Sun Pours Out Java Cup

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2006-11-13 Print this article Print

The company unleashes all versions of the software code to the open-source community.

To those long-suffering open-source developers who have been waiting for years to venture unencumbered into Java code and tweak it to their heart's content, Sun Microsystems has three things to say: G, P and L.

Sun on Nov. 13 released at www.sun.com/java all versions of Java—Standard, Enterprise and Micro Edition—under GNU GPL (General Public License) Version 2.0. Sun will maintain its commercial license and its CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) in a multiple-license menu for certain customers that have already built systems based on previous contracts.

"This undoubtedly is the largest single open-source contribution in the history of IT," Rich Green, executive vice president of software for Sun, said in an interview here. "It's the mental final step for Sun and Java."

For many of the 11 years the Java programming language has been in production use, software developers have been griping privately and publicly that the Santa Clara, Calif., company should release it to the open-source community. Java would be more valuable and allow for more innovation if it was freed from corporate ownership and allowed to thrive in the open market, they say.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz promised May 16 at the company's JavaOne Conference that this would be done as soon as possible.

"It's a real tribute to our software, business and legal, marketing, and NetBeans teams that they were able to pull this thing off in just six months," Green said.

The transition was tedious and legalistic, said Sun General Counsel Mike Dillon. "Java Standard Edition contains about 6 million lines of code," Dillon said. "Our legal team [of 190 lawyers] had to go over it, line by line, and look for all copyright marks and third-party involvements. Where Sun didn't have the correct licenses, we had to contact the owners, one by one, and determine the rights." In some cases, Sun had to settle with copyright owners.

Dillon said the company considered some of the 200-plus open-source licenses but settled on the GPL because "it has the largest development community at this time driving innovation, and that is what Sun is striving for."

Green said Sun expects a new community called "Open JDK" to develop around Java SE. The mobile and embedded version, Java ME, already has a community, as does the Java Enterprise Edition open-source project GlassFish, which began in 2005 and has already created an open-source application server. Green said he does not anticipate any friction between the JCP (Java Community Process), which currently governs Java development and has strong ties to Sun itself, and the open-source community.

"JCP concerns itself mainly with what's inside Java," Green said. "The open-source community will mainly be building on top of Java the applications they need to build. All development will follow a natural order, we believe."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Sun Pours Out Java Cup.


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