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Sun to Add GPLv3 to OpenSolaris? 118

An anonymous reader writes to mention that sources inside Sun Microsystems claim that OpenSolaris may see the GPLv3 added to its list of licenses soon. From the article: "While Sun officials would not confirm the plan to dual-license OpenSolaris under the CDDL and GPLv3, Tom Goguen, vice president of Solaris software at Sun, told eWEEK that other open-source technologies will play a big role in Solaris going forward. 'Take the GNU Userland, which is an interesting piece of technology that Sun is looking at closely, and we may do something similar with, say, a container flavor,' he said. 'You can also expect to see a renewed focus on the needs of developers and system administrators with Solaris going forward, while individual pieces of the next version will also likely be increasingly delivered first as components or technologies targeted at vertical markets,' he said."
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Sun to Add GPLv3 to OpenSolaris?

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  • by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:54PM (#17650164) Homepage
    And even if they were, it doesn't stop Sun, as the copyright holder, from releasing it under whatever licence they want.
  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) * on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:13PM (#17650428) Homepage Journal
    ...you mean that they move to GPLv3 in the areas where they can -- i.e., non-kernel software that they develop on their own.

    It's much too easy to think of "Linux" as being one thing with one license, and I need to stop thinking that way...
  • by a.d.trick ( 894813 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#17650438) Homepage
    Can you please cite some examples of Microsoft using submarine patents.

    It's not so much that they actually go out and sue people over patents. Rather, they use a technique known as FUD and they go around and intimidate their competitors about how they might use their patents. The competitors then have to scramble all about to save their stock from falling into oblivion and spend effort ensuring they are not in violation of some patent they don't know about. Whether there's anything to Microsoft's patent claims remains to be demonstrated.

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:34PM (#17650702) Homepage
    Consider the following points:

    1. Most software that creates the userland for desktop users can run on Solaris as well as Linux, in the sense of using the kernels.

    2. Businesses, which value stability, have watched the Linux kernel abandon the odd-even numbering system in favor of merging major changes into the 2.6 tree (I know there are pros and cons for this, but my money is on this not being a positive move in most commercial business eyes.)

    3. The major lack for Solaris, from the user standpoint at least, is the driver support Linux now enjoys - if Solaris supported all the hardware Linux does and had a good/friendly install routine (haven't tried it myself), there would be little to choose between Linux and Solaris.

    Now, how could GPLv3 help?

    It's true the Linux kernel code, as such, could not be merged straight into Solaris. HOWEVER, key authors of the parts of Linux that actually are better could be contacted and asked if they would license their code for use in Solaris under GPLv3. The CDDL has not, so far, encouraged much of this activity as far as I know. GPL has "street cred" in terms of the open source population, and the key authors of the key parts unique to Linux might be convinced to help Solaris (which has its own bits of Truly Awesome Code).

    Many of the arguments are similar to using GPL for Java. Solaris is already freely available and as such is not a direct revenue stream for Sun - the question is how to use it to Make Money in other venues. Now there are risks as well as rewards to being able to run Solaris on a wide variety of hardware, and Sun must make the calculation as to whether universal standardization/use of Solaris would promote their hardware as a very stable, powerful integrated core of a complete Solaris solution. This is not immediately clear, but is possible. Certainly, it would increase Sun's "visibility" in the marketplace, if they displace Linux as the major open source operating system. (I know, I know - the userland tools are what count most, but marketing doesn't seem to work that way.)

    Another interesting question is whether the corporations who have made contributions to Linux in order to make it more usable for them might be inclined to work with Sun and Solaris if it becomes available under GPLv3. Corporations seem to be more comfortable working with other corporate entities, and GPL is a good "safeguard" against being taken to the cleaners.

    I hope Sun does release a functioning Solaris under GPLv3, with the key parts (dtrace, ZFS, etc) included. I would certainly be interested in such a system, particularly if the key developers cooperate and the major Linux Goodies can be folded into it.

    Interesting times.

  • This makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Serveert ( 102805 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:52PM (#17651034)
    Sun's meat and potatoes is their hardware, all decisions from the beginning go back to that basic tenant. Therefore it's in their best interest to get people to use Solaris which works well on Sparc. Sun has some pretty cool stuff, for example their new filesystem, zfs. Now if they were to release zfs as gpl v2, it could be used in linux, which doesn't help's Sun's bottom line(Sparc). If people use Solaris on x86 then that helps - Sun hopes those people will switch to Sparc. But given Torvalds not liking gpl v3, Sun can safely make Solaris, zfs, etc. GPL v3 and they won't have to worry about helping Linux much. The anti-patent provisions also throw a wrench in Microsoft's plans to use the patent wrench to stop open source.
  • Re:ZFS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:10PM (#17651348)
    What you've just described is step one of cleanrooming a driver.

    The code is free, you're more than welcome to do that with ZFS, but nobody has so far & zfs is really cool... obviously it's not just as easy as you describe... the only reason linux has so much filesystem support is because of the companies that added it... IBM added JFS, SGI added XFS, etc...

    I seriously doubt Sun cares to add zfs to linux.
  • Re:Win all around (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mr_da3m0n ( 887821 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:56PM (#17652170) Homepage
    Uhm... Stop me if i'm spewing nonsense, but isn't the fact that Linus obviously doesn't give a shit about the GPLv3 a very tiny fraction of the problem?

    The main problem being that it would be extremely difficult to track down every single person who contributed to Linux and holds the copyright to agree to the change?
  • Re:Nexenta (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:18PM (#17654042) Journal

    Personally, I would find it incredibly amazing if Sun's system suddenly became the vanguard of Free software, "killing" Linux in the process. I had been following the market closely since I started using Linux years ago, and while a lot of GNU/Linux people were going head to head with Microsoft, it was obvious that what Linux was really doing was killing commercial Unix. In fact, the casualties were so bad that all big Unix vendors either converted themselves into Linux companies (IBM, Novell, Sun did Linux too) or died miserable deaths (SCO, SGI).

    Sun's premier system probably had the biggest chance of standing up to Linux (popular, technically advanced), there was no way they could keep up unless they joined in on the "open source" thing. If they went in all the way and made it 100% Free, that could really shake things up. If the dispute between GPL versions becomes a big one, Sun would be poised to win big. Not only would their own system become an order of magnitude more popular, but it would also make them the Free software company. With Free products like Solaris and Java, their software is practically legendary (there is no use denying the popularity of Java, and Solaris has always been a Unix lover's darling system).

    So, after all those years of "Linux is killing Unix," it would be amusing to see Sun turn the tables on that one. Don't think it can't happen, either... if large companies have proven anything, it's that they're good at absorbing the innovations of smaller entities and taking over. It's similar to how politics works in the United States--the two big parties stay on top partly by taking issues raised by small parties and making those issues their own, using their clout to "cover" the issue better and eliminating the need for the third party.

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons