I've been interviewed several times in the past couple of days for my opinions on Sun's changing of the guard from McNealy to Schwartz (CNet article), and what that means for open source.
First, Jonathan Schwartz has been running point on executive announcements from Sun on open source participation and initiatives for some time now, so I wouldn't expect his support for such initiatives to change as he takes the helm. Indeed, Sun has a long history of involvement with collaborative development since long before we called it open source software. SunOS was a BSD derivative. They've participated in Apache, the Mozilla project, and made substantial contributions to the Gnome desktop with respect to accessibility. This was all before the creation of their own projects and the release of OpenSolaris.
Second, Linux has certainly caused Sun no end of grief over the past 5-6 years as customers moved from Big Iron UNIX systems as represented by large multiprocessor SPARC systems running Solaris to scalable server farms of less expensive Intel-based systems running Linux. Customers wanted to support adding compute power by the slice at marginal extra cost. Sun dabbled with Solaris on Intel and that failed because no customer wanted it. Solaris was synonymous with Big Iron UNIX. Customers that wanted Intel server based "UNIX" weren't going to call Sun, and Sun's field probably wasn't getting compensated properly on small margin sales of Intel Solaris. This was as brilliant as DEC trying to sell PCs (on several separate occasions).
Third, while Linux was the competition, Sun didn't think open source software was the competition. Creating the OpenSolaris community earlier, however, wouldn't have helped. The entire company was still tooled up around its high margin big iron business. The creation of the OpenSolaris community is the right answer as the company moves forward with the new hardware lines, designed specifically for web-centric compute loads. The OpenSolaris community has been highly successful by all accounts (March newsletter, Redmonk analysis). It doesn't compete with the Linux community, and was never intended to be that sort of play. It is a direct conversation, however, between Sun and its customers and partners as they develop the next interesting architecture play. (The Network is the Computer from the customer's perspective — and Sun will have the next computer to support specific sorts of Network workloads.)
Sun has the opportunity to reinvent itself around the new hardware line. They have made such changes in the past: they started as the desktop UNIX workstation company. As the Internet boomed, they became the big iron UNIX server company. McNealy was around through that transition and is still certainly engaged with the company's daily operations as head of Sun Federal. That's not to say there aren't big challenges ahead and some of them will no doubt be painful.
But really, it's all good news.