Telling Stories at JavaOne
Subject:   Criticism for its own sake
Date:   2006-05-26 04:42:57
From:   dsteinberg
Response to: Criticism for its own sake


We've been friends enough years that you know I'm not "just lashing out because Java SE wasn't open sourced in time for JavaOne". You know that I am a middle-of-the-roader with respect to this issue. I don't really care whether or not Java is open sourced. I have a complete different interpretation of the phrase that the question isn't whether it's how. I don't care whether Java is open sourced. But if it is open sourced, I do care how.

As you well know, there are not things that I can write publicly to answer your challenge here. I do, however, want to respond to your comment:

"Until Java is open source there is no way to work with it except through licensing changes. Sad, but true. You'd prefer me to do nothing and leave things broken, I assume?"

Again, you well know that I applaud your efforts and hope you do not leave things broken. But, the options are not a license change or don't open source Java. You also have the option to choose an existing OSI approved license under which Java SE can be open sourced. That was the point I was making in that part of the article. I was agreeing with your public stance this past year that there are enough OSI licenses in existence that no more need to be created.

Java is now heading to its teens. With the various OS efforts you can see that it is rebelling against the restrictions that kept it in check in its youth. And like a teen there are reasons that prior restrictions won't keep it safe at home anymore. You need to find a new set of rules for it in this new stage of life. I'm hoping Sun will also continue its allowance but that also it can start earning some money on its own.


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  • Criticism for its own sake
    2006-06-01 02:53:27  jwenting [View]

    You also need to decide WHAT is open sourced.

    If the language specs, JVM specs, and TCK are open sourced and released to the masses (together inevitably with the brand name) that's the end of Java, it will quickly degenerate into a miriad of mutually incompatible versions all released under the same name.

    If the source of the JDK/JRE is released under an OSS license (and one that does not prevent code compiled with it from having a more restrictive license, so definitely NOT the GPL or similar viral licenses) while control over the language definition and brand name remains centralised with Sun (or given over to an international standards body like ECMA), that danger is far less (but not quite zero).

    In the current environment there is effectively no restriction to people wanting to release an open source JDK/JRE, except of course the amount of effort that would be involved in creating it.

    Any argument that Java won't be accepted and used unless and until it's open sourced is of course fundamentally flawed from the beginning. There are probably millions of people using Java professionally, I'd call that acceptance... In contrast the vaunted open source languages like Python, PHP, and Ruby have hardly any professionals using them at all, certainly not anything on the scale Java has. And that success is in large part brought about by Java NOT being open source but tightly controlled, which brings a stable environment which is something companies desire (and often require) rather than chaotic change and constantly changing language specs which means you can't run or compile the code you wrote last week with this week's compiler.