Sun Working Out Open-Source Solaris Details

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.