IBM officials confirmed Friday that the company plans to meet with Sun Microsystems Inc. officials over the next few weeks to discuss the viability of doing an open-source Java implementation.
A spokeswoman for IBM said that while no meeting has been set up officially, "Theyre talking about a meeting over the next couple of weeks" to hash out whether Sun will accept IBMs invitation to work on an independent project to produce an open-source implementation of Java, which Sun created.
IBMs vice president of emerging Internet technologies, Rod Smith, last week sent an open letter to Rob Gingell, Suns chief engineer, vice president and fellow, saying that IBM is ready to work together with Sun on an open-source version of Java.
In the letter, Smith cited an eWEEK article in which Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, asked, "Why hasnt IBM given its implementation of Java to the open-source community?"
Now the two parties plan to meet to discuss it.
Sun officials previously told eWEEK that the company was interested in meeting with IBM. However, a Sun spokeswoman on Friday said, "Sun is still not confirming when and where any such meetings are taking place."
Rick Ross, president of Javalobby Inc., of Cary, N.C., an association of Java developers with more than 100,000 members, said, "On the surface, Rods reply indicates a clear willingness on IBMs behalf to invest in an independent, open-source Java implementation that would benefit everyone."
Ross said the move could have benefits for Java developers.
"One: If an independent, certifiably compatible implementation of the Java core libraries is available, then third parties can focus on competitive performance enhancements in the VM [virtual machine]," Ross said. "Two: The barriers to Java being distributed as part of standard Linux distributions would be lowered. And Three: Sun competitors who are presently unwilling to invest in the Java platform would finally be able to view Java as a platform that is independent of Sun, rather than as Suns tool."