Sun Working Out Open-Source Solaris Details

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-06-03 Print this article Print

Sun confirms its intention to open the Solaris source code, but many of the details still need to be hammered out.

Sun Microsystems Inc. this week formally committed itself to releasing Solaris operating system code as open source, but no final decisions have been made on the specific details. Sources close to the company, however, said Sun executives are struggling with details of the move, such as what license to use, whether to open all the code at once or incrementally, and whether Sun should host the code itself or contract a third party. "There is a huge debate within Sun about all of this, and so the time frame for open-sourcing the product is a moving target," said a source who requested anonymity. "Sun is aware of the concerns of some of its customers about the move and is actively working to reassure them."
These are the same questions Sun executives were struggling with in April when eWEEK first reported that the Santa Clara, Calif., company was investigating open-source Solaris.
At that time, John Fowler, Suns then chief technology officer for software, admitted that Sun was considering open-sourcing all 20 million lines of Solaris code, and was looking at "what it takes to successfully get to volume and what the tactics might be to go and do that. Open source is clearly one, but the question is, who would be the community, and what would that community then build around it," he said. Sun President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz used the SunNetwork Conference in Shanghei, China, this week to confirm the companys intention to open the Solaris source code. A Sun spokesman declined to specify details, but issued a statement saying that the company is "in the process of soliciting customer feedback in refining various aspects of the project and is not discussing additional information such as launch timing, licensing models or other details." Next page: Questioning Suns commitment.

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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