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Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST

As I'm sure you've heard, Sun announced that Solaris is being released under their new CDDL license, which was recently approved by OSI. So, OpenSolaris is launched. Sun folk pronounce the CDDL as "cuddle", by the way. Their website announces it this way:

The Solaris operating system is being released under the terms of the OSI-approved, CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Millions of development hours worth of code and over 1,600 patents are being contributed to the open source community. We know that innovation happens everywhere. And we're going to stand shoulder to shoulder with you. To push Solaris. And see how far we -- together -- can take it.

The web site will be the center for OpenSolaris activity. Program content will be released in stages. The source code for one of the Solaris operating system's most advanced features – Dynamic Tracing (DTrace) is available here. We invite you to take a look. Expect to see buildable Solaris code here in Q2 2005.

Community involvement and input is critical to the success of the OpenSolaris program. If you want us to update you on major events such as the availability of buildable Solaris source code, please provide us with your email address in the text box on the right.

The press release is here. Some Solaris engineering blogs are here, including Danese Cooper's and Adam Leventhal's blog on DTrace, the first part of Solaris to be made available. Bryan Cantrill takes us on a tour of DTrace code here. Sun held a teleconference for reporters Tuesday afternoon, and the best coverage of the facts regarding what was said at the teleconference that I've seen is Stephen Shankland's account here.

Yes, they are freeing up 1600 patents, but not for Linux, not for the GPL world. I'm a GPL girl myself. So it's hard for me to write about this story on its own terms. I am also hindered by the fact that I've yet to meet a Sun employee I didn't like personally. But, despite being pulled confusingly in both those directions at once, in the end, I have to be truthful. And the truth is Sun is now competing with Linux. That's not the same as trying to kill it, but it's not altogether friendly either. Yet, at the teleconference, Sun said they want to be a better friend to the community. I feel a bit like a mom whose toddler has written "I LUV MOMMY" on the wall with crayons. Now what do I say?

Their press release ends like this, for example:

Radically reducing risks associated with using and developing open source software, Sun is firmly standing behind our products and the worldwide development community. Armed with access to Solaris OS platform intellectual property, OpenSolaris developers and customers alike no longer need patent protection or indemnity from Sun's and other participants in the OpenSolaris community for use of Solaris-based technologies under the CDDL and OpenSolaris community process.

By releasing the OpenSolaris OS platform under the CDDL, the open source community will immediately gain access to 1,600 active Sun patents for all aspects of operating system technologies that encompass features ranging from kernel technology and file systems to network management, to name a few. Patents for Sun's newest technologies, such as the anticipated Dynamic Tracing technology, will also be available under the open access program.

Historically, Sun has contributed more code to open source initiatives than all other organizations with the exception of UC Berkeley, and remains committed to providing engineering support for Apache, Mozilla, Gnome, OpenOffice, Grid, JXTA, ODSL and other open source projects. Previously, Sun donated the source code of StarOffice(TM) software, which drives the OpenOffice suite bundled with most versions of Linux and was awarded a Product Excellence Award at the 2004 LinuxWorld Conference & Expo for Best Productivity/Business Application.

I know you are aware that Groklaw was asked to provide input on the CDDL license, among others, and marbux and I will be writing about that with more particularity later. There are complex issues that flow from the Microsoft factor. I tried very hard to argue the case for the GPL. I will tell you that while I got nowhere on that point, I am also not convinced that a shift in that direction couldn't eventually happen. Sun's response to our input was, I have to say, surprisingly positive. They did make changes to wording to address most of our concerns. They did take seriously your comments here on Groklaw. It's clear that they do want input from the community and are desirous of learning from past mistakes in that area. They went to a lot of effort to express to the community at large that they are not intending this as a hostile move to try to kill off Linux. But the problem is, bottom line, that when they say "the Open Source community" in their press release, they don't mean Linux. When I say "Open Source community," I do. And so their decision to build a moat that in effect keeps Linux out, even if we were to posit that it really wasn't the primary intention, is to me as irrational as a divorced wife inviting her ex to their child's wedding but insisting that his second wife can't come with him.

I can't write in detail about the license today, because the final CDDL package isn't done yet. We still haven't seen the Contributors' Agreement, because it hasn't been made available yet. Some of the concerns marbux and I raised I hope will be addressed in the Contributors' Agreement. Overall, assuming good will on their part, and I do, and subject to whatever the final CDDL package says, including the Contributors Agreement, it's really not a bad license. You can read their FAQ for yourself. It's by far the best license I have ever seen from Sun. For one thing, as they themselves stated in the teleconference, Sun can't pull this license out from under you the way earlier licenses made possible. 1 And it is so much simpler. It is what it is, and what it is is a middle ground license, designed particularly for businesses to be able to mingle their code, their proprietary code, with Sun's unmodified CDDL code and keep their own code proprietary. A lot of businesses want to do that, and this license does enable it. It does what it sets out to do. The worst thing I can say about it is that you can't mix CDDL and GPL code. And that is a big problem. How Sun puts that together with this paragraph in their Licensing FAQ, I don't quite understand:

In addition, the Solaris operating system includes a number of components based on existing open source projects, which will continue to be available under their current licenses. For example, the version of Perl included in the OpenSolaris source base will be licensed under the Artistic License and the GNU GPL.

So, they can use GPL code, but not the reverse. The FAQ delicately phrases it this way:

Can code licensed under the CDDL be combined with code licensed under other open source licenses?

CDDL is file-based; that means that files licensed under the CDDL can be combined with files licensed under other licenses, whether open source or proprietary. However, other licenses may have different restrictions which may prevent such combination; be sure to read and recognize those.

DrStupid sees a workaround some could make use of:

"You can't co-mingle existing GPL code and CDDL code, that is true. But you can have GPL and CDDL programs side by side (because of the mere aggregation clause of the GPL, and the equivalent clauses in the CDDL.) This is how, for example, you can have the GPL'ed Perl shipped with the CDDL OpenSolaris.

"So, suppose that there was a really nice UPS-controlling daemon in OpenSolaris. You could port that to run *on* Linux quite happily. It would still be CDDL-licensed - but running on Linux. What you can't do is take some GPL'ed code from project A and some CDDL'ed code from project B and jam them together. That's a shame, because it means people will have to waste time (in both communities) reinventing wheels.

"But there is an important "middle way" - one which has been used before in the context of the MPL, which is also incompatible with the GPL and for the same reasons as the CDDL is. (Hardly surprising since the CDDL is based on the MPL.)

"Doubtless many, if not most Groklaw readers are familiar with GnomeMeeting. GnomeMeeting is GPL - or rather, a modified GPL. The license for GnomeMeeting has the following addition:

'GnomeMeeting is licensed under the GPL license and as a special exception, you have permission to link or otherwise combine this program with the programs OpenH323 and Pwlib, and distribute the combination, without applying the requirements of the GNU GPL to the OpenH323 program, as long as you do follow the requirements of the GNU GPL for all the rest of the software thus combined.'

"Why is this there? Because the OpenH323 and Pwlib libraries are MPL-licensed, and ordinarily this would prevent them being used by a GPL program. But because the author realized in advance he would need those libraries, he added this exception clause. The effect is to enable the use of the MPL libraries, without significantly compromising the GPL-ness of the GnomeMeeting app.

"See this post:

"There is no reason why similar processes could not be used with regard to parts of OpenSolaris. One might take some useful code from OpenSolaris and repackage it as a CDDL-licensed library. Then, write a GPL application (with a special exclusion in the license) that links against the library. The GPL'ed code one wrote could be reused in another GPL application, so it isn't lost to the GPL community; it is still GPL'ed, so can't be co-opted by closed source; but can still take advantage of the CDDL library and its implicit patent licence.

"In this way parts of the CDDL-licensed OpenSolaris could be 'embraced and extended' (but without being extinguished :) by GPL code."

