Just when I think I have seen it all, Sun springs into the spotlight and does some new, seriously off-putting thing that makes me wonder, once again, if they are behind this whole SCO mess.
Now they are thinking of putting out their own version of Linux, offering customers indemnification based on their license with SCO. They found a journalist willing to push this as a plus. Read it for yourself, while I go throw up:
"Sun has a Unix license that appears to cover just about any aspect of the operating system. Further, the company will indemnify users from legal issues that could arise relating to the operating system. There's no doubt McNealy believes Solaris is a better solution than Linux, and he's not above taking advantage of the FUD -- fear, uncertainty and doubt -- sowed by SCO to promote the operating system on which Sun has lavished so much research and development over the years.
"McNealy may be ready to seize an opportunity that the dispute presents. He told me Sun is considering offering its own Linux distribution, which the company's Unix license may fully cover. If Sun could indemnify its Linux customers, it would have an unassailable advantage. I don't think you will find a similar indemnification for Linux from the other open-source vendors. It would also be in keeping with Sun's offering an integrated, airtight whole -- shades, once again, of the vertical integration that's Sun's heritage.
"For enterprise buyers, it's certainly a wise approach to go slowly with any deployment until the court clears up the dispute or the vendors agree to bear any legal burden you may face. Offering a 'better' Linux -- one that's legally unencumbered -- might just give McNealy a reason not only to hug the Penguin but also to give it a big squeeze."
Hold the squeeze, please. No, really. "Not above taking advantage of the FUD." You can say that again. In fact, this story adds to it.
And that's why I'd never accept their Linux distribution, let alone pay for it. In fact, I have a message for business. Leave GNU/Linux alone, if you don't understand it and accept what it is. Just write your own code, for crying out loud.
You need GNU/Linux, not the other way around. Otherwise, you wouldn't be thinking of putting out a Linux distribution, would you?. But if you mess with what made free software what it is, you'll have nothing worth co-opting. So do what you do. Be as proprietary as you please. But don't grab free code and underhandedly give nothing back, or worse, grab it and leave a hole where it used to be. It's morally wrong. And there's no way to make it right. Consider that, next time you lecture on the sanctity of your Most Holy Secret IP, will ya? My stomach can only take so much.
Also, read the GPL, will you? I mean before you do a distribution. Get a lawyer to explain it to you, because when it turns around and bites you in your Achilles heel, a la SCO, I don't want to hear any whining about it being viral or you didn't know combining your code with GPL code means it all goes GPL. Big business' mind set makes it hard to grasp the purpose of the GPL, which is to protect the freedom of users. From you. The coders who wrote the code distributed it under the GPL for a reason, and they have the right to demand that you respect their license that comes attached to their creative, copyrighted work. You know what a license is, don't you? OK, then at least on this point, we're speaking the same language. They have a legal right. But they also have a moral right. Um.. you know what morals are, right? You heard about it?
If not, here's practical, business language: offending the coders that create the Linux kernel, which is the part under dispute currently, means your business will tank, if you depend in any way upon Linux. People that use Linux, as you call it, will avoid buying your products. That's why Caldera couldn't make a living from Linux.
That's your unsolvable problem. If the community marks you as no good, and they will if you behave unethically according to its lights, they won't encourage their bosses to buy your product; they won't write for you; they won't give you the benefit of any doubt. You'll waste time and effort and end up thinking no one can make a living from GNU/Linux when really it's you, because you've been exiled from the community. It's not organized. It'll just be that way, just as Sun is now marking itself Not a Member of the Community. Not that it ever was.
So, to come full circle, I think Sun had better just leave GNU/Linux alone. Journalists may praise their ideas, but without community support, it'll fall flat. And a year from now, I'll be linking to this article and saying I predicted it. Some things are just obvious.
One other tip: by distributing Linux, the kernel SCO is suing over, you are putting it under the GPL. Your SCO license doesn't change that. It's there already, because they've been distributing it long after they filed the lawsuit, but you'll confirm it. No kidding. You guys need to read the GPL. It'll spare us all stupid lawsuits.