Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Nov 2007 19:49 UTC
Sun Solaris, OpenSolaris Erstwhile bitter rivals Dell and Sun Microsystems are set to announce that Sun's Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems will be supported in all of Dell's servers. Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell and Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz plan to make the announcement during a joint appearance at the Oracle OpenWorld 2007 conference today.
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The only pragmatic argument against OpenSolaris from a Linux perspective is license fragmentation. Otherwise it's great. However, this is a big problem, and it will become more annoying for both communities, not to mention ISV/IHVs, as time goes on.

To use a political analogy... Imagine a young democracy devoid of major political parties where politicians advance their own platforms independently. Then, someone comes up with the bright idea of forming a broad alliance to advance and protect certain ideals, convinced that, united, their coalition will one day dominate the national politics.

Nobody spoke up and asked, "What if, at some point in the future, somebody starts a second party that's mostly like our's, but which differs on some contentious wedge issues? Wouldn't that be bad for everybody?"

So now we have a two-party system for free software platforms (along with some independent libertarians that advocate the BSD), and each party has a binding pact not to ever cooperate with the other. It's a sad state of affairs, and pointing fingers isn't going to help. Both sides are partially at fault, the general principle of copyleft is at fault, and a copyright system that wasn't designed for organic, collaborative development is especially at fault.

We need a compromise. How about this: Let's agree to relicense both Linux (painstaking as it would be) and OpenSolaris under the LGPLv3. The projects would also have to agree on whether or not to eliminate the anti-Tivoization language. Linux would be strictly LGPLv3-only, and while all of OpenSolaris to which Sun owns the copyright would be LGPLv3, third parties would have the option of linking arbitrarily-licensed source files.

To enforce this policy, the Linux kernel project would designate a very small portion of the kernel that's vital to Linux but highly unlikely to be useful to other projects as a copyleft "seed". They would license this seed under the GPLv3 with an explicit LGPLv3 linking exception. Then nobody would be able to distribute a Linux kernel linked with non-LGPLv3 code.

This empowers bidirectional code sharing between the projects while satisfying much of their respective licensing requirements. From Sun's perspective, the LGPLv3 is very similar to the CDDL. Linux could preserve the incentive for third parties to contribute free software, and while mixed-source projects could merge LGPLv3 code from Linux, file-granular reciprocity would still be required.

Just an idea... I'm glad that OpenSolaris brings more competition and visibility to free software, but the whole idea behind free software is that competition and collaboration aren't mutually exclusive. We can share to exploit our common interests without compromising our mutual ability to differentiate. Linux and OpenSolaris have different visions, and the ability to share code can't change that.

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