March 18, 2005 2:03 PM PST

Sun open-source diva departs for Intel

Danese Cooper, who has led Sun Microsystems' interactions with the open-source community for six tumultuous years, has left for Intel.
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Danese Cooper

Cooper was the self-described open-source diva at the server and software company, representing outside members of the cooperative programming movement to Sun and vice-versa. She will continue her open-source work when she joins the chipmaker on Monday, but in an interview, she declined to share specifics.

"They're kind of the silent partner of open source. It's their architecture this is all happening on," Cooper said of her new employer in an interview Friday. "They've done some open-source stuff. I think they'd like to be doing more."

She also will continue as a board member of the Open Source Initiative.

ZDNet reported Cooper's new job Friday on its Between the Lines blog. The move came to light at the same time as the eventual departure of Sun services chief Marissa Peterson.

Sun is losing Cooper, but it won't lose its current open-source focus, which includes most prominently the OpenSolaris project to make its version of the Unix operating system open source.

"We'll continue to work closely with developers, customers and partners around the world to broaden community participation, expand choice and grow global markets," Sun said in a statement.

Cooper joined Sun when it had just begun releasing its Java software under the Sun Community Source License (SCSL). That effort, which granted only some of the freedoms permitted by full-fledged open-source software, was disparaged by many open-source advocates.

"Sun got into a lot of trouble," Cooper said. "I don't think they claimed SCSL was open source. But it was the obvious conclusion of the open-source community that they were slipstreaming the movement."

Since then, Sun has tried numerous ways to release software, including more liberal Java licenses, the fully open-source OpenOffice.org competitor to Microsoft Office, and a new open-source license for OpenSolaris.

"Some people criticize the relative transparency of experiments in open source--it's like watching a goose land on a frozen lake," Cooper said. "But I like that about Sun--the organic way they try earnestly to get it right, the balance between making a profit and being an open-source company."

Cooper said Sun's best open-source achievements during her tenure are OpenOffice and a new openness on display at Blogs.sun.com that helped "open a proprietary company."

Bridging the gap between a corporation and the external open-source realm can be tough, she said. "Having integrity outside while still having credibility inside means a fair amount of buffeting, because you're bucking the trend," she said.

Before joining Sun in 1999, Cooper worked at Symantec and, earlier, Apple Computer.

 

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