Solaris source code to be made public

Sun Microsystems plans to make the source code of its Solaris operating system free to the public. Solaris is one of the 'flavours' of Unix operating system and is proprietary to Sun. Sun's chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos told Wall Street Journal that Sun's internal debate over the move was over and that the company was "doing it."

This is as part of Sun's Community Source Licensing
(SCSL) scheme which offers access to code but charges a fee for commercial products derived from changes to the code.The scheme started with Java 2 in December 1998 and has since extended to other Java technologies and the SPARC V8 processor architecture. The scheme has the key consideration that there has to be compatibility among different version of the software deployed.

While Linux owes itself to the 'free software' movement for its origin and popularity, this scheme is seen by many as a halfway house to the concept of free software.

Analysts feel that this is a move to compete with Linux's rapidly rising popularity and as a means of gaining larger base among the developer community, ISVs and businesses. Solaris has the advantage that it can support the requirements of scalability, upgradability and reliability at the higher end of the spectrum.

"At the end of the day, the issue is how you allow innovation, but also have a reasonable process by which the community sticks together on the core as it evolves," said Anil Gadre, general manager of Sun's Solaris division, in the report.