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Newsgroups: comp.unix.solaris
From: (Jim Balson)
Subject: Unigram.x: Sun to buy out source code rights from Novell/USL
Message-ID: <>
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 1994 12:04:24 GMT
Lines: 58

	A friend mailed me this clipping from the latest unigram.x.


Sun Microsystems Inc was reportedly closeted with Novell Inc last
week cutting a deal to buy out the rights to its Unix-based
Solaris source code. The purchase, which insiders said could cost
Sun anywhere from $90m to $125m, would mean it never again has to
pay royalties for its operating system to Unix's titular owner.
It would also allow Sun to license the code to other Unix
vendors, develop the thing in its own way and collect all the
royalties for itself. This  would effectively elevate Sun to the
position of "Second Rome" in opposition to Novell's tarnished
orthodoxy, possibly refragmenting the industry along major new
fault lines and driving despairing OEMs into the Microsoft Corp
Windows NT fold. The move is a logical one for Sun, which has
been dead set on such a course since the middle of last year when
its SunSoft unit organised a swat team to proselytse Solaris
among Unix OEMs and top PC houses (UX No 453). Its first convert
was Amdahl Corp (UX No 454). Last week's deal was said to cover
only Unix SVR4-derived code, putting potential customers Hewlett-
Packard Co and IBM Corp beyond Sun's immediate reach unless it
can persuade them to the unthinkable - adopting Solaris. HP-UX
and AIX are derived from pre-SVR4 Unixes. HP, however, is
believed to currently be negotiating the rights to its HP-UX
binaries from Novell. Sun is expected to pay Novell about $15m
this year in binary royalties. Projecting on the price Sun could
be paying - probably around the $100m mark - it could represent
five or six year worth of royalties provided its market maintains
current levels. Unix System Labs, under either AT&T Co or Novell,
never cut such a deal to knowingly set up its own competition. In
the only other arrangement that is the least bit similar, Cray
Research Inc last year bought out its source code license, but
the intention was in no way the same. Its customers need source
code and were used to buying it and paying royalties to both USL
and Cray. Novell is said to be aware of the risk it is running
letting Sun set itself up as an alternative Unix source. However,
it is also apparently betting that it can outmarket Sun with its
SVR4.2 UnixWare kit. Currently, it looks a foolish bet since it
reportedly sold only 35,000 packages since the thing hit the
market 13 months ago. Sun, on the other hand, has been meeting
considerable resistance to its Solaris 2.x software, with its
users reportedly forming "4.1.3 or Die" clubs. Observers are
highly sceptical that the number of Solaris 2.x units SunSoft
says it has shipped are actually in use, and the success of its
swat team effort has yet to be proven.


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