Sun Sees Shining Future in Open Source

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-04-05 Print this article Print

Sun's CEO defends the choice of the CDDL for the OpenSolaris project and promises more open-source innovation to come.

SAN FRANCISCO—Jonathan Schwartz, Suns chief operating officer and president, on Tuesday presented a spirited defense of his companys decision to use the Common Development and Distribution License for its OpenSolaris project rather than the GNU GPL, under which the Linux operating system is licensed. Giving the opening keynote address at the second annual OSBC (Open Source Business Conference) here, Schwartz also touted the companys recent controversial Solaris patent grant, saying that making those 1,600 patents available would help lower the barrier to entry for software development and would benefit open source. In defense of the CDDL, Schwartz said that "free software does not imply you no longer believe in intellectual property, it means you no longer believe in charging for your IP."
"These are two hugely different concepts," Schwartz said. "I do not believe in IP colonialism. We wanted to deliver the means of production without restrictions; thats why we did not use the GPL license."
Read more here about Suns Solaris patent grant. Schwartz told the several hundred attendees that they should expect to see more free and open-source software coming out of Sun. He also moved to address financial analysts concerns about such a move, as he said Sun expected those moves to increase its revenues and profits. Analysts like Stacey Quandt at research company Robert Frances Group Inc., of Westport, Conn., have questioned the rationale for opening up products like Suns Java Enterprise System, saying "they are making money from it, so there is no reason at present to open-source it or any of the other software up the stack." Schwartz responded to that statement at the time, telling eWeek that "that totally misses the fundamental shift in the software industry—its like saying Google shouldnt be free or they wont be able to make money. "In fact, the more people taking advantage of Googles free service, the more attractive their business model. Same with us—the more users there are, the more opportunity there is for service contracts, systems sales, JES licenses, storage and hooking into our grid," Schwartz said. "For us, open source is capitalism and a business opportunity at its very best." To read more about Suns decision to use the CDDL for its Open Solaris project, click here. In his keynote, Schwartz looked to the future, saying that Sun believed the industry should head towards fair and just property rights and more free and open-source software. A well-educated marketplace is also needed and customers need to read the licenses that govern software, as they create obligations, Schwartz said. But, he said, the one undisputed fact is that the role of innovation will continue, as a product is not popular because it is free, but because it is better. "If you are truly going to stand behind open-source software, you should do so with not only your rhetoric, but also with your products," he told attendees. "Our slogan that the network is the computer would be more appropriate if we said that the network is all of our computers. The network is your computer," he concluded. 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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