Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
6/30/2004
12:57 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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Open Source, Proprietary Vendors Force Change On Each Other

This week finds open source and proprietary vendors making maneuvers in response to competitive threats they pose to each other. Mostly, these maneuvers involve Microsoft. Sun Microsystems said it plans to work with Microsoft to develop single sign-on technology for networks. Then, the two companies will work together to unify Java and Microsoft .Net.

This week finds open source and proprietary vendors making maneuvers in response to competitive threats they pose to each other. Mostly, these maneuvers involve Microsoft.

Sun Microsystems said it plans to work with Microsoft to develop single sign-on technology for networks. Then, the two companies will work together to unify Java and Microsoft .Net. CRN writer Elizabeth Montalbano explains the background: "After years of animosity, Sun and Microsoft in early April signed a 10-year pact to collaborate on technology interoperability. Microsoft also paid Sun $2.4 billion to settle the companies' pending lawsuits over Java licensing."

Microsoft and Sun both claim their alliance is not anti-Linux, which is about as believable as a Hollywood starlet claiming she never had plastic surgery.

Microsoft also said on Tuesday that it's holding talks with Asian governments to provide inexpensive, cut-down versions of Windows. The stated reason: to help the poor. That's certainly true, given Gates's philanthropy record - but it's also true that Windows is getting hottest competition in Third World countries that can't afford Windows

Of course, you have to wonder whether it makes more sense for poor people, with incomes of just a few hundred dollars a year, to pay for a software product when they can get the equivalent for free. If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you give him an open source fish, he ... if you charge licensing fees for the fishing rods ... well, that doesn't make sense at all, does it? I need to work on that metaphor.

Microsoft on Monday introduced cha nges to the licensing terms of Windows CE. The changes let developers modify and redistribute Windows CE source code.

Interestingly, Microsoft says its Windows CE licensing program is superior to the Linux General Public License (GPL) because Microsoft's license allows creators of derivative work to keep that work proprietary. They're not required to share their work with anyone, not even Microsoft. Linux developers must share their work with everyone, including competitors.

That's similar to the argument raised by FreeBSD advocates, who tout their licensing scheme as a means of allowing developers to have the benefits of open source while keeping their own work proprietary.

Linux advocates counter that the GPL is superior because developers benefit more by being able to share others' work than they do by keeping their work proprietary.

I suspect the reality is that this is one of those false dichotomies created by extremists on both sides (and by editorial writers - oh, heavens, that's ME, isn't it?! Goodness!). Some licenses will be best for some applications, others for others.

Sun said Tuesday it is opening the source code to its "Looking Glass," an innovative, 3-D Linux desktop that allows users to turn windows on edge or at an oblique angle or make them appear to move off into the distance. Sun also opened the Java 3D API, and JDesktop Integration Components.

JBoss is making a show of Linux industry solidarity at JavaOne this week, the first time the open source company has exhibited there. Previously, JBoss boycotted the conference to protest that JBoss didn't have a J2EE license from Sun.

And BEA defended its decision not to join the Eclipse Foundation, saying it has no desire to build its WebLogic Workshop tool on the Eclipse integrated development environment.

P.S. After writing the preceding and sending it out in the Linux Pipeline Newsletter, we learned that Sun Microsystems plans to open up nearly all of its Solaris code, including "all the rocket science."

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