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Sun Responds to Criticism of CDDL
Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 04:40 AM EST

Sun has acknowledged that there is a need to clarify the CDDL, in response to criticism from the Free and Open Source community. They will be drawing up a developers' bill of rights:

"Tom Goguen, vice president of marketing for Sun's operating platforms group, told ComputerWire yesterday Sun partly accepted criticism that it had failed to adequately explain CDDL, and is working with its legal team to clear up some of misunderstandings.

"'[We will] get it from the legal people what will be a developers' bill of rights of what they can do... their rights and obligations to the community,' Goguen said."

I think that is very fine, indeed, assuming that Sun's rights and obligations to the community are also clearly spelled out, and assuming that the license and the bill of rights are legally bound together. So, let's wait and see what they write up, but credit is due for the willingness to respond, don't you think? Mistakes happen, and acknowledging them publicly and moving on is as good as it gets with imperfect humans.

He went on to allude to the GPL incompatibility issue, and I gather that will not change.

Here's what was said:

"Goguen noted Sun was unlikely to have pleased the entire community with Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), especially those who equate open source with the liberal GNU General Public License (GPL).

"'There's obviously concern because it's a new license. But there's also a case if it wasn't GPL we weren't going to make them happy,' Gougen said."

I'd like to clarify that for Sun in a friendly way. No one would fault Sun for desiring to use its own license -- although there is legitimate concern about proliferation of licenses -- even if it isn't the GPL. I didn't, and I prefer the GPL very strongly, yet I was more than happy to try to help Sun with its license.

IBM started down that road themselves, inventing their own GPL-incompatible, free software license. It was largely ignored. What Sun will find is what they found, that the overwhelming number of developers use the GPL or the LGPL, and anything that exiles itself from those developers ends up marginalized. It will be the same for the CDDL. The Mozilla project also went through that adjustment. Their Mozilla Public License, upon which the CDDL is based, is incompatible with the GPL, but they eventually found a way to fix that problem. As the FSF explains on their page that explains all the free software licenses:

"However, MPL 1.1 has a provision (section 13) that allows a program (or parts of it) to offer a choice of another license as well. If part of a program allows the GNU GPL as an alternate choice, or any other GPL-compatible license as an alternate choice, that part of the program has a GPL-compatible license."

Even the original BSD license was changed and the Modified BSD License is now compatible with the GPL.

There is a simple reason for that. The community knows the GPL and they trust it, and with good reason. So, in my opinion, the problem is the reverse of what Goguen posits. The problem is the apparent Sun hostility to the GPL, not the other way around. They deliberately chose a GPL-incompatible license, in effect going back to their BSD roots with a vengeance. But if Sun prefers and accepts that the number of developers who use the CDDL will be relatively small, that is their right to follow that path. I get the impression that Sun thinks of the GPL as a small segment of the community, whereas it is in fact the largest core group. And as far as operating systems go, the fact that the Linux kernel is under the GPL is a huge factor. It's simply pointless to try to topple Linus. It can't be done. The loyalty to him is solid and it will always be that way, because he has proven himself to the community. In comparison, Sun has not.

"What?" I can hear Sun saying... "But we've donated more code than anyone." What Sun needs to grasp is that trust is built on demonstrated ethics, not on code. Linus has shown his merit in this area. So that is what Sun needs to address to build trust. Code is secondary. If the community doesn't trust a company, the majority won't use their code or any license on top of it, no matter how well-crafted. A few will. There's always a few, and that's their decision to make.

In the past, there have been divisive, competitive factors in the community, particularly between the BSD/GPL camps. After SCO, all that needs to be over. The FOSS community needs to face the world with a united face. The hope, naturally, then, is that Sun will reflect in its license and any ancillary documents a spirit of unity and community, so as to make it possible for the entire FOSS community to understand clearly that Sun really does intend to be a member of the community in good standing.

If Sun prefers to carve out a smaller community for itself, it is free to build its own little island, with its own big fence. The result will be, though, that Linux will continue to develop more quickly and it will bury Sun's license and its code, because the open, GPL method works better, and the GPL requirement of giving back all modifications results in rapid improvement. Sun is free to cut itself off from that, if it so chooses, but it will reap what it sows. If they imagined that the world would drop the GPL and adopt the CDDL instead, I trust by now they realize that isn't going to happen.

