Thursday, June 14, 2007

Linus likes ZFS, but

Online world is abuzz with discussions on the mail that Linus Torvalds sent to lkmk.org with some seemingly incendiary anti-Sun remarks, and a more cool-headed response by the Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz. It has sent all the Paris Hilton front page stories down to page 5 to bite the dust. Some things this all seems to imply:

- OpenSolaris has surely begun to ruffle some feathers; even Linus says OpenSolaris' ZFS is something which could make Linux to change its license. That is something!

- The only thing most Linux developers including Linus think OpenSolaris needs Linux for are drivers. Does it imply that if a user can get a machine working with OpenSolaris, there'd be no need to install Linux?

- Linux users want ZFS. Linux developers have started to realize its importance as a Filesystem, but are diverting the issue with licensing and patent issues. Why not directly talk to Sun and implement the stuff? Surely. if FreeBSD and Mac OS X can implement it, so can Linux. It could be that it is harder to port it to Linux and the developers have become lazy.

- Somehow Linus seems to know that "Linux code is _better_". Does it mean he already has peeked into OpenSolaris code and compared it with the Linux before coming to conclusion? That is interesting, and as illuminating as his assertion.

I have a great respect for Linus as is evidenced by one of my earlier posts. But mails like this are uncharacteristic of him. I even feel that it could have been rebuked as FUD-spreading if it had come from someone other, say Microsoft. Hopefully, in the future, Linux and OpenSolaris will be living at peace and users will have choice of an OS not dictated by the license.

1 comment:

TemporalBeing said...

Licensing and patents can be a big issue. GPLv2 does not interoperate with many licenses, while Mac OS X and FreeBSD have different licensing that does interoperate better. Thus, Sun would need to relicense ZFS in a way Linux could use it - or Linus would have to relicense Linux to use it. One or the other has to happen.

Patents can be overcome more easily by getting some expressly written documents from Sun for inclusion in Linux. It's still not something that would necessarily be desired - and likely wanted to be avoided - but could be done.

So, the licensing is the bigger issue, and I'd side with Linus on that one.