Former Sun open source officer joins OSI board

Simon Phipps is now exploring opportunities and engaging in activism for software freedom

Simon Phipps, who was chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems for the past five years, has become a member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board of directors.

In an email response to questions Thursday, Phipps said he was not offered a position at Oracle, which closed its acquisition of Sun in January. Phipps worked nearly 10 years at the now-defunct company.

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He was briefly on the payroll of Oracle UK. His last day was March 8. These days, Phipps said, he is "exploring other opportunities and engaging in activism around software freedom, including at the OSI board."

OSI is involved in open source community-building, education and public advocacy to boost awareness and importance of non-proprietary software.  Phipps joins the OSI board effective on Thursday.

During his tenure at Sun's open source chief, Sun offered its prized Java implementation as open source. In a blog post from last month, Phipps cited several achievements he and others accomplished at Sun.

"Looking back, we've achieved some amazing things," Phipps said. "We've got some of the most important software in the computer industry released under free licenses that guarantee software freedom for people who rely on them, regardless of who owns the copyrights. Unix, Java, key elements of Linux, the SPARC chip and much more have been liberated."

He cited some regrets as well.

"I'm sad that Apache did not get the TCK (Java Technology Compatibility Kit) license they requested. I'm sad that we didn't get the code for some of those projects permanently outside the Sun firewall," said Phipps. " I'm sad we never got to a place where co-developers become a priority for various product teams. And I'm sad that, despite the success of the open source software businesses, it still wasn't enough to rescue Sun in the end. But overall, I am amazed and humbled to see what the open source team at Sun has achieved."

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