"In a nutshell, if:

A = existing GPLed code

B = your newly-written "GPL+exception" code

C = CDDL code

"Then you can link together B+C, but not A+B+C. However, you can link A+B (without C), so in making your code "CDDL friendly" it isn't lost to other GPL developers. And of course, the copyright holders of A may later decide to tweak the license on it."

I checked with Dan to make sure, and he agrees, pointing out though for emphasis that this workaround could only be done with code you personally own. You couldn't do it with anyone else's GPL code:

"He's correct, that code base 1 licensed under 'GPL and exception', where the exception allows for compliance with a GPL incompatible license allows code base 1 to be combined with code licensed under the specifically identified GPL incompatible license, but that doesn't allow any GPL'd code to be used with such code. It's the copyright holder's prerogative to 'dual-license', in effect, in this way in order to permit interoperability. But, she can only do this for code she owns. She cannot create an exception for GPL code owned by someone else."

What Sun said at the conference is that they wanted a license that, unlike the BSD license or Apache licenses, would require that modifications be contributed back, while at the same time making it easy for businesses to work with it. And they said that while the GPL license is good for some things, it's "viral", so they wanted a license that would be easy and simpler to use. What the GPL isn't good for, they think, is for an operating system. Yes, that is what they said on the call, obvious facts in the real world notwithstanding. I do understand that opening up code that was previously encumbered isn't the same thing as deciding how to license code written fresh. But I have to admit that I don't think they fully understand the GPL yet, or how it works in real life. And when I hear the word "viral" and the GPL in the same sentence, my FUDometer starts ringing. In this case, though, I have formed the impression that it's more ignorance than hostility. Ignorance is a simpler problem to fix.

You can be a cynic, as many of the reporters on the teleconference clearly were, and view it as a jab at Linux, a competitive effort to try to replace Linux or at least keep it from eating Sun's lunch. The Wall Street Journal expresses that view:

Sun, meanwhile, is hurriedly trying to emulate attributes of Linux, which has helped to drive demand for low-end computers that have taken sales from Sun machines. Solaris 10, like versions of Linux, will be available for free download next week, though Sun plans to make money by selling support services for the product.

The company yesterday formally announced its licensing scheme for making an open-source version of the software, dubbed the Common Development and Distribution License. That document, among other things, gives users of Solaris 10 immunity from any patent claims from using the product.

Scott McNealy, Sun's chief executive officer, said patent immunity could be a big marketing advantage in trying to popularize the company's software in markets such as China, where government agencies want lower software prices and are worried about the possibility of paying patent royalties.

Personally, I understand that any company needs to be competitive. And I get that a company used to thinking that way will have a difficult transition to community thinking about development. So I'm not a cynic from that standpoint. I heard them say at the conference call that they are trying to respond to demand. Governments are now, in more and more places, requiring that Open Source software be considered, and Sun would like some of that business. They also said that Wall Street companies have some fine coders who will now be able to do real-time fixing and personalization of the code, without license worries. Sun cares about Wall Street. They want that business to stop going to Linux, I gather. And they recognize that companies today don't want to be locked in to any particular vendor.

It's not a crime to want to stay in business. But, to me, it is a missed opportunity. If Sun had GPL'd this code, with the patent grant, they would have been heroes, and folks would have contributed back, just as they are giving support to IBM and other corporate friends. Sun, to their credit, have spent ten years working on getting this code as free as possible from license entanglements. They haven't succeeded 100%, and there are still a few binaries that are not being opened, as you can see on their roadmap page, but it's not Sun's fault. They surely tried. And most of the code is now, they say, theirs to open source at will. I'm not positive SCO or Novell will agree, but that is Sun's position. Can you imagine if CDDL code could be put together with GPL code, and you put Sun's 1,600 patents in with IBM's 500 (so far)? It's heart-breaking that it didn't happen that way. Dan Ravicher of points out a difference in Sun's patent grant and IBM's:

"The CDDL only grants a license to the patent claims owned by a distributor of the software that cover the version distributed by it, no more, and only for using the software distributed by it, no other programs. No patent license is given by the CDDL to any of the distributor's patents to make modifications to the licensed software or for any other software at all.

"This, in my opinion, is much less of a grant than the implied license that arises from use of the GPL, which would extend to not just those patent claims covering the software distributed by the patent holder, but also to patent claims covering reasonably contemplated uses of the software. And even that is much less than IBM's grant from last week, which was for any software."

But for me the bottom line is this: it's their code, and they are free to do with it whatever they wish.

You might be interested in Larry Lessig's blog entry on IBM's patent pledge:

IBM has announced the pledge of 500 patents to a "patent commons" for "open source" software development. That means people developing software licensed under a license certified by the Open Source Initiative can be assured that IBM will not assert these 500 patents against them -- at least so long as they don't sue IBM or another open source developer for patent related issues. (Steve Lohr's got a piece in the Times.)

This is important news. It further demonstrates IBM's commitment to making free software and open source software development flourish. And it could well inspire others to follow. Ideally there should be a trust that these patents could be contributed into. We'll have to get the commonists to get to work building such a thing.

Now, though, I am afraid Sun is creating their own little park, a very pleasant one in their eyes, where Sun's 1,000 Solaris inhouse coders and some outside BSD guys, I guess, will work on Solaris code and have a ball, I'm sure. They've had 60 or 70 programmers outside of Sun working in a pilot community already for a while, and here is one of them enjoying this moment, and you'll find directions there on where to find the gang on irc, if you wish. Now Sun is opening it up to others. But it will be a much smaller party than it could have been, and in Open Source, size matters. They are keeping out some of the best coders in the entire world. So, now they will have to live with that, without the bulk of the FOSS community's support. The GPL is by far the most popular FOSS license. One need only see how unsuccessful Open Source licenses that are GPL-incompatible have been. They've pretty much all failed to go beyond whatever initial software was licensed under them, and they've often killed any community involvement even with that software. Free software and the GPL, at least at this time, are still intricately intertwined. People know the GPL, and there's more history and understanding of the GPL, in addition to the amount of software under GPL being by far the plurality.

If that is all they want, a smaller, alternative Unix community, I can't criticize. But that is all they will get. When I saw the Wall Street Journal article, I read the title wrong at first. It's entitled, "Sun Grants Solaris 10 Users Free Access to 1,600 Patents." I thought at first the WSJ was mocking Sun and saying only about ten people would accept their offer, before I connected that it was talking about the product Solaris 10.

At the teleconference, they announced that there will be an advisory board to oversee OpenSolaris, made up of two inhouse Sun people, two from outside, from the pilot project group, and one from the Open Source community. They are taking nominations for the last spot. One questioner on the call asked if they could maybe get Linus. They honestly answered that Linus is only interested in working on GPL code. If Sun ever figures out why that is, why so many in the community are specifically interested in GPL code, including end users, they'll be able to really join the Open Source community more fully.

But I don't totally reject the steps that they have made, just because they didn't go the whole hog and even though I am distressed that anyone would do anything to make things harder for Linux, particularly now. That never helps. I think about relatives who won't switch to Linux but will try Firefox and, and I see Sun a little like that. I know that isn't the image they hoped we would come away with.

They said on the call that they are going back to their BSD roots and they are committed to Unix and to sharing. It's a good thing in one way, and at the same time, back is not the right direction to be heading. And BSD code was code you could put together with GPL code, after all. Do they really believe that companies, faced with having to make a choice, will choose CDDL code over Linux? That's quite a gamble, one that I personally think they will lose.

It is a fine thing that they have absorbed the reality that the world is changing. And I commend them for understanding that patents are the problem and that Open Source development needs protection from patent threats. It can't be, they pointed out on the call, the old model any more. People want FOSS software, and Sun sees that and they are adjusting. They also clearly understand that overseas, the patent game can't work. Folks in the developing world can't afford to play and neither can individual developers or small businesses anywhere.

