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Sun Microsystems Java Programming

ESR Responds to Sun's Claims of Being a Better Bazaar 310

UnixSphere writes "Sun has been quoted to have said, 'Sun's Java is developed more in the mode of the bazaar than Linux is,' which has prompted OSI President Eric Raymond to correct Sun's view of what open source really is."
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ESR Responds to Sun's Claims of Being a Better Bazaar

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  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @11:35AM (#10930920) Homepage Journal
    Why are they quibbling? It's all really bizarre to me! (The two are on the same side, right? Or did Microsoft's settlement with Sun change things?)
  • by jeffphil ( 461483 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @11:45AM (#10930980)
    I wanted to get the JSR 168 compatibilty toolkit [jcp.org] for research. Note the text on the page for getting this toolkit:
    The TCK will be available to Qualified
    Not-for-Profits and Qualified Individuals for no
    charge as per Section F.III of the JSPA 2.
    So I sent an email off, and got a very quick response saying I had to complete this huge form and fax it back and then I may qualify.

    Certainly a cathedral model.
  • by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:04PM (#10931094)
    If there are two sides to this at all, the two sides are proprietary control over software and the freedom to modify software. While Sun has done some good for the OSS community in the past, wtih Java, Sun is firmly on the same side as Microsoft, since Java is under complete proprietary control. That's also no accident, since Java is the only major software product Sun has that is still of any relevance to the market.

    Sun likes to cast these issues as "Sun+OSS vs. Microsoft" because it's good marketing, but that is an illusion and a lie. Sun helps OSS in some areas (which is nice), but with Sun Java, they have attempted an assault on open source and open standards. But Sun's assault is failing. The "cathedral" model under which Java is being developed is failing in the same way cathedral models have failed before: it's resulting in a bloated mess.
  • More debate! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:11PM (#10931127) Journal
    Okay, after everybody decides to fight this one out, let's move on to some more important topics, like:

    * windows vs. linux (vs. mac)
    * vi vs. emacs
    * creation vs. evolution
    * republican vs. democrat (vs. independent)

    I mean, that's all this kind of article can boil down to, so let's get the rest of today's arguments out of the way right now.
  • by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:12PM (#10931129)
    This is exactly the kind of semantic pissing contest that turns people off of open source people. Don't give this thing the wings it so richly doesn't deserve.

    Sun is trying to market their products by taking advantage of the good will and trust that open source licenses have and misrepresenting their proprietary products as being associated with open source, and you blame "open source people" for it? You should be blaming Sun marketing and management. Their behavior has been reprehensible.

    Open source people have better things to do than to worry about every single proprietary product out there. Get Schwartz and Sun to shut up about open source and cathedrals and bazaars and nobody will waste a second thought on Sun anymore. But as long as Sun keeps misleading people, open source advocates will respond because Sun's behavior is threatening the future of the open source movement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:13PM (#10931135)
    The two are on the same side, right?

    Here's how the concerned sides act to each other in a very simplified manner:

    Open Source community about Microsoft: Shared Source isn't Open Source, but thanks for the instaler. Your closed source sucks because there are too few eyes.

    Open Source community about Sun: It would be nice if you would decide where you really stand, but thanks for OpenOffice.org. Your closed source could be better with more eyes.

    Sun about Microsoft: We would like to get some of the money you are getting from your monopoly-like marketshare, but you have shown that you can not be trusted.

    Sun about Open Source: Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Microsoft about Open Source: We like the BSD, we don't like copyleft.

    Microsoft about Sun: Buzz off or we will crush you.
  • by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:20PM (#10931177)
    I'm sure this has been discussed to death up until now, but how does open-sourcing an API work?

    Up to now, very few APIs have been proprietary. Sun has broken new ground by successfully asserting a high level of control over the Java APIs (not just their implementation).

    If there is a fork, doesn't that present huge problems for the development community?

    Languages like C, C++, Fortran, Perl, shell, and Python have all thrived in the absence of the level of control that Sun is trying to exercise. The reason is simple market economics: implementations that don't provide the features that users want disappear on their own.

