Sun Microsystems Inc. last month made good on its promise to open source its Unix operating system, Solaris. However, only the Dynamic Tracing (DTrace) software code is currently available for download; the rest will be available in the second quarter of 2005, Sun said. Sun also gave 1,670 software patents to the open source community.

“I think this is a great decision,” said Gordon Haff, senior analyst and IT advisor at research firm Illuminata Inc., in Nashua, N.H. “There really isn’t any downside, at least the way (Sun) has done it. I think this — like a lot of moves Sun is making — may not individually revive the company but may help to put the conditions in place for that to happen.”

He said this move might help Sun reconnect with its strong customer sets in the financial sector and might help it re-engage with the developer community.

Solaris can also be used for free. Back in November 2004 at its Sun Network conference in San Jose, Calif., Sun announced it would stop charging customers for the use of Solaris.

Solaris’ open source license is based on the Mozilla public license (MPL) and is called the Community Development and Distribution License (CDDL). With the CDDL or “cuddle” license, developers that integrate parts of Solaris code into their own proprietary code don’t have to donate that proprietary code to the open source community. On the other hand, under the General Public License (GPL), which governs Linux, developers are required to open up proprietary code if they mingle it with Linux, Haff explained.

“Sun certainly hopes to build a community around Open Solaris in the vein of what has grown up around Linux, BSD, Apache, Perl, etc.,” Haff noted. “Solaris has lots of features and capabilities that Linux doesn’t have, like scalability, containers and DTrace.” Quick Link 051604



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