Sun: Help Us Open Source Java

Following through on a promise it made earlier this month, Sun confirmed at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco Tuesday that it would open the source code to Java, but said it needs the community's help in getting it done to prevent fragmentation of the technology.

"The question is not whether we will open-source Java, the question is how," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said during his opening keynote. His statement followed a similar one by Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, but neither provided any specific timeline for the move.

Developers have repeatedly called on Sun to open source Java, as they said such a move would help to spur development on the platform. The company has resisted such pressure, but it has taken steps to make it easier for developers to gain access to portions of the code.

While Sun did not provide JavaOne attendees any Java source code, it is opening up a number of related enterprise technologies. Sun Java Studio Creator and System Portal Server are among those that are available to developers starting Tuesday.

In addition, Sun rolled out a new licensing program for operating systems, which will make it easier for companies -- including FreeBSD, Linux and OpenSolaris vendors -- to bundle the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) with their distributions. Restrictive licensing has held back Java's adoption on these platforms.

Green says Sun will now work with the Java community to figure out the best way to open source the platform and avoid problems that have plagued Linux and other open technologies. Compatibility is a primary concern from developers who want to ensure their applications will work in any Java environment.

"This is something for us to go figure out," Green said.

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