    Sun is trying to substitute their own interests for the wisdom and preferences of their end users. They are churning out one API after another, but users have no choice but to build on what Sun ships; even if there were alternative implementations, users would still be forced to accept whatever garbage Sun and the JCP dream up.

    At least with C, you have the benefit of compiling. With Java, you are compiling to java bytecode, which is still interpretted, and still prone to problems between the forks.

    Modern C programs have numerous shared library dependencies; Java's byte-code based system would, if anything, be more robust.

    I guess you kind of experience this problem with shared libraries under *NIX, but at least you have the possibility for static compiling. You are stuck with the JRE for Java, no?

    You are only stuck with the JRE for Java because Sun keeps you from having a choice. If Java were an open standard, there would be dozens of different implementations, and those implementations would work out amongst themselves what features were important core features and what features were vendor-specific extensions.
  • by thammoud ( 193905 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:33PM (#10931251)
    speaks for the majority of Java developers. Most of us are happy with Sun's stewardship of Java. The platform is solid and feature rich with huge thirparty support. The JCP seems to work albeit slowly. The quality of the specs are very high.

    Most Java developers have no intention of modifying or fixing the VM and are simply happy with the wonderful set of libraries available to them (Open source or otherwise).

    As of 1.4, the quality of the Java VM has been ver good. JDK 1.5 rocks and the platform is alive and well. Thanks to Sun, IBM and mainly Apache.

    Are things perfect? Not by any means. I just can not name one platform that I would substitue Java with to write my business applications.
  • Honesty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shambhu ( 198415 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:43PM (#10931303)
    Things goes to something that has been bothering me recently. This isn't something that is new, I'm sure it's been around as long as we've had intelligent (hah!) expression. But it seems a bit more prevalent recently. I'm talking about presumably basically honest people being willing to misrepresent something to their (perceived) advantage as long as some loose interpretation of their words can be considered to be true. And by 'some' interpretation, I mean an interpretation other than what they hope the majority of their audience will make.

    I don't know the first thing about Schartz, so maybe he's just a slime ball or maybe he just didn't understand the underlying concepts of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, but this sort of behaviour seems to be considered fair ball play these days. And I think it is something that should be left behind on the playground. Heck, it wasn't that common on most the playgrounds of my childhood, outside of certain particular types of debates (where it was understood that different rules of conduct held sway).

    Am I right? Is there more of this in the public sphere these days? Or is it just the same-old, same-old?

  • by Kunta Kinte ( 323399 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:59PM (#10931410) Journal
    So I sent an email off, and got a very quick response saying I had to complete this huge form and fax it back and then I may qualify. Certainly a cathedral model.

    Ok, let me get this straight...

    Sun's model is cathedral like because you had to fill and fax a form?!

  • by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:04PM (#10931435)
    Windows hatred is simply the modern equivalent of the hatred the Cobol and Fortran camps had of C. The future really hurts when it threatens to make your own skills obsolete.

    I think the analogy is apt, but backwards. The Cobol/Fortran and C camps had mutual dislike. Cobol/Fortran represented entrenched, well-paid, proprietary interests. It was the analog of Microsoft today. C represented the slightly chaotic, open, non-proprietary alternative, like Linux today. And today, the dislike between Microsoft developers and OSS is also mutual.

    Microsoft hatred is all about protecting the value of guild crafts and nothing about principle.

    Yes, and that sums it up: people are tired of paying a premium for the Microsoft guild crafts, in particular since VB/VC++/.NET developers in general just aren't very skilled technically. That is why OSS has taken off. And OSS will beat Microsoft Windows and .NET for the same reason C/C++ effectively beat Cobol/Fortran.

    On Java it was Sun who were being the evil proprietary monopolists. Their objective was to reduce every platform to the level of Solaris, leveling down, not up. Suns approach was "If you dare do anything that I can't I'll sue you."

