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Why Sun should GPL StarOffice
All software should be free?
October 14, 1999
As most readers probably know already,Sun Microsystems recently purchased StarDivision, maker of StarOffice, a full-featured office suite that competes with (and is somewhat compatible with) Microsoft Office. Unlike Microsoft Office, however, StarOffice is cross-platform, and is available today for Windows, Linux, Solaris, and OS/2.
Sun is now allowing individuals to download StarOffice at no charge, or order it on CD-ROM for a nominal charge.
Sun has also announced its intention to allow access to theStarOffice source code, under the Sun Community Source License (SCSL). While some media have reported this as Sun "open sourcing" StarOffice, this is not accurate, since the SCSL does not comply with the Open Source Definition (OSD).
For those who already believe that all software should be free, the thing for Sun to do is obvious: release StarOffice under the terms of an OSD-compliant license, preferably the GNU General Public License (GPL). But those who are not free software purists, and especially those who are Sun stockholders, will ask "what's in it for Sun?" I outline here why I believe it is in the best interest of Sun Microsystems to release StarOffice as truly free software.