The community of developers will respond to what they see, and I seriously doubt that any license that is GPL/LGPL incompatible will be widely adopted. That's an explanation, not a criticism.

As for Sun's developers' bill of rights, if Sun addresses the issues that have been raised about the CDDL, particularly related to patents, and demonstrates it can learn from responsible criticism, that would be a very encouraging sign. And frankly, at this point, Sun needs one.


Sun Responds to Criticism of CDDL | 204 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off topic here, please
Authored by: fudisbad on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 04:50 AM EST
For current events, legal filings, CC10 rulings, notices of hearing and 10-Ks.
Please make links clickable.

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
This subliminal message has been brought to you by Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here, please
Authored by: fudisbad on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 04:52 AM EST
If required.

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
This subliminal message has been brought to you by Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How long will it take SUN to realize
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:14 AM EST
Both IBM and Mozzilla found out their opensource license created more issues
than they solved. Either they switched to GPL or dual or tri-license their

Looking at the big picture, we know SUN did this to wall of their community.
Hopefully, SUN will see the light sooner than later.

Well, good luck SUN. Have fun over there.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You put it so well.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:16 AM EST
Sun need to realise the reason so many are pointing out their problem is there
are lot that would like them to succeed. We owe then. And two GPled Os's would
be no bad thing. They have to wake up, it is not the other way around.

[ Reply to This | # ]

With respect, you sound like those Ford drivers
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:17 AM EST
who talk at great length about how well their Fords are engineered, when they've
never even popped the hood.

PJ, I am sure you've never contributed code to any FOSS project. I suspect that
you've never compiled anything from source. You're a Linux user, not a Linux

Put baldly, if I, as a coder with no legal experience, started commenting on
legal issues, setting myself up as some sort of oracle on legal matters, and
talking about what the legal community must and must not do, then I'd sound
pretty arrogant, pompous and clueless, wouldn't I?

Please think about that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dual licensing?
Authored by: dcarrera on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:29 AM EST
Perhaps the best solution would be a dual CDDL/GPL license for OpenSolaris.
That's what Mozilla did (MPL/GPL) and that's what Sun already does with (SISSL/GPL).

Warning: IANAL

The beef with the CDDL is that it's GPL incompatible. But the CDDL contains one
thing which is *good* but is GPL incompatible. And that is, how it deals with
software patents. As I understand it, it says something like:

"I promise not to sue you over patents in this software, as long as you
distribute your changes under these same terms."

That is GPL incompatible. But it also has a neat reciprocity that resembles the
GPL. The GPL essentially says:

"You can do anything at all with this software, as long as you distribute
your changes under these same terms."

So, the CDDL does something similar, but with patents, and that's valuable. The
GPL is being written for precisely this reason, to deal with software patents.
And I guess it'll have some clause similar to this one.

Therefore: I don't thinke I'd advocate just dropping that clause from the CDDL.
It's a good clause, a step in the right direction. BUT, it's GPL incompatible.
And the community just won't go for anything that's GPL incompatible.

For this reason, a dual license is the only option I see. Using a dual CDDL/GPL
system would provide GPL compatibility, and still keep the presedent of a clause
which really is a good idea.

Does that seem like a reasonable approach?

Daniel Carrera. volunteer.

Make a difference. Join Join OOoAuthors today.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Brian S. on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:35 AM EST

People have been trying to decode Sunspeak for the last two years. I like to think that I may understand it better than most.(I've had no allegiance to any one company since 1989).But even I am at a loss to make any sense of Sunspeak.

I think the problem may be that the lawyers are in control of their alphabet.

Sun could correct any misunderstanding on the CDDL/GPL issues using 10 sentences in English.

Unless they confirm that our translation of Sunspeak into English is correct or maybe not, they will not resolve this issue.

It is all very simple for you Sun.

Translate Sunspeak into English on our behalf.

If you speak to me in English so that I understand. I will be happy to allow the lawyers from both sides(GPL/CDDL)to translate that meaning into legal Sunspeak.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SUN's Problem
Authored by: micheal on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:52 AM EST
There probably are some files that cannot be GPLed because they contain code
copyrighted by some other party (AT&T/USL, contributors to SYSVRX, code
purchased from another company, etc.) These files can be released in binary form
only. If SUN GPLs some files then third party developers cannot distribute a
system that has the binary files linked to the GPLed files. (SUN can because SUN
owns the copyrights to the files SUN owns). However, if a third party developer
makes a change to a GPLed file without assigning the copyright to SUN then SUN
cannot distribute the new file linked to the non-GPLed binaries.

