OpenSolaris: To 3 or not to 3, that is the Question

Well we're at an exciting point here on the "eve" of the release of GPLv3.   In light of the impending release the question has been raised, does it make sense to dual license OpenSolaris under both CDDL and GPLv3?  As OpenSolaris is already licensed under CDDL this means that the question on the proverbial table is whether to add GPLv3.  Obviously, since GPLv3 has not been released, its difficult at this point to definitively pledge support for the license or to rule it out.  That being said, however, it is an appropriate time to start soliciting opinions from the community(ies).  Whatever the final decision is, it cant be one that Sun makes in a vacuum or that is dictated to the community.

Stephen Harpster, engineering director for OpenSolaris, kicked off the dialog a week ago by soliciting feedback from the community on the idea of dual licensing Open Solaris under GPLv3  .  The funny thing is no one responded...just kidding, it has produced a maelstrom of impassioned responses.  Rather than trying to sum up the nature of the comments im going to take the easy way out and point you to Stephen O'Gradys blog from Saturday since he has done a great job of  capturing the issues. 

So thats the topic of the current community and its members...what about new members we want to attract?  One of the biggest reasons that Sun would look to add GPLv3 is to win over new converts to  "Free" Solaris and to grow the community by bringing in folks from the GNU/Linux world.   What I personally would love to see is for the GNU crew to take the Solaris kernel, wrap it in a GNUserland and create a distro that would be as easy to install as Ubuntu (which I, a marketing guy, installed recently in six easy steps that caused no feelings of  inadequacy or anxiety).   We could keep a rocket-scientist Solaris distro but why shouldnt there be multiple distros based on the Solaris kernel for various user types?

So this leads to the question, what does the FSF, the champion of GPLv3, think of all this?  Rather than pondering via inference and guesswork, we asked them.  At the end of last week, Stephen, Simon, Sara and I held a call with Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF, and a team from the FSF to get their thoughts on the possibility of dual licensing OpenSolaris.  Peter and crew were very receptive to the idea and gave us some thoughts to ponder.  It was a very good call and we ended with Peter and team agreeing to put their heads together and think through the most effective way they could help us with our decision.   The FSF'ers recognize the sensitivities around the topic and were going to give a think about how to weigh in and in which forums would be most appropriate to share their views with the OpenSolaris community as well as  Free Software advocates.

Im very interested to hear what they come back with.  Stay tuned...

 

Pau for now... 

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I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.

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