Sun leaning to GPL for open source SPARC

So I'm in the odd position of being unable to run my own scoop: that Sun Microsystems is not only opening its SPARC microprocessor source code, but leaning toward the GPL as its license.

That's because Sun's President and COO, Jonathan Schwartz, said that to me on stage at the Syndicate conference in San Francisco, where his keynote took the form of a conversation with yours truly and the audience. Dan Farber and David Berlind got the scoop, writing the story from their table in front of the stage. Check it out here and here, respectively.

I've always found it a bit ironic that most open source and free software runs on microprocessors that are closed. Why not open the source of the microprocessors too? I'd wonder. The answer that came back usually involved patents and other intellectual property issues. Also that it "didn't matter" really. The X86 architecture had become a commodity, and that was the one Linux primarily addressed.

Well, now Sun has a different answer: Why not, indeed? Jonathan also went into some reasons that involved the microprocessor design, implementation and deployment ecosystem that would evolve from GPL'd source code. I don't remember enough to quote anything; but the talk was recorded for podcasting later. I highly recommend listening when it comes out.

Meanwhile, you'll see other live coverage of the story , here and here.


Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal


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Suns Announcement

Anonymous's picture

I don't understand the fuss about Sun's announcement.
not that sure

Re: Sun leaning to GPL for open source SPARC

Jiri Gaisler's picture

I don't understand the fuss about Sun's announcement. Gaisler Research has been offering the LEON SPARC V8 processor in LGPL and GPL for more than 5 years, and it has been used in many commercial, educational and aerospace applications since then. Sun's own Microsparc-II was also released in open-soure about 5 years ago, but was never used in any project that I know of, so why would the Niagara chips fare any better ...?

Because the other chips

Anonymous's picture

Because the other chips where crap, they couldn't compare to the standards of the time. But this time not only isn't this chip crap, it is setting the standard.