Sun Applies for Open Source License

By | December 6, 2004

Following on from news last week that Sun was planning to open source Solaris, Sun has applied to the Open Source Initiative to certify its Common Development & Distribution License as a valid Open Source license.

The move puts Solaris on a direct collision course with Linux, which is the only widely used OS with a certified Open Source license.

Earlier this year saw Sun making overtones of peace with the Open Source community – a community which singularly identifies itself with Linux as a flagship product – and a community which is unlikely to see open advances on Linux with a positive view, in spite of frequent “it’s all about competition” mantras being spouted.

The CDDL license lets programmers see, change and distribute source code and requires that any modification be shared as open-source software so that the community can benefit and grow – and a growing community, Sun hopes, means a growing share of Solaris.

Sun hopes its open-source move will attract developers to Solaris and reinvigorate the operating system. Solaris waned in popularity with the Internet bubble burst and with the rise of Linux, which works better on widely used servers based on x86 processors such as Intel´s Xeon.

“The CDDL is not expected to be compatible with the GPL, since it contains requirements that are not in the GPL,” Claire Giordano of Sun´s CDDL team said in its submission. “Thus, it is likely that files released under the CDDL will not be able to be combined with files released under the GPL to create a larger program.”

While the OSI isn’t currently commenting on the application, the reality is that the CDDL will be nothing new – there are currently more than 50 valid Open Source licenses – a situation which many intellectual property experts view as overly complex, especially given the strides Open Source is trying to make in the business world.

Many feel that a “standard” set of 3-5 licenses would be much clearer and would spur further Open Source development. These advocates feel that a clearer license will result in more software.

Either way, Sun’s move is an important one for a company looking to reposition itself as a dominant platform company – in an age where “the platform” may just become king.

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