Sun's Schwartz Beats Open-Source Drum at OSBC

In his keynote to kick off the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC), Schwartz opined that the future of the technology industry -- and even Sun itself -- depends on open source software and the standardization it provides for building large-scale networks that can deliver services. These networked services will become the foundation on which many companies, across industries, will make money, he said.

"What's the benefit of having communities?" Schwartz said. "We don't do it because we want to hang out with like-minded folks. We do it because it promotes standardization. What's the advantage of having a standardized GSM network? You can roam. What's the benefit of having everyone agree on HTTP? You can connect to one another."

Speaking to attendees at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco, Schwartz also leveled veiled criticism at Microsoft and IBM for not being as supportive of open source as other proponents of the community. "The people who don't support open source will see [their] revenues decline," he said. "There are some that are standing on the sidelines applauding while others open source [their] products. They maintain all of their IP and refuse to open source any of it. If you stand behind it, you should stand behind not just with rhetoric but with products."

Microsoft is known widely as a staunch keeper of its source code, and Schwartz has openly criticized IBM for blasting Sun's proprietary hold on Java while at the same time not open-sourcing a version of its own WebSphere Java application server. Sun, meanwhile, plans to open-source its entire Java software stack, the Java Enterprise System, in addition to releasing OpenSolaris, an open-source version of its Unix OS, by midyear.

Sponsored post

To its credit, IBM did develop the open-source Eclipse tools framework several years ago. Eclipse is now run independently by an open-source consortium and is the most popular development framework competing with Microsoft's proprietary Visual Studio toolset.

Schwartz also defended Sun's decision to create a license based on the Mozilla Public License for OpenSolaris rather than using the GNU General Public License (GPL), which Linux uses.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company is releasing Solaris under its own Community Development and Distribution License (CDDL), which won approval from the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The first buildable source code for is expected to be available by the end of June.

Schwartz said Sun did not use the GPL because it did not want to obligate code developers to give their new code back to the developers of OpenSolaris. Any intellectual property developed by a user of the software licensed under the GPL must make that code available to the owner of the license.

Through the CDDL, "you can use free software to create opportunity and not [have it] harvested back by a small number of individuals," Schwartz said.

At the same time, Sun wants to make sure it indemnifies users against any patent lawsuits over code in OpenSolaris, saying that just because open-source software is free does not preclude IP protection for licensees of the software.

"Free software does not imply that you no longer believe in IP -- it means you no longer believe in charging for IP upon its delivery," Schwartz said. "[Indemnification is] the vendor's willingness to stand behind the product so when the community is sued the vendor can stand in front of that and take a bullet."