Sun Offers Backstory on Java Transition - Page 2

During the last two weeks, Sun interviewed and videotaped reaction to the forthcoming news from Stallman, OReilly, Moglen and a few others. The video endorsements were shown to the audience Nov. 13.

"This is a very good move for Sun, making the Java code and process transparent," Stallman, who is not given to using superlatives, said.

"The old [Java] licensing restrictions will be a thing of the past. Sun, with this major addition to the open-source community, is showing its leadership, and I hope others will follow this example."

Moglen, a Columbia University law professor who as serves general counsel of Stallmans Free Software Foundation, said that having Java in all its editions is an "extraordinary vote of confidence" by Sun of the open-source community.

"Sun is sharing some very valuable and important products—that it has created with its own resources—with the open-source community. We are so glad that they are sharing these products with us under these rules [the GPL v2]," Moglen said.

Sun vice president of software Rich Green said "there is value in volume. With this move to open-source Java, we will be seeing new content, new interest and more innovation."

Sun is unique in that "we are the only company with this kind of business model, one that threads the needle in this manner," Green said.

"We are the creator of IP, not the licensee. We own clean and powerful IP; we make sure [the software] is scrubbed clean before we donate it to the community."

The biggest challenges in switching to the open-source model, Green said, are all about transparency.

"How do you operate completely in the public view, and still get all the development done?" he asked rhetorically. "We also need to be sure that all that work outside of Sun is organized and productive."

Green did leave Sun an "out," as far as development of any more proprietary software is concerned.

When asked if Sun would ever consider doing some "custom" software development for a client who didnt particularly want to use open-source software, Green replied that "this, of course, is not our intent ... but I would have to leave in the possibility that this could happen. But, again, this is not our intent."

The Java Community Process, which has governed all of Javas development up to now, was mentioned by Green as a group that still "matters greatly" in the future development of Java—despite the fact that each Java edition (Standard, Enterprise, and Micro Edition) will have its own open-source community running it.

"Compatibility is the core value proposition Java has always had, and it remains so," Green said. "JCP will maintain that watchdog role."

This whole changeover is simply "a new feedback cycle," Schwartz said.

"We are the only company that has embraced open-source community as more than an opportunity to write press releases," Schwartz said.

"There is definitely a rising tide here, but there also is a growing number of proprietary companies that are fighting freedom, and I wouldnt want to be on the wrong side of that battle."


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...