Will VMWare go open source without legal pressure?

Will VMWare do the right thing (open source what the GPL has already touched) without legal pressure being brought to bear on it?

Paul Maritz, CEO, VMWare
VMWare basically admits in its latest SEC report that it's violating the GPL, and says it is thinking about open sourcing its ESX hypervisor. (Picture from the Grameen Foundation.)

But as we noted last week, the Linux folks are not rushing to their lawyers demanding legal retribution. Just the opposite.

Which brings us to the question, will VMWare do the right thing (open source what the GPL has already touched) without legal pressure being brought to bear on it?

It would be ironic if events went that way, given that the company is now run by a former Microsoft executive and its chief competitive threat now comes from a free Microsoft hypervisor.

The ex-Microsoftie, Paul Maritz (above), told ZDNet Australia this at his company's annual conference in Las Vegas:

"One of the fabulous things about the open source movement is that they are the ultimate enforcer of fair pricing. If you don't evolve, they will clone your software, and take away your value."

Notice he didn't say if you steal their stuff they will sue your behind and make certain you release it.

The bottom line is that the choice in this matter seems to lie with VMWare. The question is whether it should.