Friday Oct 03, 2008

Stallman on OpenSolaris

Interview with Richard Stallman, Founding Father of Free Software: "OpenSolaris is already free software, and I can endorse it as such. If Sun releases it under GPLv3, that will be even better; however, when choosing between free programs, the main factor is practical." -- Richard Stallman

Nice to see OpenSolaris come up in this interview. Stallman also chimed in on an OpenSolaris conversation a few years ago talking about licensing. I remember that conversation well. Stallman's mail got caught up in the opensolaris-discuss moderator queue (me) since he wasn't subscribed to the list, so I had to approve his messages. Fun.

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007


CBR Online suggests that Microsoft open source Windows -- Is it time to open source Microsoft Windows? That would be interesting, don't you think? Can you imagine the source analysis you'd have to do on that thing? My goodness. Although the article speculates about the benefits of an open source Windows, it doesn't offer a perspective license. GPL is probably out given past statements from the company. But CDDL might work just fine, especially since I'm sure there are probably more than a few licenses already tangled up in Windows source. Hey, you never know. Did you ever think you'd see OpenSPARC, OpenJDK, and OpenSolaris?

Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

More OpenSPARC Code Coming

Sun: Open source Niagara 'successful': "Because the open-sourcing of Niagara 1 [has been] overwhelmingly successful, we are now following the same practice, [and] are looking to continue and open source the Niagara 2 [processor] under the GPL (General Public License)." -- David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's scalable systems group, quoted in ZDNet.

Cool. More OpenSPARC code on the way. It's great to see the other projects succeeding in our trek to open up the company. I often wonder, too, about the distinctions between the OpenSPARC community and the OpenSolaris community. I would imagine that there are a lot of similarities because, after all, both start out with source code. But the final product is so very different. Interesting.

Friday Jun 01, 2007

A GPLv3 Conversation at Sun Bangalore

On Monday Eben Moglen will be talking about GPLv3 at Sun in Bangalore, India. Ping the Bangalore OpenSolaris User Group for more info.

Thursday May 31, 2007

OpenSolaris and GPL

More chat about dual licensing OpenSolaris -- JavaFX sends Sun back to the future?. Go to the bottom. It's the last question in the Q&A. I'm mixed on the issue. I think that there are some interesting issues to be explored, but I'm much more sensitive to the possible drawbacks of a dual approach. So far, the OpenSolaris community is clearly not in favor of dual licensing OpenSolaris, so if an actual proposal is eventually put on the table it will be fascinating to see the community discussion. For more info on how the current OpenSolaris Governing Board feels about the issue, look at their positions during the recent election. And here's more background (here, here) from our most recent flame last Jan and Feb.

Tuesday May 01, 2007

More OpenSolaris and GPL

Interesting (though somewhat inaccurate in spots) article in BusinessWeek -- Sun Mulls Deeper Open-Source Dive. What's interesting about it is that no one in the article is actually saying we are "mulling a deeper open source drive" or anything of the sort. Should be an interesting time at JavaOne, though, with all the communities getting together at CommunityOne. I'll be there. And I'm sure there will be a lot of these sorts of articles between now and then, too. But I wonder ... do serious developers and customers and partners pay attention to stuff like this? I'm mixed. Some people tell me the media speculation is garbage and they ignore it, but others get quite animated about it. Who knows. I've never really seen it quantified, so I suppose it will remain a mystery.

Sunday Feb 11, 2007

The OGB's Decree

Last week, four out of the five OpenSolaris Governing Board members issued the CAB/OGB Position Paper # 20070207 in an attempt to outline their position on the issue of potentially dual licensing OpenSolaris with GPLv3 and CDDL. I responded to the OGB's position paper because I have concerns about the language they used to articulate their position and their attempt to thwart an open conversation on OpenSolaris by issuing a "decree" saying that "[f]urther discussion on GPL\* is merely a diversion and distraction that should be discouraged." That's a remarkable statement and needs to be challenged.

For the purposes of this discussion, I don't particularly care about the distinctions between GPLv2, GPLv3, and CDDL. All I ask is that the elected representatives of the OpenSolaris community not use inflammatory terms like "fostering FUD towards OpenSolaris" to describe a fellow open source community and also not try to stop an open debate on our forums. There are perfectly valid differences of opinion between the proponents of all licenses, and there's no reason we can't explore all of the issues whenever we want.

