NetBeans Beta 2 Is Dual-Licensed

The NetBeans community has released the latest build of its open source, Java-based integrated development environment (IDE) with, among other new features, a dual-licensing scheme. NetBeans 6.0 Beta 2 is licensed under both the GNU General Public License (GPL) v2 with ClassPath exception and Sun Microsystems' Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). NetBeans creator and primary corporate sponsor Sun Microsystems proposed adding the GPL license option.

The latest NetBeans release provides the IDE under both licenses, which will help align NetBeans with the Linux community and other leading open source projects, according to Sun's spokesperson Teri Molini. The release will promote a stronger open source Java ecosystem by making it easier to share NetBeans code with other projects, said Sun's NetBeans Community Manager Bruno Souza.

The CDDL, developed by Sun, is an OSI-approved variation of the Mozilla Public License (MPL), which was developed for the original Mozilla browser in the late 1990s. Sun created the CDDL initially for the OpenSolaris operating system and the Glassfish project.

"The CDDL parameterizes the details in the Mozilla license that were causing people to create vanity licenses," said Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open source evangelist. "Its purpose is to make sure that nobody ever has to write a vanity license again."

The MPL is a reciprocal license that requires modifications to be given to the community. But many companies find certain clauses within the MPL restrictive, Phipps said, so they created what are known as "vanity" licenses.

The GPL was developed by open source luminary Richard Stallman, and is now supported by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). It employs the principle of "copyleft," which requires derivative works to be licensed under the GPL. Linux is probably the best-known GPL-licensed software. Proponents of reciprocity assert that it keeps vendors from stealing or fragmenting code, explained Mark Driver, research director at industry analyst firm Gartner Group. Opponents argue that it creates a barrier to entry for commercial models.

The "ClassPath exception" is a clarification from the FSF that users of this code do not have to open source their own code. The FSF, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "preserve, protect, and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software," is the primary sponsor of the GNU Project.

The focus of NetBeans IDE 6.0, according to the community announcement, is "improved developer productivity through a smarter, faster editor, and the integration of all NetBeans products into one IDE." This build also adds the NetBeans plug-in module for Sun's DTrace technology. DTrace is a dynamic tracing framework designed for network troubleshooting and system performance tuning in real time. The plug-in itself is a GUI for running DTrace scripts. It's designed to work with Sun Studio 12, NetBeans 5.5.1 and the new NetBeans beta.

The NetBeans project comprises the IDE and an application platform designed to be used as a generic framework for building virtually any kind of application. The project became Sun Microsystems' first sponsored open source project in June of 2000 with the launch of the Web site.

The latest release candidate can be downloaded from the download page here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].