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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-05-19 Print this article Print

Sun also announced a new Java license, the DLJ (Distribution License for Java), which replaced the old binary license for Java that had several clauses toxic to GNU Linux distributions, including the fact that the binary license required that the JDK or JRE ship with a Java product; that it was not shipped with any technology intended to replace any part of Java; and that liability was carried for those people who downloaded or used that software, Phipps said. "All three of those are unacceptable to the GNU Linux distributions, in particular to Debian. The consequence of that is that the package management that went with Java SE on GNU Linux also didnt evolve with the platforms, so the packages that you had available for installing Java on GNU Linux were not very good," he said.
This was not intentional, but rather because the focus was on commercial licensees. "The thing that people have to understand about the Java market is that, here, compatibility means making sure that there is no one in the market who is able to take unfair advantage.
"So it isnt about controlling it so that Sun can take advantage; its about controlling it so that no one can take advantage. Paradoxically then, people actually ding us for not taking advantage of Java," Phipps said. One of the reasons Sun has resisted open-sourcing Java until now is that an open Java could allow companies like Microsoft and IBM to outmuscle it on the marketing side. "Its a two-edged sword: The more freedom you give people because its good and you get more usage, the more people decide they dont want to live by the rules of compatibility and they break away," John Loiacono, Suns former executive vice president of software, told eWEEK. But Peder Ulander, Suns senior vice president for software marketing, told eWEEK at JavaOne that the fear of being outmarketed and outspent by a competitor is no longer an issue as people want to work with the innovators and the drivers behind the technology. Phipps said the point of the Java license when it was written was to make sure it prevented commercial entities from taking advantage of Java in a way that was unfair to the community. While the license was phrased to prevent that, an unfortunate side effect was that noncommercial distributions like Debian were unable to carry Java. IBM extends its Java license with Sun. Click here to read more. But Phipps also points out that the DLJ is not an open-source license, but it does now make the license acceptable for inclusion in the non-free repository. Sun has engaged directly with the communities on this, with the Sun Java legal, marketing and engineering teams all engaging with the Debian, Ubuntu and Gentoo communities to work out what was wrong with the license and to come up with a new one that was acceptable, he said. Sun Java engineering has also worked on creating the parts that communities would need to build their own packages, and a community called JDK-distros has been created that contains all the bits necessary for any GNU Linux or OpenSolaris operating system. "All of the scripting and other packaging parts are licensed under the MIT license so that they are compatible with the GPL, CDDL and any other licensing mechanism," he said. This now means that Sun Java 5 is available for installation on Ubuntu, Debian and Gentoo the same way everything else is installed. This also means that, because Java SE is a perquisite for other packages like NetBeans, GNU Linux is now a viable platform for packages that depend on 100 percent pure Java, Phipps said. This was a very important removal of an "unfortunate obstacle to the success of 100 percent pure Java on GNU Linux and OpenSolaris," he 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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