Wednesday Nov 28, 2007

Sun goes GPLv3 - Talking to Legal Dude about getting there

In case you missed it, two weeks ago Sun sallied forth into the brave new world of GPLv3 by announcing it as the license of choice for our xVM Ops Center.  In his blog, Marc Hamilton, VP of Solaris marketing explained,

We feel the use of GPLv3 for OpenxVM.org will encourage the next generation of open source developers, wanting to adopt the latest licensing models, to join our new community for building next-generation data center virtualization and management technologies.

Legal Dude (1-800- LAWYER)

Since he has been involved with v3 since its public inception, I thought it was appropriate that I combine this news with my final interview from last month's internal FOSS summit -- My conversation with David Marr a.k.a. "Legal Dude."

My interview with Dave (10:39)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)


Dave Marr -- The frustrated playwright.

Who's Dave?

Like most people these days, Dave wears a bunch of hats including:

  • Chief Counsel for Simon Phipps, Sun's Chief Open Source officer
  • Head Lawyer-dude for Sun's Microelectronics business
  • Support for Sun's global sites in Beijing, Bangalore, St. Petersburg and Prague.

Some of the topics we tackle:

  • Being asked to do an "active reading" reading of GPLv3 by Sun's CTO
  • Since he didn't know what "active reading" meant, he instead wrote an explanatory play imaginatively entitled:  "GPLv3: a play in three acts", starring some of Sun's top FOSS and legal brass.
  • The beginnings of the GPLv3 process nearly two years ago on a wintery January day in Boston.
  • Serving on committee B for the GPL
  • When/where will Sun first use GPLv3 (remember this interview was done a few weeks the announcement -- Guess we got our "business processes" down ;)

Reference:

Pau for now....

Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Netbeans now dual-licensed: GPL & CDDL

 

As of Monday's release of NetBeans 6 beta 2, in addition to the CDDL, the Java-based tool set is now also available under GPLv2 with the Classpath exception.  The target had been to add GPL by FCS but thanks to some over achieving legal folks the team made it early.

The goal of the dual licensing is simple -- make NetBeans more friendly to the GNU/Linux world as well as making it an option for those who were unable to use it under the CDDL.

The idea of adding GPL was original brought up for comment to the community back in mid August by NetBeans community manager (and all around good guy) Bruno Souza.  Accompanying the proposal was this FAQ.

Two months later it has become a reality, very cool!

Pau for now...

Monday Apr 02, 2007

My first trip back to the Mothership

 

As a recent member of the Sun diaspora I made my first trip back to the Bay Area last week. I took the "nerd bird" from Austin and arrived bright and early Monday morning.  I came out to give a couple of presentations and sync up with Ian Murdock.  The trip went well and I packed a bunch into my three days there.  Here are some highlights:

OS Ambassadors

Monday afternoon Simon and I presented to the OS Ambassadors, Sun's top OS SE's from around the world.  The ambassadors had gathered for their biannual week-long conference where they sync up with all thats going on around the company.  Simon took them through his FOSS pitch and I detailed our GNU/Linux business.  We got quite a bit of interest in both topics. 

Turns out that we were the warm-up act for Jonathan Schwartz who spent about 5 minutes on prepared remarks and then fielded questions from the audience.  He was his usual eloquent and laid back self.   He in turn was the warm up act for the Bryan and Mike show.  To call these guys, particularly Bryan, high-energy would be a severe understatement.  They regaled the crowd with tales of the extremely cool stuff they've been working on for the past year and were highly entertaining.

Presenting to Senior Software Execs:  Of Sticky Notes and Free Software

Wednesday afternoon the FOSS team got to brief our top Software Execs on the status of what we've been working on.  David Marr, our team's legal dude and one of Sun's representatives on committee B, and I presented on our relationship with the Free Software Foundation as well as GPL version 3.  As luck would have it, the morning of the preso the latest draft of GPLv3 was released to the public so David got to scramble and revise his preso for the afternoon. 

David drew on a host of high tech props including dollar bills, Post-it notes and notebook paper to get across the finer points of patent licensing.  (Needless to say, going forward we wont be accepting any Post it notes from 3M that are not GPLv3)

David Marr, with the help of volunteer Jean Elliott, explaining the nuances of patent licensing (Note: Jean did not get to keep the dollar).

My Dinners with Ian

Both nights I was there I got to dine with Ian (the first also included a whole gaggle of Sun luminaries such as Tim Bray, Josh Berkus, Simon, Bryan, Mike etc as sort of an unofficial welcome to Sun for Ian).  I've been very impressed with how rational Ian comes across and his clarity around where he wants to go.  Im glad he's on our team.

And speaking of GPLv3

When I ran into our fearless leader on campus I was good naturedly harangued regarding the GPLv3 shirt that I had promised him --  I told him the shirt was in the mail. 

To be clear:  In order for Sun to make a final decision on GPLv3 two things need to first happen 1) the final draft needs to be published and evaluated and  2) the shirt needs to be wicked cool.

 

The view of the estuary outside my hotel.

 

Pau for now..


Thursday Mar 15, 2007

While I was Unpacking...the Penguin marched on

Well while we've been moving the family to Austin -- driving across country, flying back across country, packing boxes, unpacking boxes, looking for local doctors, finding dry cleaners, dealing with the stomach virus (all 5 of us in succession, like dominoes) etc. -- the GNU/Linux world has churned on. 

Here are a few of the interesting events that have taken place while Ive been distracted:

Pau for now...         

..

 

Wednesday Feb 07, 2007

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... 

About

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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