Playing by Rules
He said the GPL is more explicit than the BSD licensewhich is essentially a simple copyright grantabout IP grants and the duty to republish any changes or improvements that are made to the code, he said. "Its all about community-building. But its not a free beer license," Papadopoulos said. "If you dont play by the rules, then you neither are afforded the IP protection nor are you entitled to copy the code. "Just to be clear, you cant take code under GPL that you havent written and place it under another license. And you dont get a patent grant for any of the ideas expressed in that code that you choose to recode under a different license," he said.The reason other open software licenses are being developed is because the terms of the GPL are often considered too restrictive. The MPL (Mozilla Public License), for example, removed the viral requirement, and it allows code of different licenses to be co-mingled. Some of Suns largest competitors are welcoming the dissention over the CDDL. Efrain Rovira, worldwide director of Linux marketing at Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif., told eWEEK that he enjoys competing with Sun when it continues to make mistakes such as this. "They will not be able to build a viable community to support Open Solaris if they use the CDDL," Rovira said. "What they are saying to the community about their support for open source and Linux is that they are half pregnant. "There are no half measures here: You either are or you arent. This is part of the schizophrenic attitude we continue to see coming out of Sun," he said. But Papadopoulos said developers could take any or all of the Solaris modules and, if they respected the basic license terms of propagating it and making public any improvements or bug fixes, they could "do with it as they please." "Embed it any product. Build your own custom distributions. Intermix with any other code you wishassuming that code lets you do it. You can do any of that, and you get a grant to any patents we might have covering our code. Thats an explicit part of the license," he said. The only thing Sun asks in exchange was the same thing that Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and author of the GPL, and Torvalds and every other open-source developer asked in exchange: "that the license be honored," he said. But some users said they disagree with that assessment. "I suspect Sun would be overjoyed if open-source software continued to flourish, but Linux somehow vanished from the scene," said Con Zymaris, CEO of Cybersource Pty. Ltd., a Linux and open-source solutions company in Melbourne, Australia. "I will now have to choose between supporting development and adding momentum to Open Solaris or to Linux. I will choose Linux. Our customers have." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
"Even so, by putting something under GPL, you still have a lot to say about what can and cant be done with it," Papadopoulos said.