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Sun Microsystems

Sun plans open source Solaris? 48

Richard Leyton writes "Computergram (Published by Computerwire) today reports that Sun is working on a strategy to enable it to move Solaris to the open source model *without* stepping on the toes of the Linux Community. Corporate quote reads: "Linux is good for Solaris, but Linux is not a corporate community". They don't want their intentions being misunderstood. Problems exist with royalty and various agreements it's made, but is actively looking for issues that would prevent it going open source. Sun is already making various Solaris APIs compatible with Linux, and is working out how to market the initiative and what image it's looking at presenting. " This site requires a subscription. Anyone have an accessible story?
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Sun plans open source Solaris?

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  • doog wrote:

    What do you mean ASP modules exist for Apache? What are they called?

    Check out Apache-ASP [] by Joshua Chamas.

    According to Netscapes web site, LiveWire runs on Solaris.. If I can't run SSJS on Linux, then I have to convince the suits to buy solaris AND netscapes server which will cost more than NT.

    Netscape's FastTrack server [] runs server side Javascript on Linux. It costs only $295, which should be easier for your bosses to swallow. Unfortunately, I don't think it handles ASP, you would need to convert those pages into some other form (which is a good thing in the long run).

  • Ahem. Samsung fabs Alpha chips.
  • This overview remarks that members of the community are allowed to keep performance enhancements; they are not "required" to submit them back to the public. However, members "must" return to the community fixes for "errors" in the code base. What's an "error" and what's a performance enhancement? Seems like an arbitrary distinction to me, and one that adds weakness to this license.

    I understand that Sun wants to let users of Solaris function in a proprietary manner; that's why they allow extensions (albeit with "open" interfaces). Personally, I wouldn't be very happy with such a system. Where do the proprietary extensions stop? After how many years will we have the same old hunk of binary again?

    Yes, that's just my speculation, but it's the difference between buying nice Sun hardware to run an operating system I can't tinker and share with my friends and buying a nice Alpha where I can.
  • That was an interesting link. Thanks!

    In the recent past there have been two alternative approaches to software licensing: traditional proprietary licensing and Open Source licensing. Open Source licensing is relatively new, being preceded by shareware and free software.

    Probably just a misinformed opinion. Shareware and freeware have little to do with free software, and are predated by it, but you already know that. I'm only complaining a little, I promise.

    The sections on proprietary vs. free licensing are pretty good. They point out some advantages and disadvantages of each, with the comparisons fairly obviously coming from a large company. (Proprietary allows protection of intellectual property, but schedules set by one company may not fit the needs of another.) The disadvantages of free software are the sort of claims that tend to have Slashdot readers crying, "FUD!", although the worse ones are couched in phrases containing "may". From a business's point of view, they're probably valid. (Although that doesn't make them any more correct--yes, there's the possibility of fragmentation, but it generally doesn't happen in a well-run project.)

    For the license itself, they seem to have explicitly codified some aspects of free software development that are usually implicitly followed but not usually explicitly stated, mostly dealing with ownership of the code. Actually, there seems to be quite a bit of worrying over who own what--more corporate influence.

    Overall, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, this is a step closer to free code, which is significant, especially coming from a large company (who isn't doing this as a last-ditch effort). It gives many of the benefits of free software, including source availability for paranoid admins and the ability to fix bugs on your own schedule, instead of waiting for the distributing company to get around to it. On the other hand, there's a lot more restriction in what can be done. Companies are free to make proprietary extensions and distribute them without the code (well, the BSD license allows that, too). Bug fixes must be contributed back to the parent organization (you effectively get this with the GPL, but it's not mandated). The source seems only to be available to members of the "community", the definition of which seems to be up to the originating company. The example given is for "Research Use" and implies that joining the community is at no cost to the developer, but another company implementing the same idea may charge for membership. (Yes, yes. Yell at me for FUD. I think it's a likely scenario in today's corporate environment. Maybe I'm too cynical in that area.)

    I'd like to see companies learn the value of sharing ideas and working on making money by providing services while releasing the code freely, but I don't expect that to happen for a while yet.

    --Phil (It's definitely much easier to write long responses in (X)Emacs. (Guess what I tried for the first time. :) )
  • I have been getting whiffs of this for a while now and the way that makes sense and how it will probably pan out is this.