The problem I still see is that Sun wants to drop the F and run its own race with the OSS part, defining it in their own narrow way, and by dropping the F I mean not accepting the GPL. Is that enough? Well, to each his own. 2 Do you hate someone because he'd rather develop FreeBSD than Linux? I don't. Is Linux afraid of a little competition? Not if it's fair. I tried to help them with the license, because that is what the community does. We try to help each other and we'll help anyone trying to be a part of things, even if they don't get it all perfectly at first. I wish corporations could understand what community really means and check their super-aggressive competition at the door. That hasn't happened yet. It matched the pay-for-a-license software world. It's discordant in the free world.

But, although I tried to help, my bottom line hasn't changed a bit. I'm still a GPL girl. And I hope someday they'll join us, as the song says, and the Open Source world can live as one.

1 There is a problem with the license that marbux noted, but it's a problem Sun didn't seem to have thought of until marbux pointed it out, so I am convinced it wasn't their intent. I also hope it will be addressed in the Contributors' Agreement. If not, I'll explain it to you, so you can sensibly decide if you wish to accept the terms of the license or not.

2 For a Sun reaction to my article, try Simon Phipps' thoughtful blog. It's their initiative, so it feels right to let him have the last word, other than to say that I prefer the GPL because it was designed to compel corporations to play fair. It's a "no-rape-or-pillage allowed here" license, and that is supremely pragmatic, since, as I have observed, rape and pillage seems to appeal to the nonFOSS corporate mind. It's the only license that tackles that issue head on, and that is partly why people trust it.


Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL | 276 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections (if any) here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT Here
Authored by: clark_kent on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST
First post?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Authored by: N. on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:19 PM EST
Good balanced, honest, Sun article.

Maybe they'll get it one day, but this isn't bad as a first official attempt.
We'll see how it pans out.

(Now almost completely Windows-free)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Authored by: llanitedave on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:23 PM EST
PJ writes: "And the truth is Sun is now competing with Linux. That's not
the same as trying to kill it, but it's not altogether friendly either."

There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. GNOME competes with
KDE, Thunderbird competes with Evolution, etc.

In the open-source world, competition is a little more indirect, because both
sides focus on their own development -- not ignoring the other, but not actively
opposing them either.

The sports analogy, I would guess, is bowling or golf, rather than football.

Sun still seems a little confused about its place in this world, but I wouldn't
wish them any harm. They'll figure it out sooner or later. In the meantime,
GPL Girl, you just keep on doing what you do!

Of course we need to communicate -- that goes without saying!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:26 PM EST
I believe the reason CDDL and GPL are intentionally incompatible is not to
destroy Linux, but to prevent the destruction of Solaris.

If Solaris were released under GPL, I would imagine that all of the best parts
of Solaris would be ported to Linux. Sun would not get a tremendous number of
new developers for Solaris, since most OS developers know linux already, and any
benefits of Solaris could just be ported.

I think Sun is eyeing IBMs moves regarding Linux and hoping to leverge the same
business plan, on a smaller scale, with Soalris. Leverageing the FOSS community
for low profit margin software development and sell high profit margin support

In essence, Sun's real competitor is IBM, not GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Authored by: inode_buddha on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:26 PM EST
PJ, I've run into the same sort of misunderstandings before, regarding what is
meant by F/OSS. Nowdays I refer to "free software" people, and
"open source" people as distinct and separate groups. As long as that
premise can be established in conversation, I think that approach simplifies
things greatly.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Why not a duel licence strategy?
Authored by: DFJA on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:29 PM EST
I don't understand why they haven't used a dual licence strategy, as are used by and Trolltech (with QT). That way, they could join the one big
open source community that is the GPL, gain all the advantages of that (and
contribute all Solaris's advantages to the GPL world) while also making their
code separately available under another licence (such as the CDDL or even a
proprietary licence) to be more "business friendly" in their eyes.
After all, it seems to work fine with, and they make money by
selling the software as Star Office.

Actually, I can think of a reason why they haven't done this - they don't want
to be players in the wider Open Source community. I agree with PJ that it is
their code, so their choice. It's just a shame.

I could release my own software under the DFJA public licence. This licence
would be identical to the GPL except that all references to the GPL would be
replaced with references to the DFJA public licence. It would exactly as Free as
the GPL, no more, no less, but totally incompatible with the GPL. This is
essentially what Sun have deliberately chosen to do.

43 - for those who require slightly more than the answer to life, the universe
and everything

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenSolaris and UNIX licenses
Authored by: mwgrenier on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:33 PM EST
Doesn't this OpenSolaris release tell us more about the product called UNIX
System V that SCO has license rights to? In particular, SCO can not successfully
sue anyone for using anything that Sun Microsystem is releasing as open source.
I wonder what is left for SCO? Is there any UNIX in OpenSolaris?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What do you say ? - That's easy
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:36 PM EST

Bring it on - SUN are willing to compete on product quality *alone* with
Linux... That takes guts, and a huge confidence in their engineering skills...

I'd be happy if MS did the same - it's a face to face battle, and may the best
application win.

Sure they are worried about people stealing their ideas - so they are being
cautious... more cautious than IBM - but they are doing something that is at
least in the same direction as the FOSS communities.

As long as they are heading in the same direction, then let them mosey along -
if they find something new and cool it will benefit us all... if they get it
wrong - then we all learn from it.

It can only be welcomed.

Now - they could have done more, they could have opened stuff up to the GPL -
but it is a start... and it is SUN trying...

[ Reply to This | # ]

painting a pile
Authored by: Stumbles on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:50 PM EST
No matter how you want to paint this. I still see it as only
benefiting SUN. But then what do you do with a dying OS?

And these 1600 patents certainly and for sure is no where near a
noble gesture as that made by IBM.

Though it is pleasing they have flattered the power of GPL and it's
development model used by Linux and other GPL application

Sorry to be so cynical but that's the way I see it.

At least they have not decided to use the Billion or so dollars they
got from Uncle Bill to do something like that done by SCOG. So I
guess that's something.

You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:53 PM EST
First I would like to say although I have not used Solaris and only have used
other SUN products only for personal use (ie. Jave, OO.o), I hope you are able
to survive your current situation as I feel (as many do) SUN has a lot to offer.
I am also a GNU/Linux user and an advocate of the FOSS community and those that
support it. Why? Because to truly share knowledge and information without the
pretense of control is what will allow mankind to eventually free itself and
each individual. Maybe on the short term, it's hard to see and sounds fanatical
and religious, but if you look into the long term, I don't think it's so hard to
see it as sound thinking.

While not being privy to the inner workings of SUN and my opinion is 2nd hand at
best, I would still like to offer a slightly different route than the one you
are taking. In a nutshell, to become the first Linux teir1 OEM.

Partner with IBM making the Linux thin client PCs for enterprise (made in bulk)
and consumer PCs (made to order), let IBM develope the CELL processor and
manufacture it (or co-develop, but get out of the processor business, Sparc
seems to be such a minor player it's a dead end and an anchor around your neck),
and let them do the Supercomputer big-iron but compete in the SMB server and
clustering server market with x86 and CELL hardware running Linux (remember, x86
is and will always be successful because of the software base it holds. IBM
just got out of the x86 PC business and is no longer a competitor and there is
no teir1 OEMs that specialize in Linux which = good opportunity for you if you
act before DELL and HP and get established. You also have an advantage over
DELL by doing software as well, they don't and that will stimy them when they
try to really enter the Linux market).

GPL Solaris and Java so the community can jumpstart Java and combine Solaris and
Linux to help make a single product Microsoft would be very hard pressed to
compete with. Use your engineers to develope a WORKING and WELL INTERGRATED and
INTEROPERABLE stack of OSS/FOSS/GNU/Linux software that is closely tied with
your hardware and call the stack Solaris (This also avoids having to 'ask' other
companies to port their software to your OS). Keep open specs on the hardware
so other distros can install advoiding vender lockin, but charge a good service
contract like $100/seat/year (very intellegent model, kudos btw) and a similar
contract to consumers to service the whole stack. Hardware to software support
is extremely attractive and if you can actually service it, it's what costumers
want and they will stay with you.

