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Sun Enlists In Free Software Foundation


Sun Microsystems, which has viewed open source code alternatively as a competitor and as a friend, announced today that it is joining the Free Software Foundation, origin of the freely downloadable tools that helped spawn the open source era. Simon Phipps, chief open source officer, announced that Sun would become a patron supporter of FSF during a Feb. 24 keynote address at the Free and Open Source Software Developers European Meeting in Brussels.

FSF patrons make a financial contribution to the foundation in exchange for the right to use its logo on the Sun Web site. Patrons also get free consulting on the FSF's General Public License. Sun recently announced that Java would become GPL-licensed open source code. With Sun turning to the GPL, in addition to its own Common Development and Distribution License, "it seemed obvious that the connections should become stronger," Phipps said in a blog entry on the move.

The CDDL license option allows Java users to produce and sell a product that includes proprietary code without being obligated to disclose the source code for the proprietary parts.

In becoming an FSF patron, Sun joins the likes of Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Google, MySQL, EMC, and JBoss. Sun and Oracle declined to support Linux-oriented open source consortiums, such as the Open Source Development Labs. As OSDL merged with the Free Standards Group to become the Linux Foundation, Oracle became a corporate sponsor of the new group. Sun still steers clear of Linux-oriented organizations.

Sun also produces Java development tools, some of which it has made available as open source code, such as NetBeans. It is one of the few Java tool vendors competing outside the Eclipse Foundation, which was initiated with a code contribution from competitor IBM. "This news is the start of a new phase of our collaboration and I'm delighted to have been involved in making this happen with our friends at the FSF," Phipps wrote on his blog. "What a great way to celebrate Sun's 25th birthday."


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