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Sun To Choose GPL For Open-Sourcing Java 407

Posted by kdawson
from the open-'er-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "Sun is about to announce its plans for open-sourcing Java SE and ME, according to CRN — and they're going to use the GPL, not their own CDDL or another less-restrictive license."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sun To Choose GPL For Open-Sourcing Java

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  • w00t! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T3hFish (943693)
    great! i'll believe it when it happens, though...
  • by Divebus (860563) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:13PM (#16762579)
    Another thing Microsoft can't own.
    • by Shados (741919)
      Funny, but to some extent, makes sense. Imagine if it was open sourced under a license that doesn't force you to redistribute the source of he derived products. Microsoft would take half the code within 5 minutes, have its own implementation, etc.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:15PM (#16762603)
    Is the reference on everything *Java*, when pundits talk about Sun and its impending change of the Java license...or is it only what we Joe Users download in order to play games and read real time stock chart information which is the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)? A slashdotter seeks clarification. Thanks.
    • by TrappedByMyself (861094) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:38PM (#16762817)
      It only affects people who would use the Java source code itself. Does not affect people who develop applications in Java or people who use Java applications. So...a prime example of someone who would be affected would be Microsoft. They have their Java implementation in .NET. If they were to replace their implementation with Sun's, by hooking into the actual source code, they would also be bound by the GPL. I really think this is a good use of the GPL. Something as high profile as Java would be a huge target for "embrace and extend", and this protects
      • by kelk1 (660671) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:56PM (#16762963)
        Well,
        It also affects all the regular users of ready-made distributions who only package and distribute GPL software.
      • You mean MS, who recently fought tooth-and-nail to not include Sun's Java in Windows, is some sort of threat to "embrace and extend" it in the future? MS flirtation with Java was over years ago and pure Java would be a very poor choice of a programming language for .NET.
      • by newhoggy (672061)
        It only affects people who would use the Java source code itself.

        I imagine it will affect fewer people than that. If Sun retains the copyrights to the code and existing licensees do not wish to publish their source code under GPL, Sun can continue to license the source code to them under different terms for a fee. For those licensees, the arrangement wouldn't be any different to how it is now.

        This is very much a good thing for Sun.
      • Looks like Matlab is screwed.
  • Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gaijin99 (143693) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:17PM (#16762613) Journal
    Is that a typo? "and they're going to use the GPL, not their own CDDL or another *less*-restrictive license."

    I mean, I know some people have a mad on against the GPL, but it ain't what you'd call restrictive. The only thing it does is mandate that all derivitve works also have to be GPLed.
    • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:21PM (#16762655) Homepage
      I mean, I know some people have a mad on against the GPL, but it ain't what you'd call restrictive. The only thing it does is mandate that all derivitve works also have to be GPLed.

      Out of the most popular Free licenses, GPL probably is the most restrictive - many others don't have the restriction you mention.

      Not to say that I don't think the GPL is a good choice for this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Out of the most popular Free licenses, GPL probably is the most restrictive - many others don't have the restriction you mention.

        The GPL really only has one restriction worthy of the name: that software placed under the GPL must remain free, in accordance with the wishes of the programmer who first placed the software under the GPL. It is precisely this alignment with programmer's wishes that makes GPL so popular.
      • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ozborn (161426) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:35AM (#16768429)
        Saying the GPL is "restrictive" is like saying emancipation is restrictive. Yes, emancipation does "restrict" you from owning slaves but the point is to maximize overall human freedom - which it suceeeds at.

        The freedom the GPL is taking away is for someone to take source code that is GPL'd and then:
        1) Take that code, bundle it into a restrictive (often commerical) license and give nothing back to the community
        2) Put it into a BSD style or public domain which is fine - until somebody does 1)
    • Re:Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:23PM (#16762683)
      It will seem restrictive to those would like to tweak the JVM and then use it to compete against Sun. Personally I think Sun made a great choice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kjart (941720)
        It will seem restrictive to those would like to tweak the JVM and then use it to compete against Sun. Personally I think Sun made a great choice.

