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Sun saddles up 'Mustang' for early access

Aiming to get more developers outside the company involved in the process of refining the Java platform, Sun Microsystems last week posted an early-release of version 6.0 of its Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE), code-named "Mustang."

Java developers can now go to java.net to download build 12 of the next version of J2SE source code--a prerelease, "snapshot" version--and participate in developer forums. Sun says that it will turn to java.net in the future to "enable a streamlined process for patch submissions." Sun is still working out the details of how these bug fixes and other non-JSR code from the community will be managed.

According to Sun, this is the first time the company has made source and binary code bundles for a J2SE release available while it was still under active development. The company first experimented last summer with this kind of "transparent development process" by releasing early snapshots of J2SE 5.0 (code-named "Tiger").

The experiment was "a great success," says Jeff Jackson, Sun's VP of Java platform development and Java tools, inspiring Sun to take the process "a few steps further" by releasing source code, under the simplified Java Research License, and an open community project launched on java.net.

Sun has also taken steps to simplify the Java technology license to give easier access to non-profit and academic developers. This simplified license, known as The Java Research License (JRL), streamlines the previous Sun Community Source Licensing (SCSL), which that has been in force for nearly six years, the company says. The JRL is intended to provide developers and researchers with greater flexibility. Sun is also considering adjustments to the Java distribution license to continue to ease developer access.

Officially launched in October, J2SE 5.0 is a set of specifications used primarily to develop Java applications for desktop computers. It is the technology underlying the Sun Java Enterprise System, the Sun Java Studio Enterprise tools, and the Sun Java Desktop System offerings. Version 5.0 comes with significant architectural changes and an up-to-date GUI for a new, "more modern" default look and feel for Java apps.

Among J2SE 6.0’s expected features is support for Microsoft’s upcoming upgrade of the Windows operating system, code-named “Longhorn.” Sun wants to ensure J2SE peaceful co-existence between Java and Microsoft's Common Language Runtime. The Mustang release will also integrate the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization's Basic Profile, currently part of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4. J2SE 6.0 is due for official release sometime next year.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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