For more than a year, Sun Microsystems Inc. has inched its way towards the release of an open-source version of Solaris. Still, one piece of the strategy remained on the table: With the SCO Group Inc. owning the underlying code to Solaris, could Sun avoid the legal battles faced by other open-source Unix vendors?
However, during SCOs earning teleconference on Tuesday, CEO Darl McBride revealed that Sun had discussed with SCO its plans to open-source the Solaris operating system and that SCO has no problems with them.
"We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," McBride said. "What theyre doing protects our Unix intellectual property rights."
Indeed, "If other companies had been more respectful of our IP rights, wed all be a lot better off, continued McBride, referring to SCOs ongoing legal battle with IBM.
Sun has slowly moved towards open-sourcing Solaris 10, or OpenSolaris, for over a year. To date, though, the only released components of OpenSolaris are programs, such as DTrace, which arent parts of the operating system .
Recently, Sun appointed the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board. While this move may have sustained interest in OpenSolaris, insiders said, it still left unanswered the critical question of how Sun could open-source an operating system built around SCOs guarded Unix code.
Last fall, Sun officials maintained that the company had the appropriate intellectual property licensing rights to open-source Solaris.
"SCO is showing that it will fight for its Unix intellectual property rights with IBM, and Im sure Sun sees that," responded SCO PR Director Blake Stowell in September, to questions on Suns open-source licensing plans.
"Its hard for me to understand this [Sun open-sourcing Solaris]," said Dan Kusnetzky, IDCs program vice president for system software, in a September interview..
"While Sun prepaid their royalties for Unix a long time ago, they would still agree that it is a derivative work—it is Unix. The SCO Group is the current owner of Unix and is not at all likely to allow its intellectual property to be freely given away under any open-source license," Kusnetzky said.
CEO McBride on Tuesday declined to say at what level discussions had taken place between SCO and Sun—whether they were between the corporate in-house counsels or the companies executives. "SCO is now comfortable that its rights are being protected," he said.
Ziff Davis Internet News was unable to reach Sun executives for comment.