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February 7, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc executives attempted to clarify the company’s attitude to the open source software movement and the Linux operating system at its European analyst conference in Rome last week. Sun CEO Scott McNealy said that Sun had clearly adopted a ‘community source’ model, rather than an open source model, and the two should not be confused. ‘Community source’ means that software can be downloaded, used and enhanced, as millions have people have done with Java, and tens of thousands are now doing with its new intelligent communications protocol Jini and its Solaris version of Unix. But they are not allowed to make money by reselling the software without a license from Sun, which gets a royalty on customer ships of products. Sun has not yet added its Solaris operating system to the community model. It had been trying to iron out the remaining branding and IP issues that would enable it to at least make some Solaris code available, though not giving it away. However it has run into many contingencies and conflicts with OEMs and resellers and at the moment cannot move the initiative forward. It had been shooting to unveil its plans at Linux World in the first week of March. Sun sells Solaris to OEM partners for between $480 and $750 per computer, but OEMs could bypass this by telling their customers to ordering the software from Sun for free. According to Jeff Bernard, SunSoft director of marketing, OEM partners need to look at the whole value proposition and said that in return for the license fee, Sun provides worldwide support.

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