Another possiblity with Sparc is to contact a Chinese CPU manufacturer and
partner with them so you can get into the Chinese market as well, mass-producing
Sparc and use it in the consumer market. If Sparc is Linux friendly, it will
become a competing platform for x86 since Sparc is a better processor and the
community will port software willingly to run on Sparc natively. China is
gearing up their economy and if you gave them a hardware choice that was
superior to x86 but it would install the software just as easily, this again =
opportunity. And once you have a partner, you can enter their market easily
with with service contracts and consumer sales.

Then you could out Apple, Apple. If you had that kind of tight intergation
combined with x86's market penetration and software base, Linux' openness and
cross-platform compatibility/community, you could offer enterprise and consumer
solutions of discreet and intergrated hardware that had a much more refined
professional SUN look that Apple's dopey plasic-toyish look.

Most of all, it would seem you are an opensource hero taking advantage of the
market in all the right ways. GPL everything you do so you can maximize the
community. Sure, other's will use your work, but few can do it on your level
and if you act quickly, you'll be on top and have moved onto the next level when
they (DELL, HP, IBM) are just getting started.

As it is, it seems you don't have a problem using GPL software but are going out
of your way to make your software GPL incompatible. In your position it may
seem totally justified and it actually might really be totally justified, I
don't know, but from the otherside the spirit seems lacking and it doesn't feel
like you want to be a part of the GPL community, only a user of its fruits
(which is unfortunate, since it seemed you were going to join the community when
you GPLed OO.o and Looking Glass, then talked about Java but backed off and got
cold after the MS deal).

Novell and Redhat do software but no hardware, IBM just left the x86 PC market
and they stated they don't want to be an OS company, HP does hardware and
software but they're really tied to Microsoft and tend to produce cheapish
looking products, DELL only does hardware and is really tied to Microsoft and
also produce cheapish looking products, most others only produce hardware and
little/no software. Apple does good consumer hardware-software intergation, but
they are closed and no one else is allowed to compete on their hardware or use
their software which = small software base and user base, they also don't have
enterprise pentration.

x86 with Microsoft has saturated the PC market. Not many people feel compelled
to upgrade after winXP especially with all the bad PR from secruity and DRM
they've recieved and the hardware most people have is more than adequate to surf
the net and write letters (only gamers, vector processing, and designers want
faster PC's it seems). Longhorn is still aways away, but people do want
something new.

I really feel your position has a lot of posibilities. You do hardware,
software, support for the whole stack, RnD, high-performance solutions, and is a
global company with a well known name. It's not much of a stretch to see you do
a complete line of hardware that satisfied home to enterprise use. Really, only
IBM is the only company I can think of that could compete with you (maybe HP and
DELL eventually), but IBM doesn't want to enter the consumer market at all, they
want the server space which will eventually become a commodity too and all they
will have left is supercomputers, RnD, and chip manufacturing. You also can
claim intense security (what a selling point in the coming near future!). What
would normally be a market that doesn't see a compelling reason to upgrade will
upgrade because of what you can offer is compelling by being well intergrated,
complete, secure, and open.

And to kickstart your operation, ask those who upgrade to your "Solaris
stack' to donate their old PC's to you and you load them with Solaris and donate
them to schools, libraries, and 3rd world countries. So you become in effect a
charity and you can ride the good PR that comes from the news reports (the best
kind of advertising, especially when it's good news) of your good works. This
is something you could do even if you don't take the GPL route (tho Linux more
than likely has the drivers for older hardware where as for Solaris, drivers are
nearly non-existant.)

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck and hopefully one day the Solaris
community and the GPL community can partner. Until then, may the winds of
fortune fill SUN's sails.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Sun - Authored by: dhonn on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 04:19 PM EST
  • Sun - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:10 PM EST
  • Sun - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:50 PM EST
    • Sun - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 05:14 AM EST
Possible Future Move to GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:01 PM EST
I tried very hard to argue the case for the GPL. I will tell you that while I got nowhere on that point, I am also not convinced that a shift in that direction couldn't eventually happen.

As an example of such a move, RealNetworks started out their Helix initiative with the RealNetworks Public Source License for all their code. That license is essentially GPL-incompatible. After some additional time and pressure, they released part of their Helix code (the client/player part) also under the GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is evil
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:13 PM EST
Microsoft and Sun can't sue each other right now. Sun opensources its code in a
way that allows MS to look at Sun's technology and learn from it while Sun is
able to use GPL code without having to share their code base back to the GPL
community blocking Linux from benefiting. Both MS and Sun go on for awhile
working cross-licensing agreements back and forth to make sure they can M.A.D.
each other, and hopefully, after awhile they're combined efforts have hopefully
taken a toll on IBM-Novell-RH-Linux.

I hope I'm reaching but we have to be open to the possibility. I still don't
really trust Sun tho I hope I'm wrong.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Mix and match licensing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:29 PM EST
Linus has created an estoppel for mingling the kernel and things running on top
of it with different licenses.

For modules, though he specifically allows separate packaging from the kernel as
OK - ie. Nvidia's kernel modules are not GPL, but end users are allowed to load
what they want. (However, many Linux distributions are packaging them together,
so...) This anti-module packaging thing has been threatened against some of the
embedded system vendors(specific wireless switch makers with binary only
wireless modules) with limited results. It has become a gray area as there are
risks in having it well defined.

What you can get from this is that it should be safe to produce ZFS or Dtrace(if
it would be useful in Linux) modules for Linux. It won't ever be included in
the official kernel, it might have packaging restrictions (not a big deal).
Otherwise it should be fine to make, use, distribute, etc.

The big thing I wonder is if Solaris can become a new and safe reference for how
to implement things in Linux and can Solaris do the same with Linux (ie. read
and reimplement without fear)? Especially since the CDDL is 'file based', in
the extreme it could mean that a Linux module creator could mix his code with
CDDL files. Once he has replaced (coded out) the CDDL files he could be clear
to GPL the result.

I know BSD stuff is directly copied into Linux every now and then. But the
license explicitly allows this, would you have to follow explicit
reverse-engineering (ie. clean room reimplementation) rules between the
conflicting open sources CDDL and GPL? I really doubt anyone with a Linux
copyright would enforce that on Sun, but would Sun be able to enforce this
against a Linux developer?

If Sun would have GPL'ed it this wouldn't be an issue and they would have very
easily gained thousands of new hardware drivers and filesystems from Linux.

I really think it is great that Sun is doing this and I can understand their
concerns with releasing code(I could see finding security problems in it become
a hobby for OpenBSD guys). So it may take a while to release all of the system.
Solaris 10 has some neat features, and it will be interesting to compare it to
Linux source to source.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Children, Marriage, Relatives
Authored by: jyavner on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:34 PM EST
Unless I'm mistaken, this post contains many more metaphors relating to
children/marriage/relatives than usual. It seems that either PJ is trying to
paint Sun as the Wayward Uncle of our FOSS family, or there is great news afoot
in PJ's personal life and it's bubbling over into her writings.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"SUN has announced"
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:44 PM EST
Yes, and they've changed their mind before, and can do so again many times
before this is actually released. Let's not analyse too prematurely.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This has got to be good news
Authored by: Naich on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:45 PM EST
Even if it's not compatable with the GPL, it gives GPL'd software extra
credability. There is deep mistrust amongst some people about Free software.
The perception is that it must be 'free' because no-one would want to pay for
it. I've seen it at first hand, trying to get someone to pick ImageMagick for
server-side image manipulation over proprietary software that costs $50 but does
less. The more open licences there are, the more commonplace and accepted the
general concept will become.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:45 PM EST
"The CDDL only grants a license to the patent claims owned by a distributor
of the software that cover the version distributed by it, no more, and only for
using the software distributed by it, no other programs. No patent license is
given by the CDDL to any of the distributor's patents to make modifications to
the licensed software or for any other software at all."

