Open-Source Java Under Consideration

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-01-24 Print this article Print

Now that the open source initiative has approved Sun Microsystems' Common Development and Distribution License officials are looking at using the license to open its Java Enterprise System as well.

Now that the open source initiative has approved Sun Microsystems Inc.s Common Development and Distribution License, which paves the way for the company to release Solaris as open source, officials are looking at using the license to open its Java Enterprise System as well.

Sources close to the Santa Clara, Calif., company said Sun is considering opening the JES using the CDDL. If that happens, "everything that is built at Sun would pretty much fall under the CDDL," one source said.

Such a move would have a major impact on Suns partners, customers and the open-source community, since the JES is the foundation for building Java-based applications and services.

Sun officials last week declined to say what the CDDL will be used for, but sources confirmed that Sun plans to use the CDDL initially for Open Solaris, and then will look to apply it to the JES and its technology stack.

Full details on Open Solaris, including its license and the community development and governance models, could be released as early as this week, sources said.

Con Zymaris, CEO of Cybersource Pty. Ltd., a Linux and open-source solutions company in Melbourne, Australia, said opening Solaris does not go far enough. "Open-source development now has far more momentum around the world than Java development," Zymaris said. "Sun can do everyone a favor by either open-sourcing Java or removing the encumbrances to allowing others to produce an open-source variant. Either approach will reignite momentum behind that platform."

Click here to read about Suns upcoming Solaris 10 operating system. Stacey Quandt, an analyst at research company Robert Frances Group Inc., of Westport, Conn., questioned the rationale for opening JES, saying that while the possibility exists that Sun will use the CDDL as the standard open-source license for JES, "they are making money from it, so there is no reason at present to open-source it or any of the other software up the stack."

"That totally misses the fundamental shift in the software industry—its like saying Google shouldnt be free or they wont be able to make money," countered Jonathan Schwartz, Suns president and chief operating officer.

"In fact, the more people taking advantage of Googles free service, the more attractive their business model. Same with us—the more users there are, the more opportunity there is for service contracts, systems sales, JES licenses, storage and hooking into our grid," Schwartz said. "For us, open source is capitalism and a business opportunity at its very best."

Sun will also be donating the CDDL to the community. "The MPL [Mozilla Public License] is by far the most popular license out there—remember, Firefox [The Mozilla Organizations Web browser] is built on it—so any allusion that its not as good as GPL [General Public License] is hooey," one source said.

Quandt said that while it is true that the potential licensing of Solaris under the CDDL would prevent the operating system from being combined with files licensed under the GPL, this ignores the fact that many breakthrough technologies in Solaris 10, such as DTrace and the ZetaByte file system, would become open-source solutions and could drive innovations.

To succeed in the escalating open-source wars, Sun needs to get its customers to see Solaris 10 as a means toward transparency, standards and improved price/ performance without the trade-offs found in Linux features and functionality, according to Quandt.

"The CDDL for Solaris is one step in this direction," Quandt said. "At a time when customers are reassessing their commitment to Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM is advancing Linux on its family of Power5 systems, Sun has an opportunity to use open-source Solaris to capture a leadership position within the open-source community."

"OSIs approval of the CDDL will enable Sun to draw a line in the sand between open source and Linux," Quandt said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
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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