Well, So Much for That

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It would appear that the debate, begun a little more than a week ago, is now effectively ended – at least for the better part of a year. For those of you who aren’t inclined to follow the links, the short version is that the OpenSolaris CAB/OGB has decided that “there is little, if any, benefit to dual-licensing OpenSolaris” and directs that “any option related to GPLv3 dual licensing be re-assessed no sooner than 6 months after the GPLv3 has been published and approved.” What’s more, “discussion on GPL* is merely a diversion and distraction that should be discouraged.”

That is, of course, the OpenSolaris community’s perogative. While it’s still my belief that the risks are being overestimated while the benefits are underappreciated, reasonable minds may of course disagree. And on that note, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the commenters, both public and private, for their commitment to keeping things civil. I don’t see any of these decisions as life or death matters, and therefore have little patience for those that would turn otherwise respectful discourse into heated confrontation. Fortunately, I have not had to worry about that; to a person, everyone who’s contributed either on the blog or in person has been respectfully able to agree to disagree, as we all should be.

I confess to finding the position paper disappointing, however, in its display of a seemingly obvious bias towards the anti-GPLv3 position. I have no serious issue with the overall decision, nor do I disagree with many of the cited risks except in terms of the probability of those risks actually occuring. I do, however, take exception to the assertion that there is “little, if any” benefit to the dual-licensing approach. Very few, if any, of the individuals against the GPLv3 that I’ve interacted with would contend that moving to the GPLv3 would have such a minimal positive impact. I’m frankly perplexed as to how one would would reach that conclusion, if they’ve given both sides of the debate the consideration they deserve. Even though I don’t personally believe it, I could probably build a case for dual-licensing risks outweighing the benefits. I would not even attempt, however, to claim that there were none. Particularly when there are already voices expressing interest. Not to mention the fact that it’s not even known yet which projects outside of Samba will be moving to V3 – though they’ll doubtless outnumber CDDL projects – so that the potential benefit cannot be accurately assessed beyond the basic conclusion that there would inevitably be combinatorial advantages.

Given the stated positions of some of the position paper’s signees, this decision should not be a surprise. Nor am I contending that the decision is necessarily wrong for the OpenSolaris community; as discussed previously, I have an outsider’s perspective and would not presume to instruct the community here. But I do wish the paper had either been less dismissive of the possible benefits, or acknowledged the preexisting bias and dropped the pretense that this was a fair hearing for both sides.


  1. Stephen … thank you for your views on this issue and also for *how* you have delivered them. I appreciate it. The thread (two dozen, actually!) has gotten emotional at times, and I think we as a community need to recognize that we should use this as an opportunity to come together a lot more. We are still developing (clearly), and I see some trust issues that ought to be worked out. I was very concerned about the OGB’s position paper, and I’ve told them that (on list). So, the conversation continues …

  2. […] [For other discussion see Stephen O’Grady here and here.] […]

  3. np, Jim. i do hope the trust issues get worked out, b/c obviously they’re fairly significant.

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