December 2, 2004 2:22 PM PST

Sun open-source license could mean Solaris-Linux barrier

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wanted to make Solaris open-source by the end of 2004, though the company this month gave itself scheduling leeway until Jan. 17.

Russell Nelson, the OSI vice president who coordinates license approvals, said the next step in deciding whether to bestow that blessing is to discuss the license on OSI's mailing list. "After the list is happy with it, which may be a single-pass process or which may require revisions, I write it up with whatever other licenses are pending and submit it to the board for approval," he said.

In its description, Sun said it tried to find an existing open-source license but "reluctantly" drafted its own when none of the others met its needs. However, Sun didn't start from scratch: The CDDL is a variant of the Mozilla Public License 1.1, the license that governs the Web browser project that helped bring the open-source movement to prominence in 1998.

Licenses can be filled with obtuse legal jargon, and at 2,744 words long, the CDDL isn't a light read for programmers thinking of throwing their hat into the ring.

Sun, though, believes its license is an improvement over existing open-source licenses: "We wished to create a license that was simpler, less burdensome for contributors, clear and consistent in the use of terms and language, and that was as reusable and general as possible," Sun said in a description of the license.

However, one significant figure in the open-source licensing realm received the license coolly: Mitchell Baker, an attorney and the author of the Mozilla Public License.

Part of Sun's agenda has been to have its license replace the MPL, Baker said in a Thursday posting to a mailing list on the Open Source Initiative's Web site. "I've looked at this license and think there are some ways that it simplifies things, but there may also be such other issues with this language that may come up in use. Why the big rush?" Baker asked.

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