Is Javas Move to GPL Too Late?

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-11-13 Print this article Print

Opinion: The good news is that Java has finally been open-sourced. The "we don't know yet" news is whether it's been done in time to keep Java and Sun in the forefront of software development. (Linux-Watch)

Well, at long, long—repeat after me—long last, Sun has open-sourced Java. At first, Sun rejected the idea, but the company finally has come around to it. And, not only that, Suns doing under the GPL. Frankly, I think Sun finally did this because it had no choice in the matter. My only question, as someone whos followed Java closely at times, isnt "What took them so long?" Its: "Did Sun do it in time?" Sun took its own sweet time about open-sourcing Java, because for the longest time Sun has been of two minds about open-sourcing anything.
Suns golden years were when it made billions from proprietary hardware, SPARC, and proprietary software—first SunOS, and then Solaris.
It took the company a long time to finally realize that Windows and Linux on cheap x86 hardware were ripping its profits right out from underneath it. Sun would play at open-source and x86, but the company would then sabotage its own efforts. For example, Sun spent 2 billion smackers on Cobalt Networks, a one-time leading Linux appliance builder that used AMD processors. Three years later, the Cobalt line was dead. In 2002, then Sun CEO Scott McNealy dressed up like Tux—no Im not making that up—and proclaimed: "We love Linux." The next year, Sun president Jonathan Schwartz said that if Linux users were looking for protection from SCOs then hot and heavy attack on Linux, "If you use Linux on the server, even if we sold the distribution to you, you are on your own." Read the full story on Linux-Watch: Is Javas move to GPL too late? Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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