I guess that means that the copyrights to all third party modifications to the
GPLed files have to be assigned to SUN with no restictions (i.e., SUN becomes
the owner of the copyright and can remove the GPL). That would allow SUN to link
(and distrubute) the files with the non-GPLed binarys. No one else would be able
distribute the linked files.

LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun Responds to Criticism of CDDL
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 05:59 AM EST
I predict that what they will produce is a lengthly article explaining how we didn't really want all that stuff in the first place, and we should be welcoming our new corporate overlords, and frankly they're all a bit upset that we didn't already [sob].

[ Reply to This | # ]

You know what this reminds me of?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 06:20 AM EST
When I was in Choir in highschool, our teacher passionately loved music and our
choir class was incredible. To me, that class feels a lot like the FOSS
community. We talked, we fought, we hung out, we helped each other, and the
weaker members always got help from everyone so we would all progress.

The second to my last year, another girl joined and she had the Voice, but she
was stuckup and stuck on herself. She didn't participate in the
"group" part of the choir. Instead, she always tried to single
herself out, constantly belittled us and demanded solos but just couldn't
understand that we were a choir, many voices, not just one. And she was
convinced she was the best singer in the class, maybe, but not by much if at all
any. She thought too much of her voice and had a horrible knack for

In a rehearsal for the second concert, her and her parents arrived to bitch the
teacher out because they didn't give their daughter as much spotlight as they
thought she deserved. I remember the mom saying something to the effect of
"You know she has talent and you owe her this. This class is
extra-ciricular for those other students, but my daughter is going to be
somebody, she's your best singer and she gets the center stage or we pull her
from your class." That's just a paraphrasing, btw.

The choir was _the point_ for my teacher, so she refused. They pulled their
daughter and we lost an amazing voice. But you know what? We went on to sing
and everyone forgot about her. Maybe she didn't become a famous singer (she
didn't, I've looked and she isn't on the map), but the world never got to enjoy
her gifts because she chose keep them for herself instead of share them with the

I know her parents tried to get her into the biz. But I'm guessing no one
wanted to put up with her or her parent's attitude. She may have been
techincally superior, but her spirit was lacking.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: cricketjeff on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 06:34 AM EST
A key advantage the GPL has over many other licences is the lack of need for
legally binding clarifications. In its broadest terms the GPL is very simply
stated and understood.

"Here is my code, you may do with it what you will and to help you do that
I will let you have a copy of all the source code. If you want to keep what you
do with it to yourself there is nothing further to say but if you want to give
it to other people you must make this same commitment to them both for your bits
and my bits as long as any part of the code I gave you is in what you give away.
You cannot impose any new restrictions on anyone you give the code to."

Of course there are those who fail to get even this simple a message but it is
fundamentally simple. As soon as you start adding stuff in less clear language
you start to lose. The GPL does contain exactly the same sort of patent promise
as Sun's licence for most cases. Since you are giving people the rights to use
your code if your code is patented you are giving them (and all subsequent
ditributees) the rights to that code, what the Sun licence appears to give in
addition is a promise not to stop you using any patents not already contained in
any open source code. They could do that in an entirely GPL compatible way
completely seperately simply issue the statement in a legally binding way
"Sun will not exercise its patent rights on software against anyone who
does not use their own patent rights against Sun."

[ Reply to This | # ]

How Bill Gates feels?
Authored by: golding on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 06:34 AM EST

Just read this little piece, though I'm not sure about the competition aspect being resolved in the marketplace. But, I just loved the last two lines though;

And for you Linux partisans outraged by Sun's open-source heresy that violates your every assumption about how it's done, here's a word of consolation:

- Now you know how Bill Gates feels.

Find the complete article here at Linuxworld (Aus)

Regards, Robert

..... Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but I have never been able to make out the numbers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freedom, Diversity and Unity
Authored by: Simon G Best on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 06:45 AM EST

Perhaps I'm going off on a bit of a tangent here, but there's something in your article which is relevant to something I've been thinking a lot about lately (or vice versa).

You said:

In the past, there have been divisive, competitive factors in the community, particularly between the BSD/GPL camps. After SCO, all that needs to be over. The FOSS community needs to face the world with a united face.

