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Several industry sources: Sun Set To Move On GPL License For Open-Source

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Several industry sources: Sun Set To Move On GPL License For Open-Source Java
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2006 12:42:43 +0100;?articleId=193600331

The company is very close to announcing that it will put the mobile (ME)
and standard (SE) editions of the Java platform into the GNU General
Public License (GPL), with the Java Enterprise Edition and GlassFish
reference implementation (currently open-sourced under Sun's Common
Development and Distribution License, or CDDL) to follow, several
industry sources said.

The OpenSolaris operating system will continue to be offered under the
CDDL, according to several sources. The news could come as early as next
week, they said.

The GPL is an intriguing and controversial choice. By requiring
derivative works to also be released as open source, the GPL discourages
commercial forking -- a consequence that fits well with Sun's stated
goal of preserving Java's cross-platform compatibility. However, a GPL
license would require those making changes to the core Java platform to
freely release their code.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun declined to comment on its open-source
Java plans and licensing choice.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has publicly toyed with the idea of GPL'ing
Java. "We're now making serious progress on open-sourcing Java (and
despite the cynics, using a GPL license is very much *on* the table),"
Schwartz wrote in his blog in May.

Earlier, he mused on the merits of adding a GPL license to the mix for
Solaris. "We're looking at how to reach developers and customers who
prefer the GPL," he wrote.

"Wow, that's surprising," said one developer when asked about the
potential impact of a move by Sun to put Java under the GPL.

Embracing the GPL would win Sun credibility in the open-source
community, which has been irked before by Sun moves such as contributing
to licensing complexity by inventing the CDDL.

"I think Sun realizes that their other pseudo-open source efforts don't
work,and that they can still retain control over code that's GPL," the
developer said.

Offering Java only under the GPL would have a cataclysmic effect on the
software industry, forcing Java platform developers to freely release
their contributions if they continue developing around the platform's
GPL code. IBM, for example, licenses Java from Sun and has its own
version of the Java Virtual Machine.

A more likely scenario is that Sun would offer dual licensing for Java,
a commercial/community hybrid approach used by vendors such as MySQL and
Sleepycat Software (now part of Oracle).

MySQL offers a GPL license for those willing to freely open-source their
contributions and a commercial OEM license for companies that don't want
their code distributed. According to a Sun executive quoted in the
publication Australian IT this week, dual-licensing is the plan. Sun
will have open-source and commercial licenses, differentiated by their
IP indemnifications, Sun software product business manager Laurie Wong
told the publication.

An online poll of Sun's community rated the GPL as the second
most-preferred licensing option, behind the Apache License. Thirty-one
percent of the respondents opted for Apache, compared with 21 percent
for the GPL. However, adding in the votes for the LGPL, a slightly more
permissive offshoot, the GPL carried a commanding 37 percent of the

The GPL is a topic of much conversation of late, with Richard Stallman
of the Free Software Foundation and others pushing a new GPL 3 version
that other open-source stalwarts -- including core star developer Linus
Torvalds -- say is problematic. 


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