Concerns About the Process
While one of the concerns that has been expressed about the process is that some of the larger vendors and Linux distributors, such as IBM, HP, Red Hat and Novell, might try and advance their own agenda at the expense of the best interests of the community, it appears that will not be the case. Red Hats Webbink told eWEEK that "it is our understanding that commercial parties have largely been assigned to a single discussion group to assure that their position does not dominate those of other interests," adding that "of course, even among the commercial parties, there are varying degrees of support for the GPL.""We, at Sun, would like to help in whatever way we can with the evolution of the GPL," Phipps said. But Christine Martino, the recently appointed vice president for open source and Linux at Hewlett-Packard Co., said the company was not going into the process with a long list of demands. "We are big GPL fans, and we are not going into the GPL 3.0 process wanting a whole bunch of changes. We dont have a long laundry list or an agenda for change. But, what we do have an agenda for, is a very open, fair process that successfully unites the community," she said. HP has long been a strong proponent of the GPL, she added, noting that it is also the "only major vendor that hasnt felt the need to have our own license." Martino was referring, among others, to Suns CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License); the IBM Public License and the former Intel Open Source License. Read more here about how Intel withdrew its open-source license. "So I think it would be a bad thing if, at the end of the day when this is done, people go, Well, I dont like what happened with version 3, so Im going to use version 2. The key to preventing that is having the process be really open and find ways to have everyone feel heard," Martino said. She said she wants "GPL 3.0 have the same lasting power that the current version has." While limiting the unhappiness and potential fallout from the process would be a "big task," Martino said, if the process and the outcome are perceived as one that benefits free and open-source software broadly, theres less chance that community members would want to do something that negatively affects that, she said. "I would hope that the combination of Richard [Stallman] and Eben [Moglen], with his broad business view of what this means for everyone, would be the right combination to lead that effort. If anyone can do it, I think its them," she said. But Red Hats Webbink was less concerned about some people staying with GPL 2.0 when the process is finished. Some organizations "may choose to stay with GPL 2," he said, and that "should not be viewed as surprising, distressing or inconsistent with the basic premise of open source." This would also be one of the largest collaborative and consultative processes ever undertaken. "For that very reason, it is hard to imagine that every participant will get satisfactory resolution on every issue. The question will be whether the document, taken as a whole, advances the ball," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Suns Phipps expressed the firms broad support for the planned discussion and feedback process, saying it would also be participating in just one of the discussion committees.