Sun made three important announcements as part of its ongoing efforts to
advance the Internet through open standards:
- Sun is releasing the source code for a key component of the Network
File System (NFS) protocol under the new Sun Industry Standards Source
- Sun will double the level of funding it began last year for a
University of Michigan project to develop a Linux implementation of NFS
- Sun will release its rights to the NFS trademark.
The Network File Sharing System (NFS) file access protocol -- originally
introduced by engineers at Sun Microsystems in 1985 -- allows users the
convenience of accessing and sharing remote files across the network.
The key component of NFS that Sun is releasing to the open source
community is known as Transport Independent Remote Procedure Call
protocol, or TI-RPC. TI-RPC is one of the foundations of NFS, and a key
component of the security advancements in version 4. TI-RPC provides
technology that allows developers to create efficient, network-scalable
University of Michigan Project Funding
To enable wide adoption of the standard, Sun is developing a reference
implementation for the Solaris Operating Environment, and has granted an
endowment to the University of Michigan's Center for Information
Technology Integration to produce an enterprise-quality reference
implementation for Linux. The university is building the NFS version 4
reference implementation on the basis of the existing Linux NFS Version
3 implementation. Prototypes are available for download at
"While others try to make the network a system of individual pieces of
ownership, Sun is investing real resources to ensure we're able to talk
to one another regardless of what sort of computer we use," said Peter
Honeyman, Director, Center for Information Technology Integration at the
University of Michigan. "That helps fulfill the promise of the Internet
and the World Wide Web and allows us and other organizations to focus on
creating better technology rather than fighting proprietary code
NFS Version 4
The NFS standard, which Sun created and turned over to the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), enables diverse operating environments to
access and share remote files across the network. NFSv4 improves on
four areas of the standard: security, performance, interoperability and
Internet access. To provide strong security for NFS v4, implementations
of the protocol must provide for the use of Kerberos V5 and Public Key
Infrastructures through the use of the Low Infrastructure Public Key,
LIPKEY; dynamic client response to changes on NFS servers; namespaces
that are compatible across all platforms; client file caching that
provides for good performance via the Internet while maintaining
performance in the traditional LAN environment; and compound operations
to minimize the number of connections necessary per transfer.
Sun Industry Standards Source License
The Sun Industry Standards Source License promotes the adoption of
industry standards by making Sun source code available to both
traditional and open source developers. With this new license,
developers may modify and distribute source code and derived binaries
freely. Furthermore, developers can choose to keep their modifications
confidential or make them public. The license has requirements designed
to prevent divergence from the standard referenced in the license.
If developers deviate from the standard they must provide a public
description and a public reference implementation of those deviations.
This allows commercial vendors to integrate and extend the technology
covered under the license into their products without the need to
disclose their proprietary implementations, provided they adhere to the
terms of the license.
The Sun Industry Standards Source License is designed to meet the
requirements of the Open Source Definition as articulated by the Open
Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org). Sun has submitted the
license to the Open Source Initiative for their consideration.
TI-RPC and the Developer Community
Sun intends to make the source code to TI-RPC available to developers
within 30 days. This code will be downloadable from the Solaris
Developer Connection (http://soldc.sun.com).
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