Sun Microsystems Inc. this week is set to make significant chunks of the Java language freely available, making good on its promise in May to open the source code of the technology ... parts of the Java Platform Standard Edition (JSE) and Java Platform Micro Edition (JME) will be available under the same GNU General Public License used for the open-source Linux operating system and the MySQL database. Sun said it will still offer commercial licenses for Java.China Martens adds:
Users had mixed reactions to the move. Some said they welcomed the chance for additional scrutiny of the source code. Others worried that the open-source shift could lead to the creation of incompatible versions of Java through the process known as code forking.
The Java components that Sun is making available as open source this week are the Java Compiler and the Java HotSpot virtual machine, which makes up the Java Software Development Kit in JSE and the core implementation of JME found on most mobile handsets. Additional pieces of JSE and JME will be available under open-source licenses later this year and in the spring of 2007.
GPLv2 is a popular license already used by free and open-source software (FOSS) projects and products including the Linux operating system. It's the first time Sun, which has committed to open-source all its software, has adopted a license other than its own Common Development and Distribution License. So will Sun look to use the GPL for other offerings it has already open-sourced, such as the OpenSolaris version of its operating system? ... Rich Green, the company's senior vice president of software ... [responded] that it was possible that the familiarity and comfort level many developers have with the GPL may result in Sun adopting it for OpenSolaris.Ken Fisher adds:
After years of speculation followed by years of waiting, Java has finally, truly been opened. Sun announced today that Java has made the jump to "open source," as Sun says that parts of the Java platform it owns are being licensed under the GPL open source license (version 2). The use of the GPL is surprising, because it puts any and all modifications back into the public source code, and not all software developers are eager to share their contributions. Nevertheless, in adopting the GPL, Sun is being aggressive in its move into open source. Solaris, for instance, is distributed under the far more restrictive Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), which is mostly based on the Mozilla Public License (MPL).John Paczkowski:
Not only has Sun open-sourced Java, but they've adopted a license that they hope will please the "free software" folks along with the hordes of commercial software developers that have been using Java for almost a decade. Java will be distributed with what is known as a "Class path exception" which will allow Java libraries to link to non-GPLed code, making it possible to continue to use Java with closed-source commercial development projects. Sun hopes it's a win-win situation. Only time will tell.
All of the source code relating to Java is expected to be opened by the end of March 2007. For now, Sun has made available the first pieces of source code for Sun's implementation of Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) and a buildable implementation of Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME). More details are available at Sun's new open source Java landing.
The open-source community is finally enjoying some requited love from Sun. Making good on the vague promise it made this year at the 11th annual JavaOne user group conference ... Sun called the move "one of the largest source code contributions under the GPL license," and that's likely true. Certainly, it's a milestone for the industry and for Sun, which has for years resisted calls to open-source Java. Clearly, the company, which long feared that releasing Java under an open source license would allow Microsoft and IBM to undermine it and create incompatibilities among forked versions of the code, has realized that the wider adoption that will inevitably follow the open-sourcing of Java will do much to boost its bottom line.Sun's Tim Bray opens the kimono:
I’m committed to Open Source but not generally a member of the Free Software movement. For Java, though, it’s the only thing that makes sense ... there was internal resistance, and it was passionate. I disagreed, but I have a lot of respect for those people; they had good arguments that we need to keep carefully in mind, going forward. There are people who are bruised and hurting now and really unsure that this is the right path. I totally hope that, in a couple of years, this will be a tempest in a teapot, seen in the rear-view mirror, and that we’re still all on the same team.Kevin "thug" Burton:
I think there’ll be lots of forks ... which is terrific. I see no downside, and I see huge upside in that the Java mainstream can watch this kind of stuff and (because of the GPL) adopt it if it’s good, and make things better for everybody.
Anyone who tries to predict the long-term future effects of Free Java is braver than me. I have one concrete hope: that the people working on the GNU/Linux desktop can be unshackled from the tyranny of C++. Aside from that, who knows? Freedom is scary; but on balance I think Java’s new path will be more interesting and more profitable and more fun.
Long story short I have a vested interest in seeing Java become Open Source. Needless to say this has been a good day. I hated having to code on top of a non-free platform ... I've been prevented from contributing to Java for years. I've wanted to submit patches to Jakarta regexp and Javadoc in the past and literally been told to take my patches elsewhere.Pamela Jones takes a break from mocking SCO to watch the announcement:
Video of Richard Stallman commending Sun, saying they are showing leadership by choosing the GPL, and that he hopes others will follow their lead. At this point, as he points out, Sun is now the leader in donating software code to the community. Truly, the world seems to be turning upside down ... All I can think about as I'm watching everything is: this is fantastic for the desktop ... various folks explaining how important this is, such as Paul Cormier at Red Hat and Eben Moglen, who points out that Sun is opening hardware specs too ... They are pointing out now that there is no patent risk. They are an IP creator, not just a redistributor, so there is no royalty required to be paid to anybody. By donating code to the GPL, the patent freedom goes with it ... So, what about Solaris? It's been CDDL. Might that change? Will it go GPL? They are taking a very close look at that right now, and the hint is very likely yes, it could happen.Buffer overflow:
Bottom line: it's a new day at Sun Microsystems, and it's a new day for the GPL. A truly great day, indeed.
Around the NetAnd finally... More cats. Some of whom are VERBING UR NOUNZ. [one or two are a little off-color; hat tip: Boing Boing]
- Scoble, R.: Bill Gates says we’re back in a bubble — kind of
- Phil Windley: Breaking Into My Mac
- Ed Foster: Lenovo Downgrades Return Policy
- Mike Masnick: More Missing Electronic Votes: Candidate Who Voted For Himself Gets Zero Votes
- Jon Stokes:SPEC starts on virtualization benchmark
- Willie, IT Toolbox: IBM retains #1 spot at 280.6 tereflops
- Scott Karp: Just Say No To Web 3.0
- Bruce Schneier: The Inherent Inaccuracy of Voting
- Om Malik: Akamai in talks to acquire Nine Systems
Previously in IT Blogwatch
- Mailbag: Windows SPP: how to get into RFM without really trying
- Douglas Schweitzer: The social ramifications of failed encryption
Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at email@example.com.