Sun to Open-Source Java ME

The company plans to open-source its implementation of the Java ME specification by the end of the year.

Sun Microsystems plans to open-source its implementation of the Java ME specification and is shooting to have that done by the end of this year, Sun executives said Aug. 14.

This is the first time Sun has said publicly that Java ME (Java Platform, Micro Edition) is part of its plan for open-sourcing Java.

Until now the company has said that it is working on open-sourcing its implementation of the Java SE (Java Platform, Standard Edition) specification, also known as JDK.

Sun also announced the launch of a new Web site that gives information about its plans to open-source its Java SE implementation—the JDK—as well as news, opinions, blogs and a discussion forum.

"Java ME will be included in open-source Java. We are working through the process and the complications that come with this, in parallel with Java SE. But we plan to be very transparent about the whole process," Alan Brenner, the vice president of Suns mobile and embedded group, said at a media event ahead of the annual LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 15 to Aug. 17.

/zimages/7/28571.gifOpen-source Java? Not if, but how. Click here to read more.

There are a range of benefits from open-sourcing Java ME, not the least of which is increasing the participation in the embedded development space, said Brenner. "We believe we can drive a more robust and active community around the next generation of applications in this space by open-sourcing Java ME," he said.

With regard to Java SE, Sun plans to open-source two pieces of code by the end of this year—Java C (the Java Compiler) and the HotSpot virtual machine—with the bulk of the rest of the code likely to follow in early 2007, Laurie Tolsen, the vice president of developer products and programs at Sun, said at the event.

"We are pretty sure that we have all the rights to release these as independent packages that can be run as stand-alone technologies," she told eWEEK in an interview.

While some of the Java code would only be made available in binary form, it would be fully buildable, she said, noting that "there is some Java code that we do not own the rights to and thus cannot release it as open source, such as the Font Rastarizer technology."

The font rasterizer-like technologies that are currently available as open-source software are not as sophisticated as that currently in Java, but Sun could initially release this as binary code and then replace it with an open-source solution if that becomes available later, she said.

While Sun says it is committed to using an OSI (Open Source Initiative)-approved license for Open Java, it has not yet decided on which one. It is considering the GNU GPL (General Public License); the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), under which Open Solaris is licensed; as well as a possible multilicense strategy, but that is less appealing due to the complexity it would add, Tolsen said.

The process of open-sourcing Java is very different from that of Solaris as there is a thriving Java community and it is a completely different ecosystem. "As such, there are different requirements for the license," she said.

Next Page: Governance is under discussion.