Indeed. But which "united face"? ;-)

The trouble with freedom is that lots of different people have lots of different ideas on freedom - different ideas of what freedom is, what freedom should be, and what the word 'freedom' itself should mean.

There are BSD fans who believe in their freedom to use others' software in their own, with the freedom to license it under their own terms. There's the Free Software movement, with it's more socially-oriented notions of freedom. There's Open Source, which seeks to be nonpolitical and practical, with freedom regarded as something pragmatic. And there are those who want to be free to control - rigidly - what others do with their software, or even what others do with 'their' ideas.

With Open Source seeking to be of broad appeal, open and welcoming, and with FOSS having gained a lot of popularity, there's a wide spectrum (not necessarily just a one-dimensional spectrum) of views on matters of freedom.

Freedom itself is not unlimited (you're free to have your cake, and you're free to eat it, but you still can't do both at the same time!). One person's 'Freedom' is another's notion of freedom-infringing imposition, even oppression (such as communism). In other words: it's political. (Some say that politics is about the management/allocation/whatever of limited resources, and freedom is not an unlimited resource.)

(Incidentally, this is, perhaps, the 'big picture' reason why I believe it's unhelpful to deny that FOSS has politics. The political establishment might not be up to speed (to understate it somewhat) with contemporary politics (which includes FOSS politics), but that doesn't mean that these things aren't political. It just means that the political establishment is behind the times.)

When the community of FOSS communities has such a broad spectrum of notions of freedom itself, which notion do we unite behind? That's a question that may just lead to more division and argument. Should it be freedom for the coder in a BSD fan kind of way? Should it be Stallman's freedom, Free Software? Should it be mainstream Open Source?

In the so-called 'free world', we're supposed to already have these questions on liberty pretty much answered - at least to a pragmatic extent. The liberal answer (not necessarily 'liberal' in the American sense), I believe, is that we should be free to associate with, adopt, pursue and enjoy whichever paradigm of 'Freedom' we choose - though that only works with those paradigms of 'Freedom' which can fit into such a superparadigm! Isn't this what's meant by a 'free society', a 'liberal society'? (Again, not necessarily 'liberal' in the American sense. Perhaps more in the sense of 'Liberty', as in 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness'.)

This is already a view that fits nicely with Open Source. Open Source is a pragmatic, practical paradigm that doesn't say that proprietary software is ethically wrong (even if many Open Sourcers do believe that it's ethically wrong), but instead says that it's a better way of developing software. The Open Source paradigm fits into this notion of a liberal, free society as a paradigm that competes with and alongside other paradigms.

Software patents, though, do not fit into this superparadigm of liberty. This is because the patent paradigm is one which, in its very nature, is imposed upon everyone! (I am not totally opposed to patents in general, though, as I believe that they can be enabling, bringing greater freedom, by attracting enabling investment.) The paradigm of software patents is not one which can compete alongside other paradigms, and that's one, big reason why software patents are simply unacceptable. (Infringement, or at least potential infringement, of Freedom of Expression is another, big reason why software patents are unacceptable, of course.)

When it comes to the issue of software patents, this big, big picture view, this superparadigm of liberty, may be helpful in uniting opponents of software patents. We can be united in diversity. Rather than have differences of opinion, belief, and so on, be divisive, we can unite in the belief that we should be free to be able to pursue our various, different paradigms of freedom.

Of course, this doesn't for one second mean that the differences disappear. When it comes to other issues, such as on ethical uses of copyright, there is still disagreement. But if we have a truly liberal society in which we can pursue such different notions, and seek to resolve such issues, then we can make progress on finding which such paradigms are right/good/whatever, and which are wrong/bad/etc.

Of course, having said all this, there's still the problem that different people have different ideas on how society should be when it comes to the fact that different people have different ideas on how society should be! It seems to be an endlessly recursive problem. But I believe that this superparadigm of liberty is, at the very least, a pragmatic step forwards.

In the end, it comes down to the Golden Rule. We don't want others, such as those who believe in software patents, to impose their proprietary notions of freedom on us, and we don't find it acceptable when they try to do that. Should we, ourselves, seek to deny others the freedom to pursue proprietary models if they wish? Wouldn't it be much better for each of us and our communities to allow others the freedom to pursue their paradigms?

