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."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.
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.