Sun Touts Value of Solaris 10 Code Under New License

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-01-25

Sun Touts Value of Solaris 10 Code Under New License

Sun Microsystems Inc. officially ended weeks of speculation Tuesday by announcing that it will use its recently approved CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) for its Open Solaris project, under which it will release some 10 million lines of Solaris 10 code.

Company officials also confirmed that the Santa Clara, Calif., company is looking at the possibility of licensing other software under the CDDL, including its JES (Java Enterprise System), which was first reported by eWEEK.

Sun will continue the trend of opening up its code and contributing it to the open-source community down the line, John Loiacono, Suns executive vice president for software, said in a media teleconference Tuesday afternoon.

"This is something that would be in Suns best interest. But we dont want to move so fast and just dump everything out there.

"We will move forward more slowly and make corrections as the new license is now out there, but watch this space," he said.

Sun CEO and chairman Scott McNealy also told the media that the move will benefit many enterprise users and governments across the globe by meeting their open-source requirements. It also will open the base for Solaris and help drive it into new markets, he said.

"With the Open Solaris project, I think its correct to say that Sun is the number-one donor of lines of code of any organization worldwide. Solaris 10 is the number-one operating system on the planet at this time in terms of features and choice of platforms, including Intel and AMD on 32-bit and 64-bit, and it is available for free with a right-to-use contract," McNealy said.

Also, through the CDDL license, Sun has added intellectual property and patent protection for the 1,670 current patents associated with Solaris, McNealy said, adding that the patent system seemed random to many and that this removed the confusion.

"This helps limit the IP divide that exists in developing countries, and for those companies who are unable to build network-based services and solutions because they are so far behind on the IP and patent front," he said.

"They can now take the Open Solaris code base and build interesting services and bridging with access to this chunk of IP and patents rights."

Read more here about Suns decision to give patent-use rights to developers.

Unlike other companies, which were using open source as a way to dispose of end-of-life code, Sun is giving access to its most current product, McNealy said. "Weve eliminated any barrier we can think of. You can run Unix and Linux applications natively, and the code base also supports the Java platform," he said.

"We are hoping to regain the image as the biggest friend of open source and the community out there. We have done all we can with regard to the Open Source Initiative and community," McNealy said.

Next Page: Addressing the perception of a closed company.

Closed Company

Suns Loiacono said the Open Solaris move would impact the entire company, not just on the software side. He called it an opportunity for Sun to gain access to new and emerging markets and to address the issues around the open-source requirements facing many governments and companies today.

"It allows us to re-engage with our academic base and the students, as well as expanding the number of developers working on the code. We also wanted to address the perception that the company was closed," Loiacono said.

All key components of Solaris 10 will be open-sourced, including the code for containers and DTrace, which will be available on SPARC, x86 and AMD Opteron hardware.

The Web site went live Tuesday and contained information about the project. However, the full, buildable source code for Solaris 10 will be available only in second quarter of the year, Loiacono said.

Sun also plans a community advisory board consisting of two Sun employees, two members from outside Sun and one from the broader Sun community, and is taking nominations for the two outside positions. The board, whose members will be announced in March, will determine what processes are adopted going forward, Loiacono said.

"There are a number of advantages of using the CDDL license, including that it makes it easy to reuse code; we cannot move users onto new licenses unless they agree to this; it makes it easier to follow and easier to use other code," he said.

"We have cleaned up a lot of the definitions around sharing code. Users are also required to share and give back any modifications they make to the source code," Loiacono said.

The reason Sun had shunned the GPL (GNU General Public License) was that it was "very viral and it is very difficult to co-mingle any other code with it. The only code that can be used with GPL code is GPLd code," he said.

McNealy said the Open Solaris projects success will be measured by the number of new contributors and downloads, by adoption by other open-source communities, and by incorporation by OEMs. "It may well end up in scenarios we had not anticipated, like a set-top box or in a switching environment. We just dont know all the places it will go," he said.

The software development model is changing, he said, and the community process model will gain greater traction going forward. "We are trying to get ahead of that and lead the pack. We are committed to Unix, to Solaris, to the Open Solaris community and to one word: sharing," McNealy said.

"Weve always been about sharing, from open interfaces at the start. This is a model of back to the future, and this model with help developers, users and countries stand on the shoulders of our IP use model," he said.

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