Is it just me or does this mean that if I fix a bug in a CDDL licenced piece of
software, I'm now violating the patent license if I run the fixed software?

I'm perfectly willing to be corrected here, but that's how I read it.

- Theo

[ Reply to This | # ]

Winners and Losers?
Authored by: Brian S. on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:49 PM EST
Why should that be so?

Half the world will go with Linux just because Sun is an American Company. (I don't mean that wrongly its just a statement of fact regarding China whatever Sun may hope for).

It seems to me that all too often people mix up OSs and Apps, their just not the same thing.

Sun have already said that any FOSS App. developed on Linux will run on Solaris without recompiling. As far as I can see that opens up Solaris to any Open Community.

I also suspect that many in the Linux camp have been busy making sure that any App. developed on Solaris will run on Linux.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Differences of perspective
Authored by: TFBW on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:49 PM EST
Sun still see this as a competition with winners and losers. They're offering patent indemnity over their own code, but not offering it to the competition, because they want to maintain that as an advantage -- a point of differentiation which ultimately boils down to a form of FUD: the implication that OpenSolaris is safe, and Linux is risky. Was this patent gesture anything less than the bare minimum necessary to make OpenSolaris a possibility anyhow? I mean, really, the alternative was to say "it's open source, but you still have to license patents from us". What would have been the point of that?

Now, granted, they are making Solaris available under an open source license, and that's significant. But again, they seem to have chosen the means of doing so such that it will have the smallest possible benefit for their "competitors". How community-minded is it to be helpful in the least helpful possible way?

And finally, consider this quote from McNealy, seen in The Register.

"This is a super-charging, rocket-launching way of driving what we think is the best IP (intellectual property) in the space today forward," he said.

The final difference in perspective to be seen here is that they see themselves as having the best bundle of intellectual property in the field. Linux, on the other hand, seems more concerned with being a useful operating system than an impressive bundle of intellectual property.

They may have got the license right enough to be open source, but I think they still have a long way to go on "community spirit". The group towards which they are being community-minded is a rather exclusive one. Almost indistinguishable from their existing customer base, in fact.

I'm going to stop thinking about it now, or I'll find further cause to be cynical. I'll say one thing, though: it *is* good for existing Solaris users who don't want to change. The fate of your operating system won't be so closely tied to the fate of one slightly fragile corporation anymore. How's that for irony? Making the operating system open source may help them keep their customer base, by giving the customers less cause to migrate away.

[ Reply to This | # ]

not for BSD either
Authored by: xtifr on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 01:55 PM EST

A lot of people have been focusing on GPL-compatibility. The fact is that this license isn't compatible with anything. This patent "donation" doesn't benefit the BSD folks any more than it benefits the GNU/Linux folks. In fact, the only one who potentially benefits is - Sun! And then only if they can persuade people to hop on board and donate free time and labor to their incompatible-with-everything-else OpenSolaris system, and help them try to drive Linux and BSD out of the market.

(Of course, the BSD folks could relicense their whole system under Sun's license. But anyone who thinks that suggestion has any chance has never hung out on any of the BSD lists, or talked to any core BSD developers. You think the FSF are fanatics?)

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for it makes them soggy and hard to light.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Any technical and performance comparisons btwn Solaris 10 and Linux 2.6?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 02:08 PM EST

I am curious as to how the architecture, code quality, and performance (on the
same hardware) compares between the two OS's.

We've got to know what we are up against.

All I can find is Sun propaganda and Apples to Oranges performance comparisons.

Thanks in advance,

[ Reply to This | # ]

CDDL more like BHL; Black Hole License
Authored by: fuego451 on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 02:39 PM EST
The CDDL is great for sun because they can take advantage
of all the innovation the FOSS community has to offer,
though I doubt there will be much forthcoming other than
their 'team' porting GPL'd programs, and give nothing in
return. The CDDL puts solaris10, a dying animal, on life
support but refuses further intervention from a qualified
veterinarian, the FOSS community.

As for the statement that StarOffice 'drives' OpenOffice,
I think it's more likely the other way around.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Open Office - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 02:00 PM EST
I think Sun does get it
Authored by: ujay on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 02:43 PM EST
I worked for a development firm that used Solaris as our backbone system, and
found it a good and powerful OS. I'm pleased that Sun is going to open the

Sorry, PJ, but I must disagree with one aspect of your article. F/OSS is not
about Linux. Linux is a F/OSS project, but an application need not be a Linux
based app to be open source. F/OSS applications run on a variety of OS's, and -
wait for it - Solaris is one of them.

Linux is making major inroads into the corporate structure, and any company that
offers a corporate level OS has to take that into consideration. You can take
the SCO road, rant, rave, and attack, garnering major customer disatisfaction,
or you can approach the problem of potential customer loss reasonably, and
attempt to support your customers, keep your install base, and modify your
business model to accomodate the changing environment.

Sun clearly has chosen the latter, and wether I agree 100% with everything they
propose or implement is immaterial. The fact remains that they are making clear
moves to evolve thier business approach to accomodate the growing F/OSS

I seriously doubt that you'll find Solaris running on your average users
desktop, and that is not where Sun's customer base lives. It is a corporate
level system requiring knowledge, experience and attention to detail. For Sun,
this is a smart move to avoid what is happening to Unix in general.

F/OSS adherants ( myself among them) have been talking for years about how the
F/OSS process is altering the information landscape for the better. I firmly
believe this, and I tip my hat to Sun for making serious attempts to survive in
this period of uncertainty. The last thing we need is for F/OSS and Linux to
become the next behemoth monopoly on systems. We are not out to kill other
OS's, only to make them more open and compatible to applications.

Well, maybe in the case of MS, death and burial would be better than the rotting
corpse of insecure methodology in design lying around the internet, but in their
case they can either: a) keep on as before and lose everything eventually, or b)
fix their systems, play nice, and implement proper standards.

Oh NO! just threw a brick through our Windows!

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenSolaris, Linux and CDDL
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 02:53 PM EST
I'm glad Sun is doing this. I understand why Sun is not thrilled with the GPL.
They want to control the future of Solaris and while they will accept input from
anyone, they are afraid that Solaris will fragment. They well remember the
Java/Microsoft fiasco and are determined to avoid anything similar.

The only reason most FOSS projects don't fragment is that they are either small
or have an acknowledged leader. Without Linus and his unique skills, I'm sure
Linux would not have been as successful as it is today.

The only person at Sun who could have commanded that level of respect is Bill
Joy, who had been relatively inactive in Sun for a good while, before he
recently left. He's also one of the few people, besides Linus, who is conversant
in operating system and processor design at a high level.

The first big challenge to Sun is whether SCOG or Novell will take exception
with Sun's initiative. I imagine one reason dtrace is the first is that it's new
and Sun's, but if SCOG wants to assert their viral license theory, it would make
a clean test case.

If they don't that can be used at trial by IBM to show that SCOG is

I can't wait to see SCOG's and Novell's reaction.


"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun can't GPL Solaris, even if they really wanted to...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 02:54 PM EST
If Sun did license Solaris under the GPL, they would instantly become just
another Linux vendor. All of the unique and/or better features of the OS would
be added to Linux in one form or another (I'm fairly certain the kernals are a
lot different, at least).

This has nothing to do with Sun hating the GPL and everything to do with them
having an OS to support...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Mozilla, Sun Solaris, and Licences
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:11 PM EST
Mozilla is now licenced under the MPL and GPL. Was this always the case, or was
the GPL added after it was seen that MPL alone was not giving the hoped for
results? Might Sun not decide on a dual licence if they don't see the results
they hope for after some time?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A consensus
Authored by: cybervegan on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:24 PM EST
Seems to me that the general consensus here is a bit of a thumbs down...

