ZFS Legal Issues

Seems like a large discussion broke out over ZFS licensing issues on the linux kernel mailing list:

Alan Cox [interview] suggested, “the real test of whether Sun were serious about ZFS being anywhere but Solaris is what they do to license it – they’ve patented everything they can, and made the code available only under licenses incompatible with other OS products. Their intent is quite clear, and quite sad. Compare it to what the old Sun company did with NFS, which is now a standard used everywhere.” Theodore T’so added, “given that Sun has reportedly filed a huge number of patents covering ZFS and has refused to make them available for anything other than Solaris — and there are senior Sun programmers who have on record stated that one of the reasons why Sun picked the CDDL was precisely because it was incompatible with GPL and Sun fears Linux —- I wouldn’t bet on Sun being willing to making a patent license available to a hypothetical alternate implementation of the ZFS format for Linux.” He went on to note, “of course, this is all open source. If someone wants to work on reimplementing ZFS from scratch, either in userspace or in the kernel, certainly the Linux community won’t stop them. Given the patent issues Linus might not feel comfortable including it in the mainline sources without a promise from Sun that they won’t sue the pants off of him and The Linux Foundation, but again, that’s Sun’s decision, and no one else can help you there.”

I’m not sure which side to take here.

Sun has been on the wrong side of this debate for years. Why can’t they just get it right? They’ve been so amazingly frightened of Open Source for years. They keep testing the waters but now it’s just time to dive in.

Sigh. This stuff is stupid. The GPL camp is being amazingly stubborn about not supporting 3rd party code and companies like Sun aren’t necessarily excited to GPL all your code. I really wish the Linux kernel was BSD licensed.

  1. “I really wish the Linux kernel was BSD licensed.”

    Soo… why not just use BSD?

  2. “Soo… why not just use BSD?”

    Because Linux (IMO) is superior to BSD. Especially when it comes to Java.


  3. ”Because Linux (IMO) is superior to BSD. Especially when it comes to Java.”

    that remark is just too flippant to be of any value.

    Lately I have been using linux (Ubuntu) on my desktop for ease of administration, java (as you mentioned) and multimedia.

    I would not even consider running a server or a firewall, for instance, on anything but *BSD. I also think that NetBSD makes for the most generally usable platform for embedded applications, although I may be in a minority here.

    And if I had to run Java on a server –well, I’d just rather not think about it.

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