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.

Wednesday May 24, 2006

The License for OpenSolaris

There was a piece in InformationWeek recently in the form of a Q&A --  7 Answers To Key Questions About Java's Move To Open Source -- where the writer asks and then answers his own questions about open source and Java. I've never seen this format for an editorial, but I suppose it could work. It can be confusing, though, if you don't read carefully. Anyway, the section on the OpenSolaris license isn't quite accurate. It reads:

Q. What's the licensing model?

A. You can rule out the General Public License, which effectively bans proprietary additions or combinations. The Mozilla Public License is a step in the direction Sun wants to go. Changes to the source code come back to the community, but some proprietary uses are allowed. Sun's license for open source Solaris allows compiled, executable Solaris code--not source code--to be included with proprietary code in a commercial product. It encourages developers to use Solaris in commercial products.

First, the license for OpenSolaris is the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). The license, the redline diffs from the Mozilla Public License, the executive summary, and the detailed description are all here. Second, the CDDL is a file-based license, and you certainly can mix source files from different licenses -- open or closed -- to build executables as long as all the licenses involved are compatible. So, you can combine CDDL source files with proprietary source files and create a binary and ship it as a product. Sun's Solaris Express is an example of that. Third, you can't use Solaris in a commercial product because Solaris is itself a commercial product. You can, however, use the OpenSolaris source in a commercial product, and there are already several non-Sun distributions moving in this direction. Fourth, the license doesn't encourage anything; it simply outlines all the possibilities for use of the source code. And finally, Jonathan addresses some of the other issues relating to the GPL.

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