To me, the most important words written about Opensolaris are contained in the OpenSolaris Community Principles:
  • The project will evolve in full view of the world. By opening our code, processes, documentation, and historical information to everyone, we offer a real opportunity for others to join our community and contribute from an equal footing. Technical information will be withheld if there are legal restrictions, never because it is incomplete or of poor quality.
  • We will be inclusive. Proposals will be evaluated based on technical merit and consistency with overarching design goals, constraints, and requirements.
  • We will be respectful and honest. Developers and users have the right to be treated with respect. We do not make ad hominem attacks, and we encourage constructive criticism. Our commitment to civil discourse allows new users and contributors with contrarian ideas an opportunity to be heard without intimidation.
  • Quality is always a top priority. The OpenSolaris project will continue the long tradition of quality engineering established by the Solaris Operating System.
  • We are independent. Decisions within the project are made independently from those concerning Sun's business. Sun's management controls the business aspects of the Solaris product, but will not exert undue influence within the OpenSolaris community.
The third bullet is most important in this context: "We will be respectful and honest. Developers and users have the right to be treated with respect. We do not make ad hominem attacks, and we encourage constructive criticism. Our commitment to civil discourse allows new users and contributors with contrarian ideas an opportunity to be heard without intimidation."

I think I'll continue following the OpenSolaris Community Principles. I can not accept the OGB's decree.

Tuesday Feb 06, 2007

The GPLv3 Conversation Continues

Stephen O'Grady jumped into the OpenSolaris, CDDL, and GPLv3 conversation this week -- Should OpenSolaris Use the GPLv3 License? The Q&A. It's a long and thoughtful post with about 20 comments (so far). O'Grady is a voice of intelligence and moderation who is most welcome in this debate.

Things seem to be winding down a bit from the initial conversation, which split into two dozen sub-threads on the OpenSolaris forums (see below for thread links). More background here and here, too. I've learned a great deal during this conversation, so I'm thankful Stephen Harpster started it. And I see Harpster's original blog has about 12 comments (so far).

Many in the OpenSolaris community clearly asserted themselves, but many more remained quiet. Too many, actually. At times things got a bit rough, too, which was unfortunate since I know for a fact we are many times way too intimidating for new people to engage. I hope that changes over time, but I also believe that the flamers are a distinct minority. In general, though, I'd say that there were some very thoughtful arguments presented on multiple sides of the license issue, as well as multiple threads outlining critical engineering and community development issues. I bet this all spins up and down for a bit longer as the issue comes to fruition. And that's all good. The fact that Sun is not making a decision on this all alone is critical. To me that demonstrates that Sun respects the OpenSolaris Community and is very much part of the community.

Some people have asked me if discussions like this really escalate our conversation numbers. And the answer is no. What happens, actually, is that massive community debates like this suck all the wind out of the room and replace other conversations. They rarely go much past one week, too. So, the past six days of GPL talk put numbers on the board that look pretty much like the six days before that. Interesting.

OpenSolaris and GPLv3 threads (I may have missed a few):

More to come, I'm sure ...

Friday Jan 19, 2007

Sources Close to the Company

Some nice chit-chat on the GPL-for-OpenSolaris story this week. It all started with one of those "sources to the company" bits and wound around from there. Here's a quick list of stories and blogs in no particular order:
Who knows. But interesting, eh? By far the most important comments came from Software Chief Rich Green in the last bullet of my list. He's quite clear that the OpenSolaris community gets a vote here in this discussion. That's huge. And it represents yet another shift in attitude at Sun. You know, one thing that got lost in this latest round of rumors is the fact that OpenSolaris is a community of people who have a voice and an opinion to contribute. Green is spot on here.

Friday Nov 24, 2006

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?

Tuesday Feb 07, 2006

links for 2006-02-07

Wednesday Feb 02, 2005

Linus Torvalds on OpenSolaris

Linus Torvalds chimes in today on OpenSolaris in CRN -- Torvalds: Waiting To See Sun's Open Solaris.