FOSS IS political. It's just that the political establishment is out of touch and hasn't caught up.

[ Reply to This | # ]

CCDL: It's a "Proprietary Friendly" GPL.
Authored by: dhonn on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 07:04 AM EST

Development model for various licenses

X = "code";
GPL = receive X, improve X, release X (mandatory), repeat
BSD = receive X, improve X, repeat
CCDL = receive X, improve X, release X (some mandatory), repeat

GPL isn't too friendly with proprietary vendors wanting to steal code. As
proprietary vendors wish not to disclose its work. It's also not cool to mix
code. Danger don't mix proprietary code with GPL code unless you want your
proprietary code to be GPL. Use LGPL code for that.

BSD is proprietary friendly. All you can eat. Free! (as in beer of course), Feel
free to mix BSD with proprietary code.

CCDL is proprietary friendly, and requires only some modications to be returned.
Proprietary code need not to be returned. Proprietary code can be hidden.

Maybe I can make it clear, we all like buffets, right?..

GPL is an all you can eat buffet. But "we want all your bowels."

BSD is an all you can eat buffet. It will cost you nothing. "We can care
less about your bowels."

CCDL is an all you can eat buffet (fine print: "restrictions apply").
Our price: "We want most of your bowels, but feel free to mix it with Taco
Bell if you like."

CCDL is basically a GPL/BSD hybrid.

OpenSolaris will never be a true open source product based on it's principles.

GPL gives benefits to all who embrace it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Community != GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 07:09 AM EST
There is a simple reason for that. The community knows the GPL and they trust it, and with good reason ... I get the impression that Sun thinks of the GPL as a small segment of the community, whereas it is in fact the largest core group.

I'm getting very tired of this GPL adoration.

What license do you think the Apache group uses? The Apache License, of course.

How about one of the most popular languages of all time, Perl? The Artistic License.

Ever considered the windowing system used by near every Linux installation? That would be the MIT License.

A few stories ago PJ admitted to using MacOS X, which is not licensed under the GPL. Groksters rushed to explain the contradiction - PJ advocating the GPL while happily using non-GPL software - by saying that it's OK to use software provided under other licenses, this is just software not a religion. I agree with those people. This isn't a religion.

But why then is the GPL constantly put on a pedestal? A huge number of successful OSS projects do not use the GPL, despite Joe's findings that 35,000 useless scripts and half-finished text editors on freshmeat use the GPL. In fact, many OSS developers vehemently despise the GPL. Go checkout the flamewars on usenet from the past decade.

Stop pretending that the GPL is the "core" of the OSS community. For starters, there is no single community. There are warring factions. It's not the case that the entire "community" adores the GPL. Many of us who truly believe in freedom prefer the BSD license, and we've thought about these problems for far longer than Linux or Groklaw has even existed.

Finally, some of us are very happy that the CDDL is purposefully incompatible with the GPL. It means for once the GPL fanatics are getting a taste of their own medicine. Over here in BSD land we've been dealing with this "fenced off code" problem for years. But it wasn't the CDDL to blame for those fences... it was the GPL.

Nice to see you guys feel the pain for once.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Back One Second
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 08:04 AM EST
With no disrespect meant to either Sun or to other people posting on this threat, the whole notion of licences here is a secondary issue. What we are witnessing here is like the thaw at the end of an ice age. It's a paradigm shift.

Since their formation, Sun have been a "closed-shop" proprietary company. They have been successful because of their insight into the importance of building a network-friendly OS; their early advantage of taking AT&T Unix as a foundation for Solaris; plus of course the fact that Sun Hardware + Solaris can run Oracle exceptionally well.

That world - Sun's world - is changing.

For starters, we are now seeing other hardware manufacturers producing machines that are plug compatable with Solaris. Just as Amdahl challenged IBM in the mainframe arena, so companies like Fujitsu are challenging Sun on their own playing field. And winning. If you've compared Fujitsu's latest with Sun's latest you'll know what I'm talking about.

So Sun is threatened in the hardware division of their business.

