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Re: GPL'ing Solaris won't save SUN

From: Mike Cox
Subject: Re: GPL'ing Solaris won't save SUN
Date: 23 Aug 2004 13:12:09 -0700 (Richard L. Hamilton) wrote in message 
> In article <>,
>       Paul Eggert <> writes:
> > At Tue, 03 Aug 2004 02:53:39 -0400, Donn Miller <> 
> > writes:
> > 
> >> My guess is that Sun will do like Netscape and Apple did, and
> >> create their own license
> > 
> > Sun has already done that.  Several times.  They have a complicated
> > licensing repertoire that I'll bet not one in 10,000 professional
> > programmers understands.  They've got the Sun Community Source Licence
> > (SCSL).  They've got the Sun Industry Standards Source License
> > (SISSL).  And they've got the Sun Public License (SPL).  Sometimes it
> > seems like they use a different license for every product they turn out.
> > 
> > And (as far as I know -- it's hard to keep track) all their special
> > licenses are incompatible with the GPL.  That's Sun's privilege, of
> > course.  But it's terrible marketing.
> > 
> > Say what you like about the GPL -- but it's clear, and lots of
> > customers understand it, and it does the job.  It's serving Sun well
> > in larger efforts like OpenOffice and in smaller ones like
> > evolution-jescs.  If Sun yet again comes up with their own
> > incompatible-with-GPL license, they'll have yet another uphill battle
> > convincing the world to pay attention to it, much less understand and
> > use it.
> > 
> > Here's the acid test: can I take a module out of Sun's open-source
> > distribution, modify it, and redistribute the result freely as part of
> > (say) my Linux kernel?  If I can do that, then Sun's open-source
> > license will be useful to me and to lots of other people; if not, then
> > I'm not sure it's worth Sun's time to come up with Yet Another Sun
> > Software License.
> It's useful to me just for troubleshooting, even if I never compile a
> line of it.
> It's also useful as a massive collection of examples, of drivers,
> filesystems, etc.
> But the bottom line is not that of the ideologue, or even the contributor
> and participant; it's that of the investor.  Unless there's a cash value
> answer when one of them asks "what's in it for me?", it shouldn't be done.

Then why the hell should a linux advocate even care if SUN is going to
Open Source Solaris?  If a person who is not a SUN engineer/employee
cannot make changes to the CVS or take code and put it in another OS
(aka BSD license), then it has no value.

Heck, even MS took a bunch of BSD TCP/IP code and used it in Windows. 
In terms of commercial value, BSD is the best license for commercial
companies because they can use BSD code in commercial products without
revealing their source, the GPL is best for goodies because everyone
is forced to share.  The Solaris Open Source License will have nothing
going for it apparently.

I think this will be a case of "What if they opensourced a product and
nobody cared" type of thing.   Everyone who wants a true enterprise
Open Source solution will just continue to go to IBM and use Linux on
the mainframe.  AIX is  being gutted for Linux, and if Solaris code
isn't avaliable to be gutted and put into Linux, then SUN won't have
an enterprise level Linux OS on their bread and butter machines. 
Customers will see that, and avoid SUN enterprise hardware.  SUN needs
to see that no one cares about Solaris or any other propriatery UNIX. 
They have paid for propriatery UNIX for decades, and it is now a

If SUN is going to Open source Solaris, the *only* viable license IS
the GPL, for the REASON that all the enterprise code could be put INTO
LINUX.  Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but that is the
only way Open sourcing Solaris would work, because then the Linux
people could port Solaris goodies into Linux and then Linux would run
on every expensive highend SUN box.

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