CDDL's Paradox

From Stephen O'Grady -- Will the Spurned CDDL Come Back Stronger?

Could, paradoxically, Sun's rejection of the CDDL for Java project be the best thing that ever happened for the license? It seems counterintuitive, but consider that the biggest obstacle to CDDL adoption - negative impressions of Sun - are in serious decline following the release of Java.

An interesting observation. I'm not sure it's counterintuitive, though. I think it's pretty accurate.

I never really bought the criticism of CDDL because other open source projects using MPL-based licenses seemed to be quite successful and also seemed to escape the flames that flew our way. To me the stress around CDDL had nothing to do with the value of the license or the issue of proliferation and had everything to do with the political and economic situation at the time. Go back a few years: Solaris and Sun were both supposed to be dead. Competitors were circling. Many developers were skeptical. The language blowing around out there got harsh to say the very least. During this time, our open source interactions were confusing at best. Also, Sun was simply not performing in the market, so poor numbers placed us in an even more compromising situation. No amount of honorable intentions (which we certainly had) or even perfect communications (which we certainly didn't have) could have solved those problems. We had to just tough it out and defend ourselves while we got things back in shape at home. And we did. Fast forward: absolutely everything has changed. Also during this time, the company's core technologies were opened: OpenSolaris, OpenSPARC, Java. I'd like to think that since OpenSolaris went first in this sequence that we may have made it a bit easier for OpenSPARC and Java, and I'd also like to think that since they went out under GPL that things may be a bit easier for us as well. These are complex technical and business issues for Sun, but the communities of people forming around these technologies all have tremendous value no matter what license is used.

So, in some ways I agree with Stephen -- that due to Sun's being seen in a better light these days, CDDL may get a second look from those who need or want to use an MPL-based license. That's great. However, I think it will take some time for CDDL to be accepted by those who so strongly critizied it when it was released. And that's probably a bigger issue than the perfect storm from which we just survived. I also think there's more than enough room in the world for CDDL. It's certainly done well by OpenSolaris, hasn't it?

Comments:

Personally, I think the CDDL is a great license, after all it has allowed Dtrace and ZFS to be ported to both FreeBSD and Mac OSX (Leopard). One thing that might be good would be if Sun was to dual license certain parts. Good example would be DTrace (which was first code released). If this was availale under a dual CDDL/GPLv2 license then you could possibly see the situation of it becoming a standard across four \*nix kernels -- Solaris, OSX, FreeBSD and Linux. In such way it could become a \*nix standard like the way NFS became etc. -Paul

Posted by Paul Duffy on November 24, 2006 at 07:49 PM JST #

Yes, I think in some cases a Dual License has definitive value. In particular, I think it will work very well for GlassFish. - eduard/o

Posted by eduardo pelegri-llopart on November 24, 2006 at 08:10 PM JST #

hey, guys. Dual license parts, eh? Well, that may get around the fact that we can't GPL the whole thing. Interesting. I doubt I'll be able to write much about all this as it evolves (if it evolves) since I'll likely not be involved in such discussions, but we'll see. I'd like to get more involved over time, though. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on November 26, 2006 at 02:12 PM JST #

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