Biggest names from the camps of both former foes line up to back the new Software Foundation A band of 16 companies turned out last week to grace the dais and lend their support to the reorganisation of the Open Software Foundation at UniForum. Chief among them was Sun Microsystems Inc, which is now going […]
Biggest names from the camps of both former foes line up to back the new Software Foundation
A band of 16 companies turned out last week to grace the dais and lend their support to the reorganisation of the Open Software Foundation at UniForum. Chief among them was Sun Microsystems Inc, which is now going to pay $1m a year for three years to become an executive sponsor of the reorganised consortium – when the the Software Foundation was first formed, its initials were supposed to be interpreted as Oppose Sun Forever. There are now eight executive sponsors altogether to share the lightened load and take seats on the new Software Foundation board under its new chairman Dennis Roberson, vice-president of corporate software at Digital Equipment Corp. Four of them are original Software Foundation founders: IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, DEC and Hitachi Ltd. The other four are from the old AT&T Co wing: SunSoft Inc, Novell Inc, Fujitsu Ltd and AT&T Global Information Solutions. The other eight are associate sponsors, and are kicking in only $200,000 apiece to participate and share board members. They include Bull Worldwide Information Systems, ICL Plc, NEC Corp, Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssystemes AG, Silicon Graphics Inc, Sony Corp and Transarc Corp. Other companies that were being pressured to join at the last minute suggested that some of this latter group succumbed only to get the monkey off their back. Two that stood out against the pressure were Unisys Corp and the Santa Cruz Operation Inc, which acknowledged they will probably join up down the road, but would first like to see whether anything constructive comes of the reconstituted concern. The Open Software Foundation claimed that the reorganisation leaves its 400 existing members unaffected. As part of the reorganisation, X/Open Co Ltd chief Geoff Morris and Open Software Foundation president David Tory will sit on each other’s board in an ex officio capacity. The director-at-large representing the user community has changed to Joseph De Feo of Barclay’s Bank Plc from Mike Johnson of Unilever Plc.
Ghost of litigation past haunts those that have just signed
The Open Software Foundation reorganisation documents that Unigram has read, and the Software Foundation founders – such as Hewlett-Packard Co – with which it has talked, maintain that a fire wall will be put between the new Software Foundation members – and, more importantly, their money – and the liabilities left over from its previous incarnation, notably the Addamax Inc antitrust suit. This is also the perception of the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc. However Software Foundation chief David Tory expects, in a supreme sense of irony, that Sun, which financed the suit, will (along with all other members) end up paying a share of any costs that may arise. Tory reckons that the legal entity that is the Software Foundation, regardless of the name it trades under in future, remains in existence, with only a few of its byelaws altered, and that the suit will have to take its normal course.
Who gets the starring role? It’s a toss-up
To keep the droning to a minimum, the organisers of last week’s Software Foundation bash at UniForum determined that only one company from each of the two now-reconciled camps should get to make a speech. Both Ed Zander of SunSoft Inc and Mike DeFazio of Novell Inc wanted to be the one to represent the old AT&T Co contingent. So during Tuesday rehearsals it had to be decided by the toss of a coin. Hewlett-Packard Co called it, Zander lost it – and it was our sister paper Unigram.X that wound up with the quarter.
New Software Foundation reviews its new role, methodologies; work on OSF/1 grinds to a halt
There is some concern that this new animal, the Pre-Selected Technology, that the Software Foundation intends to add alongside the old Request For Technology mechanism, which was described at one point as the best of COSE, may be poorly understood. To help explain it, Hewlett-Packard Co says a white paper will be pulled together in the next few w
eeks from all the scattered notes that people have prepared. There’s a good chance that they may just post it on the Internet. Pre-Selected Technology is envisioned as a way of enabling companies to bring pre-agreed technologies forward for consideration – with Requests being the mechanism for competing submissions. Meanwhile the Software Foundation will also be working to draw up a technology road map over the coming weeks. It will be reviewed by the new board, perhaps by the time of its first meeting at an unscheduled date in April, though the thing is unlikely to see the light of day for some time. An architecture planning council will oversee all projects, each of which will be funded only by interested firms. Source licence revenues will meet technology royalties, any remainder going to project sponsors in line with their investments. Distancing itself from the old regime, Tory says board that members that vote against the general wishes of members will be held to account in public, though it is unclear how this will work in practice. The Open Software Foundation’s first task will be to look at what’s there and what’s missing, to find out which of the existing technologies will continue and how the Common Open Software Environment work can be accommodated. Outstanding work under the old Software Foundation schedule will halt by year-end. The DCE Network Management Option is set for late spring, OSF/1 1.3 for June, Motif 2.0 August and DCE 1.1 in November. As expected, OSF/1, the operating system that the Software Foundation created, will finally grind to a halt with the 1.3 summer release, although Digital Equipment Corp will continue to develop its implementation under another guise. Several firms admit that currently there’s no fresh technology under consideration, though apparently some letters of intent have been sent to the Software Foundation by unidentified companies about running CDE 1.2, the next phase of the COSE Common Desktop Environment, through the untested Pre-Selected Technology process. Both DEC and Hewlett-Packard think it likely that the reorganised Software Foundation will work on Motif and Common Desktop as a merged project. It is also expected to try and salvage the Interapplication Communication Request from the now defunct Unix International, fiddle with federated naming for the Distributed Computing Environment, and attempt to repackage the Distributed Management Environment into more manageable components somehow.