Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sun joins open-source-hating corporate club

Filed under
OSS

Sun Microsystems president Jonathan Schwartz last week justified the company's controversial open-source strategy with an attack on the GPL (GNU General Public Licence), which he characterised as a tool allowing United States businesses to pillage developing countries of their intellectual property.

The attack represents a new tactic for Sun, which is trying to attract interest in its OpenSolaris project and fend off criticism of its decision to keep Java under proprietary lock and key. While the company hopes to create an image of itself as an open-source leader - and to reap the development work of the open-source developer community - Schwartz's speech to the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco last week was reminiscent of Microsoft's anti-GPL rhetoric.

The speech came on the heels of Sun's announcement of the five members of its OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board, intended to help develop and guide a developer community around the open-source version of Sun's flagship Solaris operating system. The board includes Roy Fielding, the co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation - the Apache Web server is one of the more visible open-source successes. The board also includes two outside Solaris developers and two members from Sun.

Like Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who once compared the GPL to Pac-Man, and president Steve Ballmer, who famously called the GPL a "cancer" feeding off of intellectual property, Schwartz believes the licence goes too far. On top of the danger to respectable business practices, he argued the GPL is "IP colonialism", a threat to poorer countries who need to use intellectual property to compete in the world marketplace.
On those countries the GPL imposes "a rather predatory obligation to [give back] all their IP to the wealthiest nation in the world", the United States, which developed the GPL, Schwartz said, according to various reports.

He took a swipe at the GPL's creators, implying they are more interested in social economic ideals than "intellectual property models". The GPL was originally created by Richard Stallman in the 1980s for use with the GNU (GNU's Not Unix) project.

Like Microsoft's GPL attacks, Schwartz's talk was designed to reflect Sun's own efforts in a better light - in this case Schwartz talked up Sun's Community Development and Distribution License (CDDL), which will cover OpenSolaris. Sun is introducing more permissive licences for Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE), the Java Internal Use License (JIUL) and the Java Distributed License (JDL), to take effect next year, but these don't qualify as open-source. Sun has always argued open-sourcing Java would lead to the development of incompatible forks, something critics dismiss as far-fetched.

Audaciously enough, Schwartz even levelled criticism at companies who talk up open-source while keeping their own products proprietary, though he didn't mention specific examples. Such companies would eventually be unmasked as hypocrites, Schwartz said.

Open-source developers continue to support the GPL, apparently unaware of its evil. The Freshmeat project-tracking site currently lists about 68 percent of its projects as covered by the GPL; the next most popular licence is the Lesser GPL (LGPL), at about 6 percent. The licence also covers the majority of projects on SourceForge, the biggest online open-source development management system. The Linux operating system kernel and many components, the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), the Samba networking system and other high-profile projects use the GPL.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Feral Interactive Ports Life Is Strange to Linux and Mac, Episode 1 Is Now Free

Feral Interactive has recently announced that they have managed to successfully port the popular, award-winning Life Is Strange game to GNU/Linux and Mac OS X operating systems. Read more

Introduction to Modularity

Modularity is an exciting, new initiative aimed at resolving the issue of diverging (and occasionally conflicting) lifecycles of different “components” within Fedora. A great example of a diverging and conflicting lifecycle is the Ruby on Rails (RoR) lifecycle, whereby Fedora stipulates that itself can only have one version of RoR at any point in time – but that doesn’t mean Fedora’s version of RoR won’t conflict with another version of RoR used in an application. Therefore, we want to avoid having “components”, like RoR, conflict with other existing components within Fedora. Read more

Our First Look at Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon

Now that I’ve had about a week to play around in Mint 18, I find a lot to like and have no major complaints. While Cinnamon probably isn’t destined to become my desktop of choice, I don’t dislike it and find it, hands down, the best of the GNOME based desktops I’ve tried so far. Anybody looking for a powerful, all purpose distro that’s designed to work smoothly and which can be mastered with ease would be hard pressed to find anything better. Read more

The subtle art of the Desktop

The history of the Gnome and KDE desktops go a long way back and their competition, for the lack of a better term, is almost as famous in some circles as the religious divide between Emacs and Vi. But is that competition stil relevant in 2016? Are there notable differences between Gnome and KDE that would position each other on a specific segment of users? Having both desktops running on my systems (workstation + laptop) but using really only one of them at all times, I wanted to find out by myself. My workstation and laptop both run ArchLinux, which means I tend to run the latest stable versions of pretty much any desktop software. I will thus be considering the latest stable versions from Gnome and KDE in this post. Historically, the two environments stem from different technical platforms: Gnome relies on the GTK framework while KDE, or more exactly the Plasma desktop environment, relies on Qt. For a long time, that is until well into the development of the Gnome 3.x platform, the major difference was not just technical, it was one of style and experience. KDE used to offer a desktop experience that was built along the lines of Windows, with a start center on the bottom left, a customizable side bar, and desktop widgets. Gnome had its two bars on the top and bottom of the screen, and was seemingly used as the basis for the first design of Mac OS X, with the top bar offering features that were later found in the Apple operating system. Read more