Licenses, open source Contributions, etc.

02 Feb '05 - 17:24 by benr

See, this is the stuff I don't like.... politics, legal crap, etc. It's time spent dealing with things that don't directly advance a project from the standpoint of the individual developer, hence the desire to just use MIT or BSD licenseing, or go with the GPL flow, and be done with the whole thing. Figured I'd put up some links to various things on the topic of interest:

Maybe that helps people out. I couldn't find any projects being contributed by Dell, more than likely their just working closely with Red Hat rather than doing things in house. If you look at the sites above, SGI has really contributed quite a lot and was one of the first to get serious (XFS rules!). IBM and Sun are both major contributers. I find it hard to say that one is more commited or contributes more, they simple differ in what they contribute too. For instance, both IBM and Sun have contributed to Apache and Mozilla, but IBM tends to really like some deeper technologies closely linked with Linux such as Xen while Sun focuses more on desktop and infrastructure project.

People keep trying to duke it out with me over whether Sun or IBM is more commited to open source. And really, it's a hard discussion to have because it depends on which side of the street you are and where you want to go. IBM generally seems to embrase open source projects as their own, as an example look at this: sHype Hypervisor Security Architecture for Xen. In this one example IBM didn't march in and take things over, or fork, or anything, they decided that Xen was something they liked but needed to extend capability further than it current supported and they'd leverage existing R&D (sHype) to do it. Thats definately a sensable and really kool way to approach it. IBM's GPL offerings have been nifty too (JFS rules too!). In general you get a feeling that IBM is leveraging existing project to move their offerings in the direction they want by combining IBM R&D and engineering with community efforts in a pretty smooth way. "The communties got it, we could use it, we can help", might be what IBM could say.

Sun takes a diffrent angle. Whereas IBM is leveraging a lot of external open source projects and basing offerings on Linux, Sun isn't looking outward, but inward. Sun (and it's userbase) like the technology already avalible but want to extend and build on that rather than simply embrace Linux like other vendors are doing. Case in point, Sun could have embraced Abiword or Koffice, but instead chose to start up OpenOffice. Both IBM and Sun had a choice, in a sense, open up your own OS (AIX and Solaris) or just embrace whats already open (Linux). IBM choose to go with the external code (Linux) and Sun with the internal code (Solaris). There is nothing inherently evil about this. Much of the anger seems to be that Sun was supposed to (so they think) join the Linux tea party and leave Solaris behind like IBM choose to, but thats just not in Sun's blood. Sun, mainly due to Scott's firm leadership (say what you will), charts a pretty straight course, making small divergances here and there to support something new, but not major shifts. IBM is, in a sense, used to supporting multiple OS's, looking just at z/OS, AIX, OS/400, and now Linux to name just a few. Sun doesn't do that, they won't split dev into two equal Linux and Solaris groups, because Solaris is the Sun direction, Linux is a Sun choice (want it? buy it from Sun) but not a source of major development. But the open source world is much much bigger than just kernels, which is why Sun is involved in alot of non-kernel projects.

Sun is giving to the world what it has to offer and IBM is giving to the worlds offers what it has to add. These are two polar ways to go about it all, and naturally why so many battles break own. If your on the Linux side of the street your naturally gonna prefer that IBM add features and functionality to the Linux kernel. If your Solaris side of the street you really feel like your missing out on the ability to extend and modify that platform for your needs like the Linux guys can extend and modify Linux. Neither side is wrong, but Sun believes in it's products so much that it will open them to the world and let everyone play rather than just toss in the towel and move to Linux, whether you agree or not that should mean something.


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very strong analysis.

a point though – actually Sun acquired a german company called star i think, and built on that for openoffice… they just didnt choose abiword or k-office.
[[http://www.google.com/search?q=sun+sta..]]

it was not NIH, it was pragmatic. you have to say they made the right choice architecturally. the openess of the formats is beginning to drive some real innovation.

James Governor (Email) (URL) - 02 February '05 - 21:03

Sun also contributed NFSv4 (at least for the linux implementation).

Rayson Ho - 02 February '05 - 23:48

Damnit, good call James… I totally forgot about that. Very true indeed, thanks for pointing that out.

Rayson: Ya, definately, in fact Sun contributed several other things along the same lines, and you can go so far as to point out that many of the things found in Linux (or any other UNIX/UNIX-like OS) were based directly on Sun standards such as NFS, RPC, etc. Although, as we’ve seen from Sun so far, when Scott talks about Open Source and Open Standards in the same sentance we all get in trouble.

benr - 03 February '05 - 02:43

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dakota (Email) (URL) - 13 June '06 - 22:23

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