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Sun Microsystems started as a project at a university, the Stanford University Network. Its acronym, SUN, became representative of a company that provided computer hardware and software, especially for servers. 
Sun also invented the Java programming language. The Java technology attracted much interest from the community of programmers. Many users wanted to create Java applets. A web browser with Java support would display interactive Java programs in web pages.
Java instead found more use at the server. There are several languages to script web servers, including Perl, Python, and PHP, but many owners of servers preferred Java and the backing of Sun Microsystems. Businesses spoke of "Java" much and the demand for servers with Java 2 Enterprise Edition was high. With Java at the web server, there was no need for clients to upgrade their computers or install Java. 
To handle large amounts of data, a web server with Java needed a back-end database. A Sun server running Solaris was one way to host such a database. 
But then, between years 2000 and 2005, came change. Many persons stopped saying "Java" and started saying "Linux". Businesses started looking for Linux products instead of Java products. Many GNU/Linux distributions provided functionality equal to Solaris. Commercial vendors of database software started providing it for Linux in addition to Solaris. IBM and the United States government became interested with Linux and wrote kernel code for Linux. Servers migrated from Solaris to Linux, which ended their need to pay Solaris licenses. Because Linux is free, licensing is gratis; Linux source code is public and several companies sell support for it.
Sun, which had dropped support for Java at the Macintosh platform, added the Linux platform, bringing the number of Java platforms to three. However, many users became interested in "LAMP".
LAMP refers to Linux the kernel, Apache the web server, MySQL the database. These are all free, and can all be called Free Software and Open Source, except possibly Apache, for which some users have reservations. But Apache source code, like Linux kernel code and MySQL code, is public without a licensing fee. The "P" of LAMP refers to Perl, PHP, or Python, but never Java. The P-languages are all free, but Java is not.
LAMP asked servers to consider switching from Solaris and other platforms to Linux. Sun wanted to answer "No". Sun wanted to exploit some advantages that Solaris retained versus Linux and LAMP.
Thus, Sun drafted the "Common Development and Distribution License", a generalised version of the Mozilla Public License. The Open Source Initiative approved the CDDL license; thus any programme with a CDDL license is now Open Source. Then Sun decided to gradually apply the CDDL license to Solaris code to create a free operating system called OpenSolaris.
Some welcomed OpenSolaris. Some even wanted to create a type of GNU/OpenSolaris, by taking the GNU Compiler Collection and other common tools from the Linux platform and using them to fill gaps in OpenSolaris.
But certain persons warned that the CDDL license was incompatible with the dominant GNU General Public License. For example, code from a CDDL-ed programme cannot be placed into the Linux kernel. They began discouraging the use of CDDL-licensed code.
- ^ Sun Microsystems has its web site at http://www.sun.com; their Java development site is http://java.sun.com; their OpenSolaris site is http://www.opensolaris.org.
- ^ The high demand for Java on web servers resulted in the JBoss project and Jakarta Project.
- ^ The Oracle Database is an example of popular database software; it is available for Linux, Windows, Solaris, and other platforms listed here.