    Java could have been the future of computing but there is no way that any company, let alone a declining company like Sun can be trusted with the complete control they demand. The chances of Sun ending up in a SCO like position in five years time are significant.

    I fully agree with those points. I think Sun is worse than Microsoft: Microsoft represents a particular approach forcefully, but at least they are honest about it (wrong, and doomed to failure, but honest). Sun, on the other hand, is just misleading people about what they are doing. And I also see the danger of an SCO-like meltdown. However, I think people are wising up to the threat and Java is becoming less and less popular for OSS.

  • Re:Free Forking? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kunta Kinte ( 323399 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:18PM (#10931503) Journal
    Didn't Microsoft try to make their own Java implementation(J++) and didn't sun go after them for it because it didn't stick to the java standards? Is that open source?

    Sun went after Microsoft because they had a contractual agreement which stated they had to produce a product with certain attributes before they can call it "Java".

    Sun has never prevented alternative Java implementation, there are many [java-virtual-machine.net].

    As far as open-source there is Kaffe [kaffe.org], GNU Classpath [gnu.org], GCJ [gnu.org], Jikes [ibm.com] and others.

    All those projects need help. And I am sure Sun is not the reason they are not getting it.

    Put your money and time where your mouth is and support open-source Java

  • Re:Java (Score:5, Interesting)

    by debrain ( 29228 ) * on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:22PM (#10931533) Journal
    But you're right that java's unfreeness is a large part of why they exist.

    This is interesting.

    Java is prohibited from forking because Sun controls what is Java.

    Linux is deterred from forking because it has the support of the community.

    If Linux's management goes awry, then it will likely fork and spawn something with decent management. For example XFree86's X.org fork. This is good for the community. If Sun's management goes awry, the community must accept it. In other words, you are relying on the company to make the correct decisions.

    I just thought this was an interesting perspective, and that I would share.
  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:29PM (#10931562) Homepage Journal
    Do you think the acceptance of 'Linux on the Desktop' would have been on the level it is now, without OpenOffice / StarOffice? None of the attempts (do I hear Munchen) to wipe MS from the typical office desktop would have had any success without Sun's StarOffice or OOo. In my book that is relevance to the market.

    Yes, I think it would. OK, maybe a few months behind. But if the whole community got behind KOffice, which is better integrated (Yes only with one desktop suite, but one is better than none, and for Linux on the Desktop to be a success you only need to get KDE accepted), less resource hungry, and ime (very little) nicer to work with, I think it would overtake OOo very quickly. It seems a better bazaar than OOo and does have efforts going on for a database frontend. While the spreadsheet is somewhat lacking, I can see the gnumeric backend having been integrated when enough people were working on KOffice to make a difference.

    OOo has two advantages over KOffice, name recognition and ports to non-nix systems. Neither of those are critical to Linux on the Desktop. So in summary, yes, I think if OOo didn't exist KOffice would have got a large number of the OOo coders and actually be more useable now than OOo currently is.

  • You fail to note some of the down-sides of free markets:
    • Short and long-term bottlenecks in technology, labor and distribution lead to monopoly powers
    • Inevitably free markets must interact with governments of various flavors (e.g. in terms of currency and access to resources), and the results are usually detrimental to consumers who do not have a direct voice
    • Free markets tend to emphasize class systems and distributions of wealth that are disproportionate
    • The availability of natural resources, normally a boon, becomes a commodity which can be controled by external markets, benefiting only those who control the markets, not those who possess the resources (who become a kind of serf class).
    That said, I'd like to point out one glowing moment in the interview:
    "I don't dispute Sun's privilege to make whatever business decisions it thinks it needs to. They wrote Java, and they have the moral right to set any licensing terms they choose on it. I will defend them against anybody who claims they are in any way obligated to open source Java. When you pay the piper, you get to call the tune."

    That doesn't mean that Raymond is letting Sun off the hook for what he sees as Schwartz's misuse of open-source terminology.

