Open source Java not Sun's only OSS anno at JavaOne
- By John K. Waters
Headline-grabbing news at the 11th annual JavaOne developer conference, which
wrapped up on Friday, was CEO Jonathan Schwartz's announcement that long-time
conference sponsor Sun Microsystems would release its industry-standard Java programming
language under an open-source license—eventually.
When and under what circumstances Sun will finally open source Java remains
to be seen, but the company made some definitive, if less splashy, open-source
announcements at the show that are likely to have a greater immediate impact.
Among the most talked about was Sun's new Linux-friendly license, the Operating
System Distributor's License for Java, a license that allows Linux and OpenSolaris
distros to take the binary bits from the JDK and repackage them as appropriate
for those open-source operating system platforms, explains Richard Sands, community
marketing manager for Sun's Java SE Platform.
“Our old license essentially prevented Linux distros from shipping,”
Sands tells AppTrends. It was “written in the 90s when there were people
who wanted to embrace, extend and crush Java. The license was very protective,
and it worked, but it had some inadvertent side effects, such as Linux distros
couldn't ship it.”
Sun developed the new license in collaboration with developers from the Debian
and Ubuntu distributions of GNU/Linux.
“We entered into a dialog with people in the Debian and Ubuntu communities,”
says Sands, “and we did the license iteratively, consulting with them
along the way. And then, once we had the license in place, we did the same thing
on the packaging code. And people got very excited. We simply couldn't have
done this—we could not have made the JDK that available on Linux platforms—without
this collaboration, without adopting the collaboration model wholeheartedly.
Actually, I think the way we developed the license is more exciting that the
The DLJ is compatible with the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL), which governs
Linux, and Sun's own Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), which
governs the OpenSolaris OS.
Sun announced that it would distribute the Java Standard Edition 5 runtime
under the DLJ. The new license allows distributors to ship the Java SE 5 Java
Development Kit (JDK) and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) as installable packages
for their operating systems.
“Sun recognizes that Linux is a key route to the developer community
and they need to make it as easy as possible for that community to use Java,”
says industry analyst Neil Macehiter, of IT advisory firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton,
“as also evidenced by the growing support for scripting languages on the
In addition to Ubuntu and Debian, a number of open-source project teams have
announced plans to redistribute the JDK, packaged for use with their operating
systems, including: the Gentoo distribution of GNU/Linux; NexentaOS, a hybrid
operating system with an OpenSolaris kernel and GNU applications; and both the
Schillix and BeleniX versions of OpenSolaris.
“This [new license] eliminates one of the biggest roadblocks to wider
use of the Java platform on free and open-source operating system platforms,”
says Mark Shuttleworth, founder and sponsor of the Ubuntu distro, “and
makes Java technology a more attractive foundation on which to build new projects
Among Sun's other open-source announcements at this year's JavaOne:
- The company announced plans to release several technologies to open
source, which combined create a complete, open SOA solution of middleware and
tools. These include: the Studio Creator IDE and NetBeans Enterprise Pack, the
Java System Portal Server, the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Engine,
and the first open source release from the SeeBeyond acquisition.
- Sun plans to release the code for its Web Services Interoperability
Technology (WSIT), which is designed to enable operability between Java and
the Microsoft .NET Framework. These components cover security, messaging, quality
of service and metadata support. Sun also plans to release a NetBeans 5.5 plug-in
for WSIT for developing cross-platform Web services.
- Although Sun continues to eschew membership in the open-source Eclipse
Foundation, whose Java-based tooling framework has teraformed the Java IDE landscape,
the company disclosed that it has committed code to the Eclipse Concurrent Version
System (Eclipse CVS), the repository for Eclipse source code. The donated code
should enable Eclipse tools to function on Sun's Solaris x86 system, the foundations
executive director, Mike Milinkovich, told AppTrends.
“Keep in mind that Sun has already open-sourced Java,” says Sands,
referring to Sun's submission of Java to an international standards body several
years ago. The company withdrew from that process, fearing, it said at the time,
that if it opened up the source code, Java would fracture into different versions.
“We took the source code for Java SE almost two and a half years ago
and put it on Java.net as a development project,” he adds. “It's
not open source yet, but you can see the source code, download it, do research
with it, and submit fixes and feature enhancements into the development process
through our JDK community.”
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached