Lack of ZFS File System Support in Snow Leopard Due to Licensing Issues?

In June, we noted that Sun's ZFS file system, previously mentioned by Apple as being included in Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard, had been removed from Apple's documentation for the release. The change was ultimately reflected in the released version of Snow Leopard, which does in fact lack support for ZFS.

MacRumors had heard that the removal of support for ZFS, which had even made appearances in Leopard, from Snow Leopard was due to licensing issues, and a recent posting from data storage expert Robin Harris suggests that this may indeed be the case.

But then a couple of sources came in with a new angle: that Sun's licensing demands killed the deal. Sun prefers the CDDL [Common Development and Distribution License] and may have asked for some extra protections, including patent indemnification, that caused Apple to reconsider the business risk of ZFS.

While Sun could elect to release ZFS under a GNU General Public License (GPL) that would enable inclusion of support for it in other settings, the company has yet to do so. Harris notes, however, that Oracle's pending acquisition of Sun could open the door to reconsideration of ZFS licensing issues.

Now that Oracle is acquiring Sun things look brighter. Oracle is already bankrolling a GPL'd ZFS clone - btrfs - that will take years to reach the level of maturity that ZFS now enjoys. Once they own ZFS why wouldn't they GPL it and call it good?

In Harris' view, Sun's apparent reluctance to license ZFS represents a significant missed opportunity for the company and the industry, one which Harris hopes can be rectified in the near future.

The ZFS team has produced a game-changing file system/volume manager. The chance to get it into the hands of 10s of millions of Mac users - and to influence Redmond's file system strategy - seem to this outsider an opportunity of a lifetime.

If the ZFS engineering team opposed this - and I'd love to hear their take - I encourage them to reconsider. Marketers often ask the question "would you prefer 100% of nothing or 40% of something huge?"

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Beta Firmware With Support for iOS 18 Features

Tuesday July 9, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released a second beta firmware for the AirPods Pro 2, including both the Lightning and USB-C versions. The updated firmware has a build number 7A5244b and it is available to developers at the current time. This is the second firmware update that Apple has released since announcing new AirPods Pro 2 features in June. There are several new features that are coming to the AirPods...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

iPhone 16 Models Rumored to Have Face ID-Related Design Changes

Tuesday July 9, 2024 9:15 am PDT by
iPhone 16 models coming later this year could have some Face ID-related "design changes," supply chain publication DigiTimes said this week. The original source of this information is British newspaper The Telegraph, which six weeks ago reported that Face ID component supplier Coherent was considering selling or repurposing a manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, a small town in...
orka desktop

MacStadium Releases Free Orka Desktop macOS Virtualization Software

Wednesday July 10, 2024 6:55 am PDT by
Mac cloud services provider MacStadium today unveiled Orka Desktop, a free virtualization tool that allows Mac users to create and manage macOS virtual machines locally via an easy-to-use admin panel. Orka users can create or download custom macOS images locally for their own personal use, or to collaborate with team members using a familiar workflow, versioning, audit, and review controls....