    1 : Spark Linux ( AKA Ultra Penguin ) already runs Solaris Binaries.

    2 : Sun Mentioned that they would add Linux binary support to the next version of Solaris ( X86 and Spark ).

    That is what's been done ... here is how I stretch the logic :).

    1 : Add Solaris X86 Binary support to Linux ( A relatively simple hack considering how much of the needed work is already done ).

    2 : Take into consideration that binary compatibility is NOT emulation. ( I.e. Linux is reputed to run SCO bins faster than SCO. ). With this in mind there would be no need for Sun to make Linux versions of it's apps and it wouldn't need to port over any Linux apps either.

    3 : Linus has already said the next version ( 2.4 or 3.0 ? ) will be "pushing for the desktop". This I take to mean that he will be doing broader driver support ( I2O, USB etc... I think it's worthwhile releasing a major 2.4 JUST for USB support once it's working right ). PnP improvements and more modularized stuff ( less need to recompile ) are pretty obvious. That crack also means ( to me ) that he and the cour team aren't going to pay much attention to big iron for a while yet. This is a smart move since as of today Sun can put more 1st rate programers in it's source code and on 64 CPU boxes than we can. I.e. The "More Eyeballs" logic works against us on large scale SMP more than any other problem.

    This all sounds like maintaining both a true Solaris and a Linux/Solaris hybrid. It's already assumed that Solaris outruns Linux ( even 2.2.x ) on truly huge machines with 16CPUs and more, while Linux outruns Solaris on smaller 4 CPU and under boxes. I haven't herd claims either way in the mid range.

    It's then up to the marketing department ( at Sun ) to spin it so your head hurts. Things like "Smooth scaling from a $700 workgrupe web server all the way up to a 9 terabytes database workhorse" sounds like a nice line :).

    As for the license issue. This isn't a major concern since they would mearly have to ship source for Linux and whatever GPL etc... tools are included. Opening up Solaris itself and hence any Sun brewed software is a major bonus.

    They won't even need to change the pricing since when you buy a Spark box you get X amount of support and most Solaris customers wouldn't mind paying the same for Linux and getting it with the same contract ( Plus the GPL, LGPL, Artistic etc... freedom )
  • >There's a difference between scaling and scaling well. SGI hasn't figured out the latter yet.

    Ahem. SGI is very competitive with Sun in scalability-sensitive benchmarks like TPC-D, and is building bigger single-system image boxes than anyone, bar none (several shipped 256p O2000s now). So, please quantify your complaint somewhat. What, in your experience, are troublesome bottleknecks in IRIX 6.5?
  • It's theirs to do with as they will

    Including give it away?

    I suspect not. They may have made a one-time payment so that they don't have to pay royalties on redistribution, but I'm skeptical of claims that this lets them put up on "" the source code, unless they've made it "AT&T-free" by now. (Does anybody have direct knowledge of what's involved in getting a Solaris source license? Does AT&T^H^H^H^HNovell^H^H^H^H^H^HSCO get involved?)

  • I heard the same rumor from a sun employee last week.

    Solaris = Linux++

    Look for it to happen within the next year - by then they will have announced Solaris 8.

    In case anyone is confused by the new Solaris versioning scheme:

    Solaris 2.6
    Solaris 2.7 => Solaris7
    Solaris 3.0 => Solaris8
  • I work with Solaris now. Although the 64 bit features and SMP features are compelling, Linux will completely dominate Solaris when intel's merced chip is released!

  • As I recall, Dave Miller got Linux running on a sparc or something with 20 processors in it, with one of the newest kernels.

    SMP support in Linux has dramatically improved for 2.2
  • My company still uses NT on our web servers because MS IIS allows us to use server side Javascript through ASP. The reason we like to use Javascript instead of perl or something else is because we have an application that runs on the client AND the server using the SAME code base. If I could port the ASP functionality to something that would run on Apache and still be able to run the Server side Javascript I would. Can I ???
  • Please, dear God no. Those of us using Solaris and find that it works just fine the way it is pray that this doesn't happen.
  • First off, Apache has ASP modules. Plus, Netscape's FastTrack etc. support "LiveWire" which is exactly Server-Side Java Script. Your company just needs an excuse to use M$, not a reason to use UNIX.

