Cyberborean Chronicles

Open Source Java: It is!

Remember this day: 13th of November 2006 Sun is releasing Java under the Gnu General Public License (GPL) version 2. I think all Java/OSS developers and advocates must have a drink for that today.

Sun believes deeply in creating communities and sharing innovations and technologies to foster more participation. Today in a historic move, Sun is opening the door to greater innovation by open sourcing key Java implementations—Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE), Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME), and Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE)—under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), the same license as GNU/Linux.

What parts of Java family had been released actually?

  • A full buildable version of Java Platform Micro Edition (Java ME)
  • A part of Java Standard Edition (Java SE), specifically javac, HotSpot and JavaHelp. Releasing of a full version (including libraries code) is scheduled “in the first half of 2007”.

Cafe au Lait thinks that “Part of the hold up is simply that Java 6 is not currently fully buildable with open source tools” and it seems it is very likely so. For good or for bad, software code is still closely tied with bulding and managing infrastructure and I can foresee all complexity of moving Java libraries on conventional open source framework. If the reasons is really in that, it forgives Sun and we should be thankful for they are taking care for we, users, would be able to, say, simply type “ant” to build the whole codebase.

Why GPL? A week ago I wrote that the question of a Java license seemed debatable inside the Sun staff. In my opinion, the final choice was made by two essential reasons. First, it is straightforward compatibility with GNU/Linux, which seems to be a general strategy of the company. Second, there was a lot of (reasonable) criticism that Sun makes a needless mess with invention of their own open source licenses (such as CDDL).

Open source Java is available as OpenJDK project on

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