Some think license liability is at the heart of Apple's ZFS drop. Is this what's going on with ZFS? Despite ZFS being in significant commercial deployment, and being the default filesystem and boot filesystem for the well-known Solaris operating system, Apple has nixed it as a feature of its most recent operating system. The license under which Sun offers ZFS is the CDDL, which requires licensees indemnify Sun and other contributors for liability they might face in connection with their code contributions if licensees distribute ZFS under a different license:
You hereby agree to indemnify the Initial Developer and every Contributor for any liability incurred by the Initial Developer or such Contributor as a result of any such terms You offer.Presumably, Apple's binary distribution under its standard clickwrap license is a "different license" though it's possible Apple could fine-print references to the CDDL, the GPL, the Apache license, and other licenses applicable to various parts of Apple's software distribution. Is Apple afraid Apple might be on the hook for indemnification liability?
Common Development and Distribution License, ¶3.5
A little thought is in order, here. Calls for Sun to GPL ZFS are misguided. Sun has a non-GLP operating system, and if Sun wants to link ZFS to its operating system without GPL-ing it, Sun needs to make sure ZFS stays non-GPL. The Oracle purchase of ZFS doesn't mean Oracle can unilaterally change the license on code contributed (potentially) by a host of third parties, who expressly licensed their additions under the CDDL, presumably so they could link ZFS to their non-GPL operating systems (e.g., FreeBSD). Just as the ssh trademark litigation was without merit, claims to patent rights by NetApp (and potentially others) in ZFS are likely also without merit. If so, inclusion of ZFS dramatically improves the feature set of low-cost hardware in the storage space, to the detriment of first-tier storage vendors and to the benefit of, say, Oracle and Apple (whose revenues don't come from storage but from computer hardware and software licenses).
If patent liability is the issue, the obliteration of NetApp's claims in court probably bode well for Apple's re-inclusion of ZFS as a feature of MacOS X, perhaps even on a timetable similar to that of the inclusion of ssh. The fact that ZFS includes a broad tool suite and would require specific support from some user-facing apps to access important features might make Apple's inclusion of ZFS rather less trivial than OpenSSH, but there's reason to suspect that Apple might actually release a ZFS-supporting operating system sometime in the foreseeable future rather than kill the project forever.
After all, what else does what ZFS does? And is production-ready and proven in use?
UPDATE: Randall Smock's comment at StorageMojo.com is interesting -- it points out that folks using Boot Camp to access Microsoft operating systems from Apple hardware will face an interesting challenge if Apple starts shipping ZFS ... because those machines would start being unable to access parts of the Mac while booted in MS-Windows. I doubt this is by itself sufficient reason to scrap ZFS (even as a non-default filesystem), however. It is interesting, and invites questions about how Apple might solve this (e.g., with MS-Win drivers to enable at least read-only access to the volumes in question). After all, Apple ships read-only access for NTFS, though there are solutions for this, too.