What about software? Well, haven't we already seen Larry Ellison's Oracle do extremely good work with Red Hat to produce a version of their database software that works on tuned and tailored Red Hat's distribution of Linux? [Yes, we have]. Haven't we seen Linux demonstrate again and again and again that it can scale on cheap hardware and turn out more supercomputers than you can shake a stick at? [Yes, we have]. So sun have their Sparc chipsets and their E15K super-servers with 64 or more CPUs. Impressive. I just finished reading an article in this month's Linux Format about Sauber, the Formula One racing team, who have just taken a SUSE-powered super-computer built out of racks of clustered Opteron boxes. It's orders of magnitude faster.

So if you were Scott McNeally and you were looking at your prospects as a company, what would you do?

They tried to get friendly with Microsoft, but we all know that MS would rather see them go under. They have JAVA, but they have been so, ahem, retentive about controlling the code that the software communities have moved on. PHP has now surpassed Java as the most popular programming language on the Internet. Groklaw is driven by Geeklog, a web site engine written in PHP.

In other words, Sun's world is gradually crumbling around them. If they look to the "generic" Open Source Communities out there, answers are to be found. IBM is moving with incredible speed [for a dinosaur] to reinvent itself as a services company, riding the waves of open source, not trying to keep the tide from coming in.

Sun are half way there. They recognise the dangers, but they have spent their entire corporate lives living in an old business model world, where profits were made by margins on hardware, or by software licences. We are now telling them that they have to abandon those profit streams and reinvent themselves as a services company. To succeed in business tomorrow, they are going to have to help their customers get where their customers want to be. Services and solutions may be their future. They are well placed to achieve this, if they so choose. "The network is the computer" is a great place to start from.

So we should do our best to be patient and understanding with Sun. They are like a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. They see others of their kind fade and die around them, and they struggle to adapt. If they can evolve, they will prosper. But all this nonsense talk of CDDL vs GPL [important though these licences are] is to miss the point. Sun are trying to change and not getting it quite right. Instead of lambasting them and hurling abuse, we of the generic "free software" community should offer help and encouragement. Let's not decry their efforts, let's acknowledge the good bits and offer help with the rest.

At the same time, we should be careful and insistent about our various communities' minimum standards when it comes to cooperating with Sun as a company. They are trying to leverage the goodwill and efforts of the Open Source community as a "cheap" way of encouraging "tekkies" to go back to Sun as a company. It smacks of being a mite cynical, and may be too little too late.

Sun are to be commended for their efforts here. As a "collection of communities" [if not one large super-community, as suggested in another post] we should and will watch and wait with interest. I predict that community response will be muted, cautious and not entirely trusting. Sun can't quite give up that last vestige of control that they had in the Old World. Perhaps they will in time.

The most important point I believe that they need to learn is that the collective FOSS Community will not accept anything other than an "open" license. They need to understand this - and soon.

As Sun "moves towards the light" [sorry, couldn't resist the pun], then I'm confident that the community will welcome them with open arms.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Each License its due
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 08:21 AM EST
A license has an aim. It is crafted to have a certain effect. Note that hardware
changes constantly, so unchanged software devalues very rapidly. Dos 5.1 and
Windows 3.1 are almost completely worthless now (only some some embeded or POS
systems still use it).

The original BSD license, and all in its category (e.g., Apache) were intended
to allow others the use of the code without having to bother with legal afairs.
They are primarily used to set standards (Apache, Ogg Vorbis) or to release code
that is written by an already close group. In general, they do not care really
for much outside input (e.g., see the original BSD UNIX group). They will take
outside contributions, but do not really need it. The point is that those that
really contribute have complete distributions. With their own input they can
recreate the project. Actually, they all ARE the project. Therefore, if someone
else would make their contribution proprietary, they lose nothing.

The GNU GPL projects are open projects that build on open, fluent communities.
Almost all contributers only send in small pieces. These contributions are
worthless on their own. The coders are left with nothing to show for their
effort if the whole system is put under some proprietary license. The existing
codes devalues so fast, it cannot be used anymore within two years. See the SSH
So the GPL stimulates small contributions (e.g., bug reports and documentation)
that are worthless without the rest, because of the security that the whole
system will remain available.

Most of the other OSDI licenses cater to specific needs. Mostly the inclusion of
speciality software for specific companies and third party inclusions. E.g., the
original Netscape license when they went open source. They were always intended
for the founding company/group.

