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Java Open Source Holy Grail Persists

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[ Business]

Sun Microsystems has held tightly to control of its Java source code, despite years of pleas for them to open it to the development community.

"Write once, debug anywhere,"
-- a Java consultant's quip to me during a Java-based web project, circa 2000. Gee, thanks.

There are almost as many promises from Sun to open source Java as there are servers in the company’s product line over its history. Back in May during the JavaOne Conference, more promises were made about opening up implementations.

The usual discussion and consideration of What It All Means took place once the conference wrapped up. But the Java community has had its heart broken more times than Charlie Brown has over the little red-haired girl, so it’s with a bitter knife-edged cynical skepticism that many use to temper the next round of “open source Java, coming soon” chatter.

It is possible that by the time the holiday season rolls around in late 2006, some Java goodies may be in developer stockings. Sun Developer Network editor-in-chief and gritty guitarist Jim Inscore interviewed a pair of Sun executives, Laurie Tolson, VP of Developer Products and Programs, about that.

Tolson made the type of comments that have been heard before about Java and open source, in noting that Sun would “release several significant components of Java SE” before the end of the year.

Among those possible components could be the javac bytecode compiler and the HotSpot Virtual Machine. The remaining pieces would be dropped into a buildable JDK and released in early 2007, according to Tolson.

Although they will go with an OSI-approved license, Tolson noted that Sun still hasn’t chosen which one they will end up using.

We have to note here that the discussion of opening up Java and licensing it has been going on for years now. Sizzle, anyone?

Even when Java does open up, there will still be some parts released in binary format, due to “encumbered code.”

“The Java SE code base contains about 6 million lines of code and there are a few encumbrances which we intend to work through with the assistance of the community as quickly as possible,” said Tolson.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Java Open Source Holy Grail Persists
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