    (Everything said is subject to being WRONG!!)
  • Unix vendors sell proprietary Unices and boxen because it differentiates them from the competition. But the OS is a loss center; it only runs on their hardware, and only exists because they wouldn't want to use a competitor's Unix.

    Now along comes a Unix that no competitor owns and which has developers working on it at no cost to the proprietary vendors. The smart ones (which includes Sun first of all) will shift to Linux to keep costs down, to take advantage of the free development staff. They will add their unique contributions into the Linux tree, to hope that it becomes part of the Linux "standard" and their competitors have to adopt or perish. The proprietary Unices will only survive for high end boxes with special needs, ie, 1024 node SMP etc which they want to keep a lock on. But eventually the high end will shrink to such a small base that it too will be ported to Linux.

  • Check out their SCSL. It may not be GPL, but you have to look at it from Sun's side too. :)

  • I don't buy it. The Solaris kernel still surpasses Linux in key areas, like SMP.
  • Netscape has servers that can use Javascript (Livewire). Nombas makes a server side Javascript engine for a variety of platforms (including Linux) and servers: . Javelin is a project to develop a Javascript module for Apache: (still in the early stages of development). ASP is available for Solaris from Chilisoft: .
  • its part of the game. Because development happens behind closed doors and NDA's you're never garenteed that a new version won't come out right after you buy a product. If fact, you aren't even garenteed that a product won't die after you purchase it. Consumers go through this all the time: "hmmm...maybe I should wait for the next version", but of course, the developers won't say when the next version is comming in order to protect sales of the current version. Or even worse is when a company is planning to stop development of a product, but the consumer has no idea untill well after the product is purchased and in production. Such is life with non-open software - if you don't like it (like myself) start using OSS to begin with.
  • ... is not like the other, which one is different, do you know?

    Linux == "here and working now"

    Merced == "vapour CPU which will never see light"

    Don't hold your breath waiting for Merced to be released... when it is, it will be called "McKinley", and will have much more to do with HP than with Intel.

  • Now, let's sit down and discuss Linux's realtime capabilities and POSIX 4 conformance... if you can convince me that it performs better than QNX or VxWorks, I'll give in.

    (Yes, I know of RTEMS, but I consider it a commercial OS because of its development model, regardless of its being distributed under GPL)
  • Intel owns the FAB.....but the terms of the deal were that Intel was required to make production available to DEC at the same or better quality. (read: Intel owns the FAB...but DEC is still allowed to use it to build Alphas...granted they have to pay Intel, but that is another story)
  • Have you ever seen a Sun E10K ? Even DEC Alpha server 4100's don't allow you to hot swap/upgrade cpu's and ram. I like linux and use it a lot but it still falls short in some very important areas
  • I believe it's called I-ASP... look in /.'s archive, I seem to remember they had an article on it recently
  • I received an e-mail from William Fallows, the US editor of Computergram, giving me permission to post the complete article, which you'll find below.

    For that, I figure it's worth allowing Computerwire a plug - I received an e-mail from Richard MacPherson [mailto], the West Coast Accounts manager of Computerwire, offering businesses a 10 day free trial of their various publications. See the web site or send him an e-mail for more detail.

    Sun Microsystems Inc is working on a strategy that will enable it to move its Solaris Unix to the open source development model without stepping on the toes of the Linux community and being branded the evil empire. It says that its dilemma is that
    "Linux is good for Solaris, but that Linux is not a corporate community" and "our intentions must not be misunderstood." One route would be to turn over Solaris intellectual property and source for development by the open source community but retain all branding, packaging and testing considerations, as with its Java community source model. However, Solaris isn't as young as
    Java and Sun is not sure what the effect might be on its large code set and hefty installed base. Other major considerations include the paper chase of royalty, IP and branding rights in the agreements it has made since buying out its Unix license from Novell Inc in 1994 for $82.5m. It is looking for anything that could prevent it taking Solaris open source, such as rights that may belong to other companies. Sun, which is already making Solaris APIs compatible with Linux, says it is also still working out how it will market the initiative and what image it wants to present. It expects to move quickly but until there's a method "we can't say bombs away," it says.
  • A year ago Sun increased their source code fee to 1.0 lots of dollars. People who paid this then are going to be very mad that they can get it for free now.
  • Yeah, on 1-2 CPU machines. Linux doesn't scale too well on our 16 CPU boxes...

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...