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Sun Microsystems

Sun community licensing High Performance Cluster Software 59

Anonymous writes "Sun just announced that they are open sourcing their high-performance clustering software." The announcement is on Yahoo. Sun will be releasing it under their Sun Community Source Licensing, which is different then XFS, which was truly Open Sourced.
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Sun community licensing High Performance Cluster Software

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  • Actually, this ball got rolling 30 years ago. Source code for community programming has been in use for at least that long.

    In the 1970s I was doing system programming on a CDC mainframe. We and other customers customized and improved the OS, used CDC knowledge bases and electronic bulletin boards to share the info with CDC and other customers. Manufacturers also sponsored user groups which also often had magnetic tape archives of various software tools.

    Of course by then the more well-known UNIX source code was permeating universities.

    Now more manufacturers are rediscovering the benefits of giving away razor handles and selling the razor blades for it, even if it does tend to produce more discussion about the benefits of various brands of compatible blades...

  • The article originally read something to the effect of "HPC2.0 is being released under SCSL, just like XFS."
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • Umm... that's right. In fact, that's exactly what it says. Read it again:

    ...releasing it under [SCSL], which is different then XFS, which was truly Open Sourced

    In other words:

    Sun's cluster stuff was SCSL'd. XFS was not. XFS is truly Open Source. The implication is that SCSL isn't.

    It pays to reread and rethink. You'll spare yourself a misinterpretation now and then.
  • I don't think he was trolling. Don't be so paranoid; the UCB/BSD style of licensing does have it's advantages. One thing I've always wondered that rabid GPL advocates continue to spout is how does a company "stealing" (another issue, you can't steal what is freely given away with no strings attached) something licensed with a BSD-style license diminishing the original code? It doesn't.
  • Good lord, I hope not. Why would SGI think of limiting the inpact of XFS by placing it under GPL? I hope they consider some other less restrictive license that won't infect any works it touches.
  • Yes, I've installed Sun's HPC/LSF software on a machine here for a user who analyzes systems and compilers for performance, specifically Fortran 90 code.

    We currently have it installed on a Sun Enterprise 3000, 6 processors (167 Mhz), 1.5 Gb memory, and in preliminary tests is outperforming our 128-processor SGI Origin 2000 (don't know cpu speed off hand).

    We're currently only using it in a 1-node configuration, but the neat thing about the clustering software is that if you have to take a node down, the processes running on that node can be moved to another node. It's really quite a significant thing when you think about it - a process being stopped, it's entire memory space being physically shipped to another machine, and restarted from where it left off.

    Bob Campbell
  • Oh, for the days when we didn't have drivers for all of those nice cards that we have Open Source drivers for today. Life was so blissful! Or at least simple.

    I'm not going back. I like things the way they are now.


  • Does anyone actually know anything about this product--worked with, read up on it, etc?

    Internet Meta-Resources []:

  • What is this viper that you speak of? I have never heard of it before (which doesn't mean much). Can you give some details and/or urls? gracias
  • give this man a 2!
  • It would be much nicer if they used an X or BSD style license.
  • I know that some of the confusion is the original story submitters, and some comes from Hemos' comments, but it's at times like this that I think the term Open Source is just as confusing as Free Software. People look at something where the source is available, and ask themselves, isn't this open source? In both cases, the words don't mean quite what they look like. Something that has available source code isn't necessarily Open Source; something that is no cost isn't necessarily Free Software. I don't see how the new phrase we have all adopted has cleared much up at all. What we're really after is source code we can modify, redistribute, not just read. Witness this Sun Community license as an example of where that confusion can come back to haunt us.

    Ian Peters
  • So what license _did_ SGI use on XFS? Is there a link somewhere?
  • Actually, SGI people on the linux-kernel mailing list have said that all mods to the kernel proper will be under the GPL (obviously), but that the licensing terms for any modules has yet to be decided (their legal department is apparently hashing it out). I hope they release it ALL under the GPL, because the last thing the kernel needs is a smattering of almost-open-source-but-not-quite-so-its-not-includ ed-with-the-kernel modules. That would also encourage other companies to do the same.
  • i agree that "open source" is equally confusing as "free software", but "free software" has the distinct advantage that most companies that would misuse the term "open source" would never dream of using the term "free software" at all.
  • From the page SCSL Principles []:
    The quality of the software depends entirely on the owner organization; this can be a problem if the owner organization does not place the same value on quality as the using organization, the owner organization has a different perspective on quality, or if quality resources are not allocated in ways that the using organization needs.

    A sly dig at MS? :)

  • Bruce, I've tried for several days to email you ( and it keeps bouncing on me. If you have working email please drop me a line. Otherwise checkout the archives at debian-legal (thread "A Data License").

