Sun Thinking About GPL3…

So some important movement by Sun. See Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog: Thinking About GPL3… I said before in 42: Today IT has changed for ever that taking Solaris and much of the rest of Suns software to be Open Source was a big big change for the world. But…

if Solaris etc go GPL then this really does change the world of software for ever in an even bigger way.

Suddenly all the restrictions that allow code sharing between Linux and Solaris will disappear. Although Linus is against using GPL 3 in the Linux Kernel that should not affect distributions doing so.

I am not sure whether this means Solaris has not been getting as much support as wanted or if it arises from the work on free Solaris releases that use GPL code. Either way for the general world, if not for Sun as a company, this is good news.

Properly free software is going to be setting a lot of agendas for the future of business, trade, politics and community.

Particularly for anyone with an interest in ethics, free software is incredibly important. I can remember ethical dilemmas when needing software in countries where a) even if you paid full price you know the copies you bought locally were illegal, b) all computers came with a full set of illegal software already installed, c) copies bought in the UK were (in theory) only for the UK, d) UK prices were so far beyond ability to pay for many countries.

Now of course it is much simpler. You don’t need any illegal or proprietary software. There are few reasons to want expensive proprietary software if you live in a poorer economy. Also the localisation of Linux is often far better, especially for poor or small language groups.

The key ethical challenge is now for the Western branches of multi-national charities and other organisations working with partners around the world. While we may be able to afford modern powerful PC’s running the latest versions of Windows and MS Office our partners should not be made to do the same. I hope that we will see a strong move by Charities and other NGO’s to accept open file formats in preference to MS formats. This is a powerful move in favour of good ethics. It is also one where the EU have been setting a good example.

2 thoughts on “Sun Thinking About GPL3…

  1. allistair banon

    Why do you say Solaris is having troubles – I see it being adopted everywhere I look. If Solaris goes GPL, I’d say Linus is going to have to start convincing the world his kernel is better for reasons other than politics.

  2. DaveW

    I did not say Solaris is having troubles. I simply wondered (as I am sure everyone else does) what is the motivation for change. In other words why not GPL at first? Sun might be considering GPL now because GPL v3 is better, because they are struggling to get enough attention without it being GPL, because there is GPL stuff that people are using in Solaris distributions and this will solve it, or 1,000 other reasons. I don’t know. For me it does not matter as I think it is good news anyway.
    As for a GPL Solaris getting Linus worried. Again not me, I think having Linux and Solaris being license compatible would be a great thing.
    Also Linux not being commercial in the same way means that I have never been very worried about how popular it is (when I started using it in 1998 it was not very popular :-)


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