        Just because the GPL isn't terribly restrictive doesn't mean there aren't alternatives that are less restrictive. The BSD license comes to mind.

        • BSD license == zarro protection against MS taking the Java sources and releasing an MS only version of Java again, the GPL will prevent this since it's so against their DNA to truly release code.
        • by PCM2 (4486)
          Just because the GPL isn't terribly restrictive doesn't mean there aren't alternatives that are less restrictive. The BSD license comes to mind.

          Maybe you want to re-read the post you're replying to. The fact that BSD is more permissive is precisely the reason why Sun opted for the GPL.

    • by neurojab (15737)
      The only thing it does is mandate that all derivitve works also have to be GPLed.
      That makes the GPL one of the most restrictive "open source" licenses out there. MIT, Apache, BSD, and others do not have this restriction, allowing that code to be incorporated into non-GPLed works.
    • If they use a different licence there will be people that will bitch about it without ever reading it and then hold a grudge for years afterwards.
    • by rm69990 (885744)
      Durr. CDDL is less-restrictive than GPL, irregardless of whether or not you think the actual GPL is restrictive or not. CDDL has less restrictions, period.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ajs318 (655362)
      An individual who has the right to own slaves could be considered "more free" (assuming for a moment that freedom could be quantified meaningfully) than an individual who has no right to own slaves. However, in a nation where individuals are allowed to own slaves, the average level of freedom may well be rather less than in a nation where individuals are not allowed to own slaves, and some would use the minimum level of freedom as a criterion for judgement.

      On the one hand, you could say that the people
  • by linguae (763922) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:20PM (#16762645)
    • Hell is seeing record low temperatures today.
    • Cats and dogs are living with each other.
    • Duke Nukem Forever will be released in December 2007, just in time for the holidays
    • Microsoft will abandon Vista and release a new version of Windows with a BSD foundation
    • Libertarians and Greens will defeat the Democrats and Republicans in most election races today

    I'll believe this when I see it.

  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:21PM (#16762661) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully the release of the Standard edition code under a GPL license will incent more developers to make the platform better. J2EE is great, but are there that many people who still write Java desktop apps or web Java applets? Even the better Java apps appear to be ridiculously slow and cumbersome, particularly under Windows (but even on Linux boxes).

    On the other hand, is this Sun's way of wiping their hands clean of everything besides their only Java moneymaker (J2EE)? They must realize that desktop Java has seen its day, and this might be a way to save some development resources while they continue to restructure in light of recurring market share losses.
    • I think Java was an accessible OO lanugage for people who were scared of C and therefore C++. These days, C++ has so many great toolkits that it's (relatively) easy to write desktop apps in, and Microsoft has made some good inroads with C# and .NET (ouch, that hurt me to say that). JEE is still big because the frameworks and so own are all there already, because it lets vendors write OS agnostic server platforms, and of course, because it doesn't use a GUI so avoids the big Java performance hit (which SWT m
      • it lets vendors write OS agnostic server platforms

        And this is the thing that blows me away to this day. I don't know how many good-sized projects I've seen[1] (e.g., division-wide CRM) that get originally proposed for .NET implementation, only to founder when someone points to the hardware requirements and says "I have to buy $50K worth of new Windows servers? Why can't we run it on the Oracle server? That thing's huge and cost us a mint." Said Oracle server (naturally) running on either HP-UX, Solaris

        • This works both ways, however. If you already have Windows servers, it doesn't make sense to rewrite in Java just so you can port from one Unix system you don't own to other Unix systems you don't own.
        • by PCM2 (4486)

          I don't know how many good-sized projects I've seen[1] (e.g., division-wide CRM) that get originally proposed for .NET implementation, only to founder when someone points to the hardware requirements and says "I have to buy $50K worth of new Windows servers? Why can't we run it on the Oracle server? That thing's huge and cost us a mint."

