[H-GEN] OpenSolaris!

Benjamin Carlyle benjamincarlyle at optusnet.com.au
Sun Jan 30 00:03:45 EST 2005

On Fri, 2005-01-28 at 17:16 +0000, Robert Brockway wrote:

> On Sat, 29 Jan 2005, Benjamin Carlyle wrote:
> > Groklaw (among others) has been tracking the recent development of open
> > source Solaris, especially the CDDL license that Sun have released it
> > under. The "official" groklaw response can be found at:
> > http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050126023359386
> Although I must admin I have not reviewed CDDL I'm prepared to accept it 
> as an OSS licence on the endorsement of OSI, at lease for now.
> I don't agree that Sun is now competing with Linux (as stated in the 
> article).

As I understand the situation, the main problem is GPL-incompatibility.
The reason PJ sees OpenSolaris as competition to Linux is that combining
the sources of the two does not appear possible under the present legal
framework. To her mind, this sets OpenSolaris up in competition with
linux for developer resources and talent instead of allowing talent and
development effort to flow easily from one to the other.

The CDDL is directly derived from the MPL (Mozilla Public License) and
amounts basically to the same thing. Interestingly, while both licenses
appear to pass opensource.org scrutiny my ad hoc internet searching
(http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/06/msg00221.html) seems to
indicate that debian does not accept the MPL (am I right on that one?),
thus probably won't accept the CDDL. That seems strange, because the
debian free software guidelines are almost identical to the open source
definition at opensource.org.

I'm still feeling out a number of issues with respect to open source
licensing myself. Here is the text of my exploratory comment in response
to the article (I never like to say anything definite ;):

Title: Does GPL-compatability need to be broadened?

GPL-compatability is currently defined something like: "A compatable
license doesn't place any more restrictions on the user than the GPL
does itself". The FSF web site itself notes that clauses relating to
patents aren't necessarily a bad idea, but they do necessarily make a
license GPL-incompatabile.

Perhaps the concept of GPL-compability needs to be more broadly-defined
in future (GPLv3?). Perhaps it could be defined in terms of a controlled
and tweaked-as-necessary version of the open source definition, so that
restrictions could be included in a license so long as they don't break
the spirit of what it means to be open source.

It seems to me that if CDDL passes opensource.org's scrutiny and allows
arbitrary code to be used alongside it then it shouldn't be the GPL that
prevents combinations of CDDL and GPL works. The combination would
inherit the restrictions of both licenses so still would not be
closed-source-friendly. On the other hand, the GPL is currently based
around the assumption that it itself contains the true definition of
open source, and that presumably has merit. It certainly did at the time
it was written when the term "open source" was not yet invented.

I suppose in the end the point is moot, though. The combined
restrictions of both licenses would probably prove unacceptable to linux
kernel developers.

This comment was posted very late the in peace and has not received any

A lot depends on Sun's goals for OpenSolaris. Do they intend for it to
mainly benefit their existing customers and perhaps pull a few more
on-board, or do they intend to eventually challenge Linux as the de jour
open source operating system?

I, for one, am not surprised by this release initially being under the
CDDL only. It does seem like a reasonable license given the
circumstances, just as the MPL did in the early days of mozilla. I think
(and hope) that over time the open source experiment will prove
beneficial to all parties and that dual-licensing under the GPL or LGPL
will one day be possible. It does seem unlikely that the GPL camp will
move too far from its position regarding compatibility after all this
time. As the newcomer to open source, sun.com will eventually have to
expose itself to the GPL if it is to maximise its community support and
exposure. Eventually, I hope that this open source experiment leads to
benefits to open source operating system development everywhere.

Benjamin Carlyle <benjamincarlyle at optusnet.com.au>

More information about the General mailing list