Java goes Open Source UserPageVisits:163 active 80 80 DaniWeb 561 60 2006-11-14T01:11:01+00:00

Java goes Open Source


OK, I know that Sun Microsystems has already open-sourced the Java EE5 application server code under the auspices of its GlassFish project, but the breaking news is that the full Java source code is to follow next. Sun has announced that the Java code will be covered by the General Public License 2 (GPLv2) which is great news for all you Linux developers out there who have been less than inspired by the Sun ‘Community Development and Distribution License.’

Even more so, I suspect, because I am led to believe that Sun is to use the classpath exception license addition to allow programmers using open source Java to use a different license for their applications, preventing everything from having to be covered by the GPL. This is obviously going to be an important factor for those of you working with Java libraries and virtual machine on top of shipping applications, because it means that your current licensing will not be affected. And if you really don’t want to get into the whole open source thing, then Sun have even thought of that by running a dual licensing structure that sees the commercial license continue to be available.

One thing is for sure, this whole process of open sourcing Java which starts as form today, will help to establish the technology in the hearts and minds of web developers, like it needed any help in that direction. It will also help to increase support revenues for Sun, and that’s something they do need help with.

Expect to see Java Micro Edition move to open source licensing first, with Java Standard Edition taking up to six months to follow. It would appear that Sun are ‘not ready’ to let all six million lines of this code out into the one in one fell swoop, instead adopting a piecemeal approach with compiler, hotspot virtual machine and help system leaking out one at a time.

What will be most interesting, at least from my non-developer, technology journalist perspective, is whether this move will lead to code forking and a fragmentation of the Java user base. And if that happens, far from boosting Sun revenue and position it could well end up being a nail in its corporate coffin.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

Time to start looking for another line of work then.
Companies will pretty rapidly start moving away from Java as they want nothing at all to do (and rightly so) with anything that even remotely reeks of GPL.

And yes, it will lead to large amounts of forking and mutually incompatible versions all released as "Java".
Those already existed to a small degree, aimed at destroying confidence in the platform, and will now be a lot easier to create.

The userbase won't get fragmented though, as those forks will (for the most part) not be aimed at "fixing" things but destroying them and released by people who have no interest themselves in using Java but only want to confuse end users and cause them headaches when using Java software.
As it is there are tons of questions from Linux users about their Java based applications not working which are almost exclusively tracked down to them having gcj set up as their default Java runtime.

This idiotic decision by Sun will compound that problem a thousandfold in short order and drive it onto the core platform for Java as well, which is Windows.
Software manufacturers will no longer be able to rely on their users having a JVM that can run their software and will abandon Java for (for example) C#.

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