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Bruce Perens: Sun’s StarOffice Release: Is It Really What You Think?

[ Thanks to Tim
Hanson
for this link. ]

“Recently Sun Microsystems released StarOffice for Linux,
Windows, and other platforms, for download with no charge. They
promised to release the StarOffice source code under the Sun
Community Source License. This essay clears up some
mis-reporting and discusses implications of the StarOffice
release.

“Sun has released binary versions of StarOffice with a
conventional restrictive license for download, and promises to soon
release the source code under the Sun Community Source License (the
SCSL). That license claims some of the benefits of Open Source, but
is quite far from compliance with the Open Source Definition. Some
press and industry pundits were confused by this, and erroneously
announced StarOffice as Open Source software. However, I have seen
no evidence that Sun represented that StarOffice was Open Source.
Indeed, Sun has published an article that touches upon some
differences between Open Source and the SCSL. The most important
differences between the SCSL and Open Source licenses are that it
allows research and internal use only, not commercial distribution,
and that it severely restricts the distribution of
modifications.”

“Of course, it’s a broadside at Microsoft, the largest threat to
Sun’s future revenues. The free StarOffice release is an attempt to
eat into the profits MS derives from its own Office product, and to
break an effective monopoly that MS holds on business software. Sun
has assisted Linux and other operating systems on the principle of
the enemy of my enemy is my friend, because those systems cut into
Microsoft’s operating-systems revenue and intrude upon their
monopoly in the systems software market. Unfortunately, my enemy’s
enemy relationships often break down after the war, as the
relationship between the Soviet Union’s and the U.S., essential for
beating the Nazis, became acrimonious after World War II ended.
Linux systems on cheap commodity PC hardware are already cutting
into Sun’s server sales, no doubt this causes them concern.”

Complete
Story