Solaris blueprints still open to viewing

Sun Microsystems reverses a decision to stop allowing scrutiny of the underpinnings of its Solaris operating system.

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Stephen Shankland
Sun Microsystems has reversed a decision to stop allowing scrutiny of the underpinnings of its Solaris operating system.

When Sun released Solaris 8 in January 2000, the company tried to tap into some of the energy of the open-source movement by announcing that people would be able to examine, though not change, the source code of Solaris. While the move didn't grant people the right to modify and redistribute the software, as is the case with Linux, it was a step closer to openness than the hard-line policy of Microsoft, with its proprietary code and campaign against open-source software.

Last week, though, Sun posted a note saying it planned to cancel the Foundation Source Program, believing that interest in it had waned. But the move triggered numerous requests to keep the program alive, spokesman Russ Castronovo said.

"We had thought it had run its course," Castronovo said. "From looking at the traffic, it looked like it had met its objectives. People who wanted to get it had it. Obviously we were wrong."

Sun now has no plans to cancel the program, he said.

The program was chiefly aimed at software and hardware companies that might need to understand how Solaris works so their products can mesh better with the operating system.

The decision was unrelated to Sun's Free Solaris program, which allows people to use Solaris for free on any system with fewer than eight processors.