As anticipated there has been a large reaction to Sun MicroSystems
announcement yesterday that their implementation of the Java platform
is now open sourced under the GPL 2.0
license. Here are a collection of thoughts from some of those that have blogged.
takes a hard hitting look at the licensing issues. They explored this issue and others with Mark Rienhold, Rich Sands, and Eric Chu of Sun MicroSystems. Rich talked to the viral quality of GPL. Rich explained that the GPL with the Classpath exception that applications that link to the Java Platform will not have to be GPL’ed. For example, subclasses of JDK classes would not have to be published where as changed to the platform would need to be.
Two main reasons give for using the GPL; GPL is probably the most popular and the object is to drive more adoption. GPL makes it easier to get the Java platform to markets that have been under served. The GPL helps with WORA by discouraging forks.
In response to the question of why a fully open source version will not be made available until Java SE 7.0, Mark Reinhold said that JSE 6.0 was too close to the release date to ensure that any needed changes could be included. As Mark put it, the case for making changes in a release candidate must be very compelling. Therefore the safer route was to wait. Some of the encumbrances currently needing to be worked out are the use of rasterizing and color management libraries.
The focus on license dominates the discussions at Slashdot
. However the overall response in the tread appears to be very positive. Postings at Slashdot quickly recognized that using GPL is a big win for the Linux community and that the Classpath
exception helps ease copyleft issues.
In another blog, Michael Yuan
notes that although the JavaME platform has been open sourced, the GPL 2.0 license would requires to either still by the commercial licensed version or open source all of the software that was released on the phone or would they. They question is; can you legally run a non-open source midlet on the OSS stack?
writes that although this is a good thing, it’s not a big deal. He is worried that the choice of GPL 2.0 will now the be focus of discussions.
The bottom line from the JBoss Matrix
is that this is good news for the Java ecosystem.
Aside from the choice of licensing, the only bit criticism appears to be coming from IBM’s VP of immerging technologies Rod Smith
. Rod in his infamous open letter
to Sun in 2004 called for Java to be open sourced. Now that Sun has responded in kind, Rod is not happy that Sun started a new open source initiative instead of supporting Harmony
Still there are doubters that this is a good move. Eric Rizzo
writes in his blog that although he wasn’t so interested in the news at first, he has now become concerned that Sun will not have enough influence to reign in forks. He is hoping that IBM is able to keep things under control. Though the blog maybe based on some misconceptions of the effort, it could very well reflect a common view in the development community that maybe less aware of the subtleties licensing.