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Everything Free (as in Beer)

Posted by driscoll on July 22, 2005 at 9:31 AM PDT

In a recent news article, my boss said we're going to figure out how to make all of our software free (as in beer). As I've said previously, I'd like to ask everyone reading this to indulge me for a minute, and actually imagine that he's serious. Because I really beleive he is.

And for those of you who are wondering why we just don't go and do it already, I'd like to mention a few of the things that make this harder than just shoving something out the door. First, if you're a shareholder, or just someone who likes us, you'll be happy to hear that we're not looking at doing anything rash - we're seriously looking at all the various ways that we would generate revenue, and making sure that this actually works - Project GlassFish and OpenSolaris are just two things we've already done, but some of our other products require different approaches. Also, we've got alot of third party code in our products. Software's a complex business, and almost noone writes everything from scratch anymore, whether that's a closed source or open source project. And with closed source products, that means lots of tricky licenses. Getting the third party stuff from Solaris approved has been a maze of lawyers - GlassFish was easier, since we wrote almost all the code ourselves, with the exception of some code from IBM, a bunch of Open Source projects, and now Oracle's codebase. Lastly, moving large engineering organizations is hard - while many of the engineers inside Sun are really excited that we're moving in this direction, others have never worked in Open Source, and have lots of questions (part of my job is getting them answers).

It's going to be a really exciting year - I can't wait to see what it brings.

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