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Sun Stalls on Open-Source Solaris

By Jennifer LeClaire LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Nov 5, 2004 9:26 AM PT

While Sun is hyping the impending release of Solaris 10, the newest version of its Unix-based operating system, debates about the company's plans to launch an open-source version of its software are reaching new heights.

Sun Stalls on Open-Source Solaris

Some analysts are calling it a risky move, others are calling it a no-brainer in the face of increasing competition from other vendors who have released source code. Still others wonder what Sun really hopes to accomplish with this open-source strategy.

IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky told LinuxInsider that Sun has repeatedly said and done things that set the teeth of the open-source community on edge.

"I'm not sure that Sun is going to reach its hand out and say let's create a brotherhood of Solaris and go forward," Kusnetzky said. "And I'm not sure how many members of the open-source community will grab the hand that's extended."

Sun Execs Back-Peddle on Release Date

In any case, Sun executives are now clamming up about details other than its price, which will be revealed at its quarterly SunNetwork Conference on November 15 at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

InformationWeek quoted Sun president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz as saying that licensing details are still under discussion with the open-source community and Open Source Initiative (OSI).

Sun still expects the release of all the major features of Solaris 10 under an "OSI-approved" license, but Schwartz has not provided any details about the form of the license.

SCO's Play Could Cause Further Delays

That, said analysts, could take longer than expected with 54 different open-source license architectures to consider, not counting the possibility that Sun could be developing its own license.

"Even if Sun goes through the exercise [of OSI approval], you could expect an immediate challenge from the SCO Group that will tie this whole process up in another venue, which is litigation," Kusnetzky said.

That brings up a thorny issue: intellectual property rights. The SCO Group, which has gained a reputation for being a litigious organization, owns Unix. Solaris is a derivative work of Unix, and Sun paid the former owner royalties for many years before the code ownership was transferred to SCO.

"It's rather difficult to understand how Sun is going to persuade the SCO Group to give up its rights to Unix," Kusnetzky said. "Sun is making the presumption that the intellectual property was given into Linux. That hasn't yet been proven in court."

Kusnetzky said Sun might find a way around SCO Group, but whether the Linux community will embrace an open-source Solaris remains to be seen. !--store:editorial:-->


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