Sun Microsystems will begin making its Solaris operating system sourcecode freely available to the public as it faces intense competition from Linux and Microsoft's much anticipated Windows 2000.
Company chiefs said it plans to make the sourcecode available under its 'community source license' programme, but it will be phased in over a long period of time.
"It's done, it's over, we're doing it," said Greg Papadopoulos, Sun's chief technology officer. "What's left is the physics of getting it out there."
Under the scheme developers will use Solaris for free in noncommercial applications, but will pay license fees if they incorporate it into commercial products. By contrast, Linux and similar open source software is available free of charge to anyone who wants it, although users are required to make public any changes to the sourcecode.
While Sun expects that other software programmers outside the company will come up with ways to perhaps improve Solaris, analysts believe the move to open up Solaris amounts to an attempt to establish Solaris as the Unix operating system of choice for Internet sites and corporate data centres.
The growth of the open source movement is putting increasing pressure on traditional vendors. Earlier this month, IBM began offering some of its own technology to developers under an IBM Public License approved by the Open Source Initiative. And Hewlett-Packard (HP) has been in discussions with Beopen.com, a start-up portal, which intends to build services around open source projects that could be built on technology such as HP's Espeak initiative.
Opening up the Solaris sourcecode may also be a pre-emptive strike against Microsoft, which plans to launch its Windows 2000 operating system for high end corporate and Internet computing later this year.
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