    "...Any time they try to use my work to justify retaining proprietary control or argue that Linux is somehow less open than Java, that's either culpable stupidity or dishonesty, and they should expect to get kicked in the teeth for it by the entire open-source community, starting with me."

    Sun and the OSI have had a rocky relationship.
    Heh. To say the least...
  • Re:Java (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ansible ( 9585 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @02:03PM (#10931780) Journal

    It is really disappointing to me that the GPL-advocates insist that Java isn't free and/or open-source.

    That's because it isn't free or open source. It would be kinda cool if it was, but it isn't.

    1) People assume that Apache is open-source

    That's because it is. Not all the stuff is GPL compatable, but it is Open source.

    2) Apache has a single point of control

    The Apache project has the most influence on Apache projects, yes. But they don't control their projects the way Sun controls Java.

    3) The JCP has an elected board that is in control

    4) Apache has as much control as Sun on that board

    Lots of Sun people work on Apache projects, but so?

    5) Patches that I have submitted to the Ant project were never even discussed, let alone integrated

    Just because a project is open source, it doesn't mean that they are obligated to accept your patches. You can either (a) gently continue to pester them and get other people to do the same, or (b) start your own build program. Call it 'antz' or something more creative. You are allowed to do that under the license, I just checked.

    There is more I could reply to in your post, but most of that falls under "So what?".

    This is a gross oversimplification, but if you can take the code, and make and release your own version, then it is open source. If you can't, as with Java, then it isn't. I don't know why you don't seem to understand that. Or maybe you're a troll, and I'm a fool for responding to you.

    As a side note, I can tell you that if Java were GPL'd, it would not have been used by any company I have worked for. They ALL had a strict policy against using GPL'd software.

    Well, if your companies want to hurt themselves, and not avail themselves of the best technologies possible by limiting their choices, that's fine. It's a free country. Kinda. Sorta.

  • Re:Java (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sunnan ( 466558 ) <sunnan@handgranat.org> on Saturday November 27, 2004 @02:43PM (#10932019) Homepage Journal
    gcj and kaffe aren't forks; they're new implementations.


    But, in the eyes of Sun, new implementations should be worse than forks based on the same original source, right?

    Wasn't that obnoxious Microsoft "fork" a new implementation, as well?
  • Re:Java (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoOneInParticular ( 221808 ) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @02:49PM (#10932068)
    1) People assume that Apache is open-source
    2) Apache has a single point of control
    3) The JCP has an elected board that is in control
    4) Apache has as much control as Sun on that board

    Did you read the FA? Can you fork Apache, thus taking the source and start your own version? If yes, then it's open source, if no, then it isn't.

    5) Patches that I have submitted to the Ant project were never even discussed, let alone integrated

    Same here. Can you say to the Ant project to shove it and start YourAnt, using the current development source tree?

    6) Pathces that I have submitted to various Java projects have been implemented

    Accepting or rejecting patches does not make stuff more or less open source. Again, if you can fork the source code of these project, thus taking the current dev tree of the project and start your own branch, it's open source. Otherwise it isn't.

    7) The only advantage Sun has in the JCP is that it has a permanent seat on the board
    8) You __insert_name_here__ can have as much say as Sun if you run for the position
    9) The JCP *requires* open-source members on the board
    10) This last election, JBoss nominated themselves and won -- http://www.jcp.org/en/press/pmo/04openletter

    You might have guessed. Can you take Sun's implementation of Java and fork it? No? Then Sun's Java implementation is not open source and you are at the mercy of their continued support of the product. This has nothing at all to do with JCP, as JCP as far as I know does not develop any software. It's a committee designing a language, and as such are completely outside of the discussion of open and closed source. Java can be open source, it's simply that Sun's Java is not. You can hold Sun in the highest regard for their support of the industry, guarding the Java language against the beast of Redmond, and all that, but that does not make their source open. When and only when there's a certified implementation of Java that is open source, can Java be called an open source language. Until then it's a proprietary language with decent license conditions.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.