Will Sun License OpenSolaris Under GPLv3?
January 22, 2007 1 Comment
A recent eWeek article intimates that Sun will dual license OpenSolaris under the GPLv3 once it's officially released. Rich Green points out that no decisions will be made until after the GPLv3 is officially released, but indicates that Sun is in discussions with the community regarding the detailed terms of GPLv3. He also notes that he's happy with the current progress. That makes a lot of sense and I'd certainly not expect Sun to commit to a license that isn't even released yet. Putting that aside for a moment, let's assume that Sun does like the final terms of the GPLv3 (WARNING: there is no way to know whether that will be the case, this is just speculation based on that assumption). Dual licensing OpenSolaris under the GPLv3 would be an interesting move with a lot of up side for Sun. OpenSolaris is currently a bit of a step child to some in the Open Source community due to the CDDL. Releasing under the GPLv3 would allow Sun to use a license with some street cred while also keeping the code out of the Linux kernel. This is because Linus has made it extremely clear that the kernel will remain GPLv2 only. I've already mentioned that the GPLv2/v3 split has a chance to create a small fissure in parts of the community. We're used to a large number of licenses, but the GPL is a very dominant one.
However, a move of this nature could attract significantly more developer attention for OpenSolaris. I've seen speculation that Sun may encourage some Linux developers to dual license their code under the GPLv2 and GPLv3, but that makes little sense to me. To make it back upstream into OpenSolaris proper, the code would also need to be licensed under the CDDL. Note that is my understanding of how things would need to work. I am not a lawyer and a three license scenario is far behind what I'm able to properly grok. Back to actual code, I've already said how much I like DTrace and Sun is doing some interesting things elsewhere. The ability to increase collaboration and share code should be beneficial to all, even if kernel-to-kernel code flow is prohibited. Much of the early Linux growth came at the expense of Solaris and the other proprietary UNIX variants (not Windows, as many seem to think) so it's hard to gage what impact this may have on commercial and enterprise Linux uptake. For now, it's a moot point. Once the GPLv3 is actually released however, it will be something to keep an eye on.
(Note: I had typed a much longer version of this post that contained some additional thoughts and ideas. Firefox crashed as I was hitting submit and this is a quick reconstruction of my thoughts. Hopefully I've hit on all the salient points of my original post.)
OpenSolaris, Sun, Linux, Open Source, GPL, GPLv3