Sun has the problem that most FOSS people suspect them to try to take advantage
of outsiders. So they will look really careful at the license. And indeed, they
do find formulations that seem to favor Sun in some way. I even read
commentaries that suggest that Sun might close down the whole code base again.
That could be done by, e.g., adding a badly needed update for new hardware or
security under a proprietary license. Or using patents to block distribution.
The community could then be left with a worthless codebase that could not be
used on commercial hardware.
Sun's handling of JAVA has made everyone very very suspicious.

If Sun had used the GPL (or BSD) license to show that they didn't want to take
undue advantage of contributers, these suspicions would really be unfounded. Now
that they have carefully crafted a complex license, potential contributers must
scratch their heads. What if they are not honest? How can we protect ourselves?

The answer is, you can't with this license. You just have to trust Sun.


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Sun contributed to SCO
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 10:00 AM EST

The difficulty with Sun, for me, is its contribution to SCO's scam against
Linux. I'll never trust Sun until Sun embraces the GPL. Nothing less will do.

If you were, say, an American colonist who worked as a scout for the
British army, would you expect Gen. Washington to trust you?

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IBM and the EPL
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 10:06 AM EST
I would just like to point out that when IBM open sourced the Eclipse project it
used the EPL, an OSI approved license which according to their own FAQ is not
compatible with the GPL

From the FAQ;

"Does the EPL allow me to take the Source Code for a Program licensed under
it and include all or part of it in another program licensed under the GNU
General Public License (GPL), Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license or
other Open Source license?"

"No. Only the owner of software can decide whether and how to license it to
others. Contributors to a Program licensed under the EPL understand that source
code for the Program will be made available under the terms of the EPL. Unless
you are the owner of the software or have received permission from the owner,
you are not authorized to apply the terms of another license to the Program by
including it in a program licensed under another Open Source license."

Why all of the anger about Sun and praise for IBM when IBM has done essentially
the same thing? IBM has contributed to GPL projects and Sun has contributed to
GPL projects, both have chosen other licenses for some projects.


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

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I've done both.
Authored by: Franki on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 11:55 AM EST
I've written code for the GPL, and I've built nearly every car I've ever owned..
quite a few fords in there as well.

For what it is worth, I agree with PJ's assessment. Sun can't be entirely
trusted as a member of the open source community, they have donated code yes,
but they also jumped in bed with Microsoft, and I doubt microsoft would approve
of Sun being in any way beneficial to the GPL community. And they did pay sun
allot of money.. don't think there were strings attached?
I'll trust sun when they prove they are trustable.

Is M$ behind Linux attacks?

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Sun Waffles Again
Authored by: grouch on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 01:04 PM EST
It's not their uncuddly CDDL that bugs me, it's the fact that you can't depend on what they say. One day they're all cuddly and nice to you, the next day they're stabbing you in the back with distortions:

From Red Hat Linux 9 and Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition 1.4.2: A Winning Combination:

Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced on May 19, 2003, that it has entered into a global alliance agreement with Red Hat, Inc. to distribute Red Hat's market-leading Enterprise Linux operating system, and to broaden the use of each other's technologies in the rapidly growing volume server marketplace. As part of the agreement, Red Hat will distribute Sun's Java Virtual Machine (JVM) with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, extending the reach of the world's most popular application environment. Sun will sell and support all x86 versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS.

From Jonathan's Blog:

Other interesting tidbits - True to predictions that Red Hat would take advantage of their proprietary distro to lock customers and raise price, even Dell's getting upset about it. But someone should explain to our friends in Texas how bringing Debian or Gentoo into the picture won't help: Red Hat has tipped the linux market, and the lack of ISV support on anything but Red Hat's Enterprise offering means customers are feeling trapped, and Dell's stuck - that's why we're open sourcing Solaris, and offering to run linux native - at a lower price than Red Hat's proprietary distro. And, of course, a lower price than Dell.

It's not hard to find lots of examples of misinformation from Sun. Jonathan's blog is riddled with phrases about Red Hat's "proprietary" distribution and Red Hat's "lock-in". (BTW, maybe someone else can figure out Jonathan's search box. When I tried using it to find "Red Hat", it came up with 0 hits, even though you can find multiple instances on that first page).

First, in case anyone is taken in by Jonathan's disingenuous reference to Red Hat's distribution as "proprietary", here's the source code, from Red Hat (i386, go up a few directories if you need another arch): RHE L 3 SRPMS

Next, soon after Jonathan talks about Red Hat's "lock-in", he says, "...I told him he could run all his Red Hat apps in a Solaris container and pay nothing to Red Hat." Even if you ignore the fact that Red Hat provides source and ignore the fact that Red Hat doesn't break protocols and file formats to trap customers, Jonathan's own claim for running "Red Hat apps" proves there is no lock-in. (What is a Red Hat app, anyway?)

