In an interview with ComputerWorld
, Simon Phipps
, the chief open-source officer at Sun Microsystems
reaffirms Sun's commitment to OpenSource. In the interview, Simon throws cold water on critics by pointing at a mere portion of the support that Sun has offered the open source world.
if you look at the history, it's pretty hard to sustain that [Sun isn't doing enough with open-source] as a position.
The meat of the article surrounds Simon's efforts to fully open source Java. In the interview Simon points out that many problems need to be resolved before Java can be open sourced.
If I could snap my fingers and make it happen tomorrow, I would. It's not a simple endeavor.
To change the license to open source Java, Sun first must deal with ownership, legal, access, encumbrances and relationships with Java licensees. It took Sun a full five years to solve these issues with Solaris. However Simon predicts that it won't take anything near this amount of time to complete the task with Java.
One of those that have spoken out against the open sourcing of Java is none other then James Gosling. In a conversation I had with James, he stated that he felt that Java was effectively open source. With Sun allowing an unprecedented access to the Java source code it is hard to argue that point with the "father of Java". However this apparent disagreement on the future of Java doesn’t necessarily put James and Simon at odds. James is terribly concerned about Java remaining "write once run anywhere". It is the ability to fork incompatible versions that has Mr. Gosling worried.
Although Simon has spoken about the economic disincentive of forking in his keynote at TSSJS-Europe
, he also is concerned that Java remains WORA. In another interview
, Simon spoke about how Java must remain compatible and that no company should be able to use its might to change that. Though James feels that Sun should maintain stewardship of Java to ensure compatibility, Simon feels the best way is in proper licensing and governance.
Clearly Simon Phipps is a man whose vision has earned him many accolades in the industry and if he is right on this question he will earn even more. The question to be answer is; do we need protection from incompatible forks and if so, is proper licensing and governance enough?