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SubjectDoes Solaris source license interfere with Linux contributions?
I wish to inquire how signing the solaris 8 foundation source code license might
affect my future ability to contribute to free software.

I would like to do as much as I can in the future to contribute to free
software. Off and on I've been studying the linux kernel with the aim
of contributing meaningful code to Linux and other free software, although
I haven't done much but some testing and bug reporting so far for the
kernel.

I may have an opportunity to get a job with a good company developing
Solaris device drivers, pretty fancy ones at that. It's not a sure thing
yet, but they have said they'd like to hire me when the economy improves
somewhat.

I'd like to improve my odds at getting the job and keeping it, so I'm
thinking of installing Solaris for Intel on my PC and later getting a sparc
machine, and learning all about the Solaris kernel. It's been a while since
I've used Solaris at all.

Sun makes the solaris 8 source available for "viewing" (perhaps just a little
better than Microsoft's "shared source"). It would serve my
immediate purposes to study that source code, but I'm concerned the license
I would have to sign would restrict my ability to write free software in
the future. That is, if I was privy to proprietary Sun algorithms or
implementations, then Sun might give me a hard time if I later
contributed code to the Linux kernel, or if my code made it into the kernel,
then Sun could give everyone a hard time.

The license can be downloaded from:

http://www.sun.com/solaris/source/license_agreement.html

But rather than asking you to download the license there must be some among
you who have considered the question already, so I ask you to share your
thoughts on this.

I felt concerned when I found the license requirement because I read on the
Kaffe.org website that they could not accept code into the VM that came from
people who'd ever read the Sun Java VM source code. I have wide-ranging
programming interests, and I'd like to be able to contribute to anything I
wanted.

If you wonder how a joker who's never programmed either a solaris or
linux driver could get a job writing fancy solaris drivers, I did used to
be a system software engineer at Apple, where I did a bunch of
debugging and performance tuning of the classic Mac OS (not Mac OS X), mostly
at the assembly level, working on interrupt, VM code and such. So
I have worked on device drivers and kernel level work, although it was
nothing like a Unix or Linux kernel. In some ways it was much harder
than what you folks do, because the classic Mac OS architecture lived
much longer than it really should have, and grew a lot of warts.

I've been programming for a long time, and the head of engineering at this
company that wants to hire me seemed to care more for the fact that I just knew
my way around software than that I had a specific skillset. I consider clients
and employers who have this attitude to be a rare and refreshing contrast from
the usual buzzword-blinded recruiters, so I prize them like jewels. So I'd
really like to work for these people.

Thanks for any advice you can give me,

Michael D. Crawford
GoingWare Inc. - Expert Software Development and Consulting
http://www.goingware.com/
crawford@goingware.com

Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.
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