The Haus

Sunday, May 2, 2004

GPL'd Solaris?

[Before I start, I'd just like to say that I have to laugh whenever anyone, including myself, uses "GPL" as a verb.] According to this InfoWorld article, Sun is at least considering releasing a version of Solaris under the GPL. I'm sure that our man Qbe would be interested in that. Thanks Linux Today.

Sun seems to have a real love/hate relationship with Linux and the GPL. On the one hand, they want to profit from it wherever possible. On the other, they say that the GPL encourages forking and offer Red Hat as evidence of how Linux has been forked. Exqueeze me? Red Hat may not be everyone's idea Linux distro, but it's hardly a fork. I also like the "open source does not mean open standards" comment, as if closed source companies have such an excellent record of transparancy and interoperability. Somewhat in Sun's braintrust (if such a word is even appropriate) really needs to figure out who they are and what direction the company should go.

The Master comments: Well, since Sun accepted an absolutely massive settlement amount from M$ in the last month, they seem to be doing their best to sing the Microsoft party line, and yet not cut themselves off like SCO did. We'll see how long it all lasts.

J.t.Qbe comments: This is kind of ironic--this morning I started downloading Solaris 9 for an old Sparcstation I just got from work. All day today (Monday) I've been trying to think of an upside for Sun in GPLing Solaris but keep coming up short.

On the other hand, Sun desperately needs change to survive (and I do have a very personal interest in Sun's survival). Sun's traditional business has been expensive hardware running Solaris, but many companies (including our department) are finding it cheaper to buy powerful Intel hardware and run Linux than to pay for Sun hardware and support. Java's days are numbered too, I think.

Sun's a big company and has (or had, I should say) a lot of brainpower. However, the glory days of big hardware are passing away and some of the chief brains are gone. If Sun decides to GPL Solaris, it'll probably be hoping that it can transform itself into a Red Hat-like outfit. Sun has a tough road ahead, though, no matter what road it decides to take.

News for 05/02/2004

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