  • You misunderstand. the linux community will
    find you distasteful if you try to make money,
    like redhat. the quickest way to get readers
    of slashdot to hate you is to release your source
    code, pretending to be friendly to the community,
    but actually the code is still propietary.
    the way to make the linux community love you is to
    make high quality truly free software. whether
    or not you happen to make money at the same time isn't much of an issue. the only reason redhat is hated is because they attempt to use marketing power to negatively influence standards.
  • you can't expect every company on the planet to completely give up control of their technology. how much do you think sun spent on making their clustering solution, which has availability features as well as distributed processing features. (read some later posts)

    The benefits of sun making this code public outweigh whatever bruce perens thinks about whatever. If the other UNIX companies follow would follow suit it would be a real victory for *our side*. (our side being customers, administrators, and users. not techno evangelists, ceo's, stock holders, or "religious fanatics".)

    The truth is that the commercial unix people who have spent huge sums of money on making the Solaris's and AIX's of the world what they are today. They should move to a community development model so that they could compete in the commodity business of server software that is already here. It irks me that as Linux became more popular you started seeing the long time open source people calling it GNU/linux and the like. The success of linux is the validation of some of their ideas, not of them or their agendas.

    It's all about usable software in the hands of users. The rest of this is pointless.
  • Some mails from the SGI people to linux-kernel say
    that it will be licensed under GPL.
  • I always thought that Beowulf was just a setup involving rsh (remote shells) and not true SMP clustering which is what this thing from Sun purports to be isn't it? .. Like just run something on the cluster and the system figures out where it runs on.
    I read on NASA's site somewhere about the 'Hive' that runs Beowulf and they said there that it's all based around rsh and also runs out of process table space too .. hmm.

    If I'm mistaken I'm sure a great many /.'er will correct me :)

    Clustering IS a lovely idea for Linux ... lots of cheap computing power.
  • Use .

    Let's cross our fingers real hard and hope Internic fixes my host record today. My darned DSL provider went out of business, and unfortunately I was doing all of my own DNS (yes, I know, I'm stupid), and now all of my host and domain records point to /dev/null.


  • I think that was supposed to be "the same as the Java 2 platform" [].
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • I've maintained for a long time that not-quite-open-source is worse than honest closed-source, because the not-quite-open stuff is positioned to keep a real open-source solution from being developed. You may not agree.

    Regarding Apple-bashing, Apple very nicely incorporated all of the points that the Debian folks and I raised into version 1.1 of their APSL license. Whoever was Apple-bashing, it wasn't us. We had constructive criticism, and Apple responded to it. The press saw it as an attack, but they weren't used to free software issues.



  • Posted by Hank Shiffman:

    Just one correction (as the guy from SGI [] who was quoted by Linux World): XFS is a 64 bit file system, meaning that it uses 64 bit offsets everywhere to allow lots of space for files. It does not require a 64 bit OS; XFS is supported on our O2 systems which run a 32 bit version of IRIX. Oh, and as I read the terms of Open Source licenses [] it's clear that we don't get to decide that XFS is only for Linux. Not that we would want to discriminate against FreeBSDers or other deserving souls. Heck, if Sun wants to GPL Solaris we might even enjoy having them use it!
  • Wow big suprise, someone from doesn't like the term "open source"
  • Jeff,

    Please fix this article. "Sun Community Source" isn't Open Source - I think you went over their press release too fast. It's also not the same license that SGI used on XFS. SGI's license appears to be Open Source and they are being a lot nicer to the community than Sun.



  • Bear in mind that the Slashdot people quite often change the text of headline articles in response to corrections. It may not have read that way when Bruce posted his comment.
  • I don't want to get in any kind of fight about this, but I feel I should respond to that comment. Yes, I have an mail alias, because I have contributed and continue to contribute to free software projects. But no, I'm not really from, in that I'm not affiliated with them other than supporting their mission. So ignore the if that helps you hear what I said better.

    I also don't feel that who I'm associated with should affect what I've said. My point, I feel, remains valid no matter who I am. Both phrases, I feel, are easily misconstrued by those not familiar with the meanings we give them. Wouldn't matter if I were RMS, ESR, or God; the point remains.

    Last, but not least, did you really read my comment? At worst, you could interpret it as me saying "Open Source is just as bad a phrase as Free Software in terms of ambiguity."

    Ian Peters
  • Ok, for clarity:
    SGI is releasing XFS under some yet-to-be-disclosed open source license

    Sun is releasing some HPC stuff under their "Community License." Sun has not claimed anywhere that this constitutes "Open Source." "Open Source" is not mentioned anywhere in their press release.
  • The term "freed software" should be used instead of "free software". It's unambiguous and no one could confuse its meaning. What do you think?

