Playing by Rules

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

He said the GPL is more explicit than the BSD license—which is essentially a simple copyright grant—about 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.
"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.
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 wish—assuming 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.

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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