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[Glug-nith-discuss] Battle of Titans Jonathan Vs. Linus

From: vijay.kumarmateti
Subject: [Glug-nith-discuss] Battle of Titans Jonathan Vs. Linus
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 11:47:44 +0530


As we see FOSS is getting ready for war with patents with GPLv3 nuke. We
see another player plunging into the scene. It's none but Sun

There was a nice flaming war going between Linus and Jonathan (Sun CEO).

This may and will pull linus from releasing Linux (kernel) under GPLv3.

Here it goes reply from Linus to one of mailinglist discussion

On Tue, 12 Jun 2007, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> Per this reasoning, Sun wouldn't be waiting for GPLv3, and it would
> have already released the OpenSolaris kernel under GPLv2, would it
> not? ;-)

Umm. You are making the fundamental mistake of thinking that Sun is in 
this to actually further some open-source agenda.

Here's a cynical prediction (but backed up by past behaviour of Sun):

 - first off: they may be talking a lot more than they are or ever will
   be doing. How many announcements about Sun and Linux have you seen
   the years? And how much of that has actually happened?

 - They may like open source, but Linux _has_ hurt them in the 
   marketplace. A lot.

   They almost used to own the chip design market, and it took quite a 
   long time before the big EDA vendors ported to Linux (and x86-64 in 
   particular). But when they did, their chip design market just
   disappeared: sparc performance is so horribly bad (especially on a 
   workstation kind of setup), that to do chip design on them is just 
   idiotic. Which is not to say that there aren't holdouts, but let's
   it, for a lot of things, Solaris is simply the wrong choice these

   Ergo: they sure as hell don't want to help Linux. Which is fine. 
   Competition is good.

 - So they want to use Linux resources (_especially_ drivers), but they
   *not* want to give anything back (especially ZFS, which seems to be
   of their very very few bright spots).

 - Ergo: they'll not be releasing ZFS and the other things that people
   drooling about in a way that lets Linux use them on an equal footing.
   can pretty much guarantee that. They don't like competition on that 
   level. They'd *much* rather take our drivers and _not_ give anythign 
   back, or give back the stuff that doesn't matter (like core Solaris: 
   who are you kidding - Linux code is _better_).

End result:

 - they'll talk about it. They not only drool after our drivers, they 
   drool after all the _people_ who write drivers. They'd love to get 
   kernel developers from Linux, they see that we have a huge amount of 
   really talented people. So they want to talk things up, and the more 
   "open source" they can position themselves, the better.

 - They may release the uninteresting parts under some fine license. See

   the OpenSolaris stuff - instead of being blinded by the code they
   release under an open source license, ask yourself what they did
   end up releasing. Ask yourself why the open source parts are not
   to bootstrap a competitive system, or why they are released under 
   licenses that Sun can make sure they control.

So the _last_ thing they want to do is to release the interesting stuff 
under GPLv2 (quite frankly, I think the only really interesting thing
have is ZFS, and even there, I suspect we'd be better off talking to 
NetApp, and seeing if they are interested in releasing WAFL for Linux).

Yes, they finally released Java under GPLv2, and they should be
for that. But you should also ask yourself why, and why it took so long.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that other Java
started being more and more relevant?

Am I cynical? Yes. Do I expect people to act in their own interests?
yes! That's how things are _supposed_ to happen. I'm not at all berating

Sun, what I'm trying to do here is to wake people up who seem to be
in some dream-world where Sun wants to help people. 

So to Sun, a GPLv3-only release would actually let them look good, and 
still keep Linux from taking their interesting parts, and would allow
to take at least parts of Linux without giving anything back (ahh, the 
joys of license fragmentation). 

Of course, they know that. And yes, maybe ZFS is worthwhile enough that 
I'm willing to go to the effort of trying to relicense the kernel. But 
quite frankly, I can almost guarantee that Sun won't release ZFS under
GPLv3 even if they release other parts. Because if they did, they'd lose

the patent protection.

And yes, I'm cynical, and yes, I hope I'm wrong. And if I'm wrong, I'll 
very happily retract anything cynical I said about Sun. They _have_ done

great things, and maybe I'm just too pessimistic about all the history 
I've seen of Sun with open source.

The _good_ news is that Jonathan Schwartz actually does seem to have
a difference, and I hope to God he is really as serious about 
open-sourcing things as he says he is. And don't get me wrong: I think a

truly open-source GPLv3 Solaris would be a really really _good_ thing, 
even if it does end up being a one-way street as far as code is



Jonathan replied back to this very wisely and in peaceful grounds 

An OpenSolaris/Linux Mashup

To non-technical readers of this blog, or those uninterested in the ebbs
and tides of the free software world... this might be a good entry to

I was just forwarded a pointer to this note regarding Sun and
OpenSolaris, written by the eponymous Linus Torvalds. And I wanted to
respond directly.



First, I'm glad you give credit to Sun for the contributions we've made
to the open source world, and Linux specifically - we take the
commitment seriously. It's why we freed OpenOffice, elements of Gnome,
Mozilla, delivered Java, and a long list of other contributions that
show up in almost every distro. Individuals will always define
communities, but Sun as a company has done its part to grow the market -
for others as much as ourselves.

But I disagree with a few of your points. Did the Linux community hurt
Sun? No, not a bit. It was the companies that leveraged their work. I
draw a very sharp distinction - even if our competition is conveniently
reckless. They like to paint the battle as Sun vs. the community, and
it's not. Companies compete, communities simply fracture.

And OpenSolaris has come a very long way since you last looked. It and
its community are growing, as a result of more than ZFS (although we
seem to be generating a lot of interest there, not all intentional) -
OpenSolaris scales on any hardware, has built in virtualization, great
web service infrastucture, fault management, diagnosability, and tons
more. Feel free to try for yourself (and yes, we're fixing
installability, no fair knocking us for that.)

Now despite what you suggest, we love where the FSF's GPL3 is headed.
For a variety of mechanical reasons, GPL2 is harder for us with
OpenSolaris - but not impossible, or even out of the question. This has
nothing to do with being afraid of the community (if it was, we wouldn't
be so interested in seeing ZFS everywhere, including Linux, with full
patent indemnity). Why does open sourcing take so long? Because we're
starting from products that exist, in which a diversity of contributors
and licensors/licensees have rights we have to negotiate. Indulge me
when I say It's different than starting from scratch. I would love to go
faster, and we are all doing everything under our control to accelerate
progress. (Remember, we can't even pick GPL3 yet - it doesn't officially
exist.) It's also a delicate dance to manage this transition while
growing a corporation.

But most of all, from where I sit, we should put the swords down -
you're not the enemy for us, we're not the enemy for you. Most of the
world doesn't have access to the internet - that's the enemy to slay,
the divide that separates us. By joining our communities, we can bring
transparency and opportunity to the whole planet. Are we after your
drivers? No more than you're after ZFS or Crossbow or dtrace - it's not
predation, it's prudence. Let's stop wasting time recreating wheels we
both need to roll forward.

I wanted you to hear this from me directly. We want to work together, we
want to join hands and communities - we have no intention of holding
anything back, or pulling patent nonsense. And to prove the sincerity of
the offer, I invite you to my house for dinner. I'll cook, you bring the
wine. A mashup in the truest sense.


President, Chief Executive Officer,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Hope the community and corporate may find new grounds to extend their


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