Sun in their usual fashion will no doubt ignore the opinions of the community
and forge ahead regardless, only to find they don't get what they want - a
thriving community growing up around OpenSolaris, simply because people seem to
feel (at least here - I've not looked much elsewhere yet) that they will be
cheated because the payback you get with the GPL is not there with the CDDL.
Not so much a cuddle as a bear-hug if you ask me.


Software source code is a bit like underwear - you only want to show it off in
public if it's clean and tidy. Refusal could be due to embarrassment or shame...

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • A consensus - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 11:37 PM EST
Sun needs to just let go....
Authored by: dhonn on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:43 PM EST
Sun just needs to let go and let the chips fall where they may.

The problems with companies releasing code is that still want control over it.

Linus didnt adopt the GPL at first, but once he did, he felt it was the best
decision. Linux would no longer be under the controls of just him but the
community. The GPL made everyone feel equal. Equal rights for all.

With Suns plan you have limited rights. Sun is in control. The F is FOSS is
gone. Theres no Free as in freedom.

There is a huge difference of "Free Software" vs "Open
Source". Just like MS's Shared Source Initiative, the code is "Open
Source", but its not close to even being Free.

Sun sells more Linux servers than they do Solaris. I guess people just don't
want Unix anymore. Theres tons of Linux support and alot of collabrative work.

If Sun really cares about the open source community, it should give back with
the GPL. Sun and CDDL isn't in the best intrest of the FOSS community.

Perhaps Sun wants to "embrace, extend, extinguish" the Linux FOSS
community. They embraced a popular FOSS license, the GPL, and released code.
Then they extended a OSS license making the GPL incompatible. Next is the
extinguish with FUD, and protect oss developers with patents (as long as the
code isnt modified, lol)

Sun isn't playing nice. There is many FOSS software in their distribution. But
Sun just doesnt get it and doesn't want to fully give back. This is really
unfair for the the GPL FOSS community that gives and gives and gets nothing in
return. BSDL is more about giving but not really recieving anything back but
copyright credit. GPL is about giving and recieving. Its about being fair and
sharing. Sun needs to be fair and share.

If Sun doesnt care about us, we wont care for them. I wish them best of luck.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You are wrong about one thing:
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:53 PM EST
Pam, you wrote:

It's not a crime to want to stay in business. But, to me, it is a missed
opportunity. If Sun had GPL'd this code, with the patent grant, they would have
been heroes, and folks would have contributed back, just as they are giving
support to IBM and other corporate friends.

But you are wrong on that account in my opinion. Open Source code takes a long
time to gather its communities. If Sun open-sourced its kernel under the GPL,
they'd be dead. Linux developers would pull in code and features they preferred
into Linux. They would not work on Solaris. Solaris would basically play
catchup with Linux.

Then there is the GPL, and there is copyright. Sun needs the ability to go
after copyright violations with a vengeance. Mixing code makes this dangerous,
so they could not just take Linux stuff into Solaris: the danger that copyright
cases for SunOS would be thrown out of court because of "dirty hands"
would be too large.

So there would be strong incentive to take code unilaterally, and to fork, GPL
notwithstanding. This is exactly what happened with Emacs and XEmacs. Granted,
Sun has deeper pockets, so they need not be as "paranoid" as the FSF
in order to keep things safe and out of court.

Anyway, there are almost no cases where significant free or open software
projects fusioned: developers stay with the code base they are comfortable

Sun can't sensibly jump onto the GPL without also jumping onto Linux. Only in
that manner could they hope to harness the mindshare.

Don't mistake me: this is a really big and courageous step Sun is taking here.
And that makes it sad that I don't think much will come of it in the long run:
people will say that Open Source does not pay off.

What I'd like to see is Sun engaging itself in the germation process of GPL v3,
so that they might say "this licence is right for us" at one time.
But to harvest the synergies, they would need to plunge into Linux with a
vengeance. Linux, not Solaris.

Because they won't get a significant community in tolerable time frames

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stalking horses and Perens on Patents
Authored by: star-dot-h on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:58 PM EST
Could Sun be the stalking horse for Microsoft on this? Are we beginning to see the equivalent of "greenwash" in software corprations wanting to be seen as "open" and community spirited but, as PJ points out, totally missing the point?

The most interesting (and underrated) comment I've seen regarding the opening of patents by IBM and Sun comes from Bruce Perens over at Slashdot.

Here's the link and for the link impaired here is the quote in full:

I believe that most parties that want to assert their patents are waiting for the European Union software patent law to be granted. They would not want to be poster boys against the law they need, before it is granted. And so they do not bring suits now. Sun's strategy appears to be calculated to be a spoiler for Linux - both the GPL-incompatible license and the GPL-incompatible patent grant. This is not how partners in an Open Source community proceed.

Note also that IBM's grant came just in time to drown out news about 61 European Parliament members asking to restart the software patent debate there from zero. IBM is one of the main parties lobbying for European software patents. Their grant is part of a larger strategy to convince European legislators that Open Source and software patenting are compatible, that could indeed kill Open Source, because it would leave us vulnerable to many software patent lawsuits.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who Cares?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 03:58 PM EST
Sun is rapidly losing market share and is becoming increasingly irrelevant. This
latest brouhaha is just the death throes of a formerly innovative company that
has lost the ability to compete. Just like Digital Equipment before it. R.I.P.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
Authored by: rweiler on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 04:23 PM EST
It gets easier to be a former Sun employee and harder to be a current Sun
stockholder everyday. From my point of view, the problem isn't that the CDDL is
bad for Linux, it is that the CDDL is really bad for Sun, a total waste of time,
money, and effort that Sun can ill afford. Sun still doesn't seem to get that
their customers are moving in droves to Linux not because of the license, but
because they don't want to get gouged and because it either runs on everything,
or with minimal cost, can be made to run on anything. CDDL is a non-starter
until OpenSolaris has all of the device drivers that Linux has, and if customers
can already get support for the devices they have on Linux, why bother with
OpenSolaris? Had Sun released Solaris under the GPL, they could have had the
same device support as Linux with minimal effort on their part. GPL Solaris with
full binary compatibility with Linux and with full support from Sun would have
been a fairly compelling product. Instead, OpenSoalris is just another stupid
marketing trick from a company that seems to be specializing in stupid marketing

Sometimes the measured use of force is the only thing that keeps the world from
being ruled by force. -- G. W. Bush

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO 8K on n/t
Authored by: jog on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 04:24 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

    This is the Real Thing. Don't knock it.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 04:58 PM EST
    Sun may be competing with Linux. And with other
    opensource but not GPL OSs - such as FreeBSD - which are
    also competitors to Linux. That is Good. If they were to
    "beat" linux (which they won't), then they do it on merit.

    But what this is really about - at a commercial level - is
    competing with IBM. Both companies have a lot of
    credibility with top-end corporates, and that's where
    they're competing. Good luck to them: there's room for
    competition in that market, especially if - as seems
    likely - opensource continues to make inroads into M$'s
    traditional place in the corporate mind and gain market

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Good news.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 05:03 PM EST
    Lets not obsess about details here. This is an open source license. The
    differences from the GPL are minor.

    Unfortunately open source licenses don't mix easily. The problem is due to their
    nature. Copyleft licenses are all intended to prevent code from being extended
    and subsumed so that the derived work becomes covered by a proprietary license.
    Hence they require that the license be extended to cover any derived work, and
    they also prohibit placing incompatible conditions on the derived work, to a
    greater or lesser extent. A great idea, but when you try to mix code covered by
    two open source licenses this might cause problems unless the two licenses are
    completely compatible.

    These are mere details however. Personally I think that some time down the track
    there will need to be a conference to thrash out open source license
    interoperability conditions. It shouldn't be the case that it is harder to mix
    GPL and CDDL, which are actually quite similar, than it is to mix for example
    GPL and BSD.

    Most licenses, including the GPL and this new CDDL have update mechanisms. This
    means it would be possible to append an explicit interoperability agreement to
    each license listing other recognised open source licenses and in each case
    setting how how works derived from both are to be handled. It is to the
    advantage of the entire open source community that we build peaceful borders
    between the different open source licenses rather than fighting pointless wars
    with one another over the details of how patents are to be dealt with and so on.

