Sun Microsystems has announced the release of an open-source version of its Java Development Kit for Java Platform Standard Edition, the systems company and Java giant also announced a new competitor to Adobes Flash and Microsofts Silverlight, as well as a new mobile initiative.
Sun has contributed the software to the OpenJDK Community as free software under the GNU GPLv2 (General Public License version two). Sun also announced that OpenJDK-based implementations can use the JCK (Java SE 6 Technical Compatibility Kit) to establish compatibility with the Java SE 6 specification.
Sun also said it was making available the TCK (Test Compatibility Kit) associated with OpenJDK, however the company did not say whether that availability would keep organizations like the Apache Software Foundation from shipping versions of its Harmony open-source implementations of Java.
Apache said certain "fields of use" restrictions regarding the TCK were preventing it from adopting Suns technology for use in Harmony.
Jonathan Schwartz, CEO at Sun, said in a press conference, "there is no reason that Apache cannot ship Harmony today … Were very focused on the GPL community."
That is technically true, but Apache officials said that to do so with the TCK restrictions in place would actually go against the Apache Software license. Meanwhile, Rich Green, Suns executive vice president of software, said the TCK issues were being worked out
"Less than one year after we announced our intent to release Java technology as open-source software under GPL v2, we have achieved our goal," Green said in a statement.
"Now the free and open-source community has access to Java Platform Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Micro Edition as free software under the GPL. We look forward to working with the Java community and the free and open-source communities to determine the future of Java technology."
This announcement represents one of the largest source code contribution to the free software community and the open-source release of one of the industrys most significant and pervasive software platforms, Sun officials said.
Available immediately at the OpenJDK project on java.net, is all the unencumbered source code for Suns future implementation of Java SE 7, as well as binary plugs for the remaining few instances of encumbered code.
Meanwhile, Sun is creating a process for OpenJDK-based implementations of Java SE to test for compatibility. Once certified, these implementations will be eligible to use the "Java Compatible" brand, while still meeting all of their obligations under the GPL.
This process will advance the "write once, run anywhere" promise of Java software compatibility into the free and open-source software world, and help guarantee the innovations made possible by the OpenJDK project remain available to everyone.
The company also announced a new, five-member JDK Interim Governance Board. The first task of the board is to develop a charter or constitution, said Onno Kluyt, chair of the Java Community Process. The Interim Governance Boards charter is to draft and gain ratification of a new constitution for the OpenJDK Community within the next year, with active participation from the membership, with the goal of OpenJDK governance being representative of a broad and inclusive consensus.
The community will then hold an election to replace the Interim Governance Board with a duly elected board in accordance with the constitution.
Rich Sands, community marketing manager for OpenJDK community, on the opening of the rest of the JDK, said: "We now have a fully buildable JDK. All the class libraries are open. There are only a couple of things still to be done, like the font and graphics rasterizers, but the community will eventually take care of those, we believe. For now, we have binary plugs available for those."
Sands added that this will finally give Sun a full enterprise open-source stock to run with Linux distributions like Ubuntu. "The whole stack is open source from top to bottom. And its backed by Sun. Governments, like Brazil, are demanding this kind of network enterprise stack that is totally compatible with Linux," he said.
Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with Burton Group, said that OpenJDK is five years too late, but that its finally done and its going to be very beneficial to the Java community in general.
In addition, Sun has created pre-built NetBeans IDE (Integrated Development Environment) projects to make it easy and intuitive for developers to get started with OpenJDK, the company said.