, a formidable package that generally appealed to the hardcore geek crowd; Redhat, in its pre-RHEL days where they attempted to make the install a more-straightforward process.

And there was Debian, with the apt-get process that won it fans from those seeking effective package management with their Linux distros. Back in the day, Murdock was there, the Ian in Debian.

Murdock has a history with Sun that began years ago. What started as a serendipitous exploration of Purdue’s computer science buildings led him to that program and the Sun boxes residing there.

Now he’ll be a driving force behind Sun’s platforms:

I’m not saying much about what I’ll be doing yet, but you can probably guess from my background and earlier writings that I’ll be advocating that Solaris needs to close the usability gap with Linux to be competitive; that while as I believe Solaris needs to change in some ways, I also believe deeply in the importance of backward compatibility; and that 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.

The buzz has already begun at Sun. Tech legend Tim Bray said Murdock was already making his presence felt among his new Sun co-workers:

As of this weekend Ian wasn’t even on the payroll yet and was already in in a peppy little email debate over when to say “Linux” and when to say “GNU” and when to say both. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but let’s have some fun along the way.

Sun’s Simon Phipps blogged that Murdock’s appointment "is at the same time both brilliant and controversial, but is the logical next step as far as I am concerned." Barton George noted how Murdock will remain the head of the Linux Standards Base.

Josh Berkus hoped one development will come out of Murdock’s signing on with Sun: "I know that this means you can expect Sun to be more demonstrative in its affection for Debian Linux in the future; I’m hoping that it also means I’ll finally get emacs in Solaris."

(This post from August 2006 by Jeremy Zawodny certainly proved interesting today.)