Suns Schwartz Opens Up About Open-Source Java

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-05-16 Print this article Print

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz is a huge fan of open source and of lowering the barriers to entry for developers and customers, but this does not stand in contrast to where Sun is headed with Java, he says.

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz said he is a huge fan of open source and of lowering the barriers to entry for developers and customers across the world.

He also believes that position does not contrast with where the Santa Clara, Calif., company is headed with Java.
"We have open-sourced the server with Glass Fish and we have made the code available on the desktop, it has just not been under and OSI (Open Source Initiative)-approved license. But the code has been available and we have been accepting community contributions for a while now," he said.
"My personal belief is that we need to continue to invest in the community and in the licenses and conventions that are well accepted by the community. In so doing, we will grow the market and the value of the Java platform. This will in no way diminish it," he said. Microsoft has decided not to seek OSI-approval for its newest Shared Source licenses. Click here to read more. Asked if Sun felt having an OSI-approved license for its products was important, Schwartz said the fact that those licenses were important to developers made it important to Sun. If Sun went down the path of open-source licensing Java, it would use an OSI-approved license, he added. "I am a big fan of the GPL and have been for a long while, but I also believe that some licensees want the ability to separate their own intellectual property. The CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) is open to every other license while the GPL (GNU General Public License) is not. One is not better than the other, they just appeal to different audiences," Schwartz said. He pointed to the momentum around OpenSolaris over the past 12 months as a case in point, with Sun distributing nearly 5 million licenses for the operating system over that time. This was the largest single year for operating system deployments in Suns 20-plus year history, he said. "The revenue associated with Solaris has also risen dramatically because of this, so the two are not in conflict," Schwartz said. Many of the calls for Sun to open Java from people in the open-source community were attempts to drive some controversy and get some attention for a company or an individual. These claims were countered by as many calls from the other side saying that Sun should never offer Java under the GPL (GNU General Public License) and should never open-source it so as to prevent the tipping effect that has happened with other open-source activities. Next Page: The upside of open-sourcing Java.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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