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Volume 3, Number 41 -- November 2, 2006

Sun Getting Ready to Open Source Java

Published: November 2, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Sun Microsystems, the server and operating system maker that also created the Java programming language and the Java Virtual Machine that supports those applications, Sun's top brass confirmed at the Oracle OpenWorld event in San Francisco last week that it is between two and three months away from taking Java open source.

In 2005, Sun took its Solaris 10 Unix operating system and its Java Enterprise System middleware stack open source. It had already acquired the open source StarOffice office automation suite and given it to the community as OpenOffice. Sun even went so far as to open source the specifications needed to create a "Niagara" Sparc T1 processor, which is available at the OpenSparc project. Java is the last key Sun technology that the company hasn't let go of. It is arguably the first technology that Sun should have let go of, and had it done so, there might be a unified Java and virtual machine environment that spanned all operating systems, and Microsoft might not have felt compelled to create .NET and its C# and Common Language Runtime analogs to Java and JVMs.

Back in May, at JavaOne, Sun said that it would distribute the Java Standard Edition 5 runtime under a new license called the Distro License for Java (DLJ), which is compatible with the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL) that governs Linux as well as the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) that governs the open source implementation of the Solaris Unix platform, which is called OpenSolaris. Just about everyone suspects that Sun will take a similar tack with Java Enterprise Edition 5, the flagship Java software that enterprises and third party application developers use to make a lot of applications these days. (Sun used to call this variant of Java by the Java 2 Enterprise Edition, or J2EE, moniker, but changed its branding last year.)

Sun's president and chief executive officer, Jonathan Schwartz, conceded in his OpenWorld address that the company would likely use CDDL as the license for open source Java EE 5. Presumably, Sun will create an open source project called OpenJava, but if it wants that domain, Sun will have to acquire it from some company that is hawking drugs online.


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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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