OpenBSD’s Battle For UltraSparc III Documentation

In late November of 2002, OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt announced on the project’s mailing lists that after over a year of attempting to obtain useful UltraSparc III documentation, they had still not made much headway. In the email he rallied the OpenBSD community to help out, asking them to contact the people within Sun responsible for providing such information. C/Net reported on this in their story titled, Open-source clan in spat with Sun. The UltraSparc III is Sun’s third generation 64-bit RISC architecture based processor.Sun boasts their UltraSparc III as an “open” architecture, yet seem to recognize that there is insufficient information freely available for the open source community to support it with operating systems. I have been told that the required documentation does exist, however, with a Sun part number of 805-0408-05-P. An early version of this manual was allegedly made available to Linux developers once a Confidential Disclosure Agreement was signed (Sun’s version of a Non-Disclosure Agreement), however no such offer has been made to the OpenBSD team, an offer that if made is likely counter to the project’s goals.

I attempted to discuss this issue with Danese Cooper who works in Sun’s Open Source Programs Office, with as of yet limited results. My goal is to gain a clear understanding of Sun’s official position on this situation, something that to date they seem unwilling to discuss with me. My continued attempts to get direct answers are described here.


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