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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Gardner: "Sun demurs from adopting GPL v3

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Gardner: "Sun demurs from adopting GPL v3 for OpenSolaris, keeps CDDL only"
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 16:48:44 +0200

June 30th, 2007 

Sun demurs from adopting GPL v3 for OpenSolaris, keeps CDDL only

Posted by Dana Gardner @ 7:21 am
Categories: Open Source, Software Infrastructure, Enterprise Java,
Linux, Microsoft, Windows, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Intellectual
Property, Patents, GPL, Apache
Tags: Software, GPL, OpenSolaris, Free Software Foundation, Open Source,
Sun Microsystems Inc., GPLv3, Dana Gardner

I wonder what that was all about. I mean the last dozen months of Sun
Microsystems seemingly interested in and participating in the
definitions of GPL v3, only to come out now that GPL v3 is defined to
say they will stick to CDDL for OpenSolaris and (for now) GPL v2 [with
"classpath exception"] for Java EE.

Should we surmise that Sun did not get what it wanted, or surmise that
Sun did get what it wanted? If GPL v2 — after a long haul of end-runs,
badmouthing, FUD, and backtracking — finally became good enough for Java
EE (in addition to CDDL), what is different about v3? Why is any GPL
good enough for Java but not OpenSolaris? Shouldn’t OpenSolaris compare
on equal footing to Linux in licensing, if it is the better overall
choice as Sun maintains? The market clearly likes fewer licenses.

Lot’s of questions.

But the essential result is that many more people will be trying to
figure what GPL v3 means for a long time. If Sun doesn’t know right
away, who does?

With Sun equivocating, rather than whole-heartedly embracing, GPL v3
(though they love the process and Sharing), it’s hard to conclude
otherwise: GPL v3 has just made open source software more complicated,
more time consuming to evaluate, probably with unknown myriad risks, and
which will require a lot more deep review. Could it have been avoided?
Probably not.

This could be a long vetting season. GPL v3 could force a lot of
people’s hands — we just don;t know who and how. They probably don’t
know either. And we also still don’t know how Microsoft will react,
given the impacts on the deals (or pending deals) with the likes of
Novell, Xandros and Linspire. And we don’t know how Red Hat will view
this either, in terms of legal issues. IBM? Apple?

On the other hand, there may be highly positive long-term effects that
protect users, build bridges to the Apache community, close patent
infringement loopholes (you know what I mean), and that bring more
low-risk open source use to more organizations (and spur them on as
contributors) in a mission critical sense. Sun should be for that, no?
But here’s where they are at …

I received this email from the Sun Analyst Relations Team on Friday:

Hello, all:

With today’s announcement that the Free Software Foundation has released
GNU General Public License version 3, we wanted to keep you updated
about Sun’s involvement and Sun’s strategy for freeing its software into
open source communities.

As you may know, Sun has been participating in the discussions about GPL
v3 for the past 18 months, and the results of this open process are
impressive. Now that the GPLv3 license is in its final form, Sun is
reviewing it and giving it the careful consideration it deserves.

Sun believes the GPLv3 revisions represent important steps in the
evolution of the Free software movement. In particular, it clarifies
language that was unclear in GPLv2 and addresses many issues that did
not exist when GPLv2 was written more than 15 years ago, and thus
provides a firmer basis for certainty in the interpretation of the

Sun’s licensing strategy

Sun’s strategy for choosing one license or another is tied to our
strategy for each given technology. We don’t have a “favorite license.”
We have a strategy to Free all our software into open source communities
and we have strategies for each technology that lead us to choose
certain licenses on a case-by-case basis.

When we announced that we were releasing Java under the GPLv2 license,
we were asked whether we would *change* OpenSolaris’ license to GPL.
It’s important to be clear: while there’s plenty of community discussion
on the topic, there has been no change in the licensing of OpenSolaris.
We maintain that the world needs more than one type of Free software
license and we believe CDDL is the most polished and complete version of
the Mozilla family of licenses, which is one reason we kept CDDL for
Java EE and added GPLv2, as well.

We regard the GPLv3 as a great achievement by the FSF in particular and
by the greater open source community of Free software communities. The
discussions were long, professional and detailed. The process was
inclusive and respectful while retaining the ability to drive forward
through clear leadership. The result is a strong and market-changing

“Hearty congratulations to Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen and all of the
many, many participants in the process. The unity displayed is an
example that we hope will be embraced, repeated and improved upon to
yield an even more vibrant community of open source communities working
on Free software with mutual understanding, respect and unity of
purpose,” said Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer, Sun
Microsystems, Inc.

For more commentary about GPLv3, please visit Sun Chief Open Source
Officer Simon Phipps’ blog at:

In Simon’s blog post he adds more insight:

So the question I’m expecting to be faced with repeatedly over the next
few weeks is, “will Sun use the GPLv3?” I think it’s likely we will use
it, yes, but I’m not clear yet for which code and when. We’ll be
carefully analysing the balance of benefits and risks in the released
version of the GPLv3 and I’m not expecting to be in a position to bring
a recommendation to our executive team for several weeks. I’m keen for
us to take a leading position, though, even if some are sceptical of our

I know that developers and architects and operators and CIOs would
rather not deal with fine print on code intellectual property issues ad
nauseam, but this is just too impactful for the contemporary and future
use of software not to be studied and tracked very carefully. So follow
Simon’s lead and put GPL v3 on your radar of interest and keep it there.
End users, after all, have the most to gain from standardized and
accepted approaches to open source software development and use —
especially in mixed environments with commercial code.

As The Clash says, “Know your rights!”

Good music to post by, incidentally.


"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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