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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- SYS-CON: "Think Linus Will Defer to Sun on

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- SYS-CON: "Think Linus Will Defer to Sun on GPLv3? The Answer May Hinge on a Bottle of Wine"
Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 19:34:06 +0200

Nice picture, follow the link.

Think Linus Will Defer to Sun on GPLv3? The Answer May Hinge on a Bottle
of Wine

I didn't really expect them to open source Java either so it's not like
I'm infallible in my predictions

By: Java News Desk

Jun. 16, 2007 01:00 PM

Digg This! 

Linux creator Linus Torvalds thinks the last GPLv3 draft is better than
earlier drafts, but he still doesn't like it much, preferring the
existing GPLv2 that the Linux kernel is currently licensed under.

He has problems with the GPL 3's ban on so-called "tivoization" - Tivo
shuts down if users mess with its DRM software - and deals like the
Microsoft-Novell pact.

" All I've heard are shrill voices about 'tivoization' (which I
expressly think is OK)," he wrote Sunday on the Linux development
mailing list, "and panicked worries about Novell-MS (which seems way
overblown, and quite frankly, the argument seems to not so much be about
the Novell deal, as about an excuse to push the GPLv3)."

However, he told the mailing list that he might move to GPLv3 if Sun
puts OpenSolaris under the GPLv3 like it's been saying it wants to so it
can have a standard license.

"I have yet to see any actual reasons for licensing under the GPLv3, "
Linus said. But "if Sun really is going to release OpenSolaris under
GPLv3, that may be a good reason. I don't think the GPLv3 is as good a
license as v2, but on the other hand, I'm pragmatic, and if we can avoid
having two kernels with two different licenses and the friction that
causes, I at least see the reason for GPLv3. As it is, I don't really
see a reason at all. I personally doubt it will happen, but hey, I
didn't really expect them to open source Java either so it's not like
I'm infallible in my predictions."

Not that Torvalds is particularly enamored of Sun.


To someone on the listing mail he wrote:

"Umm. You are making the fundamental mistake of thinking that Sun is in
this to actually further some open source agenda.

"Here's a cynical prediction (but backed up by past behavior of Sun):

"First off: they may be talking a lot more than they are or ever will be
doing. How many announcements about Sun and Linux have you seen over the
years? And how much of that has actually happened?

"They may like open source, but Linux has hurt them in the marketplace.
A lot. They almost used to own the chip design market, and it took quite
a long time before the big EDA vendors ported to Linux (and x86-64 in
particular). But when they did, their chip design market just basically
disappeared: Sparc performance is so horribly bad (especially on a
workstation kind of setup) that to do chip design on them is just
idiotic. Which is not to say that there aren't holdouts, but let's face
it, for a lot of things, Solaris is simply the wrong choice these days.

"Ergo: they sure as hell don't want to help Linux. Which is fine.
Competition is good.

"So they want to use Linux resources (especially drivers), but they do
not want to give anything back (especially ZFS [Sun's Zettabyte File
System], which seems to be one of their very, very few bright spots).

"Ergo: they'll not be releasing ZFS and the other things that people are
drooling about in a way that lets Linux use them on an equal footing. I
can pretty much guarantee that. They don't like competition on that
level. They'd much rather take our drivers and not give anything back,
or give back the stuff that doesn't matter (like core Solaris: who are
you kidding - Linux code is better).

"End result:

"They'll talk about it. They not only drool after our drivers, they
drool after all the people who write drivers. They'd love to get kernel
developers from Linux. They see that we have a huge amount of really
talented people. So they want to talk things up, and the more 'open
source' they can position themselves, the better.

"They may release the uninteresting parts under some fine license. See
the OpenSolaris stuff - instead of being blinded by the code they did
release under an open source license, ask yourself what they did not end
up releasing. Ask yourself why the open source parts are not ready to
bootstrap a competitive system, or why they are released under licenses
that Sun can make sure they control.

"So the last thing they want to do is to release the interesting stuff
under GPLv2 (quite frankly, I think the only really interesting thing
they have is ZFS, and even there, I suspect we'd be better off talking
to NetApp, and seeing if they are interested in releasing WAFL for

"Yes, they finally released Java under GPLv2, and they should be
commended for that. But you should also ask yourself why, and why it
took so long. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that other Java
implementations started being more and more relevant?

"Am I cynical? Yes. Do I expect people to act in their own interests?
Hell yes! That's how things are supposed to happen. I'm not at all
berating Sun, what I'm trying to do here is to wake people up who seem
to be living in some dream-world where Sun wants to help people.

"So to Sun, a GPLv3-only release would actually let them look good, and
still keep Linux from taking their interesting parts, and would allow
them to take at least parts of Linux without giving anything back (ahh,
the joys of license fragmentation).

"Of course, they know that. And yes, maybe ZFS is worthwhile enough that
I'm willing to go to the effort of trying to re-license the kernel. But
quite frankly, I can almost guarantee that Sun won't release ZFS under
the GPLv3 even if they release other parts. Because if they did they'd
lose the patent protection.

"And yes, I'm cynical, and yes, I hope I'm wrong. And if I'm wrong, I'll
very happily retract anything cynical I said about Sun. They have done
great things, and maybe I'm just too pessimistic about all the history
I've seen of Sun with open source.

"The good news is that Jonathan Schwartz actually does seem to have made
a difference, and I hope to God he is really as serious about open
sourcing things as he says he is. And don't get me wrong: I think a
truly open source GPLv3 Solaris would be a really really good thing,
even if it does end up being a one-way street as far as code is

In response, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz took to his blog to claim to
Linus that "OpenSolaris has come a very long way since you last looked"
and invite Linus to dinner.

Jonathan said, "Now despite what you suggest, we love where the FSF's
GPLv3 is headed. For a variety of mechanical reasons, GPLv2 is harder
for us with OpenSolaris - but not impossible, or even out of the
question. This has nothing to do with being afraid of the community...

"Why does open sourcing take so long? Because we're starting from
products that exist, in which a diversity of contributors and
licensors/licensees have rights we have to negotiate. Indulge me when I
say it's different than starting from scratch. I would love to go
faster, and we are all doing everything under our control to accelerate
progress. (Remember, we can't even pick GPLv3 yet - if doesn't
officially exist.) It's also a delicate dance to manage this transition
while growing a corporation....

"By joining our communities, we can bring transparency and opportunity
to the while patent. Are we after your drivers? No more than you're
after ZFS or Crossbow or dtrace - it's not predation, it's prudence.
Let's stop wasting time recreating wheels we both need to roll forward.

"I wanted you to hear this from me directly. We want to work together,
we want to join hands and communities - we have no intention of holding
anything back, or pulling patent nonsense. And to prove the sincerity of
the offer, I invite you to my house for dinner. I'll cook; you bring the
wine. A mashup in the truest sense."

Maybe Jonathan should make it a party. Other main Linux kernel
developers and maintainers don't have any use for GPL 3 either and
goodness knows what they think of Sun.


"Live cheaply," he said, offering some free advice. "Don't buy a house,
a car or have children. The problem is they're expensive and you have
to spend all your time making money to pay for them."

        -- Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman: 'Live Cheaply'

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