There is a very interesting back-and-forth going on between Linux creator Linus Torvalds writing on the Linux kernel mailing list and Jonathan Schwartz, President and CEO of Sun Microsystems writing in his blog. Despite the different fora the two actually seem to be talking to each other as well as their respective audiences.
A year and a half ago Mr. Schwartz posted to his blog about possibly releasing Solaris under dual Open Source licenses, CDDL and GPL v3. Never mind that GPL v3 doesn’t exist yet and certainly wasn’t finalized a year and a half ago. This was one of Sun’s many pronouncements about their support for Open Source that seemed to have very little substance behind it.
Fast forward to yesterday and Linus’ post to the kernel mailing list in a discussion about the possibility of dual licensing the kernel under GPL v2 and v3. While Linus acknowledges positive contributions made by Sun he is very skeptical about their motives and about what, if anything, interesting they may release under any form of the GPL. While I share his skepticism I applaud his decision to be civil towards Sun and to say that he hopes he’s wrong. Read the whole post — it’s very interesting and informative.
Today Jonathan Schwartz responded. I must say he did nothing to allay my skepticism but… at least a discussion is taking place and a Sun commitment to Open Source and the GPL has been reiterated.
Having said all that, you should also read the comments in Mr. Schwartz’ blog. Here is a portion of a comment by Theo de Raadt that I found particularly insightful:
Sun gets great press out of UltraSPARC being all “open”, but what use is supervisor-mode documentation when the rest of the chips that the supervisor-mode code has to communicate with are entirely undocumented??? The press does not spot this problem, but Jonathan, you should clearly understand this is a fallacy. There are two operating systems which surprisingly do not run on the Sun v215/v245 — Linux and OpenSolaris. OpenSolaris?? Yes — Sun isn’t even open enough to give the OpenSolaris community enough documentation to support their new machines. So I think that Linus is right, and Sun has a long road ahead.
Like the eminent Mr. Torvalds I’d like to be wrong about this. Time will tell. Hey, at least Linus got a dinner invitation out of it :) Oh, and I also agree with Linus that WAFL for Linux would be awesome and ZFS for Linux would be interesting.
Tip of the hat to eauster on the Vector Linux forum for making me aware of this even if I am not as optimistic as he is.