          Sounds like you should have gone with SQL Server instead of Oracle. You'd have saved a mint. Then you could have hung Microsoft Dynamics off your SQL Server database and

    • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:10PM (#16763087)
      The funny thing to me is that almost every large scale Java desktop app I have used is slow and a memory hog, yet J2ME apps run well on slow mobile chips with limited memory. Obviously it's not the Java language itself that creates the bloat but rather the mindset around Java desktop apps.
    • by mrcparker (469158)
      Get ready for Gnome/Java Qt/Java to be included in every Linux distro release, which is a good thing. Swing might be slow, but eventually there will be nice alternatives. Swing is also getting faster and looks much better in future releases. As a toolkit, I personally really like the component architecture, and - who knows - GPL swing might be just what Java and Swing need.
    • On the other hand, is this Sun's way of wiping their hands clean of everything besides their only Java moneymaker (J2EE)?

      Actually, J2ME is a primary Java moneymaker for Sun, also. I work for an enterprise IT weekly (InfoWorld) and my colleagues and I always end up rolling our eyes whenever we are invited for a big press chat at Sun only to be regaled for half an hour with stories about running games on Java-powered cell phones. We could care less about games, but it's obviously a big issue for Sun and

  • by rdean400 (322321) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:22PM (#16762669)
    The thing is that we're not talking about Java "the Platform" here. We're talking Java the "Reference Implementations". Basically, anything derived from Sun Java will need to be GPL, which will keep the GPL crowd happy. It fills a niche that currently has no viable contenders.

    When you look at the other Java implementations, you have the Apache-licensed Harmony, and commercial implementations from IBM and BEA.

    Java can only be helped by this because it removes one of the major objections Linux backers have against using Java.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Major contributions would not come to Java if it wasn't GPL. IBM doesn't want anybody (read Microsoft) to take any VM technology and put it into .Net. The GPL prevents this from happening so IBM can contribute to Java. Same thing happened with Linux. Much of the stuff that companies contributed to the kernel would not have happened if it was BSD licensed, but MS could use it commercially.

      IBM Java is going away.
      • "IBM doesn't want anybody (read Microsoft) to take any VM technology and put it into .Net."

        Hey, then everybody is in agreement because MS doesn't want any of Java's VM technology in .Net either.
  • This won't be embedded in a lot of things because of that. It seems like LGPL makes more sense for this, since Java is often embedded in other apps. Firefox isn't GPL. Can they mix and match without changing the license? Maybe, maybe not; LGPL would have made the question unambiguous.

    • by Shados (741919)
      Its probably gonna be dual licensed, QT style, IMO
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This won't be embedded in a lot of things because of that.

      Just like Linux isn't embedded in a lot of things? ;-)

      Keep in mind that proprietary Java programs may be developed and run under a GPL'd Java system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by burndive (855848)
      Firefox isn't GPL

      Yes, it is. Firefox is tri-licensed under MPL, GPL, and LGPL.

  • This is great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:37PM (#16762801)
    Until I installed Debian I didn't even know there was no good free Java. I think this is great.

    For those who have already started complaining about the license in this thread - why don't you spend a few years writing your own Java clone, and giving it away under BSD or whatever?

  • Looking closely at this bunch, they'll probably cut something quite valuable out from Java as done with Opensolaris and sun4m, where they cut that one just because they couldnt run dtrace. Never mention that it's been adapted to other architectures, or that it could be simply cut out. KCF is another matter. Never mind that only their competitor carried support for machines of longer timeframes and only recently dropped support, leaving something usable for those machines.

  • by starseeker (141897) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:48PM (#16762893) Homepage
    OK, first remark - I want to see this as an official press release on Sun's website, with a link to the code. Then I'll be confident it will really happen.

    Second remark - I think the GPL is a good choice for this. Consider what Sun might gain from open source Java under any license:

    1) Excellent integration with Linux, *BSD, and any other platform out there they haven't integrated into fully yet (except maybe Windows). They would get all the work done for free, too - distributions would be chomping at the bit to work long and hard on making everything work Just So.

    2) Much better realization of cross platform "write once, run everywhere" goals. Well integrated Java everywhere can only help this.

    3) Possible improvements as people get a chance to fix anything that's been annoying them for the last several years.

