2 min read

Code word Legal

I guess you must’ve already heard that OpenSolaris is now ‘open’ for business. So, Sun has open sourced Solaris. Sun expects a cheering community and welcoming of OpenSolaris with a lot of fanfare ; but (unsurprisingly?) they are getting a lot of flak over the ‘Common Development and Distribution License’ that they have chosen for OpenSolaris. Groklaw has a detailed analysis of the license.

So far, this is what I’ve understood:

Sun says Solaris is powerful and something called DTrace is supposed to be a cool feature.

Groklaw says Sun is trying to hard to adapt to the new open and free world but they have taken only a half-step and didn’t go the whole way to make it GPLed

You can’t mix Linux code and Solaris code unless you’re really really careful about licensing issues

I say, did anybody miss that the license is OSI-certified ?!

Slashdotters say that Sun is trying to revive a dead OS i.e. trying do a Mozilla.

I think it boils down to this – will Sun succeed in building a community around OpenSolaris ? I personally think that’s difficult. Maybe for the simple reason that there’s too much confusion about mixing CDDL and GPLed code.

Is it just me or are you also fed up of legality taking over technology? I mean if you have to write a software and an open source one, first thing that matters is the license and the next thing is the code? If that part is decided, then comes the hovering problem of patents! I recently heard that patents are now applicable in India. I find it strange that I have somehow missed this announcement. Is this true? I thought only embedded software was patentable in India.

Even if that doesn’t appear to be an immediate problem, then comes the problem of how legal contributing code is. For example, some companies have the policy that any code that you write belongs to the company, even if you write it for an open source project (Wipro comes to mind…). I’m lucky that Y! has an open mind about such things.

Similar is the issues between DotGNU and Mono, the scuffle between them may have had personal overtones but I feel its the licensing that plays a role in keeping the two communities and projects apart from each other. On one hand, the DotGNU community is more about freedom and providing a choice and I like that. They have the code GPLed. On the other hand, Mono seems to be more about pragmatism. It is liberal in licensing and allows you to contribute code to their libraries under the X11 license which is the one of the most liberal licenses ever. I can easily contribute to both but what happens if I decide to use a part of the code in another project (say under a BSD license) or even a project at work? Does anybody know if this possible? Again, we get muddled up in legalities. Sigh.