    However this is not a time to obsess about details. Let us celebrate the fact
    that there are now 2 and a half open source operating systems (BSD being the
    half). Which means more developers able to scrutinize each others code and learn
    how to write even better code.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Hang on a minute
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 05:20 PM EST
    IBM places IBM's own code which may once have come near other code in AIX which
    is derived from code which was once part of UNIX, and SCO spits the dummy
    claiming several billion dollars in damages.

    Now SUN proposed to directly release solaris code under a CDDL license (open
    source and very GPL-like although it may be GPL incompatible in detail) and SCO
    says ... what precisely? Merely that SUN has an unusually broad license and they
    are sure that SUN is aware of its terms. C'mon! Ridiculous! Talk about double

    While the SCO cases are making it clear that linux is free of old unix
    encumbrances SUN is now promoting an open source solaris with undeniable
    original unix pedigree. How can anyone using open source solaris be assured that
    some beast from the jungle of old unix copyrights isn't going to try to pull a
    SCO in future. If Sun has unusually broad license terms which would ensure that
    this cannot happen, they need to tell us all about it - yes?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sun refuses to acknowledge Apple's history on Darwin
    Authored by: shareme on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 05:27 PM EST
    Apple tired this moat approach with Darwin Server..

    It faile dmisserably and Appel ahd to make massive changes to get the commnunity
    back..both begging and pleading..

    So how long will it take SUN?

    My bet is less than 18 months..

    Sharing and thinking is only a crime in those societies where freedom doesn't

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OpenSolaris gets to use donated IBM patents?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 05:40 PM EST
    Royalty free? Just not the other way around?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sun + OpenSolaris + Microsoft GUI = CDDL-compatible Longhorn
    Authored by: bbaston on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 06:03 PM EST
    salty-tinfoil-hat Theory follows:

    I have no reputation to lose and only intuition based on following Microsoft/Bill Gates from Day One, so get out the salt and take a grain:

    Microsoft is in charge of SCO and Sun. Microsoft's plan is like Apple and BSD and their X. The product (which still may be called Longhorn) will be a GUI interfacing into a carefully modified version of OpenSolaris.

    Under this theory, developers signing up with OpenSolaris should be those developing for Microsoft, because developing for Sun's OpenSolaris is developing for Microsoft.

    This explains why M$/Sun settled, why SCO didn't and won't bother Sun, why Longhorn is late and will be even later than expected in arrival, and soothes Bill Gates' egomania about OSS and Linux. The general public will believe Microsoft has gone open source, and Linux (Microsoft believes) will be pushed aside.

    Can you spell lockincontinues? Does the salt taste good or bad?

    imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold.
    -+++->> Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 06:03 PM EST

    When you see things like this (check out the PS bit):

    Company worship

    And like this:

    Letter to Sam

    You can tell immediately how immature those people are. The first one is worshiping a company, a corporation, no less. The second one trying to embarass a potential big partner (and also a competitor) by throwing a tantrum in public, instead of being a man a calling Sam on the phone to set up a one-on-one meeting.

    What can I say... Like Sun, like community. A bunch of immature characters with illusions of grandure that once was.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer Linus' down to earth, no nonsense attitude.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    CDDL Patent Issue
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 06:07 PM EST
    After reading the CCDL I was left with a question, what is sun releases source
    code covered by a patent they don't release? The CDDL clearly doesn't cover SUN
    patents, but does allow software to be modified to avoid patents, and the
    license isn't invalidated by patent issues.

    This still leaves the issue of developers not knowing if the process they are
    looking at is patented, and if so if the holder of the patent will allow free
    and open re-distribution of the patented process.

    Hopefully no part of solaris will be released that will cause this situation,
    but if it does, it leaves developers and distributers open to patent

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Dynamic loading CDDL and GPL
    Authored by: Thomas Frayne on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 06:15 PM EST
    I think that the implications of the license requirements for dynamically loaded
    modules have not been discussed sufficiently.

    Let A be a program that contains no code that is not derived from any code
    other than that of the author, B be a program with a different author that is
    dynamically loaded by A, and assume a distribution that contains only programs
    that can be used by both A and B without additional permissions. What kind of
    licenses can that distribution have with various possible licenses for A and B?

    If B is GPL'd with no special permissions, then A must have a license compatible
    with the GPL. A could also have additional permissions from the CDDL or another
    license, but no restrictions conflicting with the GPL.

    If B is LGPL'd or GPL'd with a special permission that includes A, then A could
    have any license satisfying the special permission, so A might be licensed only
    under the CDDL.

    If B is CDDL'd, then A could have any license permitted by the CDDL, including
    the GPL.

    If A is validly licensed under the GPL or CDDL, there are no licensing
    requirements for B.

    Note that all programs which run in user space and make only normal kernel calls
    have special permission from the kernel GPL to license under any license, so
    CDDL'd programs can make normal kernel calls to any kernel function that
    provides this special permission.

    The rationale is that GPL does not give permission to distribute collections
    that are not mere aggregations unless the collection and each member are
    licensed under the GPL, and a collection containing a GPL'd program and another
    program that dynamically links to it is not a mere aggregation.

    Since the CDDL has no such restriction, if A is CDDL'd, there are no licensing
    restrictions on B.

    If instead, A statically links to B, the calls are only from A to B, and B is
    GPL'd with no special permission, then A must be GPL'd for the same reason. If
    B's license is the CDDL, then there are no licensing requirements on A.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why Sun should have chosen the GPL
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 06:22 PM EST

    For all of those that don't know it yet (including Sun), here are the reasons why you should license your open source software under a GPL compatible licence:

    Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else.

    By doing what they did, Sun are causing a huge duplication of effort in the open source community, therefore helping nobody but Microsoft. Whether this is intentional or not, we can only speculate. One thing is for sure, if Sun expect people to drop everything (and by that I mean Linux) and jump on the OpenSolaris bandwagon, controlled entirely by Sun (through proprietary drivers that aren't open source), they miscalculated the whole thing to their own disadvantage.

    The glory days are over. Linux exists precisely because Unix fragmented into too many incompatible versions. We sure don't need another one.

    Sun, if you really want to help in our joint goal, which is to REALLY compete with Microsoft on all levels, drop the CDDL now and license under the GPL. Expecting anything less but complete assimilation from Microsoft is unrealistic and downright silly.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OpenSolaris and the CDDL
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:02 PM EST

    I know that OSI has said that the CDDL is an honest-to-$DIETY OSS license but this whole opening of Solaris under the CDDL reminds me of something else. Hmm, what it again? Oh, yes: Shared Source.

    As I understand it, Solaris compilation requires a compiler that most people won't be using. (I seem to recall reading somewhere that it would never compile using gcc.) So who really benefits from this release of code? AFAICT, not me. If I can't afford their proprietary compiler, of what use is the source code?

    And patents that can only be used in software released under the CDDL? Gee, how could I benefit from those? Oh, that's right, some well-heeled corporation will develop that code for me. And I'm still nothing more than a "consumer" just like I am as far as Solaris is concerned.

    Seems to me that this is, like Microsoft's Shared Source, just another "See the pretty source code but just looking; no touching" stunt. Just another PR ploy.

    I'd love to be wrong about this but I'm doubting it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Bingo - Authored by: DebianUser on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:14 PM EST
    Sun: A diary of a schizophrenic
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:35 PM EST
    "We have no Linux server strategy", while selling Red Hat and SUSE
    Linux for their servers, on their own web site?

    "The network is the computer". Dude, the computer is the computer!
    Ignoring that people WANT to have personal computers, not be attached to some
    huge, unknown server somewhere at all times (not to mention the fact the
    bandwidth of the day (when this phrase was coined) would never support that
    stupid notion).

    "We won't open source Java", while open sourcing Solaris?