    All very logical reasons to open source, IMHO - Java is already freely downloadable. Sun owns the Java trademark, so they have no fear of forks which mean anything in terms of threatening Java mind share - Java has to be one of the most publicly recognizable programming language brand names in the world. Sun will always provide the "only" Java, whatever else out there might run Java programs.

    Now, what does GPL do for them, that other licenses might not?

    1) Credibility - rather than inventing Yet Another License, making things simple using already established (and I think functional for this purpose) licenses.

    2) Prevents commercial forking. Whatever open source Java becomes, it is unlikely that someone would try and compete commercially against Sun when Sun has the commercial code base and original developers. Any work any commercial developer did in competition (that they want to distribute anyway) would have to be offered free to the world under GPL, and even if Sun can't use it directly the ideas alone would be enough to allow them to keep up and maybe get there first in some cases.

    3) Allows maximal code sharing in the open world. GPL has its own momentum, as a sort of "logical end point" - free except for the ability to become non-free. That would seem to make a lot of sense to me for Java, particularly since I would expect (like OpenOffice) that most of the best code would come out of Sun and be copyright Sun. Sun can put out what it wants, and still license commercially if they so choose.

    Downsides for Sun primarily seem to be the "radical" image associated with GPL in some circles (yes that's a disadvantage if you want to look like a reasonable, sane business to some PHBs) and the inability to combine developments based on GPL Java back into their commercial Java without discussing it with the author. But since this very restriction is also a reassurance to the community in some ways, it might not be all bad.

    Anyway, I will watch developments with interest and look forward hopefully to the day when Java on Gentoo can be well integrated and smooth.
  • This is great news! I hope people realize just how much Sun is doing for Free Software in particular by taking these steps. It will soon be possible to run a complete enterprise-class Java development or production environment on a Free Software stack on a Free Software system. No more fiddling with GNU Classpath and GCJ.

    The complete package is almost - if not - on the same level as projects like GCC and GNOME.

    Not to mention, it is very exciting to consider what this new truly democratic "Java Community Pro
  • by Drunken Priest (940846) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:05PM (#16763045)
    For some reason a lot of people diss Java... but other modern languages simply don't compare when it comes to implementing distributed enterprise apps. This is my bread and butter; so I'm a big fan (the only competition, really... is .NET).

    Sun was making some missteps... for instance how badly EJB sucked up to 2.1.

    Now we have POJO's implementing enterprise beans in 3.0. We have strong standardized support for security and cryptography (ala JCA/JCE, JSSE, JAAS). JDBC is a snap. We have excellent documentation and books available from J2ME to J2EE....

    Between Britney Spears being available again and the Repubs losing House and Senate... I'd say it was a good day.

  • New License (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {werdnaredne}> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:17PM (#16763135) Homepage Journal
    Their big concern is forking, right?

    They have no qualms of people seeing the code, submitting code, compiling on their own, etc? They want to port to all systems, etc.

    There seems to be a huge void here. We need a license that covers this scenario and specifically prevents unauthorized forks. Change the code on your own machine. Submit upstream if you wish, but you can't distribute unofficial builds, or fork the code.

    If such a license existed, it might be considerably more likely to see more open-source codecs, open sourced Flash players, plugins, video drivers, etc.

    Sun has said forever that the code is basically out there already, and they had no qualm making it open-sourced over than the fork issue, and the only reason for this lengthy delay was coming up with an appropriate license. So why just settle on the GPL?

    I'm confused.
    • by dido (9125)

      Sun still owns the Java trademark. If you try to fork Java, then their lawyers will say to you, either you stop calling your fork 'Java' or we sue you for trademark infringement. They don't need to actively prevent people from making forks in this case. Besides, a license of the kind you describe would neither qualify as a Free Software license by the FSF's definition nor an Open Source license by the OSI's definition. Besides, historically, forks of major projects are extremely rare, and are most commo

      • Forks of major projects are rare?

        And I've never once heard Sun talk about open-sourcing without mentioning their fear of forking.
    • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:49PM (#16763393) Homepage
      A no-forking license would not meet the Open Source Definition, so many developers would shun it. Forking provides an important check against mismanagement; some prominent projects have only survived due to forks (GCC comes to mind).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MenTaLguY (5483)

        some prominent projects have only survived due to forks (GCC comes to mind)

        Inkscape (nee Sodipodi) is another one.

