JavaOne – Sun poised to open source Java products


Bob Brewin, software CTO at Sun Microsystems Inc., said the company will discuss the state of its open-source plans for Java and present the first CommunityOne day for open source and Web developers at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco this week. In an interview with Computerworld, Brewin said that the company is on track to make all Java products available under the same General Public License (GPL) that Linux carries.

He added that the company continues to mull over whether to make the Solaris operating system available under GPL. Solaris is now available under the Sun-created Community Development and Distribution License.

The theme of JavaOne this year is “Open Possibilities” — does that mean that Sun plans to announce there that Solaris will be available under the GPL?

We haven’t decided what we are going to do about that. JavaOne is the wrong place to do that. We’re keeping a really close eye on the upcoming GPL 3. It is one of the things that will gate our decision. That is due out in July. We want to see how that will play out, and then we will make our decision.

If Sun indeed decides to provide Solaris under GPL, how will the company overcome public internal disagreements — specifically the recent public disclosure by the company’s open-source officer, Simon Phipps, that developers won’t welcome the move?

It is not entirely clear whether developers will welcome the news. It comes down to what the community wants to do. It will be up to them. GPL historically has had some taint to it. Right now we’ll have to see how that plays out.

Can you provide an update on the company’s efforts to release all the source code for Java under the GPL by next month? A year ago, Sun officials expressed fear that the move could lead to Java code being “forked” into incompatible versions.

Has that happened yet? We’re going to meet our commitment. Last year we said we would be able to open-source the entire platform by the time we hit this point, and that is what we’re going to do. There is always that chance [of forking].

We haven’t seen any particular cases where that sort of forking has occurred. The [open-source] Java implementation is good, and people are leveraging that and building on top of it.

Are there modifications people have made to the code that has been released so far that have been particularly interesting?

Not at this time. This is still fairly new. People are really anticipating not just the pieces of what we have released so far … but the entire platform. We won’t see any huge wave until after that occurs.

I suspect that the most interesting sort of case for that will be to see what will happen on the Linux platform, which is one of the reasons why GPL is such a prudent choice here [for Java]. With a platform with a compatible license to that of Linux …what effect it will have on the Linux community and their use of Java on the Linux distribution it is a proof point.

What will be the focus of CommunityOne and why was it added to the JavaOne schedule?

The development community is larger than just Java.

There is significant effort [at Sun] around participating more in communities and building open-source offerings. [We thought] creating a day that wasn’t specifically tied to Java but allows for active participation and interest in other topics would be a good idea. It has actually been remarkably popular. We have more than 2,000 people signed up. More than 50 percent of the topics are from people outside of Sun. The topics include everything, [including] languages, Web 2.0, OpenSolaris and Linux.

What is Sun’s response to the Justice Department joining a whistle-blower lawsuit that charges Sun and other vendors with submitting false claims to U.S. government agencies for government IT contracts and with receiving kickbacks stemming from these contracts?

I can’t comment on that.


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