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Newsflash: SCO Says Sun Can't GPL Solaris Without Its Permission

Newsflash: SCO Says Sun Can't GPL Solaris Without Its Permission

  • Sun: "Make No Mistake, We Will Open Source Solaris"

    "Sun has broader rights than any other Unix licensee," acknowledged SCO Group marketing manager Marc Modersitzki, in an interview today, "[but] they still have licence restrictions that would prevent them from contributing our licensed works wholesale to the GPL."

    In other words, Sun can't open source Solaris, as announced/leaked last week (Jonathan Schwartz: "Make no mistake, we will open-source Solaris."). Not under the GPL and without reference to its Unix System V license with SCO, anyhow.

    Sun has yet to comment today on SCO's statement, but Sun's Open Source Programs Manager Danese Cooper has in the meantime blogged very enlightingly on the whole subject of the Sun announcement - from Shanghai, by president and COO Jonathan Schwartz - in the first place.

    "This whole business of 'leaking' information is fascinating to me," Cooper writes. "This story has actually been 'leaked' at least 3 times that I know of already: First by Anil Gadre all the way back in January of 2000 in the Wall Street Journal (so long ago that I can't find a link for it), then again in 2002 in interviews with Rob Gingell and most recently last December by Jonathan Schwartz."

    "So, what's going on with all this leaking?" she asks rhetorically.

    Here is her own answer to the question:

    "At companies I've worked for I've seen executives 'leak' news when they wanted to test the waters, both inside and outside a company. You might ask why they don't just file a regular story? Well, leaks are interesting. It feels like you're learning something you're not supposed to know. In my experience executive 'leaks' are almost never unintentional, however.

    In the old days at Apple (before Steve Jobs came back), MacWeek and similar magazines devoted whole columns to handling leaks put out with varying degrees of intention by product groups. In fact those columns were the best way for Apple employees to find out what was going on because internal communication was terrible. If your "rumor" got published the magazine sent you a coffee mug (which you could only use at home, although I remember one gutsy product manager who used his at work)! Reaction to well-placed rumors helped many an executive decide what to do. If the reaction was disastrous, it was only a leak after all."
    "So, I always remember that there are two audiences for every leak," Cooper concludes, "The public and the private (company internal) audience reaction to a given piece of news may be very different."

    "'Leaking' helps gauge reaction and helps close the gap when internal and public opinions don't match and helps move a decision along," she continues. "This is a reality of doing business today in hi-tech. Change is hard and almost nobody likes it. Getting used to the idea of a big change is sometimes best handled in small (leaky) increments."

    Perhaps SCO will take a leaf out of the Danese Cooper book, and 'leak' what it expects Sun to do in response to its objections to any notions of one day releasing the source of Solaris under GPL.

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    SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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    Most Recent Comments
    iJed 06/09/04 11:21:39 AM EDT

    I seriously doubt that SCO will still exist when Sun gets round to opening the Solaris source. Then again I doubt that SCO will survive the rest of this year! Their rediculous claims will be proven to be ridiculous in court soon.

    Smallpond 06/09/04 09:19:24 AM EDT

    Solaris source code has been available for a long time to qualified educational institutions, developers and computer hackers:

    Solaris Source Code Program for Education

    Open Source doesn't mean free to copy in this case. They allow people to look at the source so that they can develop code and suggest improvements. They would be very upset if their code found its way into Linux, for example.

    anon 06/09/04 09:17:35 AM EDT

    Well, this response from SCO serves Sun Microsystems right for having previously been one of the few companies to cave in and pay SCO the stupid "SCO license" for Linux/Solaris. Now it's coming back to bite them.

    liamo 06/09/04 09:15:45 AM EDT

    Hmmm. I wonder if Sun expected this response from SCO, allowing them to say "Well, we offered" without actually opening anything.

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