  • For me, this is a really good thing. I use Java quite a bit for my own hobby programs - which I release under the GPL if I release them at all (most of them are just once-off utilities or quick hacks to test out an idea for an algorithm and wouldn't be much use to anybody else) so this isn't going to really cause me any grief at all. What I'm curious about though is that there were some questions about GPLed programs written in java, because of some ambiguities in what constituted linking, a derivative wo
  • If its the class libraries (i.e. java.*) this is VERY good news.
    If its just the virtual machine and not the libraries, its less usefull (since the libraries would remain non free)
  • How about these authors stop with the inane articles about what might happen when they honestly have no clue.
  • I was in an I-hate-Sun mood again this week. Ah, well, now I'm feelin' the GPL love - props to the boys.

    What happens to GCJ and Fedora now?, I wonder.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{su.narima} {ta} {niwrehs}> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:34PM (#16763259) Homepage Journal
    Imagine Java not as a plugin, but as part of your browser.

    Better; part of your browser that _cannot_ be integrated into non-GPL browsers. They still have to run it as a plugin.

    This has mind-boggling implications in terms of patents that apply only to browser plugins (ahem---Eolas).

    I've always wished for a Firefox with Java + Flash integrated (does that even make sense?). I don't feel that plugins give as good of an experience as native browser controls.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ardor (673957)
      I don't feel that plugins give as good of an experience as native browser controls.

      Technically, the difference should be zero, else something is very wrong. Take Safari/Konqueror for instance; *everything* is handled by plugins, right down to simple images.

      Plugins really are just elements like anything else, they are just loaded at run-time and not linked statically into the browser. Thats all.
  • I think C# is where it's at now. The only thing java is good for is webapps, which that's a huge market. Java application development for desktop applications is another matter. Only apps built around it years ago still use it, but would be better off dumping it for C#. C# can *co-exist with your old C/C++ codebase. You can also easily extend your language support. Not to mention ease of porting applications.
    • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:38AM (#16763725) Homepage
      Well, just to speak to the otherside - I hate C#, and I think its more than the fact that I typically have to be on a Windows machine to code it. I very much dislike some of the design choices made - my point being that C# is one of those subjective things (IT didn't help that every tiem I go to the C# irc channel I get yelled at)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by compupc1 (138208)
      Traditionally Java has been better for web applications, and the Microsoft products for desktop apps. But that's changing, in no small part due to the Rich Client Platform from the Eclipse foundation -- a desktop application framework which puts Java in the arena in a way it never previously was. And on the Microsoft side, .NET (especially the more recent versions) have greatly improved Microsoft customers' position for web-based apps. Really, you'll probably see either environment in smaller shops, or a
  • GNU (Score:2, Interesting)

    by treak007 (985345)
    This means that Java would be able to be included in linux distos by default, rather then requiring the user to set them up.
  • The fifth paragraph reads, "Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun declined to comment on its open-source Java plans and licensing choice" That doesn't sound like a definitive answer to me. The ONLY thing that is actually said is, "...using a GPL license is very much *on* the table..." (q.v. http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/busy_week1 [sun.com] ). This does *not* commit sun to *anything*.
  • Seems a little cold around here here to be April 1 already....
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:55AM (#16764729) Homepage

    If Sun releases both the Java VM, and (more importantly) the Java class libraries under the GPL, it will be huge, because important packages will now be able to include Java functionality out of the box

    Example: Distros can ship Firefox (a.k.a. Iceweasel/Firesomething/whatever) with a Java plugin. On every architecture. Running OpenBSD. And it'll be reliable, because weird OS-specific bugs will actually get fixed.

    Another example: Debian et al. can start shipping OpenOffice with Java support.

    If Sun plays its cards right, it will have eliminated the so-called Java trap [gnu.org], which can only serve to render Java more ubiquitous.

    That said, I'll believe it when it happens.

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