I remember back to this year’s JavaOne, it was A LOT OF FUN to sit in that press briefing room while jon Schwartz and Rich Green (and the UN guy) talked about how Sun is focused squarely on making the world a better place through developing JavaFX(TM), open sourcing the JDK, and providing mobile phones to impovrished third-world nations.
But, there’s a problem… Sun Microsystems hasn’t really “open-sourced” Java(TM). That’s the truth.
You: What? What do you mean? I went to JavaOne and saw that Sun had “open-sourced” Java(TM)?
Me: Well, technically the source code for OpenJDK is covered under the GPL, but you won’t find any other open source implementations of Java floating around the internet any time soon… Sun is too concerned about competition and maintaining control over the platform.
Me: Java(TM) is a trademark and you haven’t really created a Java(TM) virtual machine until you’ve passed a compatibility kit from Sun. hmmm….
You: Ok, GREAT NEWS, Sun is licensing the compatibility kit to open source implementations. That fixes everything, now Java is really Open Source.
Me: Er, well, not really. They are making it available for JDK implementations derived from OpenJDK. They weren’t really interested in the open source community per se, they were really just interested in bundling Java with Linux distributions. If anything they’ve actively worked to exclude the most dedicated open-source Java developers in a ploy to retain control of “The Platform”. Here read for yourself…
“Implementations must be substantially derived from the OpenJDK source
code and must be distributed under GPL which of course would be a
requirement of any implementation making use of code from the OpenJDK
That’s what I get from Rich Green’s Orwellian game of verbal twister. It’s just a shame because while it might satisfy the conditions of the FSF in terms of licensing, it has little to do with the freedom to fork (or reimplement) that makes the open source community a vibrant one.
What is Rich Green and Sun Microsystems so scared of? Competition? Are they fearful that Microsoft, Intel, or IBM might start contributing to a non-GPL distribution of Java and improve upon it? Yes, I leave messages in the URLs, from his blog post, it reads clearly: Rich Green is scared of competition.
UPDATE (9/19/07): Just one day after posting this blog entry, we see Can IBM save OpenOffice.org from itself? over at ComputerWorld. Evidently Sun’s other OpenOffice effort is suffering some structural/governance issues.