Feeds

Sun making StarOffice GPL, dumping SCSL?

Collapse of intricate web of 'nearly' licences looms...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Sun is to announce that it will be releasing StarOffice under GPL later this week, according to a ZDNet report. Such a move certainly wouldn't be entirely out of the ball park, but it would represent a pretty spectacvular volte face for both Sun and StarOffice creator Marco Boerries, who is now Sun general manager for Webtop and Applications Software.

It would also call into question the future of Sun's answer to the open source GPL licence, SCSL (Sun Community Source Licence). Historically Sun has pursued a policy of opening up its software more while at the same time keeping a firmer hold on it than GPL would allow. SCSL, as a sort of halfway house to open source, is one of the licensing mechanisms it's tried to use, but the company's failure to go the whole hog, no matter how justified, has meant that its every move on licensing generates greater suspicion in the open source world.

A switch from SCSL to GPL would be a particularly interesting piece of acrobatics from Boerries. Publicising StarOffice in London last year he told The Register that Sun had given him an entirely free hand as regards licensing when it bought StarDivision, and that he'd chosen SCSL over GPL of his own volition.

He then proceeded to defend SCSL stoutly, and at some length. The points he made then, and the Sun party line on SCSL, certainly have some validity; if you didn't start with open source software, it's genuinely difficult to reverse a product into GPL, while by maintaining greater control of its software, Sun reckons it's in a better position to offer commercial customers clear guarantees as to ownership and licensing of products.

But no matter how reasonable Boerries' and Sun's doubts about GPL are, the Sun alternatives haven't set the world on fire, so maybe Sun is going to hold its nose and jump. If it GPLs StarOffice, however, the move will raise more questions than it answers. Sun has signally failed to win hearts and minds by saying there's room in the world for lots of different gradations of "open" licences, and although it might think it can confine GPL to StarOffice, in reality such a move would be more likely to start to domino into the rest of the line, resulting in at best a slow death for SCSL. If the company's sensible, it'll have another crack at clarifying its licensing stance alongside any StarOffice announcement. ®

Related Story

ZDNet report: Sun to make StarOffice open source

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.