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Sun juggles love of code with need for cash

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CommunityOne The relationship between business, vendors and coders has been tested at a Sun Microsystems conference in San Francisco intended to express oneness with open source.

Ian Murdock, Sun vice president of developer and community marketing, and Marten Mickos, head of Sun's database group, used CommunityOne to outline Sun's ideals on recent acquisition MySQL, OpenSolaris and NetBeans. At the same time they explained Sun's attempts to monetize them.

Mickos, former CEO of MySQL, also pledged to keep the database open source. Murdock, the founder of the Debian GNU Linux distro, urged projects outside Sun to refrain from attacking Sun's Solaris or NetBeans, insisting they should instead focus on the common enemy - closed-source software.

CommunityOne, Sun's pre-JavaOne demonstration of love for open source, is intended to show how far the company come and how much it's learned in its growing relationship with open source. The run in with JBoss over Java compatibility in its application server and Apache over open-source implementations of Java Specification Requests are now distant memories.

But tensions remain. And Sun has taken its fair share of questions about its motives for starting its own open source projects, such as OpenSolaris, and for buying MySQL. What's the agenda?

Mickos was quick off the mark during a ConferenceOne panel on "cash versus code" to say MySQL would stay open source.

Sun execs were flamed last month with the leaking of the company's search for ways to monetize MySQL might include making certain "enterprisy" features available only to paying customers.

"MySQL will be free and open source for ever in case that was ever in doubt," Mickos told the captive audience during the debate hosted by Reg regular Matt Asay.

"We think that in the worlds where there are fewer contributors and more users, it's absolutely the right thing to offer them commercial services and add ons that we sell for money," he said.

The dividing line appears to be those who make contributions and those who don't - such as businesses. It's not clear, though, how that line will be policed or how Sun can realistically keep some features back without alienating loyal users and developers.

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