With the company now pursuing another turnaround, the nub of Sun's software game plan can be boiled down to two words: open source.
The company has open sourced its Solaris Unix operating system, and CEO Jonathan Schwartz--a software man himself--said Sun intends to eventually open-source its entire software product line, even the Java programming package, something outsiders have long urged Sun to do.
The idea is to steal share from entrenched software providers by using the disruptive potential of open-source business models, where software is available for free and vendors charge for support services.
Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, is tasked with making that plan a profitable reality. In May, he returned to the company after two years at a start-up and said he found a company that has shed its "religious biases."
Speaking with CNET News.com, Green said Sun will open-source Java "pretty quickly," and he described how the company aims to compete under the Darwinian rules of the software industry.
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