Sun CTO: New License Protects Developer Rights

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-02-07 Print this article Print

Greg Papadopoulos says Sun's Common Development and Distribution License is "more liberal in its IP license than even the GPL, because it gives a clear patent license and doesn't demand the same viral propagation."

Sun Microsystems chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos on Monday added his voice to the chorus of Sun executives explaining their rationale for using the newly created Common Development and Distribution License for their Open Solaris project. "Open software is fundamentally about developer freedom," Papadopoulos said. But many in the open-source community, including Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds, believe that Sun chose to create the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) to specifically avoid letting its Solaris code be able to be combined with code licensed under the GPL (GNU General Public License).
"We want developers to freely use any of the Open Solaris code that we developed for their purposes without any fear of IP [intellectual property] infringement of Sun: either patent or copyright. We chose a license, the CDDL, an improvement of MPL [Mozilla Public License], that clearly and explicitly gives that freedom," he said.
But Torvalds said he sees no such freedom in the license choice, telling eWEEK recently that Sun "wants to keep a moat against the barbarians at the gate." "I think there are parallels with the Java well control the process model," he said. "I personally think that their problem is that they want to control the end result too much, and because of that, they wont get any of the real advantages of open source." In comments posted to his first "official" blog on Monday and titled "My views on open source," Papdopoulos disagreed, further defending the CDDL by saying that complementary to developer freedoms are developer rights. He said code developers do have rights to the code they have developed, as this is, after all, the fruit of their labor. "By choosing to place that code under an open-source license, a developer surrenders some of those rights to the community in the hopes of a beneficial exchange. No open-source license surrenders all rights. The way you do that is to place code in the public domain," he said. Adding fuel to the fire of which license is more open, Papadopoulos said the CDDL is "more liberal in its IP license than even the GPL, because it gives a clear patent license and doesnt demand the same viral propagation." "Yes, I know thats a view divergent from many who believe GPL is open source, but I happen to believe choice and freedom go hand in hand," he said. Next Page: Playing by the rules?

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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