    Freed software = free software > open source > proprietary software.
  • Yes, you're right; these are both compatible with the GPL and would permit use under a broader ranger of circumstances than would a straight GPL license. But let's not start a licensing flame war. :-)
  • The SCSL is not an Open Source license, and is not the same license that SGI used on XFS.


  • I'm pleased to see Sun providing source for more products. Albeit they are not using the GNU license, the fact is that their products are becoming more open to peer review. The goal isn't for the GNU license to pervade the software cycle completely. It has influenced it in a positive way, and the progress is exciting.
  • by desslok ( 7863 ) on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @09:41AM (#1869902) Homepage
    This is high performance clustering like Beowulf. Linux needs high reliability clustering, which this is not.
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @10:46AM (#1869905)
    As just about everyone has said, Sun's SCSL is not 'open source' (tm), nor does it try to be. XFS is not by Sun either, it's by SGI. Here is an linuxworld article [] about what liscence XFS will use - basically, the SGI guy wants to GPL it, if the lawyers will let him. (not bad, eh!) However they don't discuss other OSs - (I hope XFS won't be just for Linux). However, from what I've heard, XFS was designed assuming 64bit address space, so you might (initially) only be able to use it on Alpha, SPARC and MIPS versions of Linux. XFS uses file journaling and logging - read here [] for about this, from a SunWorld article about Solaris file-systems, which is pretty general.

    btw, Sun's SCSL is aimed more at commercial developers (including Sun's OEMs) and researchers, not so much general members of the public. However, they are releasing quite a bit of stuff under the SCSL - Java, Jini, HotSpot (later this year), their SPARC processors and several other software products. They seems to be SCSL'ing their products in general. They haven't said much about SCSL'ing Solaris recently - the last time it was brought up they said it would be quite hard to do, because of all the liscences.

    I suppose there will be inevitable comparisons between Beowulf and Sun's HPC software, and SMP kit. The main hardware difference is bandwidth and latency - Beowulf seems more about combining lots of single CPU (or low CPU count, eg 1-4) boxes in a network, possibly having several hundred of such boxes. Sun's approach to high end computing is to have big SMP boxes (a single Starfire E10000 can take 64 UltraSparcs) with the option of clustering a few of them - currently limited to 4, ie 256 processors. A Starfire has a 6Gbyte/s I/O bus and 15Gbyte/s main memory bus, which is rather better than Ethernet. Sun's approach is more expensive, but it also solves a wider class of problems well. For some things (eg cracking codes, rendering) you don't need much interprocess communication or bandwidth, so it scales well with Beowulf, but for other things (some kinds of database operations, eg OLAP, and data intensive scientific calculations) you really need very high bandwidth and very low latency (close to main memory speeds) which is where Beowulf doesn't do so well. Still, some things don't scale so well, even on a Starfire... Btw, the Starfire is over 2 years old.

    Cue Sun's next gen super-computer, codename Serengheti, which has a completely different architecture. It's memory architecture is called Cache Only Memory Architecture (COMA), which seems to have been in development for a long long time at Sun. A single box will take 128 processors, and you'll be able to cluster 8 of them, for a total of 1024 processors. It'll be powered by Sun's UltraSparc-III, which recently reached first silicion [], and has b ooted on Solaris []. Incidentaly, the UltraSparc-III has hardware support for 1024 processors, and is supposed to be out in volume production by the end of the year. However, Serengheti won't be out until about the 2nd half of 2000.

  • If i remeber correctly (and im prety sure i do :P) the SGI people stated that they prefer to release XFS under GPL licences, but can not promise anything yet, since there lawyers have to review the GPL licence to decide if this will conflict with the patents and author rights they currently hold.

    If the two situations are compatible, they will GPL the XFS source, if not, they will come up with a 'Open Source Compatible' licence, which will prevent true kernel intergration, but allow open source modules / software layers, to exsist outside of the kernel.

    -- Chris Chabot
    "I dont suffer from insanity, i enjoy every minute of it!"
  • by pavlos ( 53636 ) on Wednesday June 02, 1999 @04:53PM (#1869908)
    It is worth pointing out once more that this DOES NOT mean that Linux will get any benefit from this development.

    The Sun Community Source License allows you to see the source, but does not allow general free use or redistribution. This is not some picky "Oh it's not GPL, Ah it is not fully Open Source (TM)" point. It just isn't a free use or free redistribution license. It allows for research use, paid-for commercial use, and redistribution only among existing licensees.

    The release has technical interest, and I'm happy that Sun have done it for reasons other than to give a false impression of contributing free software, but it's of little use to most of us. It's only of use to Sun platform developers and academics. It may be very good news to Sun's customers using the affected products.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.