Re: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

From: Tarkan Erimer
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 10:29:11 EST

Hi Linus,

Linus Torvalds wrote:
On Tue, 12 Jun 2007, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
Per this reasoning, Sun wouldn't be waiting for GPLv3, and it would
have already released the OpenSolaris kernel under GPLv2, would it
not? ;-)

Umm. You are making the fundamental mistake of thinking that Sun is in this to actually further some open-source agenda.

Here's a cynical prediction (but backed up by past behaviour of Sun):

- first off: they may be talking a lot more than they are or ever will
be doing. How many announcements about Sun and Linux have you seen over
the years? And how much of that has actually happened?

- They may like open source, but Linux _has_ hurt them in the marketplace. A lot.

They almost used to own the chip design market, and it took quite a long time before the big EDA vendors ported to Linux (and x86-64 in particular). But when they did, their chip design market just basically disappeared: sparc performance is so horribly bad (especially on a workstation kind of setup), that to do chip design on them is just idiotic. Which is not to say that there aren't holdouts, but let's face it, for a lot of things, Solaris is simply the wrong choice these days.

Ergo: they sure as hell don't want to help Linux. Which is fine. Competition is good.

- So they want to use Linux resources (_especially_ drivers), but they do *not* want to give anything back (especially ZFS, which seems to be one of their very very few bright spots).

- Ergo: they'll not be releasing ZFS and the other things that people are drooling about in a way that lets Linux use them on an equal footing. I can pretty much guarantee that. They don't like competition on that level. They'd *much* rather take our drivers and _not_ give anythign back, or give back the stuff that doesn't matter (like core Solaris: who are you kidding - Linux code is _better_).

Completely agreed :-)

End result:

- they'll talk about it. They not only drool after our drivers, they drool after all the _people_ who write drivers. They'd love to get kernel developers from Linux, they see that we have a huge amount of really talented people. So they want to talk things up, and the more "open source" they can position themselves, the better.

Definitely. They already began to pull some people like Ian Murdock. And I'm really very disappointed of this move,Ian did. Especially, such a person who has very good reputation and high profile in the Linux Community. He immediately shut down his company (also leaved Linux-Foundation) and joined to sun. After joining, he made statements like "How to make Solaris more like Linux ?" etc. Like a 40 years employee at Sun. Another interesting thing is the timing of this hiring. So, this situation is a good example of it.

- They may release the uninteresting parts under some fine license. See the OpenSolaris stuff - instead of being blinded by the code they _did_ release under an open source license, ask yourself what they did *not* end up releasing. Ask yourself why the open source parts are not ready to bootstrap a competitive system, or why they are released under licenses that Sun can make sure they control.

So the _last_ thing they want to do is to release the interesting stuff under GPLv2 (quite frankly, I think the only really interesting thing they have is ZFS, and even there, I suspect we'd be better off talking to NetApp, and seeing if they are interested in releasing WAFL for Linux).

Yes, they finally released Java under GPLv2, and they should be commended for that. But you should also ask yourself why, and why it took so long. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that other Java implementations started being more and more relevant?

Am I cynical? Yes. Do I expect people to act in their own interests? Hell yes! That's how things are _supposed_ to happen. I'm not at all berating Sun, what I'm trying to do here is to wake people up who seem to be living in some dream-world where Sun wants to help people.

So to Sun, a GPLv3-only release would actually let them look good, and still keep Linux from taking their interesting parts, and would allow them to take at least parts of Linux without giving anything back (ahh, the joys of license fragmentation).

Of course, they know that. And yes, maybe ZFS is worthwhile enough that I'm willing to go to the effort of trying to relicense the kernel. But quite frankly, I can almost guarantee that Sun won't release ZFS under the GPLv3 even if they release other parts. Because if they did, they'd lose the patent protection.

And yes, I'm cynical, and yes, I hope I'm wrong. And if I'm wrong, I'll very happily retract anything cynical I said about Sun. They _have_ done great things, and maybe I'm just too pessimistic about all the history I've seen of Sun with open source.

The _good_ news is that Jonathan Schwartz actually does seem to have made a difference, and I hope to God he is really as serious about open-sourcing things as he says he is. And don't get me wrong: I think a truly open-source GPLv3 Solaris would be a really really _good_ thing, even if it does end up being a one-way street as far as code is concerned!

One more time,agreed ;-)


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