Linux Magazine's CDDL article: a rebuttal
Being a true blue (or should that be purple?) Solaris advocate, I don't usually read Linux Magazine. But when I heard that Jason Perlow had written an article about Sun's license for OpenSolaris, the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL, usually pronounced "cuddle"), in February's issue, I decided to check it out. What could have been a very interesting and balanced article turned out to be nothing more than anti-CDDL FUD. (BTW, this is not necessarily an attack on Jason personally: I thought his article about Skype's VOIP was quite interesting.) I'll go through his article and address the FUD piece by piece.
People are irritable, depressed, and frustrated, and they vent that by giving you really horrendous gifts--like the [CDDL], a wonderful, new, GPL-incompatible license that Sun Microsystems will use to distribute Solaris as open source.
Let's get this straight: it is the GPL that is incompatible with the CDDL (and many other OSI-approved licenses), not vice-versa. The CDDL explicitly allows code available under other licenses to be mixed with CDDL code, provided the language of the other license allows it. GPLed code can only be mixed with other GPLed code; such is its viral nature. Perhaps Jason was so irritable, depressed, and frustrated that he vented by writing such a vitriolic article?
Another open source license is like fruitcake: nobody wants it, you have to douse it with a lot of alcohol before injesting some, and even after that, you still feel constipated.
Why the harsh words? One wonders if Mozilla, which is distributed under the MPL that CDDL is based on, suffered such harsh words when it was released... At least Jason admits to liking Sun's technology, and even admits that Solaris 10 is "that good".
But mass adoption of Solaris will never happen with Sun's current plans to release it under the CDDL... Why does Sun need to give us yet another restrictive license that is completely incompatible with the GPL?... Instead, Sun releases the whole damn thing under a dog license like the CDDL, ensuring that nothing will ever make its way into other open source projects.
Again, it is the GPL that is incompatible with CDDL, not vice-versa. And here's a newsflash, Jason: not all open source projects are GPL-licensed. CDDL licensed code can quite easily be mixed with non-CDDL code, provided that the other code's license allows it. There's nothing to prevent a BSD-licensed project from using CDDL code, for example.
Oh, and with more than half a million downloads (two thirds of which were for x86) less than a month after its release, I'd say that "mass adoption" is only a metter of time...
Perhaps its just me, but does anyone else find it particularly obnoxious that Sun finds it completely acceptable to embrace GPL technologies like GNOME and Xfree86 in Solaris, while at the same time prevents cross-polination of Solaris technology to GPL projects with the CDDL? Sun's strategy is a one-way street...
OK, this bit really pissed me off, because it implies that Sun is quite happy to take from the GPL open source community, but gives nothing back. This is quite ludicrous: Sun GPLed the whole of the OpenOffice code base, and they have donated significant resources to projects like GNOME. They've also donated to other projects, like Apache and BIND. In fact, Sun has probably done more for the open source community than IBM, Red Hat, and SuSE put together. The difference is that IBM and the others fly the Linux flag, which I think is the crux of the matter. Jason, and many other of the more extreme Linux advocates (I'm trying hard not to paint all LInux advocates with the same brush), seems to equate Linux and open source. Here's a newsflash guys: Linux isn't the be all and end all of open source, a point all our friends in the BSD camps will agree with.
I think the bottom line is this: die-hard Linux enthusiasts are either scared of Solaris, or are just hiding their heads in the sand. Now, don't get me wrong: despite being a Solaris advocate, I think that Linux has its place. But it also has a long way to go before it catches up to Solaris, from a technical perspective. Apart from mindshare and hype, the only advantage one can gain by using Linux instead of Solaris is the former's arguably better device support. I say "arguably better" because although many devices are "supported" by Linux, the quality of that support varies greatly. And the number of devices supported, and supported well, by Solaris is growing almost by the day. It won't be too long before the device support differences will be moot, and then there won't be any reason (religous and philosophical issues aside) to use Linux over Solaris, while the latter will still have technical advantages over the former. Especially for ISVs, but that's another story for another blog entry...
[Technorati tag: Solaris]