I wonder how many people were taken in by all the headlines proclaiming Sun's "opening" of 1600 patents?

Let's not forget how Sun made the b ig announcement:

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.

Gee, if you read that as a normal English-speaking human, you might get the idea that the open source community will immediately gain access to 1,600 active Sun patents. But if you read it with an understanding of Sun's recent multiple personality disorder, you knew there was a catch somewhere.

Sun is about as cuddly as a rattlesnake; it can be pretty and useful if you remember to avoid the fangs.

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

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Waking up and finding you're superfluous
Authored by: fb on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 02:16 PM EST

For the last several years, pretty much everything I've done technically has been involved in what, for lack of a better term, you might call high-speed multimedia technology.

One of the fruits of this is just about to be pushed out the door as a GPL'ed project. All the basic development has happened under Linux. We also have a Windows port -- kind of an idle threat, since the development tools required to rebuild from source under Windows are laughably expensive -- but it's there. We're about to undertake a Mac OSX port, since there's a lot of demand for it, and a number of people willing to take on the work.

What there hasn't been is a whisper of interest in a Sun version. Not so much as a peep.

Looking from an admittedly narrow perspective, one has to conclude that Sun is hurtling down the pike towards irrelevance. What they're fighting for is people caring about whether they're even there, at this point.

Surely they must realize that. And their solution is to restrict the adoption of their technology? Bravo, guys.

[ Reply to This | # ] free to build its own little island
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 02:37 PM EST
If Sun prefers to carve out a smaller community for itself, it is free to build its own little island, with its own big fence.

This sounds like what Wikizens call a Walled Garden.

P.S. somehow I got my firefox into a mode where it was full screen. I couldn't figure out how to get out of it. The ESC key did nothing. After I post this message I'm going to terminate the process because I can't find any other way to get my menu bar etc. back. Maybe Firefox still has some usability work to do.

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Sun Responds to Criticism of CDDL
Authored by: chad on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 06:00 PM EST
I think maybe you're being a bit hard on Sun. They are in a complicated place,
because Solaris is a mature product (that matured in a closed environment). It
has code licensed by and not written by Sun incorporated in it. The FairShare
scheduler is one example.

They have to come up with a way to comply with agreements they previously made
with third party contributers to Solaris. It seems to me they are trying to do
just that.

Look at the OpenOffice example. Sun was very open (heh) in that process, and
some of the code in StarOffice (like some language support and some
import/export filters) posed the same kinds of problems.

I think Sun has and deserves more credibility, based on its OpenOffice efforts,
than you're giving them.

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Incompatible open source more dangerous than closed source
Authored by: fuzzyBSc on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 12:24 AM EST

I have blogged about the CDDL license contraversy already, but I thought I'd push my musings into the groklaw-osphere.

It seems that every time a new license is written is is incompatible with every other license. In fact, this must be true. If any other license had acceptable terms, the software author would have used that license. "Compatibility" would mean their software could still be released under that license. That undoes their purpose.

Sun created a license that protects and restricts themselves and others in ways not expressed in any existing license. In doing this they -must- create a GPL-incompatable license. It's not bad in its own right, but it fractures the open source community. In fact, it is probably more dangerous to GPL developers than closed source softare. Open source software that can't be transplanted into GPL software but is available for developers to read could lead to subconscious copying and a legally-dubious future for all parties! OSI's acceptance of these licenses means that most OSI licenses will be incompatable with each other. This is not just a GPL problem.

Whatever your thoughts on whether the GPL is right or wrong, the incompatability issue has the potential to rend open source asunder. The creation of a new open source should be savagely opposed by all open source communities. A license that only covers a single piece of software should force us to reject that software.

I think we need to help organisations like Sun, IBM, and Mozilla who don't want to use the GPL to come up with a single uniform license that -does- suit their needs. One license will probably never suit everyone. Even the GPL/LGPL combination doesn't seem to suit everyone. We need to come up with a way of serving 99% of interests with only a handful of well-researched and well-understood licenses. If we continue to grow the number we have available it will bite us hard one day.


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