While Sun Microsystems is open to licensing Solaris under Version 3.0 of the GNU General Public License, it will not reconsider its decision not to license the operating system under GPL 2.0, the current version of the license.
Sun created the CDDL (Community Development and Distribution License) for Solaris after rejecting GPL 2.0 as too restrictive for its purposes.
Sun will not consider licensing Solaris under the current GPL for the same reasons it gave when it created the CDDL, which is based in large part on the MPL (Mozilla Public License), Tom Goguen, Suns vice president of software marketing, told eWEEK in an interview.
“We wanted to enable as broad a development community as possible around Solaris, and one part of that is being able to prescribe what you can and cannot do with the code, what other code you can combine with it, and exactly how to do it,” he said.
This is one of the strengths of the MPL, on which Sun modeled the CDDL, compared with the “all-or-nothing scenario under the current GPL, which also says nothing about patents, and Im not sure how far the next version will go there,” he said.
While Sun is not taking a position on software patents, it will not disagree that most people feel they are very problematic, “but they are the one instrument that we have to work with today, and so we needed a license that addressed that,” he said.
Suns refusal to reconsider licensing Solaris under GPL 2.0 also appears to effectively remove any chance that code from that software can be co-mingled with that from the open-source Linux operating system, which is currently licensed under GPL 2.0. Thats because Linus Torvalds, the Linux kernel project leader, has said that he has no plans to relicense the Linux kernel under GPL 3.0 when it is released early next year.
“I dont think the GPL 3.0 conversion is going to happen for the kernel, since I personally dont want to convert any of my code,” Torvalds said.
Thus, if the Linux kernel code does not get licensed under GPL 3.0, even if Solaris does, the current restrictions on the co-mingling of code from the two operating systems will essentially remain in force.
In fact, when Sun submitted the CDDL to the Open Source Initiative for approval, Claire Giordano, a member of Suns CDDL team, said as much in a letter accompanying the submission.
“Like the Mozilla Public License, the CDDL is not expected to be compatible with the GPL [2.0], since it contains requirements that are not in the GPL. Thus, it is likely that files released under the CDDL will not be able to be combined with files released under the GPL to create a larger program,” she said.
Asked what the benefit of licensing Solaris under GPL 3.0 would be given the fact that developers would not be able to use, exchange or intermingle code from Solaris and Linux, Goguen said that remains the challenge.
“Thats the challenge, to see what is going to happen in that space,” he said. “I cant say. I dont know what Linus [Torvalds] is ultimately going to do. This is very early in the GPL 3.0 process.”
Sun President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz first floated the possibility of dual-licensing Solaris on his blog last week, saying that diversity and choice are important, “which is why weve begun looking at the possibility of releasing Solaris (and potentially the entire Solaris Enterprise System), under dual open source licenses,” he said.
The CDDL would allow customer intellectual property to co-mingle with Solaris source code as well as GPL 3.0, but “its early days,” Schwartz acknowledged.
Goguen agreed, pointing out that Sun has not made any decisions with regard to the possible dual licensing of Solaris, given that the discussion process around the draft GPL 3.0 is expected to continue for much of this year, but is simply expressing its openness to such a possibility.
The licensing of Solaris under GPL 3.0, if that happens, would also take some time. “The long and the short of it is that it took us five years to get to the point where we could license Solaris under the CDDL,” Goguen said. “While Im not implying it will take us that long to license it under GPL 3.0, the process does take some time.”
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