Oracle may merge pieces of OpenSolaris with Linux, analysts say

Features from Sun's OS could find their way into Linux, if licensing issues are resolved

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One stumbling block is the licensing terms for OpenSolaris and Linux, which currently are incompatible, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at consulting firm RedMonk. OpenSolaris is offered under Sun's Common Development and Distribution License, which is based on the Mozilla Public License, while Linux is distributed under the GNU General Public License.

But Oracle could change the licensing terms for OpenSolaris after it takes ownership of that product, so that features in Linux and OpenSolaris would become transferable, O'Grady said.

"Solaris has assets that would be very useful to Linux," he added. "If they were inclined to do so, they could change the licensing and make it possible to integrate Solaris assets back into Linux."

For instance, Mitchell said that developers have been eyeing Sun's DTrace technology for possible use in Linux. The DTrace tool enables systems administrators to diagnose and troubleshoot problems in applications and the operating system kernel in real time.

The Containers technology in Solaris would be useful in Linux as well, according to Mitchell. Containers is virtualization-like technology that allows the operating system to be divided into discrete parts, so they can be managed separately and offer security capabilities comparable to those of separate operating systems running on different machines.

James Niccolai of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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