Sun, do you REALLY care about Free Software?

I don’t know about you all, but I’m starting to get really excited and concerned all at the same time about all of this Sun going for Free Software talk. I’m excited because it would be the first time a major corporation moved its flagship products into Free Software and still managed to make money (thus proving that there are ways to keep the accountants happy without restricting people). I’m concerned because I find it difficult to believe that Sun really intends to make this giant leap.
For the longest time now Sun has been one of the kings of proprietary unix flavors, and its Java libraries and runtimes have been proprietary since day one as well. Sun is without a doubt one of the biggest players in proprietary software. We were all quite pleasantly surprised when we discovered that Java will now start moving to GPLv2 with the classpath exception.
It still seems like they’re holding back. I see a lot of the use of the term “open” still, even though I do see Sun using the word “free” a lot… which is very good. Sun definitely seems to be going in the right direction, and I hope that they succeed–even financially (business isn’t bad)–with their endeavors in Free Software. I really hope that they sincerely intend to free their collection of software, and don’t stop until they’ve got a library of completely Free Software. The CDDL isn’t as strong a copyleft as I like, but it certainly gets the job done.
If Sun really does move towards Free Software, I’ll definitely welcome them to the family and even consider buying some of their hardware. Mmm… freedom!

4 Replies to “Sun, do you REALLY care about Free Software?”

  1. I definitly recomment watching the Freeing Java talk from fosdem. Some higher Sun guy explaining their strategy.
    Was quite convincing for me. Sun opening up java did not come as that much of a surprise anyway. They have been preparing that for a long time. I was way more surprised to see them opening Solaris.
    Anyway lots of great news coming from suns side. They also seem to be quite involved in gnome developement – which i really welcome.

  2. opening (and freeing) of JAVA is _true_
    java 7 will be gpl2. it’s not “would” or “should”, it’s _will_ , a fact , a truth
    no more doubt
    I saw (meetings and conferences) enough sun talk with sun employees about future of java to have understand the message : “YES it’s True Dammit!”
    some part of java are already gpl (hotspot for example, it’s not insignifiant)
    some stuff (2D rasterization for example) are still IP-encumbered. it will stop java 6 to be free(dom), but Sun is sure the code will be rewritten in 2007. not 2009 or 2050 : 2007
    Java 7 is announced for 2008, maybe 2009. but we will see a gpl source of all sun java classes for developpers before that.
    it’s not IF, it’s REAL. Sun is REALLY freeing 6 MILLIONS of Source Code.
    they’re REALLY moving from a proprietary software control source code to an open one (cvs or subversion, I forgot) , _now_.
    they are working on it from one year.
    they will not stop until all java is free.

  3. here is an experiment: Try and download a solaris install iso without having to sign up for a user account and give personal information.

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