"It all looks good. I was disappointed in their Java work, it was a complete disaster, and Sun took control of it," Torvalds told CRN, alluding to the Java Community Process. "But CDDL is different. Everything is in place for it to work well."

Torvalds said he doesn't know if there will be enough interest in Solaris to grow a viable open source community, or if the Unix OS has become too "marginalized," but he isn't complacent about Sun's efforts. "A lot of people still like Solaris, but I'm in active competition with them, and so I hope they die," the Linux creator and chief developer quipped.

Sun's Danese Cooper comments on the CDDL:

After the panel Danese Cooper, Sun's chief open source evangelist, said that while the CDDL has different provisions of the general public license (GPL) that affect developers' use and distribution of Open Solaris, Sun won't bring patent litigation to the courts. "We're not going to sue anyone," she said.

Technorati Tag: OpenSolaris

Tuesday Dec 14, 2004

Linus Comments on OpenSolaris

I read these comments from Linus Torvalds yesterday in eWeek:

Sun "wants to keep a moat against the barbarians at the gate," he wrote in an e-mail interview. Torvalds said he does not expect developers clamoring to start playing with that source code.

"Nobody wants to play with a crippled version [of Solaris]. I, obviously, do believe that they'll have a hard time getting much of a community built up," Torvalds wrote. "I think there are parallels with the Java 'we'll control the process' model. I personally think that their problem is that they want to control the end result too much, and because of that they won't get any of the real advantages of open source."

He is speculating, of course, on the OpenSolaris license, which we have not announced yet. He doesn't know. And neither do I, to be honest. That discussion will be for another day.

I disagree with his comment about developers not clamoring to start playing with the code, though. The Solaris community very much is clamoring to play with the code. In fact, we can't get it out to them fast enough! I see it every day. I bring Solaris developers and system administrators into the OpenSolaris Pilot Program. One at a time. All day, every day. And I can assure you, they are a lively bunch of talented developers.

However, I think Linus has touched on a significant issue here -- control. Just how much control a corporation like Sun asserts over a project such as OpenSolaris is a subject of constant discussion internally and within the OpenSolaris Pilot Program. No one has been in our position before, so we're learning as we do all this. And thoughtful people can disagree (and they do, believe me!). In this respect, I see Linux and Solaris at two very different stages in their lives. I see Linux growing up from a grass-roots community into a fully viable desktop and enterprise operating system that now has the backing of major corporations but remains open source. I see Solaris as growing from the community, then moving under the stewardship of a major corporation, and now returning to its roots after many years of highly focused enterprise engineering.

So, here's my question -- can you judge the Solaris community (as it exists today) based on the experiences of the Linux community (as it exists today)? I mean, we are open sourcing an operating system that already has a large installed base around the world, already has a business model driving Sun, already has developers who will be fully enfranchised as an open source community very shortly, and already has a sophisticated development methodology that we are updating and carefully moving across the fire wall. It seems we are in a very different place as we open source Solaris right now than Linux was when it went open source. Am I wrong? That's not rhetorical ... I'm actually asking. I see it as a distinction with a very big difference. When questions of "control" come up they are sometimes characterized as a negative when in reality shouldn't they be considered complex business and technical issues that need to be responsibly resolved? Well, that's pretty much what we are doing.

Tuesday Jun 29, 2004

JavaOne: Looking Glass goes GPL

During his keynote this morning, Scott McNealy invited Hideya Kawahara on stage to GPL Project Looking Glass. This was supposed to happen yesterday, but I guess they found the money late last nite to fund the project.

Very nice. It's going to be fascinating to see the community run with this one. I'm not a coder, but I'd love to get involved in any way I can contribute to this community. I can't wait to get this on Solaris x86, which, of course, will be powered by an open source community of its own very shortly. I'm still going back and forth between JDS on Linux and XP on my laptop, a Sun Ray in the office, and XP at home. Too many computers. I'd like to have one computer, one platform. Just one. I'm only one guy, after all. I'd like a computer that is as beautiful and stable as a Mac, but one that doesn't require all that cash to be sent to Apple. I've given far too much money to Apple over the years. I'm inches away from buying a Mac, but I think I'll hold out for a while and see what Looking Glass looks like running on top of a fast Opteron running an open source Solaris.



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