As Alex Handy reported on, Sun is releasing Java SE and Java ME under the GPL 2 license.

Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz maintains that this move is not a reaction to all the moves in Linux-land, with Oracle hoovering Red Hat and Microsoft playing footsie with Novell. While it’s impossible to know exactly what Sun’s thinking is here, it does seem too fast to be a reaction. On the other hand, Sun has long maintained that it wouldn’t open-source Java, but now (according to the company):

  • Open-Source Java SE: Today Sun is releasing the source code for the Java HotSpot virtual machine, the Java programming language compiler (javac), and JavaHelp online help software. Release of a fully buildable Java SE Development Kit (JDK) based nearly entirely on open-source code is expected in the first half of 2007.
  • Open-Source Java ME: Sun is first releasing the source code for Sun’s Java ME Feature Phone implementation based on Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC), which currently enables rich mobile data services in more than 1.5 billion handsets, and the source code for the Java ME testing and compatibility kit (TCK) framework. Later this year, Sun will release additional source code for the Advanced Operating System Phone implementation for based on the Connected Device Configuration (CDC) specification and the framework for the Java Device Test Suite.

What I find curious is the use of the GPL, rather than the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) that Sun uses for OpenSolaris.

Will this made a big difference in Java adoption? Not immediately, and not unless Sun opens up its control over the Java Community Process. However, on the long term, this is going to pay off in terms of increased acceptance of Java, as well as strong commitments to Java by the other big players (think IBM, who has long been pushing for open-source Java).

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
1 reply
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Lets read the details pleaaase! If you are contributing anything, you shall agree to share IP with Sun, not only that they still will keep commercial rights to exploit your contribution… I think this a dual license scheme that comes with little added value. JCP is not changing, Sun keeps the control, but gets a nice Press Coverage needed for their financial terminal situation. Its a shame that companies are embracing the open source bandwagon just for opportunistic reasons, more than helping or adhering to the overall goals of FOSS.

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