    "We love open source, we invented open source", while choosing not to
    be compatible with the licence most of the open source community prefers?

    "We love open source", while licensing their own patents to their own
    licence (CDDL) only?

    If I tried really hard, I could probably come up with more, but I think this
    illustrates the internal conflicts of a regular "Sun brain"...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Is Sun setting a trap for Linux developers?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 07:45 PM EST
    Many Linux developers may be fooled into thinking that the 1600 patents are free
    to ANYONE, but if they go to and read source code or read up on
    the patents they would be tainted by that knowledge. Sun could be setting a
    trap here to capitalize on the chance that a Linux developer uses an idea or
    snippet of code from opensolaris. If that happens, I would not be surprised if
    Sun proceeds to sue Linux developers for copyright and/or patent infringement.
    Would they do it? Well they have signed an undisclosed agreement with Microsoft
    and they have financially backed SCO's lawsuit against IBM so who knows.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Mixed up IP - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 08:29 PM EST
    Sun's dilemma
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 09:14 PM EST
    Do they really believe that companies, faced with having to make a choice, will choose CDDL code over Linux? That's quite a gamble, one that I personally think they will lose.

    I think that gets at the heart of why this is not going to work out that well for Sun. That said, I don't think Sun is being stupid. It is just in a bad situation and has no clear way out. It has built its whole business on selling proprietary hardware runing a proprietary operating system. That business is being slowly destroyed by linux on x86.

    IBM can run with open source because it gets most of its money from services and software. It doesn't really care if linux eventually replaces AIX. And unlike sparc, the power chip line sells to lots of markets besides IBM servers. Sun, on the other hand, doesn't know where its money is going to come from in the future, so it is simultaneously trying to open source Solaris and keep it closed. But could anybody think of a better strategy, and I don't mean one that would only benefit the open source community, but rather one that would save Sun?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 09:38 PM EST
      • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: dkpatrick on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 09:55 PM EST
        • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:33 PM EST
          • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:47 PM EST
        • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:38 PM EST
      • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:24 PM EST
        • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 10:53 PM EST
    • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 12:55 AM EST
      • Sun's dilemma - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 12:38 PM EST
    As a "3rd Party" OSS developer, I'm pretty darned happy.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 01:56 AM EST

    Josh Berkus from PostgreSQL Project here. I have to say
    that the open-sourcing of Solaris, under *whatever*
    license, makes me pretty darned happy. Despite the
    trend toward Linux, our community still includes a lot of
    Solaris users, and troubleshooting their performance
    issues just got a whole lot easier.

    Sure, it's not the GPL, nor BSD either. But it's not a
    "tainted" license; I can look at Solaris code without
    worry. The patent release is grandstanding, true, but as
    a BSD project IBM's patent release is pretty useless to
    us, too.

    What I'm more worried about as this makes Sun's primary
    business support -- an area in which they are legendarily
    weak. How are they going to make it work?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A groklaw mistake
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 01:39 PM EST
    You pushed for the GPL. When they refused to use it, you helped them to improve
    the CDDL which will make it more competitive, rather than leaving it a failure.
    There is no reason anyone needs to write a new license. The only reason for
    doing so is to retain some form of control that is not offered by GPL, CPL, BSD,
    or MPL... If you really want to contribute, you won't mind if people fork your
    code or integrate it with other software. If you have issues with that type of
    thing, you really don't want to contribute to the community, but rather want the
    community to contribute to you. So for the first time, I must say groklaw has
    done a bad thing by helping to make Suns non-free license LOOK more acceptable.
    Honestly, anyone who needs to create yet another license has a non-free agenda.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 28 2005 @ 07:03 AM EST
    SUN made a nice move forward, but I think that most of the people replying to
    this are too harsh on SUN. Try to imagine what SUN can do at this point. Take
    it's customer base. Most of them are large institutions, who buy the hardware
    and software because it's famous for it's scalability and stability. A large
    company wqouldn't mind that others can see the sources of the operating system,
    but want to know for sure SUN is in control. SUN needs to keep it's reputation
    intact, and needs to keep it's customers trust. While we all know that the F/OSS
    community is capable of near-perfect software, the CEO's of the big companies
    buying SUN stuff probably mistrust the F/OSS.
    If I were SUN I would need to remain in control of software I would put on every
    machine I ship, even if I would like to do differently. SUN would go bankrupt
    for sure if they released Solaris under the GPL. Just imagine the number of
    possible Solaris distro's, each with their own features/quirks/advantages. They
    can't sell that idea to their main customer base.
    I am glad that SUN at least made it's code available under a license, instead of
    keeping it locked away. Leaves me wondering though, IIRC Darl McBride once made
    some litigation threats toward SUN for even considering opening up the code...
    Is there any news from SCO about this?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    BSD - free code, GPL - free users, CDDL - see a lawyer
    Authored by: grouch on Friday, January 28 2005 @ 07:51 AM EST
    The BSD license is all about ensuring the code is freely usable. The GPL is all
    about protecting the freedom of the user. The CDDL seems to be all about
    protecting SUN.

    They're opening the code, but not really. They're opening patents, but not
    really. You have to pick through this license very carefully or you might trip
    one of those patent mines.

    I can very easily understand the BSD license: as long as attribution is
    maintained, the code can be freely used and modified. The GPL has no onerous
    restrictions and only gets hairy when linking comes into play. Otherwise, you
    just maintain attribution and add no restrictions. But this license for Solaris
    looks tricky. It appears to offer freedom only within the realm of Solaris. If
    code crosses the boundary in either direction, it may arm one of those 1600

    No thanks, Sun. I'll stay out of your donated 1600 patents minefield. Thanks for
    your disarmed contributions of the past, but you seem to be learning too much
    from your new buddies.

    "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of
    disability is an essential aspect."
    -- Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and invent

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sun's 1600 Patents, OpenSolaris, and CDDL
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 28 2005 @ 10:08 AM EST

    I dont see why there is such a harsh reaction to Sun using CDDL. As far as I am
    concerned the GPL is a fine "ideal" concept but unfortunately we do
    live in a Corporate world - Sun at the moment seems to be stradling this fence.
    It has customers and vendors who cant or wont release their code under GPL for
    whatever reasons, so by making OpenSolaris GPL you shut them out, and lets face
    it, customers are money.

    On the other hand look at the huge amount of GPL contribution Sun does under
    many FOSS projects - Sun isnt anti-GPL, its anti-kernel-GPL. Solaris has a
    user/vendor base that cant/wont GPL their code just to run on Solaris. I know
    this goes against the GPLs aims, but hey, its reality.

    However with the CDDL Sun opens up the code, allows its use, allows community
    contribution and still allows the proprietary integration its vendors and users
    need. Its a fairly reasonable compromise if you ask me, so I dont see why its a
    slur on/against Linux or the GPL.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Does GPL-compatability need to be broadened?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 28 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST
    GPL-compatability is currently defined something like: "A compatable
    license doesn't place any more restrictions on the user than the GPL does
    itself". The FSF web site itself notes that clauses relating to patents
    aren't necessarily a bad idea, but they do necessarily make a license

    Perhaps the concept of GPL-compability needs to be more broadly-defined in
    future (GPLv3?). Perhaps it could be defined in terms of a controlled and
    tweaked-as-necessary version of the open source definition, so that restrictions
    could be included in a license so long as they don't break the spirit of what it
    means to be open source.

    It seems to me that if CDDL passes's scrutiny and allows
    arbitrary code to be used alongside it then it shouldn't be the GPL that
    prevents combinations of CDDL and GPL works. The combination would inherit the
    restrictions of both licenses so still would not be closed-source-friendly. On
    the other hand, the GPL is currently based around the assumption that it itself
    contains the true definition of open source, and that presumably has merit. It
    certainly did at the time it was written when the term "open source"
    was not yet invented.

    I suppose in the end the point is moot, though. The combined restrictions of
    both licenses would probably prove unacceptable to linux kernel developers.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

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