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Truth and Truthiness

Sunday, 20 August 2006  |  stefan teleman

So, OpenSolaris got zing'ed at LinuxWorld by IBM. Of course, that sent Sun's PR Department to DEFCON 5.

On first appearance, this could just be IBM's PR Department "engaging our competitor's peers in a constructive yet competitive corporate dialogue" [mouthwash, please]. Instant Blogger Blast. How Web 2.0. I found the whole thing funny. Mr. Frye is not even entirely off the mark in his remarks. I just don't happen to think it takes one full year to "Evaluate Subversion".

Then there's THIS. Now, this is a problem. It is a problem in and of itself. First, it is entirely inappropriate to use crass personal attacks and insults in a public debate, regardless of how indignant, adamant or passionate one might feel about their position. Second, the author of this post attempts to assert legitimacy by availing himself of his OpenSolaris Community membership. For the record: the author of this literary masterpiece does not speak for me. I seriously doubt he would be speaking for the OpenSolaris Community at large. The author speaks only for himself, and poorly, at that. Too many spelling mistakes. I am apalled that noone from the OpenSolaris leadership (is there one ?) has stepped forward trying to distance the Project from this disgrace.

It's been a pretty rough month for OpenSolaris. First, there was bad news from Google. No CDDL project hosting, because of lack of license traction.

Then there's the DFSG/CDDL/GPL dysfunction. Depending on your type of sense of humor, you might find it funny, or it might make you furious, or nauseous. Executive Summary of the Debian thread: CDDL licensed software goes in non-free, because CDDL is incompatible with GPLv2.

Both these topics have been mirrored with corresponding flamewars on the opensolaris-discuss mailing list. Seek and ye shall find.

What's going on here ?

It turns out that a little tidbit of information unearthed from Debconf6 might shed a little light on this mystery. Information publicly available in Ogg/Theora format, here. WARNING: this file is 112MB in size.

In this video, we can watch Danese Cooper, one of the authors of the CDDL, clearly explain that the CDDL was purposely written to be incompatible with GPLv2, at the insistence of Solaris Kernel engineers (according to Danese, the Sun engineers threatened to quit if CDDL was made compatible with GPLv2). At least, that's how I understand Danese's comments. Am I wrong ?

I am not a license nut. As far as I am concerned, as long as the license requires the re-publishing of source code modifications, I am fine with it. If it happens to be the GPL, then it is the GPL. However, I remember clearly, throughout last year, when the Sun PR machine went into turbo mode explaining to the world that it is not the CDDL which is incompatible with the GPL, but the opposite. For references in support of this claim, please search in Google. You'll get many hits).

A little more than a year ago, I had expressed my hopes and expectations about the OpenSolaris project.

Was I wrong then, too ?