Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sun Java Desktop System Release 2 :: First Look

hmm... a good point...
check out this one:: ""

First look: Sun Java Desktop System Release 2

Restricted license
Sun JDS Release 2 is the most heavily restrictive software package I have ever seen. Sun takes the heavyweight championship belt for the worst software license ever to have crossed my desk. There are so many special case restriction provisions in the license that it needed an extra booklet of amendments to tack on more rights revocation clauses -- a total of seven pages full of unusually complex and convoluted legalese. The licensing is worse than anything I've seen come out of Redmond -- or anywhere else -- thus far. If Microsoft's EULA says, "you can't do anything with this software," Sun's JDS license says, "I'll tell you every single thing you can't do, and that means everything, including unlikely possibilities, and while we're at it here is a list of unreasonable demands and obligations for you. And get me another beer while you're up."

To begin with, the license is deceptive. It is worded initially in such a way as to make you believe that it governs the entire operating environment -- everything on the CDs. Further in there is a quick phrase that states that Sun's binary code license only governs the included software that is not already under another license. That leaves a staggeringly small portion of the operating environment under the governance of Sun's license: the Java Desktop System Configuration Manager and the Sun Control Station. Everything else falls only under the control and jurisdiction of its governing license (mostly the GNU GPL). But if you didn't know beforehand that GNU/Linux was under the GPL, you would have no way of knowing that by looking at Sun's license. All of the "other" licenses that the software falls under are buried two directories deep on the first disc in a file called THIRDPARTYLICENSEREADME. Short of breaking the law, there is nothing more that Sun could have done to obscure the fact that JDS2 is mostly Free Software.

I'm not going to list all of the restrictions -- it would take up way too much space -- but I will say that the wording of the license is unusually complex. You'll definitely want your legal department to pore over this material before you consider making a buying recommendation on it.

If you're considering buying this for your personal use and your rights are important to you, Java Desktop System 2 is not for you. If you don't care about software licensing and want a good operating system and other tools for developing Java software, JDS2 is a possibility for you, hardware permitting.

No comments: